In today’s NHL rumor rundown, even after signing with the Columbus Blue Jackets, rumors persist that Pierre-Luc Dubois wants out of the organization. What are the next steps for both sides? The Edmonton Oilers think they’ve got an answer to their questions about the penalty kill, and the Ottawa Senators may have too many players and need to make a trade. Finally, who will head to the Montreal Canadiens taxi squad as they continue to sign players?
Pierre-Luc Dubois Trade Rumors Persist
Thursday was a busy day for reporting when it came to covering the story of Pierre-Luc Dubois and the Columbus Blue Jackets. First he wanted a trade, then he signed a two-year extension. Now, he’s signed, but still wants out.
According to Aaron Portzline of The Athletic, as Dubois was fielding interest from other teams he realized he’d like to play elsewhere. Apparently, that hasn’t changed even though he’s now signed to a bridge contract. “Dubois’ desire to leave Columbus was made clear,” Portzline writes. He adds:
As a restricted free agent, Dubois was allowed to speak with other NHL franchises since free agency began on Oct. 9. Dubois did not sign an offer sheet, but the Blue Jackets were extremely wary of one, which is why they traded defensemen Ryan Murray and Markus Nutivaara at liquidation prices on the eve of free agency.source – ‘Pierre-Luc Dubois signs new deal with Blue Jackets, but desire for trade remains’ Aaron Portzline – The Athletic – 12/31/2020
Portzline notes now that the team is hoping Dubois will change his mind, but they might have to use much of the next two years to test the market and see what’s out there for Dubois, a player who should field plenty of interest.
There’s a lot of talk that GM Jarmo Kekäläinen is to blame for what’s happening here as he has a history of playing hardball with RFA’s and this is now the third time it’s come back to bite him (Ryan Johansen and Josh Anderson being the other two times.)
Oilers Using Turris to Kill Penalties
After letting Riley Sheahan walk this offseason, the Oilers are down one key member of their penalty kill team. Questions in Edmonton about who will fill that role to ensure the kill stays strong are circulating and head coach Dave Tippett believes newly-acquired center Kyle Turris can do the job.
Pegged to be the Oilers third line center this season, Tippett hinted in media interviews that Turris will see some time killing penalties. The only problem is, that outside of winning defensive zone faceoffs, he’s not very proficient at playing a man down. He rarely did so in Nashville and when he did in Ottawa, the Senators were badly outshot compared to other penalty killers.
The backup plan if Turris doesn’t do well seems to be Gaetan Haas which gives a hint that Haas will be one of the regular members of the Oilers and not necessarily a taxi squad member.
Canadiens Might Put Surprising Player on Taxi Squad
The Montreal Canadiens signed a couple of extra forwards recently to add to their depth but Pat Hickey of the Montreal Gazette writes the challenge for GM Marc Bergevin and head coach Claude Julien is to figure out how to fit players into the lineup and under the salary cap. Is it possible that one of recently signed Corey Perry or Michael Frolik wind up on the taxi squad?
Hickey writes specifically about Frolik and his chances when he noted:
Frolik is aware there will be competition for jobs and ice time in Montreal and he said that’s always a good situation. He faces one disadvantage because the Sabres didn’t make the playoffs and he hasn’t played a game since March.source – ‘Corey Perry, Michael Frolik give Canadiens’ special-teams units a boost’ Pat Hickey – Montreal Gazette – 12/29/2020
The recent signings leave the Canadiens $1.1 million over the $81.5-million cap, which means decisions will have to be made before the season starts.
Senators Need a Trade?
Ken Warren of the Ottawa Sun recently took a look at how logjammed the Senators are at center and on defense. The additions of Derek Stepan and Cedric Paquette gives them five centers and there may be talk of the team trying to move Artem Anisimov or Logan Brown.
On defense, Warren writes:
It’s a packed house on defence, too, with Thomas Chabot, Nikita Zaitsev, Erik Gudbranson, Braydon Coburn, Mike Reilly, Josh Brown, Christian Wolanin, Erik Brannstrom, Artem Zub, Lassi Thomson and Christian Jaros all searching for playing time.”
Some of the above will likely be resolved with the Senators trading away veterans before the trade deadline, but there will be a tricky challenge for coach D.J. Smith to play in the short term.source – ‘ WARREN: Breaking down Dorion’s busy trade weekend’ – Ken Warren – Ottawa Sun – 12/28/2020
To solve the issue of too many players for not enough spots, Warren believes some of the veterans could be moved by the trade deadline.
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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.”