In today’s NHL rumors rundown, the Toronto Maple Leafs got bad news on Sunday as forward Wayne Simmonds will be out long-term with an injury. Meanwhile, the Vancouver Canucks appear ready to move on from Jake Virtanen and may trade the forward to shake things up. The Ottawa Senators are trying to get Derek Stepan closer to his family, and goaltender Anthon Khudobin broke some kind of Dallas Stars’ rule and will sit out a game, maybe more.
Simmonds Out Up to Six Weeks
Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reports that Simmonds is expected to miss up to six weeks of game action after leaving during the third period of Saturday’s game. The 32-year-old power forward was hit in the hand with a shot and he did not return. It’s never a good time to get hurt, but this is awful timing for Simmonds and the Maple Leafs.
He scored two goals on Saturday in a dominant performance over the Canucks and the Maple Leafs had been relying on him with key injuries to other forwards like Joe Thornton and Nic Robertson. Simmonds had five goals in 12 games and been steadily moving up from the fourth line.
There have been rumors the Leafs might be interested in adding a forward via the trade market and it’s likely those rumors get a little louder now. Some insiders suggest the team might be looking at Sam Bennett. Whether that’s accurate or not, it stands to reason Toronto may test the trade market if they can’t find what they need internally.
The Maple Leafs currently sit in first place in the North Division with a 9-2-1 record.
Senators Trying to Get Stepan Closer to His Family
Elliotte Friedman noted during Saturday’s Headlines report that Ottawa is “making a move to try to move” Stepan. Friedman said, “I don’t think this is a performance issue as much as it’s a family issue.”
Because he has three children (including a newborn) and a visit would require a 14-day quarantine, the veteran center is uncomfortable being away from his family. When he first arrived in Ottawa there was excitement from both sides, but the realization is that things aren’t working out as hoped.
Friedman also notes the Senators have a lot of defenseman on the roster that are ready to play and the team could look to lessen the load in that respect as well. It’s not clear if a Stepan trade might include a defenseman or if the team is looking at these moves as separate deals.
Canucks Making Virtanen and Gaudette Available in Trade?
Patrick Johnston of The Province notes that the struggling Canucks have tested the trade waters for forwards Jake Virtanen and Adam Gaudette. Johnston writes:
The Canucks have floated his [Virtanen] name on the trade market but there hasn’t been a taker. Hard to imagine what might change. (Adam Gaudette is also on the block but, similarly, given his poor play, there doesn’t seem to be interest.)source – ‘The Skate: Exegesis’ – Patrick Johnson – The Province – 02/07/2021
Virtanen has battled to find consistency with the Canucks and not reached his potential as a second-line scorer. Chris Johnston said during Saturday’s Headlines report that he wonders if Virtanen is someone the team considers “giving a fresh start to.” Johnston points out Virtanen’s tough start, that he’s been in and out of the lineup and that moving him might be a short-term decision that could shock the team a bit and get them going in the right direction.
Khudobin Benched for Disciplinary Reasons
The Stars have scratched Khudobin for Sunday’s game against the Chicago Blackhawks and reports are that it’s a team discipline move. The netminder did not take part in Saturday’s practice but skated by himself afterward.
Stars’ head coach Rick Bowness wouldn’t clarify what Khudobin did or what rule be broke, but said, “We’re a family and we’ll deal with things internally.” He added, “But you deal with things by communicating and making your feelings known on what is and what isn’t acceptable. I have very few rules, but you [darn] well better follow them.”
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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.”