NHL Rumors: Maple Leafs, Canucks, Canadiens, Oilers

In today’s NHL rumors rundown, Kyle Dubas spoke with the media about what the Toronto Maple Leafs plan to do heading into the NHL trade deadline. Meanwhile, there are two teams competing for the opportunity to trade for J.T. Miller. Will the Vancouver Canucks move the player? As per one report, the Montreal Canadiens aren’t going to tear down the entire team and another source notes the Edmonton Oilers were extremely close to letting head coach Dave Tippett go.

Dubas Wants to See His Team, Aquire Players With Term

Dubas said he’d like to see what a full roster looks like before committing to a trade deadline game plan. While he says that might be wishful thinking based on how the season has gone for his and every team, the club has never had a stretch where the roster as constructed has gotten to play together.

If he decides he wants to add, Dubas said he would prefer to hold onto the Leafs’ three draft picks in 2022, but he might not have the luxury. “We’re in a mode now where we’re trying to win. So if we have to deal from that pool to do something that we think can help us, great.” He also noted, “We probably don’t have a whole lot of bullets in the chamber here … when you go out and acquire somebody you’re probably done at that point.”

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As for what he’ll go after, he noted “My preference is to acquire players with term and with as much time as possible.” He’s moved veterans Nick Ritchie and Kyle Clifford to the AHL Toronto Marlies team now that the taxi squads are gone and in an attempt to clear some cap space. When asked about giving Josh Ho-Sang an NHL contract, he wouldn’t commit to that, saying the team only has two contracts left to use.

2 Teams Competing for J.T. Miller

According to Ben Kuzma of The Province the Canucks haven’t decided if they’re going to trade J.T. Miller yet, but if they do there are two teams who seem to be competing for his services: the Boston Bruins and New York Rangers.

Related: Even Awful 2021-22 Canadiens Season’s Got Silver Linings

If Miller moves, it will be because one of those teams put together a compelling enough offer that it was hard for the Canucks to say no. Kuzma writes:

Right now, he could rightly ask for a first-round pick, prime prospect and a centre in return to help supplant Miller to meet his criteria of buying age, picks and potential.  

source: ‘Canucks’ biggest question? To keep or trade J.T. Miller’ – Ben Kuzma – The Province – 02/02/2022

Canadiens Not Going With “Scorched Earth Rebuild”

According to Arpon Basu and Marc Antoine Godin of The Athletic, the Montreal Canadiens aren’t expected to go “scorched earth” with their rebuild. Jeff Gorton didn’t do so in New York with the Rangers and it doesn’t look like he’ll do so with the Canadiens.

Ben Chiarot Montreal Canadiens
Ben Chiarot, Montreal Canadiens (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

That said, there will be trades and when it comes to what moves new GM Kent Hughes might make, the two scribes write:

It is not all that difficult to ascertain who will be traded before March 21. Ben Chiarot is as good as gone, and as we mentioned in our notebook Monday, it could happen sooner than you think. Brett Kulak is likely gone as well. Maybe Chris Wideman, too. If Mathieu Perreault can come back and get some games in before the deadline, perhaps Hughes and Gorton can find him a new home as well.

source – ‘The Canadiens’ path forward: New GM Kent Hughes outlines how the next 8 months could go’ – Arpon Basu and Marc Antoine Godin – The Athletic – 02/02/2022

Speculation about Brendan Gallagher and Jeff Petry being traded will continue, but it’s unlikely that either get moved before the deadline. Something in the offseason makes more sense.

Oilers Almost Made a Coaching Change

As per Kurt Leavins of the Edmonton Journal, the Oilers were extremely close to firing Dave Tippett, potentially one loss away from bringing in a new coach. Leavins writes, “The more I talk with people in Edmonton and elsewhere, the more I realize that the club came much closer to a coaching change than Ken Holland will let on or that most of us realized at the time.”

Ken Holland, Dave Tippett
Edmonton Oilers President of Hockey Operations and General Manager Ken Holland and new head coach Dave Tippett (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson)

He adds that the win over the Calgary Flames to snap a very stressful losing streak was the game that saved Tippett’s job. He explains:

In fact, had the Oilers lost that Calgary game, I very strongly suspect that there would have been a media conference hastily scheduled the next day. Discussions had been had. Displeasures in the state of the club at that moment in time had been stated in no uncertain terms.

source – ‘The Edmonton Oilers have to be grinding out of the break, both on the ice and off: 9 Things’ – Kurt Leavins – Edmonton Journal – 02/062022

The thing that saved Tippett was Holland’s respect for the coach and his unwillingness to blame the coach for issues that might not have been his fault. Leavins said, “he was not prepared to hang Dave Tippett out to dry.”

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