Another Monday without hockey does not mean the news has to stop. There are still plenty of NHL Rumours to talk about. As always, the team at Last Word on Hockey will continue to keep fans updated on the latest NHL rumours and rumblings around the league. Today’s NHL rumours feature the New Jersey Devils, Edmonton Oilers, Florida Panthers, and 2020-21 Regular Season.
New Jersey Devils
Analysis: As we know the Devils have begun interviewing potential candidates for their head coach position currently held by Alain Nasreddine. It is clear from Devils ownership that Nasreddine will not be the bench boss come next season. The Devils are looking for an established coach to help their young team succeed going forward. Their first choice and the leading candidate is Gerard Gallant. However, the Devils need to have other options just in case Gallant falls through. Not to mention they need to do their due diligence before hiring a new coach. That is why they interviewed John Stevens.
Stevens has a proven track record as a coach and could be a good fit for the Devils. His first stint as a head coach came with the Philadelphia Flyers back in 2006. Stevens led the Flyers to two playoff appearances including a trip to the Eastern Conference Finals in 2008. After being an assistant with the Los Angeles Kings under Darryl Sutter, where he won two Stanley Cups in 2012 and 2014, Stevens took over the Kings before the start of the 2017-18 season. He guided the club to a 98-point season and a playoff appearance. However, his team was swept out of the playoffs by the Vegas Golden Knights. With these interviews taking place, ownership appears to have faith in general manager Tom Fitzgerald to find the new coach.
Rumour: David Staples of the Edmonton Journal via the Russian hockey site Al.hockey.run wrote that Edmonton Oilers forward Markus Granlund will be leaving the Oilers to sign a contract with the KHL’s Ufa Salavat Yuleaev next season.
Analysis: It is clear that Granlund and the Oilers are going their separate ways after the end of this season. Again whenever that is nobody really knows. Granlund struggled to get regular playing time with the Oilers. He was sent to the AHL for a period of time. In 34 games with the Oilers this season, he averaged 10:50 per game. Also, he was hardly used on the penalty kill. Players like Riley Sheahan, Josh Archibald, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Jujhar Khaira all played more minutes and were positioned ahead of him on the depth chart.
New Oilers general manager Ken Holland brought in cheap talent Alex Chiasson, Granlund, and Archibald to fill out his roster. Not to mention he traded for Andreas Athanasiou and Tyler Ennis. Holland made enough cheap plays that he only needed a couple to pay off. With so much cheap talent on the roster, there was not enough room for Granlund to play. Granlund will be expendable at the end of the season. He will need to find a place to play come next season. If he can get more playing time elsewhere, Granlund needs to hop on that opportunity. If that is in the KHL then that is where his career will take him.
Rumour: Jokke Nevalainen of Dobberprospects indicates that centre Henrik Borgstrom may be headed back to Finland where he will join Jokerit of the KHL.
Analysis: Borgstrom was the Panthers first-round pick, 23rd overall in the 2016 NHL Draft. He went on to have two stellar seasons in the NCAA at the University of Denver. Once considered one of the Panthers top prospects, he’s bounced between the AHL’s Springfield Thunderbirds and the NHL club over the past two years. In 58 NHL games, he’s scored nine goals and 19 points. Borgstrom has put up 45 points in 73 AHL games in that time. Still just 22 years old, this would be a loss for the Panthers as Borgstrom still has more room to grow.
2020-21 Regular Season
Rumour: As previously mentioned Elliotte Friedman released his latest edition of 31 Thoughts. Freidman mentions that the NHL and NHLPA have agreed that 45 to 55 days will be needed to facilitate an off-season from the end of 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs to the start of the 2020-21 regular season.
Analysis: The NHLPA has made it clear from the beginning that they need an adequate off-season before starting the 2020-21 NHL season. If the NHL were to rush right into playing the next season, there is a higher risk for injuries to occur. Not to mention the players need time to recover from injuries they sustained from the previous season. In addition, teams will need to be able to hold a training camp prior to the start of next season. This will allow teams to bring in their rookies and other players who will be competing for positions.
From the NHL side of things, once this season is over with, they will need to conduct free agency and the draft. Not to mention, the NHL will want to start the 2020-21 season later. This way they can get fans back in the building. Considering the NHL is a gate-driven league, they can’t afford two seasons of not having fans in the building. The NHL is losing out of millions of dollars if they finish out the 2019-20 season including playoffs. They will need to find ways to make up that revenue. Not to mention some owners feel going up against the NFL and college football hurts the bottom line of the NHL. But say the NHL does finish this season in September, then we are looking at a December or a possible January start date for next season.
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