In today’s NHL rumors rundown, it is believed the Toronto Maple Leafs will not operate as though Jake Muzzin will be out long-term. Meanwhile, the Boston Bruins might have their sights set on Rasmus Ristolainen. The Edmonton Oilers don’t have an update on the health of Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and could the Carolina Hurricanes make a move for a defenseman ahead of the trade deadline?
Bruins Interested in Ristolainen?
It was reported a couple of days ago that Rasmus Ristolainen will likely be traded by the Flyers before the March 21 NHL Trade deadline. Jimmy Murphy of Boston Hockey Now believes the Bruins might have an interest. He notes:
“A few calls to NHL pro scouts around the league Friday seemed to give a resounding yes to Ristolainen being what the Bruins lack so dearly on their blue line, with even saying he heard that Bruins general manager Don Sweeney and his staff likely have the former and longtime Sabres blueliner on their trade target board for the upcoming NHL trade deadline because they’ve targeted him in the past, specifically right before the Flyers acquired Ristolainen from the Buffalo Sabres last July.”
Right now it is believed the Bruins haven’t gotten close to making a deal because the price to acquire the defenseman is too high. If the ask comes down, the Bruins will be in. The Flyers paid a hefty price to get Ristolainen in a trade so they are looking to recoup as much of the cost as possible.
In other Bruins’ news, NBC Sports Boston’s Nick Goss suggests Jake DeBrusk has improved his play to the point that he’s potentially boosted his trade value. There’s still a belief he won’t fetch a big return for the team but he could be included as part of another bigger trade and considered an important piece in the deal.
Maple Leafs Believe Muzzin Will Return Before Playoffs
There was speculation the Toronto Maple Leafs might consider keeping Muzzin out of the lineup until the playoffs start and getting a $5.625 million cushion on their salary cap this season. That is apparently not the case, according to recent reports.
Elliotte Friedman noted during Saturday’s intermission of Sportsnet’s NHL broadcast that the Leafs will not hold out Muzzin if he is ready to come back sooner. Obviously, the rule is that a team has to take a player off LTIR if healthy, but there is a lot of flexibility when it comes to concussions. Still, GM Kyle Dubas is acting as though the Maple Leafs have $2 million available at the deadline, not $7 million.
Friedman still thinks the Leafs will go after another defenseman, but it will more likely be a depth player that doesn’t have a huge salary attached to his name.
No News on Nugent-Hopkins
Nugent-Hopkins left Saturday’s game against the Florida Panthers early with what appeared to be a shoulder injury. He didn’t return and the forward was questionable for Sunday’s game against the Carolina Hurricanes. Oilers coach Jay Woodcroft has no update on Nugent-Hopkins’ condition other than to say he anticipates there will be an update tomorrow.
RNH still needs to be fully evaluated but if he’s out for any length of time, that’s awful news for the Oilers who are also without Jesse Puljujarvi and Duncan Keith.
Hurricanes Want Another Defenseman
Luke DeCock of The News & Observer suggests the Carolina Hurricanes are in crunch time when it comes to making a decision on who or what they might add ahead of the playoffs. The organization wants to bolster their blue line but have limited cap space in which to do so. Ultimately, he doesn’t think they’ll make a move.
DeCock believes the Hurricanes were targeting a top-four defenseman who can skate alongside Jaccob Slavin. The reason is that they aren’t confident the pairing of Tony DeAngelo and Slavin is strong enough for a long playoff push and against the opposition’s top stars.
The Hurricanes and Vincent Trocheck’s camp have talked about an extension, but those talks haven’t gotten very far. “Nothing too concrete,” as per Cory Lavalette of North State Journal. He adds, “It’s just a matter of if they can make it happen.” Trocheck did say he would like to stay in Carolina long-term.
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.”