NHL Rumors: Oilers, Bruins, Flames, Canadiens, COVID Rule Changes

In today’s NHL rumors rundown, the NHL has changed its policy on how long players who test positive for COVID must isolate from the rest of the team. Meanwhile, the Edmonton Oilers are getting a number of players back into their lineup for Wednesday’s game versus the St. Louis Blues. There is talk the Boston Bruins might have their eyes on a couple of trade targets to help at forward, plus the Calgary Flames might like to add a top-tier defenseman. Finally, are Brendan Gallagher’s recent comments about winning a sign he could be traded?

Oilers Get Smith, Keith and Hyman Back

While the Oilers will still be without Darnell Nurse and Zack Kassian, goaltender Mike Smith, defenseman Duncan Keith and forward Zach Hyman are returning to action. Smith was activated off of LTIR which meant the Oilers had to loan netminder Stuart Skinner to Bakersfield of the AHL and Philip Broberg was loaned to the taxi squad to make room for the changes.

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Head coach Dave Tippett did confirm that Smith will start in net for the team. He said, “He’s good to go tonight. He’s an outstanding goaltender but he’s also one of our leaders in that room.”

Flames Looking to Add a Puck-Moving Defenseman?

As per Eric Francis of Sportsnet, under his ‘bold predictions’ list, he notes that the Calgary Flames might try to add a top defenseman ahead of the trade deadline and noted that coach Darryl Sutter would be keen to add a puck mover who can provide offense from the back end.

Mark Giordano Calgary Flames
Mark Giordano, Calgary Flames (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ben Nelms)

Suggesting the Flames could look at bringing back Mark Giordano, Francis suggests that won’t be easy considering Giordano is likely to garner interest from multiple teams and there could be a bidding war. Remember, the Seattle Kraken were asking the Flames to pay the first-round or two picks not to draft him at the expansion draft. It’s like the ask hasn’t changed when it comes to a trade.

Are Bruins Interested in Phil Kessel?

According to Jimmy Murphy of Boston Hockey Now, one possible trade target for the Bruins might be Phil Kessel from the Arizona Coyotes, if the Bruins can first trade Jake DeBrusk. Noting the 34-year-old Kessel has put up decent stats on a bad Coyotes team, he could provide the Bruins with depth and middle-six scoring.

Related: Canucks’ News & Rumors: Miller, Boeser, Myers & More

Should Kessel not be an option because of his salary cap, Pittsburgh Penguins’ Bryan Rust, Seattle Kraken’s Mark Giordano, San Jose Sharks Tomas Hertl and the Dallas Stars’ Joe Pavelski were all listed as potential targets as well.

Gallagher’s Comments Won’t Likely Lead to Trade

Opening the door to speculation of a trade should the Montreal Canadiens decide to go through a rebuild, forward Brendan Gallagher said he wants to be on a team that is trying to win hockey games. He noted:

“But for me, I play this game to win. It’s really the only way I can enjoy it. You don’t always have to win every game, but the important thing is I need to feel like we’re trying to win. I need to feel like it’s important. If that’s the decision that they want to make, those are probably conversations that you have to have going forward.”

Eric Engels suggests this doesn’t mean the Canadiens will move him prior to the trade deadline because Gallagher has a no-movement clause and partial no-trade. Francis notes, “the idea that you can push him out (without retaining money) and recoup good value is farfetched.” When you factor in how unproductive he’s been this season, it’s unlikely a trade goes down, even if some teams kick tires.

Tyler Toffoli Montreal Canadiens
Tyler Toffoli, Montreal Canadiens (Photo by Curtis Comeau/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Francis does believe Tyler Toffoli could be a player who gets moved. He’s a proven performer in the playoffs, he’s got a team-friendly contract and he doesn’t have any trade protection baked into his contract. He can always be moved again down the line to recoup some assets if the team who trades for him only wants him short-term.

Isolation Moves from 10 Days to 5

A number of reporters, including Frank Seravalli of Daily Faceoff are covering the news that the NHL has change its policy on COVID isolation for positive test results among its players. Formerly a 10-day quarantined, the days away has been lowered to five if there are no symptoms or symptoms are resolving, you have a negative test and are cleared by your club physician and if your local health authority permits.

This will help US-based teams but will put Canadian teams at a disadvantage because the CDC still requires 10 days in Canada. It appears there is still a 14-day travel restriction for players who have tested positive and that means those players cannot join their team for two weeks even if they have left the league’s shortened protocol.