In today’s NHL rumors rundown, what does the addition of Ilya Lyubushkin to the Toronto Maple Leafs’ defense corps mean for a player like Justin Holl? Meanwhile, are the Pittsburgh Penguins prepared to lose Bryan Rust? The Ottawa Senators are reportedly not prepared to trade Artem Zub despite rumors to the contrary and the St. Louis Blues are becoming the favorite when it comes to a potential landing spot for Ben Chiarot. Finally, will the Vegas Golden Knights target a goalie… one not named Marc-Andre Fleury?
Maple Leafs Add Lyubushkin, Holl’s Situation Unclear
Toronto adding a big, physical stay-at-home defenseman could spell trouble for Holl, who has seen his minutes declining and has had issues in the Leafs’ top four this season. Adding another penalty-killing defenseman could diminish Holl’s role even further.
Could this lead to another trade, one that sends Holl out because the Maple Leafs have a defenseman who can take his spot? Or, is this just a situation where Holl plays even fewer minutes and the team isn’t forced to rely upon a player who has struggled? If all things stay the same, the addition of Lyubushkin does mean Timothy Liljegren will be sent down to the minors.
Jonas Siegel of The Athletic writes that this move opens up some options for the Maple Leafs. He explains:
They’re freer now to move a defender, whether that’s Dermott or Holl or even Liljegren. They could also demote Liljegren now to create cap space if they want to. They could waive Dzingel, too.source – ‘The Maple Leafs took the Nick Ritchie problem and traded it for an answer on defence: Ilya Lyubushkin’ – Jonas Siegel – The Athletic – 02/19/2022
Penguins Prepared to Lose Rust
According to Dan Kingerski of Pittsburgh Hockey Now, pending UFA forward Bryan Rust is likely to test free agency this offseason. That poses an issue for the Penguins who probably can’t afford to extend the 30-year old, but also can’t trade him or afford to let him go as they try to stay contenders.
Kingerski notes that Rust is potentially looking for a six-year deal at $6 million per season. While GM Ron Hextall acknowledged that the two sides have talked a bit and that he’s optimistic, he also noted that Rust’s side is going to have to bend a little. “… We’d like to sign some of our (UFAs),” Hextall said. He added, “Certain players, if they want the most money, they’re probably going to go elsewhere.”
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Hextall is hoping that the comfort level Rust feels as a member of the team has more of an impact on his free agency decision than just what he can make on the open market.
Senators Not Trading Artem Zub
As per Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun, the Senators have shot down any rumors the team will move Artem Zub before the March 21 trade deadline. Garrioch writes:
“A prediction we can make with great certainty: Senators defenceman Artem Zub won’t be moved before the March 21 trade deadline. There hasn’t even been any discussion. I’m not sure where that social media rumour circulated from Saturday, but it’s not happening.”source – ‘SNAPSHOTS: Don’t expect to see Senators goalie Matt Murray in net until at least Tuesday’ – Bruce Garrioch – Ottawa Sun – 02/19/2022
Chiarot to Blues Becoming a Real Possibility
It was mentioned in yesterday’s rumors report that the St. Louis Blues were a team that might be showing interest in defenseman Ben Chiarot. As per a report by Elliotte Friedman, the Blues are the frontrunners here. They were named by the NHL insider as the potential landing spot for Chiarot during Saturday’s HNIC broadcast.
Golden Knights to Target Goaltender
While GM Kelly McCrimmon shot down a report that Vegas expressed interest in Marc-Andre Fleury, Frank Seravalli of Daily Faceoff wonders if other netminders would be on their radar if it proves true that Robin Lehner isn’t full healthy.
Seravalli mentions names like Alexandar Georgiev, Joonas Korpisalo or Braden Holtby as potential targets, saying, “the Golden Knights have work to do in the crease.”
Jim Parsons is a senior THW freelance writer, part-time journalist and audio/video host who lives, eats, sleeps and breathes NHL news and rumors, while also writing features on the Edmonton Oilers. He’s been a trusted source for five-plus years at The Hockey Writers, but more than that, he’s on a mission to keep readers up to date with the latest NHL rumors and trade talk. Jim is a daily must for readers who want to be “in the know.”