In today’s NHL rumors rundown, the Toronto Maple Leafs didn’t have Auston Matthews available for their game on Sunday. How serious is the injury that is keeping him out of the lineup?
The New York Rangers are hoping to keep Andrew Copp around, but it’s not clear what the plan is for Alexi Lafreniere. There are updates on some key injuries to the Boston Bruins roster and can the Philadelphia Flyers make an “aggressive retool” actually work?
Auston Matthews Injury Update
It was learned Sunday that when Maple Leafs’ coach Sheldon Keefe informed the media that Matthews would not be in the lineup against the New York Islanders. The forward was dealing with a minor injury and was considered day-to-day. Keefe said, “It’s really out of an abundance of caution. We’ll give him the day off and re-assess him from there.”
Damien Cox writes, “So whatever the issue is, just be assured the Leafs are not telling the truth about whatever is wrong with Auston Matthews. If I were a Leaf fan, I’d be concerned his surgically repaired wrist is acting up.” Cox couldn’t provide any proof of something more being wrong than just Matthews being kept out for precautionary reasons, but it’s a bit concerning that something could be wrong with his wrist.
Will Rangers Try to Re-Sign Andrew Copp?
As per Larry Brooks of the New York Post, the Rangers will likely try to sign Andrew Copp to a contract extension in the offseason. Given how well he’s played since his arrival and how quickly he’s adjusted since coming over in a trade from the Winnipeg Jets, the Rangers like the idea of him continuing on and playing on the second line alongside Artemi Panarin and Ryan Strome.
So too, if the Rangers make a run and get deep into the playoffs, the cost of acquiring Copp increases, and the Rangers would like to see something for that return. If the Rangers advance to the conference finals, the price they paid would be (hypothetically) a first-rounder in 2022, a second-rounder in either 2022 or 2023, and Morgan Barron.
Rangers Won’t Dare Sit Lafreniere
Also with the Rangers, Brooks argues that it is inconceivable that Alexis Lafreniere could wind up as a healthy scratch for Game 1 of the first round of this year’s playoffs. Lafreniere scored an incredible goal the other night but he’s got only two points in his last nine games after seven points in the six games prior to his slump. Inconsistent has been a good adjective to describe his game. That said, if the Rangers sat him, Brooks writes, “The narrative surrounding that decision would be overwhelming and would all but certainly invite a consequential fallout.”
There was talk before the NHL Trade Deadline that the Rangers would have considered moving Lafreniere in trade, assuming the team acquiring him was willing to give up a huge return. How long Lafreniere’s leash will be in the playoffs if he doesn’t produce will be an interesting storyline to watch.
Bruins Injury News
According to Steve Conroy of the Boston Herald, Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy is hoping that both Hampus Lindholm and David Pastrnak could be available by this weekend. Neither is traveling with the team during their current road trip that will see them play the St. Louis Blues on Tuesday and the Pittsburgh Penguins on Thursday before heading home.
Goaltender Linus Ullmark and forward Jesper Froden did not travel with the team either.
Flyers’ “Retool” Efforts Are in Trouble
Charlie O’Connor of The Athletic writes that getting back injured players like Sean Couturier and Ryan Ellis are only going to make a very poor Flyers team a little bit better. He notes that the team just isn’t anywhere near good enough in its current form. He also argues that the idea of an “aggressive retool” in Philadelphia could, but likely won’t work.
He writes that a lot has to go right explaining it only works if:
The Flyers get healthy. They replace Giroux and also acquire another big-time weapon. They have some developmental luck for the first time since Shayne Gostisbehere or even as far back as Giroux himself. They stabilize themselves off the ice. And somehow, someway, they remain under the $82.5 million cap ceiling in the process.source – ‘Why Flyers’ promised “aggressive retool” is shaping up to be a near-impossible task’ – Charlie O’Connor – The Athletic – 04/18/2022
To do this, the Flyers will have to mortgage the future, trade draft picks, and relinquish prospects. he says the team will also need to sign or acquire players in their late 20s and early 30s on massive contracts.
Jim Parsons is a senior THW freelance writer, part-time journalist and audio/video host who lives, eats, sleeps and breathes NHL news and rumors, while also writing features on the Edmonton Oilers. He’s been a trusted source for five-plus years at The Hockey Writers, but more than that, he’s on a mission to keep readers up to date with the latest NHL rumors and trade talk. Jim is a daily must for readers who want to be “in the know.”