NHL Rumours: Pittsburgh Penguins, Florida Panthers, Edmonton Oilers

NHL Rumours
MONTREAL, QC - FEBRUARY 02: Look on Montreal Canadiens left wing Tomas Tatar (90) during the Columbus Blue Jackets versus the Montreal Canadiens game on February 02, 2020, at Bell Centre in Montreal, QC (Photo by David Kirouac/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Welcome back to our NHL Rumours series here at Last Word on Hockey. Each day, our team keeps you posted about all sorts of rumblings around the league. These articles are just becoming more and more packed as the 2020 NHL Trade Deadline approaches, and many teams look at shaking things up. Today, we’ll turn a special focus towards the Pittsburgh Penguins, Florida Panthers, and Edmonton Oilers.

NHL Rumours

Pittsburgh Penguins

Rumour: Mentioned in Elliotte Friedman’s 31 Thoughts podcast, the Penguins have preliminarily looked into acquiring the Montreal Canadiens‘ Tomas Tatar

Analysis: For a team already on a 112-point pace, adding a near-point-per-game forward to the lineup is sure to put the rest of the league on watch. That’s exactly what general manager Jim Rutherford is doing here. Investigating and acquiring Tatar would put the Penguins right at the top of league’s offences, adding to an already dynamic group of players like Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and Bryan Rust. Tatar has been stellar on this Montreal team in his own right, on pace to shatter his career-high of 58 points set just last year. In 55 games, he already has 50 points.

Tatar’s breakout season would help him slide into a virtually guaranteed top-line role on this team given the absence of Jake Guentzel due to injury. While midseason trades haven’t always worked out in his favour (see: Vegas Golden Knights), he may very well help Pittsburgh win their third Stanley Cup in five seasons, cementing their place among one of the great dynasties.

Florida Panthers

Rumour: Via an NHL.com interview with Panthers general manager Dale Tallon, the Panthers are set on finding a veteran defence partner for young star Aaron Ekblad.

Analysis: This revelation is not exactly surprising considering the Panthers’ heavy involvement in NHL rumours so far this year. Their team would be a playoff lock right now if you just consider their offence. Players like Jonathan Huberdeau and his top-line partners have made an immense impact on the team this year. The defensive structure is where they’ve struggled.

Tallon mentions consistency in the interview. That’s an issue the Panthers have struggled with for years. Adding a solid presence (think Ron Hainsey) to complement a strong young defenceman in Ekblad would make the Panthers a monster in the Eastern dark horse department, potentially getting the team to their first Stanley Cup Final since 1996 if the right dice are rolled.

Edmonton Oilers

Rumour: According to TSN’s Insider Trading, the Oilers are working to get an extension done with young defenceman Darnell Nurse.

Analysis: Nurse is a very interesting yet integral piece for this Oilers squad. He’s one of their big pending free agents, one of the others was the recently signed Zack Kassian. It’s evident that they will go the short-term route with Nurse as well, not just because of his age, but because of their salary cap constraints. Nurse has played well this year, posting 22 points in 53 games. It pales in comparison to last season, where he netted 41 points in 82 games. However, he has been averaging over 22 minutes a night. The just-turned-25 blueliner is sure to earn a raise on his current $3.2 million cap hit.

He’s part of a growing dynamic defence corps in Edmonton. His presence will be crucial in helping the likes of Evan BouchardCaleb JonesEthan BearWilliam Lagesson, and others get acclimated to the big leagues. He’s done a great job so far, and a viable extension is a great move for Edmonton.

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