NHL Rumors: Oilers, Canadiens, Canucks, Maple Leafs, Senators

In today’s NHL rumors rundown, Elliotte Friedman dropped a number of tidbits in his 32 Thoughts column in regards to a number of teams. Among them, he talked about the Edmonton Oilers need for a goaltender, the Montreal Canadiens’ GM job was always Kent Hughes’ to lose and the Vancouver Canucks might have shifted directions with their GM search. The Florida Panthers are believed to be in one defenseman away from really contending and the Toronto Maple Leafs are open to clearing cap space before the deadline. Finally, the Ottawa Senators are among the many teams that have shown interest in a KHL forward.

Oilers Working to Acquire a Goaltender

Friedman writes, “I think Edmonton’s looking harder at acquiring a goalie. Remember: Jaroslav Halak has control in Vancouver and doesn’t seem inclined to move.” As for any other goalies the Oilers might have their eyes on, it’s not clear how eager other teams would be to move their backups, or bail on their starters if they’re out of the playoff picture. Someone like Seymon Varlamov would be a good fit, but the New York Islanders might not be ready to make that trade yet.

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There are more than a few media members suggesting the goaltending issue in Edmonton is the root of the blow-up between Leon Draisaitl and Hall of Fame writer Jim Matheson on Tuesday, with some speculating Leon didn’t want to throw his goaltender under the bus and couldn’t come up with an answer to Matheson’s question about the “one thing” that was really plaguing the Oilers during this run of losses.

Bob Nicholson, Ken Holland, Daryl Katz
Bob Nicholson CEO and Vice-Chair of Oilers Entertainment Group Hockey Operations Staff, new GM Ken Holland and Owner Daryl Katz pose for a photo after announcing the hiring of Ken Holland, in Edmonton, Alta., on Tuesday May 7, 2019. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson)

Whatever the case, Friedman notes that the Oilers’ scouting meetings are happening this week in California so owner Daryl Katz can be heard first-hand.

Kent Hughes Was Always the Guy in Montreal

Kent Hughes was hired to be the next general manager for the Montreal Canadiens. While the team interviewed other candidates and a committee put together took a serious look at other qualified options, Hughes was always the guy Jeff Gorton wanted and the group found him to be the best candidate.

Friedman notes, “Days after Gorton was hired, a couple of sources suggested the GM job was Hughes’ if he wanted.” Apparently, it simply took some time for Hughes to decide if he wanted to leave the agency world behind him because he knew once he did, he couldn’t go back. When he decided to leave, it took some time to exit from his agency, Quartexx.

Allvin No Longer Frontrunner in Vancouver

Friedman notes that the Canucks might also be closer to making a decision on their vacant GM position, but that intel suggests Patrik Allvin is not the frontrunner. Friedman says that the current director of player development Ryan Johnson is due for an increased role but that doesn’t mean he’ll be the next general manager.

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Add Panthers to List of Teams Looking at Chychrun

Friedman says to add the Florida Panthers to the list of teams that should be active this season before the trade deadline. Specifically, he says they’ll be looking for a defenceman and that some teams suspect they are in on Jakob Chychrun.

Friedman called in an all-in year for the Panthers. He notes, “They’re really good and one more defender would be perfect for them.”

Maple Leafs Willing to Clear Cap Space

Friedman notes the lack of salary cap space will be the biggest impediment to making trades. Because teams are so tight to the cap or using long-term injury, there may not be much some teams can do. As a result, the Toronto Maple Leafs are willing to clear cap space to make a move.

Justin Holl Toronto Maple Leafs
Justin Holl, Toronto Maple Leafs (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

As for what they’d be willing to do (or can do), Justin Holl being moved would clear up $2 million. Nick Ritchie being moved would clear up another $2.5 million.

Senators Showing Interest in Kuzmenko

As per TSN’s Darren Dreger, the Ottawa Senators have shown interest in 25-year old KHL forward Andrei Kuzmenko. Dreger notes the Senators aren’t the only team kicking tires on the player. During the most recent episode of TSN Insider Trading, Dreger said:

“As we talk about this – 53 points in 45 games – his agent, says he is focused on the Olympics, wants to win gold for Russia. He’s focused on the men’s worlds and he’s focused on the Gagarin Cup and he is not going to consider any of the NHL interest until his season has concluded. His agent says virtually every team in the NHL has interest in Kuzmenko.”