In today’s NHL rumors rundown, Jake Virtanen of the Vancouver Canucks is still being talked about as a possible trade piece and one scribe has him linked to a team in the Honda West Division. Bobby Ryan says he’s ready for a trade out of Detroit but would prefer to stay with the Red Wings if that option becomes available. The Buffalo Sabres got some injury news today and has Frederik Andersen already earned himself an extension with the Toronto Maple Leafs?
Update: Matthews Out vs Oilers
It has been reported that Auston Matthews will not play versus the Edmonton Oilers on Saturday. He took the early morning skate with the team’s taxi squad to test the nagging issues with his wrist. It was determined he would not be able to play.
Joe Thornton, Jake Muzzin and Jack Campbell will play for Toronto on Saturday.
Virtanen Linked to Ducks
Harman Dayal and Thomas Drance of The Athletic wrote that the Canucks and Anaheim Ducks might be linked as trade partners in a deal that would see Virtanen head to Anaheim. They write:
Jake Virtanen has been in the centre of trade rumours this week, with Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman noting on 650 this week that he’d heard Virtanen linked to the Anaheim Ducks — but that the second contract of Virtanen’s deal was a bit of a stumbling block for Anaheim.source – ‘The Armies: Long odds, showcase Jake Virtanen and the toxic incentives’ – Harman Dayal and Thomas Drance – The Athletic – 02/26/2021
It’s not clear why the contract is holding things up. The Ducks have plenty of cap space and Virtanen can easily be bought out if he doesn’t play well.
Bobby Ryan Prepared for Trade
It doesn’t sound like he’s keen to be moved, but Ryan told Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press that he’s prepared to be dealt before the trade deadline. Ryan is one of several Wings players in a contract year and he’s making very little for the type of production he’s offered his team. He will be attractive to playoff contenders looking for depth.
“When I signed, I knew that was going to be a possibility. If I came in and played well, it would be a win-win situation. Possibly for me it’d be an opportunity to go somewhere and be in a playoff race, and for the team to get an asset. I understand the business side of that thing.source – ‘Bobby Ryan ‘absolutely loves’ being a Detroit Red Wing, understands if Yzerman trades him’ – Helene St. James – Detroit Free Press 02/26/2021
Ryan noted that he discussed this with Yzerman before he signed and the two agreed that they would talk about it when the time came. For now, he’s only thinking about helping Detroit and he’s heard nothing more than whispers. “You take it with a grain of salt until Steve or your agent comes you and tells you exactly what’s happening,” he said.
Ryan did say that if Detroit were to offer an extension, he’d be excited to stay.
Sabres Lose Ullmark
Linus Ullmark (lower-body) will miss at least one month of action. As per Sabres head coach Ralph Krueger, he was hearing it’s a hamstring injury. Krueger called it a “hard hit.”
Captain Jack Eichel will not suit up against the Flyers but Jeff Skinner and Rasmus Ristolainen will slot back in.
Has Andersen Already Earned an Extension?
Damien Cox of the Toronto Star suggests the Maple Leafs might have little choice but to re-sign Andersen at the end of the season. Not only has he played well to start the 2020-21 campaign, but the team has little in the way of options outside of Andersen as an available replacement.
Cox points out that Michael Hutchinson is certainly not a No. 1 goalie and to date, Jack Campbell has played in too few games to know if he can handle a starting role. Joseph Woll may or may not become an NHL netminder, which leaves free agency. Options include Pekka Rinne, Tuukka Rask and Jordan Binnington but Cox points out that Binnington is likely to re-sign in St. Louis and Rinne and Rask are well into their thirties.
Cox says an Andersen decision is not an easy one though. He explains:
Complicating any assessment is the fact all NHL teams are playing a sharply limited number of opponents in a tightly compacted schedule. Andersen might be the most consistent goalie in the North Division except for the Jets’ Connor Hellebuyck. But it’s not clear he’s in the top third of all NHL goalies. And this is one weird season to handicap.source – ‘The Maple Leafs might have to re-sign Frederik Andersen. There’s no upgrade in sight’ Damien Cox – Toronto Star – 02/26/2021
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.”