NHL Rumors: Cooper, Canucks, Penguins, More

In today’s NHL rumor rundown, there are updates on the Vancouver Canucks and their blue line, the Tampa Bay Lightning are not going to abandon their coach, and the Pittsburgh Penguins will keep their coach but may move some key names.

What Will the Canucks Do on Their Blue Line?

Ben Kuzma of the Vancouver Province writes the Canucks will be aggressive in trying to fill two roster weaknesses – a top-six right winger and a top-four defenseman. Someone to play with Alex Edler on the blue line could be the priority.

Kuzma writes:

The Canucks need to make a depth decision on UFA defenceman Luke Schenn while RFA blueliners Josh Teves and Brogan Rafferty will need new deals. Hard to imagine the Canucks will bring RFA defenceman Derrick Pouliot back because of his struggles and they also have to figure out where Ashton Sautner, Guillaume Brisebois, Olli Juolevi and Alex Biega work into the mix.

source – ‘Ben Kuzma: How effective could a Hutton-Stecher tandem be next season?’ – The Province – Ben Kuzman – 04/18/2019

The team may try to use free agency or trade but with free agency, the Canucks have limited cap space and some existing players that need new contracts. Winnipeg Jets pending UFA Tyler Myers might be an option, but it could cost more than the $5.5 million per season deal he’s currently on. A trade would need to be made to free up some space.

In respect to the decision the Canucks need to make on Schenn, there was talk the team was happy with his play and might try to re-sign him.

Related: NHL Rumors: Lightning, Penguins, Bobrovsky, More

No Concern For Cooper in Tampa

Tampa Bay Lightning GM Julian BriseBois is fully committed to head coach Jon Cooper, even after the infamous collapse of the team in four games versus the Columbus Blue Jackets. BriseBois told reporters, if he hadn’t already signed Cooper’s extension, he’d be trying to do so right now.

Tampa Bay Lightning Jon Cooper Steven Stamkos
Tampa Bay Lightning head coach Jon Cooper congratulates center Steven Stamkos after becoming the all-time franchise goal leader. (AP Photo/Jason Behnken)

“There’s no sense in looking for the next Coop when I have the original,” BriseBois said to a cast of media members including Caley Chelios at his season-ending media availability. With that, any questions about whether or not the coach was on the hot seat will probably fade away.

There also isn’t expected to be much change in terms of the roster, other than perhaps on the blue line where the team has a number of unrestricted free agents.

Related: NHL Rumors: Lucic, Duchene, Senators, More

Sullivan Not the Issue in Pittsburgh

Sticking with coaching, multiple sources are suggesting Pittsburgh Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan won’t be going anywhere. Dan Kingerski of Pittsburgh Hockey Now suggests he’s not one of the problems.

Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Patric Hornqvist, Mike Sullivan
Pittsburgh Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan, Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Patric Hornqvist (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

Further to that, Jason Mackey of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette writes:

If there’s even a sliver of panic evident occurring within the front office, it’s not getting out publicly.

The sense is almost — weird as this may sound — that such a putrid postseason might actually scare the Penguins straight and remind them of the identity crisis they need to solve.

source – ‘Analysis: For the Penguins, figuring out what they are is priority No. 1’ – Jason Mackey – Pittsburgh Post-Gazette – 04/18/2019

Still, there will be changes and the direction most people believe the team will follow is to try and include more speed.

While there might be a couple of whispers out there, Evgeni Malkin won’t be moved unless he asks to be traded. The same can’t be said about players like Phil Kessel or Justin Schultz, who while the team maybe shouldn’t move either player, might, to get something of value in return.

One team that we might want to watch for in any Kessel talks is the Arizona Coyotes.