Hello and welcome back to the Monday edition of NHL Rumours. We are just a week removed from the NHL Trade Deadline, but that does not mean the news stops. The general managers are meeting in Boca Raton, Florida this week. Continue to stop by Last Word on Hockey for all the latest news and analysis. Today’s NHL rumours feature the Toronto Maple Leafs, Florida Panthers, and the impact of the coronavirus.
Toronto Maple Leafs
Rumour: With the NHL Trade Deadline just passing, Luke Fox of Sportsnet looks at how the Toronto Maple Leafs can improve their defence with the upcoming free agency class.
Quick Shifts: A peek at Maple Leafs’ defence options for 2020-21 | Cory Schneider kept a pulse on Devils from AHL | Artemi Panarin‘s Hart Trophy bid + 9 more NHL things https://t.co/kUiqIZJoHO pic.twitter.com/rv9QVWUA3d
— luke fox (@lukefoxjukebox) February 29, 2020
Analysis: The Maple Leafs made a minor move at the trade deadline. reacquiring Calle Rosen. However, the team has some real concerns on defence with Tyson Barrie and Cody Ceci pending free agents. General manager Kyle Dubas wants to avoid starting next season with Justin Holl, Timothy Liljegren and Joseph Duszak on the right side. Now the Maple Leafs could re-sign those players, but if the team can’t keep those players, Fox looks at some available options.
Considering the team’s cap situation especially with their forward group, options are limited. Fox mentions players like Sami Vatanen, Travis Hamonic, Chris Tanev, and Justin Schultz as possible fits. Considering the Maple Leafs have shown interest in Hamonic and Tanev in the past, that is something Dubas should revisit this off-season. However, with not many standout options, Dubas should try to trade for players like Matt Dumba, Josh Manson, and Rasmus Ristolainen.
Rumour: Chris Johnston was Sportsnet 960 last Thursday and talked about how the Florida Panthers could be cutting more salary if they do not make the playoffs.
Analysis: When Vincent Trocheck was traded at the trade deadline, many people were shocked. However, diving deeper into the situation Trocheck was not one of head coach Joel Quenneville’s favourites. The trade was a move by ownership to cut payroll. Not only that but the team felt they needed to get better defensively. On paper, the Panthers should be competing for a playoff spot every season. However, that is not the case this season. They remain on the outside looking in with the push towards the playoffs in progress. And the feeling is if the Panthers do not make the playoffs, there could be even more cost-cutting coming. It would not surprise anyone as Johnston reported that the Panthers would no longer be a cap team. Again that is all contingent on how the Panthers do over the next several weeks.
Coronavirus and the NHL
Rumour: With the coronavirus affecting the world’s population, Rick Westhead reported today that if the virus starts to spread even rapidly, sports leagues may have to consider cancelling, postponing, or playing games without spectators.
In a memo to teams sent Friday, the NHL advised frequent hand washing for players/team staff, more teleconference meetings, and monitoring of alerts from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
— Rick Westhead (@rwesthead) March 2, 2020
Analysis: This should not come as any surprise. The IIHF already cancelled six lower-tier international tournaments that were scheduled in March. In addition, Switzerland postponed its playoffs until at least March 15th. Not to mention the PWHPA cancelled their trip to Tokyo. The NHL needs to closely monitor the situation. But will need to do what is best for the safety of its players. While the IIHF has no plans to cancel their major tournaments scheduled for April and May, they continue to monitor the situation. That is something the NHL has started to do and must continue to do just in case the virus spreads.
As Westhead noted the NHL did send out a memo to their teams to continue with safety measures. They urged players and staff are encouraged to wash their hands. However, the NHL does not need to overreact to the fear that is being spread throughout the news networks. As IIHF President Rene Fasel noted, the 2020 IIHF World Championships will not be “ghost championships.” With Fasel and NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman constantly talking, both know cancelling games hurts the overall bottom line. With the NHL being heavily gate driven and if there is a ban on large gatherings then the players don’t receive their share of the revenue.
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