In today’s NHL rumor rundown, the Montreal Canadiens have sent a high-end prospect to the minors and there’s speculation as to how long, Will the Winnipeg Jets go for a big-time rental for the third straight year? What happened to Edmonton Oilers forward James Neal? He was supposed to play on Friday night and was pulled from the game last minute? And, what is Jean-Gabriel Pageau really worth at the NHL Trade Deadline?
Canadiens Demote Kotkaniemi
Since being drafted third overall in the 2018 NHL Entry Draft, Jesperi Kotkaniemi has never seen the minors. That changed when the Montreal Canadiens announced they assigned the 19-year-old to Laval of the AHL.
TVA Sports’ Renaud Lavoie notes this move is indefinite as the forward has struggled (eight points in 36 games) and because he’s still eligible to play because he wasn’t drafted out of the CHL. On Friday, the Canadiens also sent defenseman Cale Fleury down and it appears the Candiens are looking to get both more ice time until the trade deadline comes and goes and Montreal has moved out a few contracts.
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Maurice Doesn’t Want the Jets to Rent Players
Winnipeg Jets head coach Paul Maurice told reporters, including Paul Friesen of the Winnipeg Sun, that he hopes the Winnipeg Jets take a different approach than they have in year’s past at the trade deadline. Maurice wants the Jets to hang onto their young assets instead of grabbing a high-quality rental.
After paying big prices for Kevin Hayes and Paul Stastny and losing them in free agency, Maurice said:
So paying a high price for a rental, I don’t know that that makes a whole lot of sense for us. If we get a guy that can come in and play maybe more than the rest of the season, you’d think about doing that.
Maurice may get his way but not because Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff doesn’t want to add. He just may not be able to with the tricky cap situation the Jets are facing and the uncertainly around Dustin Byfuglien’s contract.
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James Neal’s Injury Status Revealed
James Neal was removed from the Oilers roster Friday night just minutes for Edmonton was set to face the St. Louis Blues. Details about Neal’s injury were sketchy but it’s been revealed he’s dealing with a foot injury.
There’s no clarification on when he suffered the injury or how serious but speculation is that it’s only day-to-day. As of this writing, there is no announcement from the Oilers that Neal will be back in the lineup Saturday night as Edmonton gets set for their fourth meeting against the Flames.
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Who Are the Dallas Stars Targeting?
In a recent mailbag segment, Mike Heika of NHL.com wrote that he can see the Dallas Stars targeting a few offensive players prior to the Feb, 24 trade deadline.
Among the players listed, Heika mentions New York Rangers winger Chris Kreider, Los Angeles Kings winger Tyler Toffoli, and Chicago Blackhawks winger Brandon Saad. More unlikely, but possible, he also notes there might be some interest in Montreal’s Ilya Kovalchuk or Pittsburgh’s Alex Galchenyuk if they can be acquired without having to give much up in return.
Pageau Might Not Fetch a First-Round Pick
Pierre LeBrun of The Athletic recently took a closer look at the potential trade value of Jean-Gabriel Pageau of the Ottawa Senators and wonders if he’ll be able to fetch the Senators a first-round draft pick.
LeBrun is skeptical the Sens could get a first-round pick in return because many GMs are reluctant to part with such picks this year. He looked at a number of the teams rumored to be interested and had a hard time finding a scenario where a first-rounder was involved.
LeBrun added that most contending teams see Pageau as a second-line or third-line player and they don’t want to part with their top-end picks. He explained:
I enjoy going through that exercise above is to demonstrate the challenge that Sens GM Pierre Dorion will have in getting a straight-up, no-strings-attached first-round pick for the pending UFA centre. I’m not saying it won’t happen, but right now I see a number of teams that would want to attach conditions to it.
What he could see is a scenario where a team like the Edmonton Oilers does a conditional second-round pick that could become a first if the Oilers make deep into the playoffs.
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