NHL Rumors: Canucks, Bruins, Oilers, Canadiens, NHL Bubble, More

In today’s NHL rumors rundown, there are updates on the severity of the COVID situation with the Vancouver Canucks and how all of this might affect the playoffs, including going back to the NHL bubble. Meanwhile, one scribe looks at the top trade options for the Boston Bruins. One particular pending UFA keeps getting a lot more attractive for the Edmonton Oilers and the Montreal Canadiens will be getting some players back. But, are they done?

NHL Playoff Bubble Conversation

As per a report by Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman, the NHL sent out a strongly worded memo to the teams and the NHLPA about how they’ve noticed a more lackadaisical attitude towards following COVID protocols. Everyone has been notified and reminded of what’s expected of them moving forward.

Friedman stated that the NHL certainly doesn’t want to have to go back to a bubble situation for this year’s playoffs, but it’s something they’ll discuss considering the news that hit the Canucks this weekend. “It depends on how the world evolves between now and then,” he said.

As for the Canucks, there are 16 players and three coaches currently affected but that list is likely to grow. The NHL is under the assumption that the entire team has been affected and if the league needs to look at what to do should the team not be able to play another game this season, they’ll cross that bridge when they come to it.

Bruins Top Trade Targets

According to Fluto Shinzawa of The Athletic, the top trade blue line targets for the Boston Bruins include Nashville’s Mattias Ekholm, Arizona’s Alex Goligoski, Detroit’s Jon Merrill and Ottawa’s Mike Reilly. He did also include Vancouver’s Alex Edler, but that was prior to news Edler was added to the Canucks protocol list.  

At forward, he’s listed Columbus’ Riley Nash, New Jersey’s Kyle Palmieri and Miles Wood, Anaheim’s Rickard Rakell, and Detroit’s Bobby Ryan.

Bruins General manager Don Sweeney (Photo: Bill Sikes/Associated Press)

Shinzawa writes:

The Boston Bruins are not comfortable in the East Division. They have games in hand on every opponent. But this also means an even more compressed schedule for their stretch run. This encourages injuries, which the Bruins are already familiar with.

source – ‘Bruins’ top 10 trade targets: Mattias Ekholm an ideal fit, but Alexander Edler a better cost’ – Fluto Shinzawa – The Athletic – 04/02/021

Shinzawa pointed out that historically, general manager Don Sweeney likes to trade for players with term. That said, because of the flat cap and the expansion draft, acquiring pending unrestricted free agents may be Sweeney’s only alternative.

Related: 3 Bruins Takeaways From a Split With the Penguins

Glendening Likely Upped His Value for Oilers

As Kurt Leavins of The Edmonton Journal points out, the Oilers were awful in the faceoff circle Friday night and argues the team really needs another center who can win draws in the playoffs. While Brandon Sutter was a name the Oilers might have been looking at, it’s fair to suggest we remove him from that equation now as he’s under COVID protocol with the Canucks.

One name everyone keeps coming back to is Luke Glendenning from Detroit. Leavins writes:

The RHS center won 15 of his 16 draws in a 2-1 loss to Tampa Bay on Saturday. A huge number of them were in the D-zone. Glendening played 4:32 SH as the Lightning went 0/3 on the PP. But he was also just 6-13, 32% CF 5v5. Hmmm.

source – ‘The Edmonton Oilers deployment on the blue line is a matter of trust: 9 Things’ – Kurt Leavins – Edmonton Journal – 03/04/2021

Canadiens Have the Assets to Add Ekholm

The Canadiens will be getting some key players back into their lineup over the next few days. Tyler Toffoli returns and Eric Staal is coming out of quarantine Sunday. Ben Chiarot, who had surgery to repair a fracture in his right hand on March 15, is back to skating regularly. Eric Engels of Sportsnet writes, “And this team very well might gain more reinforcements between now and the NHL’s April 12 trade deadline.”

Mattias Ekholm Predators
Mattias Ekholm, Nashville Predators Oct. 19, 2017 (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

The way the roster is set right now, names like Artturi Lehkonen, Jake Evans, Joel Armia and Victor Mete are on the outside looking in. They could be used as trade bait. Engels adds that while the Predators are in a playoff spot and Ekholm won’t likely be moved should they stay there, ifthe defenseman were to become available prior to April 12, “I think Bergevin’s in a great position to acquire him without giving away too much of the future.”

Engels suggests the Canadiens have the three assets needed to get a deal done and adds:

Acquiring Ekholm wouldn’t change Montreal’s expansion draft plans much, either. They’d still have to consider incentivizing Seattle to not take goaltender Jake Allen, but protecting Ekholm and exposing another defenceman wouldn’t put them in a more vulnerable spot.

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