In today’s NHL rumors rundown, the New Jersey Devils are working on an extension for their general manager despite a dreadful season. Meanwhile, the Vancouver Canucks are expect to start serious conversations with their head coach about staying, while the Montreal Canadiens have some important roster decisions to make. Finally, the Edmonton Oilers have to watch that NHL teams don’t scoop their AHL coach and there’s injury news on Zack Kassian.
Devils Working on Extension For Fitzgerald
As per Elliotte Friedman in his latest 31 Thoughts article, “Is New Jersey working towards an extension with Tom Fitzgerald as general manager? Sounds like it.” He adds, that while the current GM has some term on his contract with the team, it doesn’t extend to the specific job as general manager.
Considering the terrible season the Devils have had and how they are among the worst teams in the NHL for goals against, there is talk the organization generally believes the team is moving in the right direction. The franchise likes that Fitzgerald was able to land a first-round selection back at the trade deadline for Kyle Palmieri and Travis Zajac, giving them some extra chips to build with and he also made some low-cost additions in the form of Ryan Murray and Andreas Johnsson.
Canucks to Have Serious Talks With Green
Friedman also notes he expects Vancouver to get serious with head coach Travis Green when it comes to talks about his future with the team. He writes, “It’s believed there’s a gap, but I’m not sure there’s been much in the way of intense negotiations for some time, if there’ve been any at all.”
The Canucks have been knocked for taking so long to get this deal done and there’s been buzz that perhaps Green has mentally prepared himself to move on. The Canucks don’t want that and this team has been through a lot this season with Green guiding everyone through a tough season on multiple fronts.
Canadiens With Serious Roster Decisions to Make
** Update: Jonathan Drouin has taken a leave of absence indefinitely from the Canadiens for personal reasons. Drouin on LTIR leaves $5.82M of $9.25M available, which enables flexibility to keep Caufield and Evans on the active roster. @TSN_Edge.
Prior to the Drouin news, it was believed the Canadiens might have to say goodbye to Cole Caufield sooner than they’d liked. The forward saw his first NHL action on Monday night when Alexander Romanov was sent to the taxi squad but Montreal has only one post-trade-deadline recall remaining.
Once Paul Byron or Jonathan Drouin are deemed healthy, Caufield and Jake Evans must leave the active roster immediately. If one of Caufield, Evans or Romanov are brought back following Byron and Drouin’s return, Montreal burns its final call-up and only Byron and Romanov can be moved the taxi squad again.
Essentially, the Canadiens have to make a choice and Caufield could be forced back to the AHL (assuming they want him to play games) until the Laval season is done. The process is complicated, but Arpon Basu of The Athletic took a closer look. He wrote:
The reason this is now very complicated is that Caufield and Evans looked like they deserved another game. But seeing as they are both on emergency recalls, they must go back to the taxi squad once the Canadiens get healthy. So, for instance, if Drouin is able to play against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Wednesday, then either Evans or Caufield must go back to the taxi squad. If Byron is also healthy, then both of them need to go down, though neither deserves it..
But Romanov doesn’t deserve it either, and in order to get him back in the lineup, the Canadiens would need to use their final regular recall on him. That would mean Evans and Caufield would have to wait on the taxi squad until the playoffs, when all these restrictions get lifted.source – ‘Canadiens’ critical win over Flames was fueled by fresh legs we might not see again until the playoffs’ – Arpon Basu – The Athletic – 04/27/2021
At the end of the day, there’s no easy way to have these three players — Evans, Caufield and Romanov — on the roster at the same time with a healthy Drouin and Byron.
Oilers Updates on Jay Woodcroft and Zack Kassian
Friedman pointed out that the recent call-up of Ryan McLeod to the Oilers and how well he played in his debut speaks highly of Bakersfield coach Jay Woodcroft. Friedman believes the coach could become a dark horse for any of the bench boss openings in the NHL.
The Condors have exceled under Woodcroft’s guidance and prospects are taking major development steps. The team’s record is vastly improved and Woodcroft’s long history as an NHL assistant coach will help his job prospects too.
In other Oilers news, the team has placed Zack Kassian on LTIR, retroactive to April 22nd. That would mean his 10 games or 24 days period of having to stay out of the lineup would end on May 15th. The playoffs for the Oilers start on May 16th. Because the recalls to date have been done on an emergency basis, the Oilers have only used one of their four post-deadline recalls.
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.”