NHL Rumors: Maple Leafs, Hurricanes, Penguins, More

In today’s NHL rumor rundown there is news on Toronto Maple Leafs GM Kyle Dubas going above and beyond for one of his forwards, but also unfortunate news that a few Maple Leafs are looking for a chance of scenery. There is an update on Justin Williams future plus news that the Pittsburgh Penguins might look at one of the NHL’s biggest trade rentals.

Dubas Earns Major Brownie Points

Word of Dubas’ good will is spreading fast when it comes to his treatment of forward Ilya Mikheyev. While he may have done what he did out of the kindness of his heart, Dubas has earned major brownie points with Mikheyev and his agent for sticking beside his injured forward the entire time he was in New Jersey recovering from surgery.

Toronto Maple Leafs General Manager Kyle Dubas
Toronto Maple Leafs General Manager Kyle Dubas (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette)

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Realizing Miheyev didn’t speak English well, was away from his family and had just undergone emergency surgery, he figured Mikheyev could use a friend. His goodwill gesture was noticed by Dan Milstein of Gold Star Hockey and also Mikheyev’s agent. As Chris Johnston of Sportsnet reports, Milstein has told many other Russian players, many of whom are his clients. Johnston writes:

The agent has KHL free agents currently drawing significant NHL interest for next season and has made sure they’re all aware of the humanity the Leafs exhibited with Mikheyev, telling them: “You should know how Toronto took care of this particular accident.”

For the Maple Leafs, this ups the odds Mikheyev will look to them when he goes to re-sign in the summer and it gives the organization better odds of being the first place KHL free agents look when entering the NHL.

Unfortunately, not all the news is good for the Maple Leafs. One player who is looking for a change is forward Jeremy Bracco. Bracco’s 79 points in 75 games should have probably gotten the prospect a look thanks to a rash of Maple Leafs injuries but because he plays right wing and the Maple Leafs have Mitch Marner, William Nylander and Kasperi Kapanen locked into the top three lines, he’s not getting a chance. Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet wrote yesterday in his 31 Thoughts column that the young forward has asked the organization to look at moving him.

Two other players are also looking for a different opportunity as Friedman suggests that both Dmytro Timashov and Ben Harpur have asked Toronto to be moved.

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Justin Williams To Rejoin Hurricanes

We reported yesterday that Friedman noted a decision by Justin Williams was coming this week. Less than 24 hours later, Friedman was on NHL Network’s Morning Skate radio program and announced that Williams will indeed return and that he and the Hurricanes are merely working out the details.

Penguins Looking at Chris Kreider?

Rob Rossi of The Athletic writes that with Jake Guentzel now out four-to-six months with a shoulder injury, the Pittsburgh Penguins have about $6 million to go out and improve their roster. Rossi believes Penguins GM Jim Rutherford will do so before the trade deadline.

Chris Kreider New York Rangers
Chris Kreider, New York Rangers (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Rossi thinks Chris Kreider is the target and that the Penguins would be willing to move a first-round pick to land him. He writes:

With Poulin and 2019 third-round pick, forward Nathan Legare, in the Penguins system, Rutherford should feel comfortable exchanging his 2020 first-round pick — even if it is for a rental player.

His top target should be Chris Kreider, a left winger for the New York Rangers. Kreider would come with a $4.625 million cap hit, but he is on an expiring contract. Only 28, he is unlikely to pass up becoming an unrestricted free agent, so the Penguins would essentially be renting Kreider for the rest of this season.

If they could, they should.

source – ‘What creative ways could the Penguins make up for the loss of Jake Guentzel?’ – Rob Rossi – The Athletic – 01/01/2020

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