NHL Rumors: Canucks, Penguins, Oilers, Panthers, More

In today’s NHL rumor rundown, there is speculation already surrounding teams that have made an early exit from the 2020 NHL play-in rounds. Who played themselves into a trade? Who won’t get re-signed? How will teams improve? And, in a strange story, two former Vancouver Canucks players have a different opinion about what was included in a particular goaltender’s contract.

Luongo Shocked By Bieksa’s Claim

Former NHL defenseman Kevin Bieksa is now an analyst during the Sportsnet broadcasts of these NHL playoffs and he made an interesting comment during a recent broadcast that has another former teammate of his confused.

Florida Panthers goaltender Roberto Luongo
Florida Panthers goaltender Roberto Luongo (AP Photo/Jose Juarez)

Bieksa claimed that Robert Luongo had language written into his contract that would allow him to veto the Canucks decision to put him in goal during back to back games on the road. He said, “Luongo had a clause in his contract where he didn’t have to play back-to-back games on the road if he didn’t want.”

If true, it would be an interesting clause for a goaltender to work into a deal. It might also be something that, to some, could make Luongo look like a bit of a high-maintenance player. But, Luongo appears to be denying the claim.

In a one-word tweet, the former netminder responded, “Wut?”

Penguins To Decide Between Jarry and Murray

Numerous media are taking a look at some important off-season decisions for teams that have been eliminated from the play-ins. Among them are the Pittsburgh Penguins, Florida Panthers, and Edmonton Oilers.

For Pittsburgh, following their qualifying-round exit to the No. 12 seed Montreal Canadiens, a decision over which netminder to keep is critical. Both Matt Murray and Tristan Jarry are restricted free agent goaltenders and neither necessarily played their way into the starting role with the club next season. Since the Penguins also need to shore up their blue line and re-sign most of their young RFA forwards, there won’t be money left for both netminders.

Matt Vendel of the Pittsburgh Post Gazette also wondered if general manager Jim Rutherford might dangle veteran defenseman Kris Letang.

Kris Letang Penguins
Kris Letang, Pittsburgh Penguins, January 2, 2018 (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

He writes:

Will the Penguins move on from Murray three years after they chose him over Marc-Andre Fleury? Could Letang be dangled in a trade to allow them to shake up the core? Will Rutherford, with little salary cap space, think even bigger?

source – ‘Analysis: Penguins’ season ends as a dud after fizzling down the stretch’ – Matt Vensel – Pittsburgh Post Gazette – 08/07/2020

Related: Top 3 Montreal Canadiens Playoff Performances Since 2000

Panthers to Make Numerous Moves?

While the news of GM Dale Fallon possibly getting fired surfaced Friday, what other moves might follow? Matt Larkin of The Hockey news believes winger Mike Hoffman and Evgenii Dadonov could be departing via the unrestricted free agent market.

There are some serious questions that will need to be answered out of Florida, but deciding about how to actually run the hockey team might be key among them.

Oilers Have a Few Needs

In Edmonton, the team should try to provide more support for Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl. Both carried the load for the Oilers (along with Ryan Nugent-Hopkins). Could Hoffman be an option? He played well for Florida but won’t be inexpensive.

Darnell Nurse Edmonton Oilers
Darnell Nurse, Edmonton Oilers (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

There is a lot of talk surrounding Darnell Nurse’s performance in the series versus the Hawks and how often he turned the puck over and took undisciplined penalties. He’s set to jump up in salary to $5.6 million player next season and some are wondering if the emergence of players like Ethan Bear and the expected growth of players like Philip Broberg and Evan Bouchard will make Nurse expendable.

There is a counter-argument to that thought in that the blue line is already a weakness for Edmonton. Daniel Nugent-Bowman of The Athletic feels adding a top-four defenseman should be a priority for the Oilers but doesn’t blame Nurse. He writes:

A top-four defenceman seems imperative, too, especially with Adam Larsson’s inconsistent output during the season and struggles (in two games) during the Chicago series.

source – ‘The Oilers have some disappointing lessons to learn — even in season of progress’ – Daniel Nugent-Bowman – The Athletic – 08/07/2020

He also thinks the Oilers will try to find a replacement in goal for Mike Smith.

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