NHL News & Rumors: Canucks, Rangers, Hurricanes, Maple Leafs, More

In today’s NHL news and rumors rundown, the Vancouver Canucks have released a statement on the allegations against forward Jake Virtanen. Meanwhile, there’s more information on what the hold up is on a contract extension between the Carolina Hurricanes and coach Rob Brind’Amour. The New York Rangers might be looking at big offseason changes and Zach Hyman has returned to the ice for the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Canucks Release Statement on Virtanen Allegations

After allegations of misconduct surfaced on Saturday, the Canucks have announced forward Jake Virtanen has been put on leave and the forward has been sent home. This is not to suggest Virtanen has been found guilty, but an investigation will take place, seriously looking into what might have happened.

The team released the following statement:

“We have become aware of the concerning allegations made about one of our players. Our organization does not accept sexual misconduct of any kind and the claims as reported are being treated very seriously by us,” said a Canucks spokesperson as per Glacier Media. “We have engaged external expertise to assist in an independent investigation and we have placed the player on leave as we await more information.”

Head coach Travis Green did not want to comment on the situation further before Saturday’s game.

Rangers to Make Big Offseason Changes?

Larry Brooks of The New York Post recently wrote that the Rangers could be looking at an offseason shakeup following Thursday’s 4-0 loss to the New York Islanders. Suggesting players like Artemi Panarin and Mika Zibanejad could be part of the changes to improve mentally against a more physically checking opponent, Brooks questioned the leadership group and whether or not head coach David Quinn was the right fit moving forward.

Artemi Panarin New York Rangers
Artemi Panarin, New York Rangers (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Zibanejad and Ryan Strome are both one year away from unrestricted free agent eligibility and the Rangers have been connected to Jack Eichel trade talks. While Brooks is just speculating at the changes, a disappointing season means no one should be shocked if the Rangers make moves.

Golden Knights Haven’t Spoken to Alec Martinez

According to David Schoen of the Las Vegas Review -Journal the Golden Knights have not held any contract talks with pending free agent defenseman Alec Martinez. The 33-year-old is likely to move on from the organization, unless there’s magic in the postseason that would force the team to considering keeping him.

It’s not that Martinez has played poorly. He has 27 points on the season and averages over 22 minutes per game. And, general manager Kelly McCrimmon acknowledged the blueliner’s value to the lineup, adding talks will happen when appropriate. That said, the Golden Knights are among the most active teams in the free agent and trade market and they will need to free up some salary if they want to play again in the summer.

Brind’Amour Contract Extension Complications

Elliotte Friedman noted during Saturday’s Headlines report for Sportsnet that one of the bigger hurdles the Carolina Hurricanes and Brind’Amour are trying to overcome with a pending contract extension is the fate of his coaching, training and equipment staff. Friedman notes that Brind’Amour might be potentially holding out on signing an extension until he has a guarantee they’ll all be looked after.

Rod Brind'Amour Carolina Hurricanes
Rod Brind’Amour, Carolina Hurricanes (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Friedman believes Brind’Amour will ultimately re-sign with the Hurricanes. That said, he’s made it clear that the future of his staff is as important as his own and he’s willing to lose an extension if his team isn’t part of the equation.

Friedman also suggested that Brind’Aramour would be wildly popular on the coaching free agent market if the Hurricanes chose not to meet his demands.

Hyman Skating Again

Good news for Maple Leafs fans as Zach Hyman has started skating again. This doesn’t mean a return is imminent as the forwards needs to practice before he’ll be game ready, but this is a promising sign. Riley Nash is also skating, which suggests he should be ready for the playoffs.

Wayne Simmonds looked for Alex Edler to answer for his hit on Hyman this past weekend and while there’s some debate about the code when a known tough guy like Simmonds goes after Edler (who doesn’t fight), head coach Sheldon Keefe said:

“His teammates appreciate it and recognize it. It set a good tone for the game. It was nothing that was really talked about beforehand or anything like that. It caught me a little bit off guard, but I think anyone who’s been around the game kinda knew what was happening there. Credit for Wayne to step up and, at the same time, for Edler to participate in that.”