NHL Rumors: Zuccarello, Kovalchuk, Seattle Franchise, More

In today’s rumor rundown, one New York Ranger is preparing himself for a trade he thinks is inevitable. Meanwhile, the Seattle expansion franchise was officially approved by the NHL on Tuesday but speculation of a few things that won’t be happening with the new team are already making the rounds.

Zuccarello Certain He’ll Be Traded

The New York Post’s Brett Cyrgalis relays a report from a journalist in Zuccarello’s native Norway that Mats Zuccarello believes a trade is more likely than him finishing out the year in New York. Only ever having played for the New York Rangers, there’s been buzz surrounding Zuccarello all season that he might be moved as part of the mini-rebuild going on in New York.

Mats Zuccarello Rangers
Mats Zuccarello, New York Rangers, Mar. 22, 2018 (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Whether that trade happens earlier in the season or doesn’t happen until just prior to the NHL Trade Deadline, it won’t be easy for Zuccarello to move on from the only team he’s ever known. That said, knowing a trade is likely coming will allow him to prepare a little better than most players get the opportunity to.

Related: NHL Rumors: Muzzin, Simmonds, Fletcher, Oilers, More

What’s Not Happening with the Seattle Franchise

On Tuesday, the NHL Board of Governors unanimously approved a 32nd team join the NHL for the 2021-22 season. That team will come out of Seattle and it will require some division realignment as part of bringing them into the league.

Seattle Hockey Partners David Bonderman Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan
FILE – In this Oct. 2, 2018, file photo, Seattle Hockey Partners David Bonderman, left, and Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan talk to the media as they leave a meeting at National Hockey League headquarters, in New York. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File)

Speculation of things not happening, at least according to Commissioner Gary Bettman, is that the team will not be called the Metropolitans and the Edmonton Oilers and Calgary Flames will not move out of the Pacific Division. It appears the Arizona Coyotes will move into the Central Division with Seattle joining the Pacific. The team will not join the league in the 2020-21 season but one year later in 2021-22.

Related: NHL Rumors: Gardiner, Simmonds, McAvoy, More

Kovalchuk to the Bruins?

Matt Kalman of WEEI is reporting the Boston Bruins might re-visit their interest in LA Kings winger Ilya Kovalchuk. While Kovalchuk is out injured and a trade won’t happen during that time, the Kings would likely be happy to move him and his salary considering how much he’s struggled under coach Willie Desjardins. had been struggling and is now out for four weeks with ankle issue.

Los Angeles Kings left wing Ilya Kovalchuk
Los Angeles Kings left wing Ilya Kovalchuk (Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports)

Even though the Bruins have cap space, the likelihood is, no trade would happen with the Kings retaining some salary. Kovalchuk has two more years on his current deal and taking on his salary may affect the Bruins ability to sign some of their younger core.

Related: NHL Rumors: Maple Leafs’ Nylander, Matthews, Marner All Connected

Stars Looking to Add a D-Man

David Pagnotta of the Fourth Period is reporting that the Dallas Stars have been looking for a defenseman since most of their blueline corps is on the injured list. Montreal Canadiens defenseman Karl Alzner is one defenseman they’ve looked at but he may not be the only one.

David Schlemko Montreal Canadiens
David Schlemko, Montreal Canadiens, Feb. 20, 2018 (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Pagnotta reports the team is also looking at Canadiens defenseman David Schlemko and that the Stars assistant GM Jeff Jackson was with one of the Stars pro scouts at the Canadiens-Sharks game over the weekend.

It is uncertain as to how serious the search is because the play of Taylor Fedun and Joel Hanley has been strong and given the team a bit more time despite some key injuries.

Lightning Looking at Martinez

Dennis Bernstein is reporting the Tampa Bay Lightning may have interest in Los Angeles Kings defenseman Alec Martinez. No matter how well they’re doing, the Lightning are a team that never seem to stop tinkering and looking for ways to improve.

Real Reason Maple Leafs Traded Josh Leivo

Other than the obvious need to clear some roster space for William Nylander, the reason behind trading Josh Leivo was that Leivo was promised an opportunity elsewhere if his playing time dropped.

Pierre Lebrun said when Leivo signed his extension in Toronto, it was promised that if Leivo’s role was diminished this season, they would do what they could to move him to another destination. It appears this trade is Dubas keeping good on that promise.