NHL Rumors: Hurricanes, Senators, Blue Jackets, Oilers, More

In today’s NHL rumor rundown, there is talk that the Carolina Hurricanes might try to improve their goaltending situation during the season. In Ottawa, there is chatter about who the Senators and might lose in the NHL expansion draft. In Edmonton, could Mike Smith lose the backup goaltending job? Finally, are the Columbus Blue Jackets worried that Pierre-Luc Dubois hasn’t signed yet?

Hurricanes to Look for Goaltending Help?

James O’Brien of NBC Sports recently discussed the Carolina Hurricanes decision to stick with goaltenders Petr Mrazek and James Reimer rather than upgrade in goal. He wonders if that means they’ll try to upgrade at this year’s NHL trade deadline?

Petr Mrazek, Carolina Hurricanes
Petr Mrazek, Carolina Hurricanes (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Suggesting their targets could be Arizona’s Antti Raanta, Boston’s Tuukka Rask, or Vega’s Marc-Andre Fleury, the belief is that the team needs to have better netminding to be a real competitor and they know it. Not to mention, Mrazek and Reimer are unrestricted free agents at the end of this season. If they choose to test the market, the Hurricanes will need to find a goaltender regardless.

Senators Could Leave Surprising Players Unprotected in Expansion

Suggesting the Ottawa Senators will protect capable defenseman Mike Reilly (she included him tentatively), Hailey Salvian of The Athletic notes, “That leaves Zaitsev and Josh Brown.”

She writes that this past season was Nikita Zaitsev’s worst since he joined the NHL, but he still has some value on the Senators’ penalty kill and is often used as a defensive forward against other teams’ best. She writes he was one of, “D.J. Smith’s most used defenders, finishing behind Chabot in average ice time.”

As for Brown, Salvian notes:

Josh Brown should prove to be an interesting candidate. The team sent an asset to acquire him this summer and extended him to a two-year, one-way deal, showing confidence in what he can provide to the Senators’ blue line.

source – ‘Seattle Kraken expansion mock draft 5.0: Who could the Senators lose?’ – Hailey Salvian – The Athletic – 12/07/2020
Matt Murray Pittsburgh Penguins
Matt Murray, Pittsburgh Penguins (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

What’s also interesting is that Salvian suggests the Senators might not protect newly-signed goaltender Matt Murray. Suggesting that ticket price on the 26-year-old’s contract is so high, Seattle would be deterred from taking him. She notes, “In a way, his contract acts as protection.”

This would allow the Senators to fill the exposure requirement protect one of their younger goalies in Marcus Hogberg or Joey Daccord.

Related: Prospects News & Rumors: Sweden, Lundell, Dahlen & Dorofeyev

Blue Jackets Aren’t Worried About Dubois

Despite the fact he’s not signed yet and the season is getting closer, Columbus Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen isn’t worried about a Pierre-Luc Dubois deal not being finalized.

Jacob Nitzberg of 1st Ohio Battery notes that Kekalainen was on SiriusXM radio and said that even if things stretched out all the way up to training camp, the Blue Jackets have faith in their relationship with the player and his agent. Kekalainen said:

“I’m confident that we’ll have Pierre-Luc Dubois under contract before the first day of training camp…we’ve always had a good relationship with Pat Brisson (Dubois’ agent) and his company. We’ve had good negotiations with previous players that (have) had their contract up like Zach Werenski last year. We got it done just before training camp. (Werenski is a) huge part of our team, as is Pierre-Luc Dubois, so I’m confident things will get done.”

Oilers’ Smith Could Lose Backup Job

While the expected goaltending tandem in Edmonton this season is Mikko Koskinen and Mike Smith, Allan Mitchell of The Athletic believes there is a decent chance recently signed Anton Forsberg gets some action this coming season and could actually wind up stealing the backup job.

Mike Smith Edmonton Oilers
Mike Smith, Edmonton Oilers (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Mitchell writes that if Smith falters, Forsberg will be with the club thanks to the new rules for taxi players/black aces and that could make it easy for head coach Dave Tippet to give Forsberg a look. Mitchell says Forsberg isn’t likely a long-term fit in Edmonton but writes:

I think it’s reasonable to suggest that all three goalies will play for the Oilers this season and that Holland may be shopping in-season for help if Koskinen-Smith struggle and the club loses sight of a playoff spot.

source – ‘Lowetide: Why Anton Forsberg could win the Oilers’ backup job in 2020-21’ – All am Mitchell – The Athletic – 12/12/2020

Five Moves to Keep Watching For

Suggesting the conversation on these trades might not be over yet, Ryan Dixon of Sportsnet recently wrote that that there are five potential moves to watch for before next NHL season.

He noted we should keep an eye on the Lightning and Golden Knights cap crunch situation, Patrik Laine’s contract situation, the Mathew Barzal deal and an Oliver Ekman-Larsson trade.

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