NHL Rumors: Hurricanes, Oilers, Maple Leafs, Canucks, More

In today’s NHL rumor rundown, the Carolina Hurricanes are expected to get Justin Williams back. How is he feeling about his return? Did one NHL scribe release accurate terms for Zack Kassian’s potential new deal in Edmonton? Is a former Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman trying to work his way into a management role with the team? And there’s some buzz surrounding a few of the Vancouver Canucks pending free agents.

Williams to Be Back Sunday

According to News & Observer’s Chip Alexander the Carolina Hurricanes are expecting to have Justin Williams back on the ice Sunday against the New York Islanders. That said, Williams may not play.

Justin Williams Curtis McElhinney Carolina Hurricanes
Justin Williams has a quiet word with Curtis McElhinney of the Carolina Hurricanes. (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)

Head coach Rod Brind’Amour said Williams will go through pre-game warm-ups before he makes a decision but the expectation is that Williams will suit up for the team. Williams said of his return, “I’m nervous before every game I play so I’m going to have nerves.” Williams isn’t worried about his ability though. He said that will take care of itself and he’ll go out and work his “tail off and let my instincts take over.”

Alexander wrote:

In Saturday’s practice, Williams was used on a line with center Lucas Wallmark and Brock McGinn, with Jordan Martinook the extra forward. If that holds for the game, Williams would be on the fourth line, his minutes monitored and likely limited.

source – ‘ Justin Williams expected to play for Hurricanes on Sunday. Williams: ‘Ready to rock.’ – Chip Alexander – Carolina News and Observer – 01/18/2020

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Oilers and Kassian Terms Revealed?

It was earlier reported that the Edmonton Oilers and Zack Kassian were making ground on a contract extension, one that might be announced before the Feb. 24 trade deadline. Mark Spector of Sportsnet has potentially broken more news on that deal.

Spector tweeted that the deal for Kassian could be a four-year term between $3.25 and $3.5 million per season. If accurate, this might be a little longer than the Oilers were rumored to want to go, but if the team can get Kassian in under $3.5 million, that’s likely being seen as a win by the organization.

The concern was overpaying Kassian and that he’d command around $4 million on the open market if he got to that point. This deal would represent Kassian wanting to stay and the Oilers having faith he’ll be productive over the next few seasons.

Related: Edmonton Oilers’ 2006 Stanley Cup Run – A Look Back

Phaneuf Shadowing Brendan Shanahan

TSN’s Bob McKenzie reported that Dion Phaneuf has been shadowing Toronto Maple Leafs president Brendan Shanahan for the past few days. While he’s not retired from the NHL and would like to land a playing position with an NHL club, he’s making plans for his future after hockey.

Dion Phaneuf
Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Dion Phaneuf (3) during the NHL game between the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Carolina Hurricanes at the PNC Arena.

McKenzie said:

“… the reason he is in Toronto is simply to get a look at the business of hockey and he reached out to Brendan Shanahan, asked if he could come in, get a feel for what the whole Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment operation off the ice is all about. That’s what he’s been doing.”

Related: NHL Rumors: Trade Delays, Oilers, Devils, Blackhawks, More

Canucks News and Rumors Items

Rick Dhaliwal of TSN notes that Jacob Markstrom’s agent Pat Morris said Markstrom isn’t thinking about his pending status as a free agent. “His next contract is furthest from his mind, team & playoff goals are at forefront,” Morris said. He added that Markstrom’s priority would be to stay in Vancouver the rest of his career.

Jacob Markstrom Vancouver Canucks
Vancouver Canucks goalie Jacob Markstrom (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson)

Dhaliwal also noted that pending UFA defenseman Chris Tanev would like to stay in Vancouver as well and that the two sides will “get to the contract at the right time.”

Finally, Dhaliwal notes that Nikita Tryamkin’s agent Todd Diamond said there hasn’t been much talk between the two sides. But, that’s apparently not a concern. He added, “There is plenty of time to talk when his season is over.”

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