NHL Rumors: Canucks, Bruins, Penguins, Maple Leafs, Flames, More

In today’s NHL rumors rundown, there is talk that Jake Virtanen of the Vancouver Canucks is generating some trade interest. Which teams have kicked tires on the forward? There is an update on the Pittsburgh Penguins search for a general manager and could the Toronto Maple Leafs and Calgary Flames swing a deal that would include the Leafs acquiring Sam Bennett? Finally, how quickly is the COVID-19 virus working its way through the Minnesota Wild organization?

Bruins Among Teams Interested in Virtanen

According to Jimmy Murphy of Pittsburgh Hockey Now, a source last September told him the Boston Bruins had trade talks with the Canucks regarding winger Jake Virtanen. Murphy notes the Bruins remain interested. He also said the Penguins, Buffalo Sabres and New Jersey Devils might be in the mix.

Jake Virtanen Vancouver Canucks
Jake Virtanen, Vancouver Canucks (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

One source wondered if the Bruins would offer up winger Jake DeBrusk. While that seems like something the Canucks would jump at, it’s hard to imagine the Bruins would do that deal one-for-one as Virtanen has been in an out of the lineup and DeBrusk has a much higher ceiling, even if he’s struggled so far this season. Not only that, but there would need to be adjustments made by the Canucks as it pertains to their salary cap. DeBrusk makes $3.675 million over the next two seasons, whereas Virtanen makes $2.55 million.

During Saturday’s Headlines segment on Sportsnet, Elliotte Friedman reported the Penguins search for a new general manager has been narrowed down to eight candidates. Those eight names are: Patrik Allvin, Kevin Weekes, John Ferguson Jr., Michael Futa, Ron Hextall, Mark Hunter, Jason Karmanos and Chris MacFarland.

Friedman also said the Penguins could add more candidates, but they the idea is to narrow down the list further first and set up the next round of interviews with team owners Mario Lemieux and Ron Burkle. This looks to be a decision the team is trying to make in short order.

Related: 2020-21 NHL Season Stats: Comparing 56-Game & 82-Game Schedules

A Trade Proposal Between the Maple Leafs and Flames

There is more talk surrounding the idea of the Maple Leafs being a team that might be interested in Flames’ forward Sam Bennett. Toronto journalist Steve Simmons proposed the centerpieces of a trade he believed could work.

Alexander Kerfoot Toronto Maple Leafs
Alexander Kerfoot, Toronto Maple Leafs (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

From Simmons:

Leafs could use a player like the available Sam Bennett. They need some edge on their third line. They wouldn’t be able to get Bennett 1-for-1 for Alex Kerfoot, but if they could sweeten the pot just a little, they might be able to find a deal here … Bennett, by the way, played on a Marlies super team in the GTHL that had Connor McDavid, Josh Ho-Sang and Roland McKeown on it.

source – ‘SIMMONS: Human pain for Andy Reid and his family, this close to Super Bowl’ Steve Simmons – Toronto Sun – 02/07/2021

Essentially, Simmons is saying the Leafs should send Kerfoot and an asset to the Flames in exchange for the pending RFA. There’s certainly a bit of a difference in production, but both players can play left wing and center and Bennett’s cap hit is lower, which could help the Leafs.

Luke Fox of Sportsnet weighed in on the Bennett talk and writes that the team has been rumored to have interest, but the cost of acquiring Bennett could take them out of the running. He notes: “If Treliving keeps his asking price for Bennett high, Dubas might be better off accruing cap space and waiting to spend a draft pick or prospect in the rental market, which won’t heat up until late March.”

More Expected COVID-19 Cases Coming Out of Wild Organization

It is expected that more positive cases will be announced when it comes to the Wild organization and the COVID-19 virus. Michael Russo of The Athletic is reporting that GM Bill Guerin said there are players that are symptomatic (achiness, loss of sense of taste and smell) on his club and he says COVID-19 is creeping through the team one by one. The GM fully expects more positive cases to pop up.

Russo adds that the Wild have a 4:30 conference call with the NHL scheduled today to discuss future. Guerin made clear he thinks the team needs more time off and will ask the NHL to postpone more games.

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