NHL Rumors: Oilers, Sabres, Blackhawks, Olympics, More

In today’s NHL rumors rundown, there is news that the Edmonton Oilers were able to get Jesse Puljujarvi back into Edmonton for the holidays, while Buffalo Sabres’ fans will have to wait for their first opportunity to see Alex Tuch in action. The Chicago Blackhawks are likely to be sellers, but are there any moves the interim GM is not allowed to make? Finally, what’s the latest on the NHL postponed games, the Olympics and the Spengler Cup?

NHL Cross-Border Games Postponed

Any games that were set to take place between teams that featured Canadian clubs versus U.S. teams were put on hold by the NHL. The league’s Public Relations Department said that it has postponed all games involving cross-border travel through the Christmas break. For now, this is their best attempt to get some control over the COVID-19 outbreaks that have shut teams down all across the league.

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It is expected that a few of the remaining games, (even non-cross-border contests) will be put on hold as well.

Tuch Won’t Debut for Sabres Tonight

Alex Tuch‘s Sabres debut will have to wait, according to Lance Lysowski of the Buffalo News. The forward was expected to be in the lineup for the Sabres versus the Columbus Blue Jackets but Buffalo’s game against Columbus has been postponed, per sources. “Expecting official announcement shortly,” he says.

Alex Tuch, #89 of the Vegas Golden Knights
Alex Tuch (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Tuch was part of the trade from Vegas for Jack Eichel and is the main roster piece the Sabres acquired in the deal. There is a lot of high hopes for him in Buffalo and Sabres fans were looking forward to seeing him get an opportunity to contribute.

Blackhawks Won’t Have Restrictions As Sellers

Both Emily Kaplan of ESPN and Scott Powers of The Athletic believe the Chicago Blackhawks could be heavy sellers at the NHL Trade Deadline and both report that Blackhawks interim general manager Kyle Davidson won’t have any restrictions if he decides to make a number of trades.

Marc-Andre Fleury, Chicago Blackhawks
Marc-Andre Fleury, Chicago Blackhawks (Photo by Brian Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images)

Marc-Andre Fleury, Calvin de Haan, Dylan Strome and Dominik Kubalik are the biggest names that could become trade candidates, but some are wondering when the conversations with Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews take place, especially if the Blackhawks determine it’s time to tear it all apart.

Related: 3 Maple Leafs Who Probably Won’t Return Next Season

Powers writes:

It’s too early to gauge whether Marc-André Fleury might be interested in returning, too. Where the team heads record-wise in the coming months may determine some of that as well. If Fleury is playing like this, he could have some trade value at the deadline.

source – ‘Blackhawks mailbag: Marc-Andre Fleury’s future, Kirby Dach’s production and building new hockey operations’ – Scott Powers – The Athletic – 12/17/2021

Oilers Puljujarvi Back in Edmonton

Despite seemingly being stuck in Seattle, the Edmonton Oilers immediately got to work on finding a way to get Jesse Puljujarvi back over the border and back into Edmonton for Christmas. The team had some paperwork to file and sent a private charter to pick him up. He’s back home now.

Olympics Announcement Coming

As per Pierre LeBrun, “Nothing official yet, but a real sense NHL players aren’t headed to the Olympics. Given all the NHL game postponements this past week, no surprise if that’s the final direction.” Elliotte Friedman added, “Sense that the NHL and NHLPA will agree that they are not going to the Olympics.”

As per the NHLPA:

“Given the disruption to the NHL’s regular-season schedule caused by recent COVID-related events 27 games had been postponed as of Saturday and at least 12 more will be postponed through Dec. 23  and the continued uncertainty caused by the ongoing COVID pandemic, the NHL and NHLPA are actively discussing the matter of NHL Player participation in the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, China, and expect to be in a position to announce a final determination in the coming days.”

Canada Withdraws From Spengler Cup

While it’s not NHL-related, Hockey Canada has decided to withdraw from the 2021 Spengler Cup, citing a desire to maintain the health and safety of participating players, coaches and staff amid the evolving COVID-19 pandemic. Should the NHL withdraw from the Olympics, it is believed the Spengler Cup team would go instead.

In their explanation, Hockey Canada said:

We have a long-standing tradition of participating in the Spengler Cup, and it is disappointing that we are unable to attend the prestigious event this year. However, we strongly believe this is the right decision to maintain the health and safety of our players, coaches and support staff that were set to represent Canada.

Claude Julien was set to coach the club, but he’s already back home in Canada.