NHL Rumors: Stars, Oilers, Hurricanes, Canadiens, Senators

In today’s NHL rumors rundown, the Dallas Stars might decide not to trade goaltender Anton Khudobin. Meanwhile, the Edmonton Oilers had to move around some goalies because Mikko Koskinen tested positive for COVID. The Carolina Hurricanes have spoken with Jesperi Kotkaniemi about a new contract and the Montreal Canadiens are rumored to be considering a big change on their blue line. Finally, why are the Ottawa Senators a team to watch at the deadline?

Stars Hanging Onto Khudobin?

Stars’ GM Jim Nill said during an interview with Mike Heika that the organization might hold onto Khudobin as injury insurance. The team was rumored to have tried to trade him in the past, only to find no interested teams wanting to take on his contract. As a result, Khudobin was waived and sent to their AHL affiliate.

Anton Khudobin Dallas Stars
Anton Khudobin, Dallas Stars (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

The way players have gone down to injury and COVID in the NHL this season, the Stars might believe keeping the 35-year-old as a backup plan is the better course of action than to take back a bad contract to make a trade work.

Oilers Lose Koskinen, Get Smith Back

While it wasn’t good news to hear that goaltender Mikko Koskinen tested positive for COVID and was placed in COVID protocol, the Oilers did get Mike Smith back and he’ll play Tuesday evening against the Vegas Golden Knights. Jason Gregor of TSN reports that Stuart Skinner will be recalled as the second goaltender.

Related: Blue Jackets Primed to Meet Some of Oilers’ Trade Deadline Needs

The Oilers play back-to-back games and Skinner will likely get the start on Wednesday against the Chicago Blackhawks. Edmonton is about to hit a critical stretch of eight games in 13 days and the last thing the team needs is to overplay Smith, who has had the hardest time staying healthy.

Hurricanes Have Held Talks With Kotkaniemi

Speaking with Pierre LeBrun of The Athletic, Hurricanes’ GM Don Waddell said the organization has held preliminary talks with pending free agent Jesperi Kotkaniemi. Saying the two sides have exchanged ideas, Waddell said, “We like the player. Our goal is to get a long-term deal with him. We talked last week and will pick it up again after the break.”

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Waddell also talked about how the team will approach the NHL trade deadline and said that the Hurricanes will make their moves later and not rush into anything. He explained:

“For us, the longer we can wait, the salary cap is something you got to figure out because we’re a cap team into LTI, so if you’re going to make a move, the longer you can wait you might be able to make a better move.”

source – ‘LeBrun: Don Waddell and the Hurricanes might be quiet at the trade deadline, but it’s about ‘winning the Cup’ this year’ – Pierre LeBrun – The Athletic – 02/05/2022

Canadiens Inquiring about Jakob Chychrun?

Jimmy Murphy of Montreal Hockey Now cites an NHL source claiming the Canadiens have been busy working the phones ahead of the March 21 deadline. While they have assets to move, one of the surprising stories coming out of Montreal is that the team might be kicking tires on defenseman Jakob Chychrun.

Jakob Chychrun Arizona Coyotes
Jakob Chychrun, Arizona Coyotes (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Saying that the team doesn’t want a full rebuild but is preparing to move Ben Chiarot and Brett Kulak — and maybe Jeff Petry — they’ll need a replacement defenseman. Chychrun has term left on his deal and he would fit nicely for the Canadiens. The downside is that it will take a first-round pick to acquire him and the Canadiens aren’t eager to trade their first-rounder in a draft year where their city is hosting the draft.

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Two things might happen that could change the way they view their first-rounder. The Canadiens might try to acquire another first-round pick as part of one of their deadline trades or, if the draft is moved because of COVID attendance issues, the Canadiens might not see a need to hold onto that first-rounder.

Senators Players Attracting Interest Around the NHL

As per a Pierre LeBrun report, the Ottawa Senators have been popular over the past few days as they’ve received a number of phone calls about some of the players teams expect will be available ahead of the trade deadline. Among the pending unrestricted free agents that could be moved, Chris Tierney, Zach Sanford, Nick Paul, Tyler Ennis, Josh Brown, and Anton Forsberg are getting the most interest.

The Senators are also being seen as a team that might buy this year, picking up bigger contracts or pending restricted free agents that will need new contracts but their current teams will have a hard time fitting in their respective salaries.