NHL Rumors: Bruins, Oilers, Maple Leafs, Penguins, More

In today’s NHL rumor rundown, the Boston Bruins are losing goaltender Tuukka Rask for the remainder of the playoffs. Why is Rask leaving in the midst of a series with the Hurricanes? There is also buzz that perhaps the Edmonton Oilers and Toronto Maple Leafs might be a good fit to make a trade. Finally, is there friction between Evgeni Malkin and coach Mike Sullivan?

Rask Leaving Bruins Mid-Playoffs, Opts Out of Return

Boston Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask has opted out of the remainder of the NHL’s Return to Play and will not be with the team as they try to complete the 2020 NHL playoffs.

Tuukka Rask Boston Bruins
Tuukka Rask, Boston Bruins (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Rask said of his decision to leave:

“I want to be with my teammates competing, but at this moment there are things more important than hockey in my life, and that is being with my family. “I want to thank the Bruins and my teammates for their support and wish them success.”

Some have speculated that perhaps his departure has something to do with his recent statements that the NHL playoffs are “dull at times” and the environment didn’t feel like playoff hockey. Some had even suggested that maybe there’s an issue with the team after the comments were made.

Related: Bruins’ Rask Draws Out the Haters With Post-Game Comments

It doesn’t appear that’s an accurate reflection of what’s really going on. GM Don Sweeney suggested leaving had nothing to do with the comments and indicated the netminder has a newborn child and two other young children at home and that being away from them proved to be too much of a mental strain. Sweeney added that the organization fully supports Rask’s decision and said, “We understand completely where Tuukka is coming from.”

Chris Johnston of Sportsnet added, “Nothing should be read into Tuukka Rask’s decision to leave the NHL bubble regarding his future beyond these playoffs. It’s specific to the moment.”

Related: When Do the Bruins Start to Worry?

Maple Leafs and Oilers Good Trade Fit?

There’s some talk circling that perhaps the Edmonton Oilers and Toronto Maple Leafs might find that they are good trade partners over the next few weeks. Speculation is that a deal to send a defenseman to Toronto could bring a forward back to the Oilers to help Connor McDavid.

Former GM and now hockey analyst Brian Burke noted during an interview with Bob Stauffer on Oilers Now, “It’s obvious their [Oilers] defence needs an upgrade or a change, but other than that, it’s a positive year….” He added, when talking about the Oilers blue line, I’m not saying they’re not good enough. But they didn’t play well enough.” Burke suggested it could be time for a change of scenery for a couple guys.

Edmonton Oilers Adam Larsson
Edmonton Oilers’ Adam Larsson (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson)

Stauffer suggested a player like Kasperi Kapanen or Andreas Johnsson could be part of a deal to the Oilers and there was talk that maybe Adam Larsson could be the player going the other way. Burke responded, “Those might be fits.” He added, “Those guys are both good players that you mentioned from here (Toronto). I think Larsson is a really good player. He didn’t have a great year, but I think he’s a really good shut down guy. There could be a fit there.”

Burke isn’t the only one who wonders if Larsson leaving the Oilers is a possibility. Mark Spector of Sportsnet noted that this could be the best time to move a player like Larsson because so many teams are coveting sold defenseman on decent contracts. “Look at the Toronto Maple Leafs? Do they need Adam Larsson. You bet they need Adam Larsson. And there’s other teams that would say the same thing,” Spector noted.

Related: Maple Leafs News & Rumors: Tavares Trade, Prospects, Muzzin & More

Malkin Unhappy With Penguins’ Decision to Fire Gonchar?

Josh Yohe and Rob Rossi of The Athletic discussed speculation that Evegeni Malkin might be upset with the Penguins organization for choosing to release his good friend Sergei Gonchar as one of the assistant coaches and there might be friction between head coach Mike Sullivan and the superstar center.

Evgeni Malkin Pittsburgh Penguins
Evgeni Malkin, Pittsburgh Penguins (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

They write that this is not the case. They explained:

Though Gonchar is particularly close to Malkin, his dismissal is not a signal of renewed strain between Malkin and Sullivan. Management believes Malkin respects Sullivan, that any disputes are mostly the result of differing personalities occasionally clashing — “healthy tension,” as described by one team employee.

source – ‘Inside the Penguins’ collapse and the big changes still to come’ – Rob Rossi and Josh Yohe -The Athletic – 08/13/2020

They also said Penguins captain Sidney Crosby has made it clear he doesn’t want Malkin traded unless the center asks to be moved.

Catch up on all the latest NHL Rumors