With each passing day the NHL inches closer to returning. While there is still some time before training camps start, you know things are inching closer when the rumours are starting to pick up. The team here at the Last Word On Hockey will keep fans up to date on the latest NHL rumours and rumblings around the league. Today’s NHL Rumours feature the Toronto Maple Leafs, New Jersey Devils, and Philadelphia Flyers.
Toronto Maple Leafs
Analysis: This is an intriguing question. One because Bozak performed well with the Maple Leafs. And two he has nothing but great memories from his time in Toronto. Not to mention the Maple Leafs have a need for a third-line centre. However, every move comes with a cost. With the Maple Leafs up against the salary cap bringing Bozak will be tough. He is in the final year of his contract, with a salary-cap hit of $5 million. This does not give them much wiggle room. This means general manager Kyle Dubas will have to ship out someone a lot cheaper to make it work. Plus Bozak has a modified no-trade clause. However, surely he would accept a trade to the Leafs.
Toronto would love a dependable centre like Bozak who wins 55 percent of his draws and can chip in with some secondary scoring. However, the bigger problem is his age. Bozak is 34 and his production is on the decline. The Maple Leafs would want someone younger and cheaper who could do the same things Bozak can. Dubas can only hope that Alexander Kerfoot, Kasperi Kapanen, or Andreas Johnsson can provide similar production to what Bozak did. Of those players, only Kerfoot has experience at centre. If they don’t value you Kerfoot as a legitimate third-line centre and find him better suited on the wing, they may be better off looking at a cheaper option on the open market.
New Jersey Devils
Rumour: In the latest edition of Slap Shots, Larry Brooks of the New York Post looks at the confusion coming from within the New Jersey Devils organization as they continue to try to find a general manager and a coach.
Analysis: Ever since Ray Shero was fired back in January, there have been a lot of mixed signals coming from the Devils organization. In particular ownership. There is no clear direction on what they want this team to be or where they want them to go. This past offseason Shero was allowed to trade for P.K. Subban and Nikita Gusev. Those were signs of a team being out of rebuild mode. After the slow start and the coach being fired, they let him trade away Taylor Hall. It seemed ownership clearly felt the Devils should have been further along in the process by now. However, not having a hierarchy is what is causing all this mess. All the departments are working against each other instead of working together.
For example, how does the analytics department answer straight to the owner and not to the general manager? Now ownership wants to play divide and conquer with the candidates interviewing for the general manager and coaching positions. If the Devils do not want to keep Tom Fitzgerald or Alain Nasreddine around they need to say so. And if they do, they should say that too. In most cases, a guy like Fitzgerald would have gotten a vote of confidence after what he did at the trade deadline. As it stands right now it appears Peter Laviolette is the front runner for the head coach position, with guys like Gerard Gallant and Nasreddine still in the mix.
This is where a message and direction can come into play. The process can only go so far. Sometimes it needs direction. And having information like this get out only makes people question do the owners know what they are doing?
Rumour: Sam Charcidi of the Philadelphia Inquirer answers questions from the fans and in particular which Philadelphia Flyers player will be traded come seasons end? He says Shayne Gostisbehere will be the player.
Analysis: This makes the most logical sense. Gostisbehere’s name has been out there for months now. However, to give up on a defenceman that has loads of potential, the Flyers better get a good return. Sometimes it is not wise for teams to give up players when they are at their lowest point. And despite his back to back subpar seasons, he still has the ability to bounce back. But Philadelphia is a tough place to play even when times are good. When times are tough, it is even worse. This season Gostisbehere was hindered by a knee injury, which required surgery.
No team will give the Flyers the return they want knowing he has not been on the ice in months. The best thing the Flyers can hope for is that Gostisbehere returns to the ice next season and is able to get his numbers back up so another team can take a chance on him at the trade deadline. Teams are in need of defencemen. And coaches around the league love fixing those players that are broken. Then again a change of scenery for Gostisbehere could be what is needed for him to get his career back on track.
Keep an eye out for another edition of NHL Rumours in the days ahead.
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