Welcome to Saturday morning, as the Last Word on Hockey staff brings you another bunch of NHL Rumours. As often as we can, we’re putting out articles that break down some of the biggest rumblings from around the league, analyzing their significance and impact. Although the season may be paused, the jobs of general managers are not, leading to some interesting storylines to focus on. Today, we look at what’s surrounding the Vancouver Canucks, San Jose Sharks, and Winnipeg Jets.
Sven Baertschi’s agent André Rufener says lots of European teams are calling about his client, “the discussions are short. Sven wants to play in NHL, whether it ’s Vancouver or not, he will be ready.”
— Rick Dhaliwal (@DhaliwalSports) April 1, 2020
Analysis: While Baertschi has been a nice middle-six piece throughout his career, he has constantly been plagued by injury issues. He’s never played a full season, and he only played 26 games in the 2018-19 season.
Baertschi was able to maintain his health this season but only ended up playing in six NHL games with the Canucks. Vancouver fans were shocked when he was placed on waivers at the beginning of the season, and he was reassigned to the AHL’s Utica Comets soon after. Baertschi was a good sport about the whole ordeal and ended up putting up great numbers in the minors (46 points in 43 games). It was his first AHL action since 2014-15 when he was still trying to break into the league full-time.
Vancouver does not see the forward, who has one year left on his deal, as a part of the team’s future if they were willing to risk losing him for free on waivers. Baertschi feels as though he has something to prove after his demotion, and he’s looking to do so elsewhere in the NHL. For the 27-year-old former Portland Winterhawks phenom, it’s an opportunity to get a breath of fresh air in a still-promising NHL career.
San Jose Sharks
— Kevin Kurz (@KKurzNHL) April 3, 2020
Analysis: Boughner is no stranger to the Sharks organization. His second NHL coaching gig was with the team, serving as an assistant coach for the 2015-16 and 2016-17 seasons. He previously served as an assistant coach for the Columbus Blue Jackets in the 2010-11 season. His two-year stint with the Sharks was impressive enough, as the Florida Panthers brought him on as their head coach for the 2017-18 season, but he was fired after the conclusion of the 2018-19 season. He returned to his assistant coach role with the Sharks and was promoted to the role of interim head coach after the firing of Peter DeBoer.
Boughner has a history with a majority of these players. Their play has largely stabilized since Boughner took over the bench, but that isn’t necessarily a good thing. While they’ve been better defensively, their offence has struggled as well as their goaltending. The team wasn’t able to make a playoff push as they sit near the bottom of the Western Conference.
However, a constant may end up being just what the Sharks need in such a turbulent time. In a season that saw in the influx of many young prospects into the lineup as well as dealing with some significant offseason departures, the Sharks need a reset. As their core ages out and pieces move along, Boughner serves as a transitional rock. Hopefully, for the front office and fans, the move pans out.
Rumour: As mentioned on TSN’s Insider Trading, all parties involved appear to have approved the path towards a contract termination for defenceman Dustin Byfuglien.
ICYMI, INSIDER TRADING: #TSNHockey Insiders discuss…
– Players considering foregoing final cheque
– Which OHL team could take a chance on Adam Fantilli
– Photoshopping NHL team pictures?
– Retired players/lifetime health care
— TSN Hockey (@TSNHockey) April 3, 2020
Analysis: The lost 2019-20 campaign for Byfuglien has turned into quite the saga. After reportedly considering retirement and not reporting for training camp, the Jets ended up suspending him for failure to report to the team. Byfuglien then revealed he was recovering from an ankle injury, and the NHLPA appealed the Jets’ suspension. However, nothing ever came of it, and over the last few months, Byfuglien and the Jets seemed to move towards a contract termination. Byfuglien only has one year left on his contract, but it’s at a rather steep $7.6 million cap hit, which is a lot to pay for someone with injury issues in the twilight of their career.
Pending termination, Byfuglien becomes an unrestricted free agent and can sign anywhere in the league.
The former right-wing-turned-defenceman can still put up some points. However, n the 2018-19 campaign, Byfuglien netted 31 points in just 42 games and posted eight points in just six playoff games. If Byfuglien continues his NHL career, he could immediately become an impactful addition to a team’s blueline.
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