Hello and welcome to another edition of NHL Rumours. Even though the NHL season is paused for the moment, we here at Last Word on Hockey will continue to bring the best analysis and news regarding the current state of the season. Today’s NHL rumours feature, the Boston Bruins, Edmonton Oilers and New York Islanders.
Rumour: The Boston Bruins may have to think about the future sooner than they thought. In an interview with Matt Porter of the Boston Globe Bruins goaltender, Tuukka Rask told him that there is a possibility he could retire after his contract expires.
— theScore (@theScore) March 22, 2020
Analysis: While this comment is strange to some, this is not the first time Rask has mentioned retirement. After winning the 2019 Winter Classic at Notre Stadium, he told the media that he might have played in his last outdoor and could be watching the next one from the press box. Rask has got a lot of wear and tear on his body since entering the league in 2007-08 season. He has played in 536 games and has been the Stanley Cup Final three times. But what makes the comment even stranger is that Rask is in the middle of a Vezina Trophy season as he has a record of 26-8-6, with a 2.12 goals-against average and a .929 save percentage. The 33-year old still has a year left on his deal on his contract after this season.
While most goalies come into their prime during their late 20’s and can play to their 30’s or even longer, Rask is a guy who is not all about that hockey life. He has other commitments outside of hockey. Not to mention over the last three seasons he had concussions that have knocked him out of commission for long periods of time. The grind of recovery is wearing on Rask and when he has time off he takes full advantage of it. He lets his body recover rather than be on the ice. He’d rather spend time with his family and explore other interests outside of hockey. Even though he has not won a Stanley Cup as a starting goalie, that is not a strong reason for him to stick around once his contract is over.
Rumour: In an interview with David Staples of the Edmonton Journal, Mikko Marner, the head coach for Jesse Puljujarvi‘s Finnish team, said that it is better for Puljujarvi to develop another season in Finland than go back to the NHL.
Analysis: This makes sense on all levels. Puljujarvi was rushed by the Edmonton Oilers to the NHL. During his time in the NHL, it was a rough period as he transitioned from the European game to the North-American style. Puljujarvi was sent to the AHL to clean up his act and find his game. After requesting a trade of Edmonton, Puljujarvi went back to Finland to play. He signed with Karpat and found his love for the game again. During this past year, Puljujarvi played an important role for Karpat, a team he had success with prior to going to Edmonton. Having a big role with a team is what suits Puljujarvi the best. Both sides are to blame for why Puljujarvi did not develop in the NHL.
While Puljujarvi wants out of Edmonton, the Oilers still own his rights. They need to find a team to take him. For young players, it is all about development. For Puljujarvi, why not stay another year in Finland. If he is happy playing there, then build your stock up even more. Not to mention the Oilers are clearly moving on from him with the emergence of Kailer Yamamoto and signing Zack Kassian to a long-term deal. The Oilers have more depth at the right-wing position than they did in years past. So there is no need to rush him back.
New York Islanders
Rumour: With the season on pause New York Islanders general manager Lou Lamoriello took time to answer questions from the fans. Lamoriello was asked about goaltending prospect Ilya Sorokin and he told them that Sorokin will be in the NHL next season.
Analysis: There was some confusion during the NHL Trade Deadline whether or not the Islanders had traded their goaltending prospect to the Chicago Blackhawks. Ultimately, Sorokin was not traded and remains a prospect of the Islanders. He currently plays in the KHL, but his contract expires at the end of this KHL season. Sorokin put up great numbers again with a 1.59 goals-against average and .931 save percentage in 32 starts with CSKA Moscow. The Islanders have their goalie of the future in Sorokin. However, there are reports the KHL will make him a lucrative offer to stay. The Islanders will likely try and match whatever the offer is to get him to play in North America.
Sorokin will not make a decision anytime soon. Once the league resumes, this will be one negotiation to watch. Even though the Islanders have a solid support system in Russia, the team wants Sorokin in the NHL. Sorokin is one of the best prospects not playing in the league. If the Islanders can lure Sorokin over to North America, this will be a huge get for a team desperate to make a good headline. Now with the KHL season officially cancelled, could Sorokin come to the Islanders sooner than they thought.
That does for this edition for NHL Rumours, keep your eyes peeled for more this week.
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