NHL Rumors: Byfuglien, Kucherov, Kings, Maple Leafs, Devils, More

In today’s NHL rumors rundown, there is more information coming to light about Dustin Byfuglien’s apparent sudden change of heart when it comes to work with the Winnipeg Jets. Elliotte Friedman asks if the Los Angeles Kings are the most motivated team to make a trade in the NHL and suggest two interesting names from the Toronto Maple Leafs might be available. And, is Nikita Kucherov getting benched a sign of trouble in Tampa Bay?

Byfuglien and Jets Kiss and Make Up?

According to Scott Billeck of the Winnipeg Sun, there might be a few reasons Dustin Byfgulien seems to have had a change of heart towards the Jets organization. Despite Byfuglien’s rehabilitation process being guided by an independent medical staff, the communication between Byfuglien and the Jets has improved and he’s keeping them in the loop.

Jets defenseman Dustin Byfuglien
Dustin Byfuglien (Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports)

Billeck says it’s because he either wants to play hockey again this season, he wants to get paid or he’s increasingly less confident about his case in front of an arbitrator “because, at the end of the day, he had previously declared himself to be healthy on his season-ending medical report.”

Billeck writes:

They’re all plausible. But Door No. 3 seems to be the driving force behind the sudden change of heart. It’s hard to see him winning any case in arbitration, so instead he should shift to focusing his energy on repairing the damage done with the club.

source – ‘Has the Dustin Byfuglien saga experienced a change of heart?’ – Scott Billeck – Winnipeg Sun – 12/18/2019

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Kings Motivated to Make a Deal?

“If there’s a motivated team, it’s Los Angeles,” said Elliotte Friedman in his latest 31 Thoughts article for Sportsnet. He included the names of Trevor Lewis and Tyler Toffoli when he cited examples.

Los Angeles Kings Tyler Toffoli
Los Angeles Kings forward Tyler Toffoli (AP Photo/Jeffrey T. Barnes)

Noting both are UFAs and L.A. is looking to bolster its stable of picks and prospects. “it’s not a secret what they are willing to do.” A few more losses for the Kings and you can expect it to be crystal clear they are sellers this season.

Maple Leafs to Move Barrie and Muzzin?

Friedman also asked if there’s any chance the Maple Leafs would consider themselves as potential sellers this season, citing that both defensemen Tyson Barrie and Jake Muzzin could be considered high-value rentals.

Toronto Maple Leafs Jake Muzzin
Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Jake Muzzin (John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports)

As of now, the Maple Leafs won’t be trading anyone because they are only three points out of a Wild Card spot but if things go south, the Maple Leafs will have to decide whether or not to hold onto both player despite the potential loss for nothing in the offseason or moving them while they have value. Friedman suggest the Leafs are in that category where they’ll hold onto the players sink or swim.

One team he’s not sure about is Calgary. Friedman notes they want to win but could still move players like Travis Hamonic or T.J. Brodie.

Related: Toronto Maple Leafs News & Rumors: Andersen, Matthews, Barrie & More

Devils to Keep Certain Players Despite Selling?

Friedman noted that the New Jersey Devils are not holding a firesale despite trading Taylor Hall and that they will likely look to retain Andy Greene and Sami Vatanen. He also mentioned keeping Wayne Simmonds despite trade rumors.

He writes:

The Devils are going to have to keep some veterans. You need good people to show your kids the way. I don’t think Wayne Simmonds enjoyed being a rental and wouldn’t be surprised if he wished to be part of New Jersey’s solution.

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Trouble in Tampa Bay?

Tuesday night, head coach of the Tampa Bay Lightning, Jon Cooper, decided to bench the team’s best player in  Nikita Kucherov. That hasn’t necessarily gone over so well.

Friedman noted that the next few games will tell if there is really trouble in paradise. “Kucherov has a lot of pride. Cooper is pushing his buttons. This used to be a coach’s league. Now, it’s a players’ league,” said Friedman. This could be a designed plan by the coach that backfires.

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