NHL Rumors: Maple Leafs, Canadiens, Oilers, Bruins, More

In today’s NHL rumors, there is more news on a potential Matt Dumba trade, there are questions about how busy the Montreal Canadiens will be at the deadline, and what was Zack Kassian’s mentality headed into the game against the Calgary Flames on Wednesday? Finally, David Backes has made a decision regarding his accepting assignment to the Bruins’ AHL team after clearing waivers.

Maple Leafs in Control of Their Own Fortunes

It goes without saying that the players on the team determine the fortunes of a team. If you play well, you win. If you play lousy, you don’t. On Wednesday, Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet reported the Toronto Maple Leafs have have taken that one step further when general manager Kyle Dubas said the Maple Leafs roster will determine if he pulls the trigger on a trade.

Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas
Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Christopher Katsarov)

Should the Maple Leafs continue to win, he’ll do everything in his power to pursue a right-handed blueliner and Friedman cites one league executive saying the Leafs are investigating every good defenseman on the market in preparation of that happening. Matt Dumba is a player the Leafs have called about already. If the Leafs struggle, Dubas may focus solely on what his team looks like next season.

Related: Top 3 All-Time Maple Leafs Goalies

Expect Montreal to Stay Quiet

Friedman also adds that the feeling around the Montreal Canadiens is that they might not do much at this year’s deadline. Montreal’s mentioned that they aren’t interested in rentals and they want to be in the race for the 2021 playoffs. That means, rumors they might trade Jeff Petry or Tomas Tatar would only be accurate if the Canadiens got an offer they absolutely can’t turn down.

Jeff Petry Montreal Canadiens
Jeff Petry, Montreal Canadiens (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

They could still trade Ilya Kovalchuk if he makes it known he’s not intending to return to the team. Any rentals would also be in play so the Canadiens might make small moves.

Related: 2012 NHL Draft Top 10: Where Are They Now?

Kassian Gives Props to Tkachuk

You get the sense watching the Edmonton Oilers versus Calgary Flames on Wednesday that Zack Kassian wouldn’t have fought Matthew Tkachuk unless Tkachuk stepped up and asked for it.

Calgary Flames' Matthew Tkachuk
Calgary Flames’ Matthew Tkachuk (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh)

Early in the first period Tkachuk wanted to get it over with and Kassian declined. It was in the final minutes of the first period after Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Sean Monahan fought that Kassian finally said ok.

The belief is that Kassian, fresh off his new four-year contract extension, was trying to ensure he didn’t do anything that would put the Oilers down in an important game where two points were critical. You could see Kassian nod to Tkachuk after the fight was over as if to say, ‘Yeah, you’re good. You did what you had to.’

The game had an intense feeling to it and it’s hard to imagine the rough stuff is over. The two teams play again on Saturday and Connor McDavid might have been the player who left the most unhappy. He took what was a greasy hit to the same knee he’d injured by the same player who injured him the first time [Mark Giordano] and was incensed the referees never called a penalty. Then he hit the post during the shootout. He might come back Saturday with something to prove.

Related: Edmonton Oilers Sign Zack Kassian to 4-Yr Extension

David Backes Refuses AHL Assignment

After being waived by the Boston Bruins, veteran forward David Backes has taken time to consider his future and whether he would report to the Providence Bruins of the AHL. He has decided not to.

David Backes Boston Bruins
David Backes, Boston Bruins (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Boston GM Don Sweeney released a short statement:

After speaking with David, we have agreed that it is in the best interest of David and the Bruins for him not to play in Providence at this time. David is fit and able to play, but in order to preserve all potential options for both David and the Bruins moving forward, we have decided this is the best course of action.

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