NHL Rumors: Chara and Bruins, Maple Leafs, Penguins, Dubois Trade?

In today’s news and rumors rundown, there is news out of Columbus that contract negotiations between Pierre-Luc Dubois and the Blue Jackets have hit a major snag. In Boston, both the club and former defenseman Zdeno Chara talk how any potential deal fell apart between the two sides. The Toronto Maple Leafs plan to take full advantage of the taxi squad rules and finally, are the Pittsburgh Penguins gearing up for a potential in-season trade?

** Note: the post was updated from this morning’s version after news broke that the Blue Jackets did sign Dubois to a contract.

Trouble Between Dubois and Blue Jackets, Even After Deal?

On Thursday morning, TSN’s Pierre LeBrun noted that the Columbus Blue Jackets were finding out that re-signing Pierre-Luc Dubois was going to be far more challenging than they originally anticipated. Despite reports from both the agent and club that they were optimistic a deal would be done by the start of camp, there were doubts a deal was coming. In fact, TSN’s Pierre LeBrun hinted that Dubois might have suggested he wanted out.

Pierre-Luc Dubois Columbus Blue Jackets
Pierre-Luc Dubois, Columbus Blue Jackets (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

LeBrun noted:

Pierre-Luc Dubois is not in Columbus as camp approaches and remains unsigned. And now there are rumblings from a few teams around the league that Dubois may be looking for a change of scenery. Maybe wishful thinking on their part. But stay tuned on this one.

LeBrun later updated his report to say that Blue Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen was still confident a deal would get done, and a couple hours later, the two sides agreed on a two-year bridge deal.

The questions now will be, are whatever issues that were existing between the two sides now settled? Was this just over a short vs long-term deal? Or, was there a bigger issue at play here and Dubois felt slighted by the team?

Related: Prospects News & Rumors: AHL, Stutzle & Khusnutdinov

Next Step For Bruins After Chara Departure

Elliotte Friedman posted that during a zoom call Zdeno Chara spoke about how his leaving the Bruins came to be noted that the team negotiated in good faith. He said it was simply a matter of where they’d planned to use him.

Zdeno Chara Boston Bruins
Zdeno Chara, Boston Bruins (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Chara notes that the Bruins advised him that if he’d returned his role would be limited and he would become “more of a reserve player.” That wasn’t something he wanted.

Fluto Shinzawa of The Athletic is reporting that the Boston Bruins are likely to go younger on their blue line with Chara no longer part of the equation. Beyond that, Shinzawa explains:

Neely acknowledged last week that the Bruins were studying the trade market for help on defense. This is likely to continue as camps open leaguewide and cap compliance becomes more urgent for clubs above the ceiling. It may also be that the Bruins save their cap space and reconsider the market at the April 12 trade deadline.

source – ‘Why did Bruins let Zdeno Chara leave? The rushed season’s uncertainty, to start’ – Fluto Shinzawa- The Athletic – 12/30/2020

Penguins Working on In-Season Trade?

It would be interesting if GM Jim Rutherford did so after comments that he didn’t think in-season trades would be easy to pull off, but Dan Kingerski of Pittsburgh Hockey Now writes that because the Penguins weren’t in on affordable free agents Carl Soderberg or Erik Haula, it might indicate a future trade.

Kingerksi wonders if Rutherford is saving his cap space to perhaps swing an impact trade during the regular season.

How Leafs Will Use Taxi Squad

Expect the Toronto Maple Leafs to use the taxi squad system in a creative way when it comes to their salary cap. Since new NHL rules allow players to be brought up from the taxi squad up until 5 p.m. ET each day, Chris Johnston of Sportsnet notes the Leafs are in position to “accrue additional cap space by making paper transactions on days they don’t play.”

He adds:

If they choose to carry five players on the taxi squad, for example, they could loan someone from the active roster every practice day or off day without actually having to send the players anywhere.

Essentially, there will be a ton of player movement on paper, but not a lot of actual players going anywhere throughout the season. This will allow the Leafs and other teams that are tight to the cap to juggle money but stay compliant.

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