NHL Rumors: Penguins, Maple Leafs, Oilers, Islanders

In today’s NHL rumors rundown, are the Pittsburgh Penguins getting closer to a point where they need to move Bryan Rust? If so, who would be interested? Meanwhile, the Toronto Maple Leafs are doing some roster shuffling with the return of Jake Muzzin. Is Connor McDavid dealing with some kind of issue that would keep him out of practice and could the New York Islanders be considering a trade that would move Semyon Varlamov?

McDavid Misses Practice, Tippett Talk

McDavid was not a part of the morning skate for the Edmonton Oilers on Monday, but according to multiple sources, he will be in the lineup tonight against the New York Rangers. Head coach Dave Tippett said of McDavid not being there, “just resting, saving his energy. He will be in tonight.”

Connor McDavid Edmonton Oilers
Connor McDavid, Edmonton Oilers (Photo by Andy Devlin/NHLI via Getty Images)

Speaking of Tippett, there has been a lot of chatter about him being on the hot seat as a coach, but it doesn’t sound like the Oilers are in a place where they’re ready to pull the plug just yet. A handful of sources, including Jim Matheson of the Edmonton Journal, are writing that the Oilers look at his history as a coach and the number of games he’s got on his resume and think he’ll turn the team’s fortunes around for the better. The team also knows that an injured goaltender and a weakened left side on their blue line haven’t helped Tippett’s results.

Rust and Penguins Unable to Find Common Ground

According to Jimmy Murphy of Boston Hockey Now, the Penguins and pending UFA Bryan Rust haven’t found a common ground in contract talks and the team might feel they need to move his $3.5 million cap hit in an effort to shed some salary for when Evgeni Malkin returns to the lineup. Murphy believes Rust would easily fetch a second-round pick and wonders if the Penguins could net a first-round pick.

Related: NHL Rumors: Oilers, Canadiens, Blue Jackets, Panthers

He then suggests that the Boston Bruins — who according to numerous sources are trying to find a trade bargain this season — might be a team that should look at Rust. He notes:

The former 27-goal scorer netted over 20 for a second consecutive season last year. This year though has been a nightmare for the former Notre Dame star with a pair of lower-body injuries limiting him to just 12 games. The gritty top-line, 29-year-old winger has essentially worked his way up from the mailroom to the top floor corner office. He was a light-scoring fourth-liner for the Penguins Stanley Cup runs (but had a statistical anomaly of scoring series-clinching goals).

Maple Leafs Moving Pieces Around

With the return of Jake Muzzin expected, the Toronto Maple Leafs have moved Teemu Kivihalme off the taxi squad and back to the AHL. It also appears the team will bump Alex Biega back to the taxi after he played in Saturday’s game against the Ottawa Senators.

Ilya Mikheyev Toronto Maple Leafs
Ilya Mikheyev, Toronto Maple Leafs (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

There is talk the Maple Leafs might also give Ilya Mikheyev more of a look on the power play. Jonas Siegel looked at how well Mikheyev played in the recent game and writes he might be sticking around on the second unit. Siegel adds:

There’s something interesting about the Leafs finally giving Mikheyev a look on the power play. Some of it likely has to do with Mikheyev’s well-documented discontent last season. Keefe mentioned the opportunity otherwise for the 27-year-old to get more puck “touches” with power-play time, which stood to increase his confidence offensively.

source – ‘Monday Morning Leafs Report: T.J. Brodie is the master of slides and subtlety’ – Jonas Siegel – The Athletic – 01/03/2022

Could Islanders Trade Varlamov?

Stefen Rosner of NYI Hockey Now has thrown it out there that the Islanders could look to trade goaltender Semyon Varlamov after a terrible season where the Islanders were thought to be Stanley Cup contenders early but have been anything but. The 33-year-old goaltender is struggling to regain his form but is only one season removed from being one of the better goalies in the NHL.

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Varlamov has a year remaining on his contract with an annual cap hit of $5 million. He’s got a 16-team no-trade clause. Rosner writes, “If the Islanders are indeed out of the playoff race by trade deadline day, moving Varlamov would provide more cap relief, with cap space rather significant with the stagnant cap.”