NHL Rumors: Oilers, Coyotes, Rangers, Ducks

In today’s NHL rumors rundown, there are a ton of changes to the Edmonton Oilers roster for their game on Wednesday. Can the offense play well enough to give the team a chance without their superstar captain? So too, what’s going on between Mikko Koskinen and head coach Dave Tippett? Meanwhile, the Arizona Coyotes are back in the trade rumor mill as talk has heated up regarding defenseman Jakob Chychrun. The New York Rangers are looking for a defenseman. Is Chychrun among their potential targets? Finally, some familiar faces have joined the Anaheim Ducks committee to search for and hire the team’s next GM.

Oilers Lose Three to COVID, Koskinen Claps Back at Critics

There has been a lot of change to the Oilers lineup as Connor McDavid, Derek Ryan and Tyson Barrie will all miss Wednesday night’s game versus the Toronto Maple Leafs due to COVID. So too, the Oilers have learned that Ruan Nugent-Hopkins injury is potentially more serious than believed and the forward could miss 3-4 weeks, according to TSN’s Ryan Rishaug.

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Meanwhile, the Oilers will get Zack Kassian back at forward and Mike Smith back in goal.

Speaking of goaltending, Mikko Koskinen was called out by head coach Dave Tippett after Monday’s loss to the New York Rangers and has fired back at his coach and critics who are of the opinion he should be blamed for the team’s struggles. He spoke to Tommi Seppala of the Finnish publication YLE, and said:

“That’s how it usually goes in this business. When a team is doing badly, either the coach or the goalkeeper is sacrificed. It doesn’t feel nice to anyone when thrown under the bus, but those coach comments didn’t evoke any more strange thoughts in me. You just have to go to the next game.”

source – ‘Shots fired! Edmonton Oilers goalie Mikko Koskinen claps back at his many critics’ – David Staples – Edmonton Journal – 01/05/2022

He did take a bit of a parting shot and noted, the team has only scored seven goals in their last six losses. “I can’t score goals.”

As for whether or not the team is looking to trade Koskinen, the answer might be yes, but David Staples of the Edmonton Journal writes the Oilers are likely stuck with him. He notes, “Indeed, he would not be here in Edmonton this year if he did not have one final year remaining on his $4.5 million per contract. Both he and the team are stuck for now.”

There is some chatter that Koskinen could get moved down to Bakersfield and Stuart Skinner called up to play the role of backup as long as Smith stays healthy.

Tippet’s Job Security and Oilers Adding Before the Deadline

As for Tippett’s job security, Dreger cited a source claiming Tippett isn’t in immediate danger of losing his job. Further to that, Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reports Holland has already dismissed rumors linking the Oilers to former Toronto Maple Leafs’ coach Mike Babcock.

Ken Holland, Dave Tippett
Edmonton Oilers President of Hockey Operations and General Manager Ken Holland and new head coach Dave Tippett (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson)

Friedman also talked about the Oilers’ willingness to potentially add a rental to help their struggles and noted, “…does paying the price for a rental like a Ben Chiarot or Marc-Andre Fleury make sense? I don’t think missing the playoffs is an option, not at all. But also crazy is giving up your best assets for a short-term fix.”

Rangers Looking for a Defenseman

Arthur Staple of The Athletic writes that the Rangers are on the hunt for another blueliner, but he didn’t list Chychrun among his potential targets. Instead, he notes the team is looking for a rental on an expiring deal. He mentions Ben Chiarot, Calvin de Haan and Mark Giordano as potential fits.

Related: Maple Leafs Have Tough Lineup Choices Ahead

Staple writes:

There are already teams waving the white flag. Perhaps the most expensive rental thought to be available is the Canadiens’ Ben Chiarot. It seems unlikely, shall we say, that newly installed hockey ops chief Jeff Gorton would be interested in helping out the organization that spectacularly dumped him seven months ago.

source – ‘Ten thoughts on two impressive Rangers wins’ – Arthur Staple – The Athetic – 01/03/2022

Chychrun Trade Picking Up Steam

A number of sources are talking about a potential deal that would see defenseman Jakob Chychrun moved by the Arizona Coyotes again. TSN’s Darren Dreger was among the insiders who brought up a possible trade again and noted, “there has been speculation out there for the last several weeks.”

Jakob Chychrun Arizona Coyotes
Jakob Chychrun, Arizona Coyotes (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

He adds:

“Teams are actively calling Bill Armstrong, the general manager of the Coyotes, and offers are being made. But I think something we can all understand and appreciate is his age , his level of production, and the fact that he’s on a terrific contract . The asking price, according to GMs with interest, is a very significant one.”

That rumored ask from the Coyotes — and we’ve reported this before — is said to be four pieces. Apparently, the Coyotes are looking for a Jack Eichel type of return which includes a strong NHL player, a top prospect, and two draft picks.

Ducks Add Kariya, Niedermayer to GM Search Committee

The Anaheim Ducks have put together a committee to help the team locate and interview the next GM of the franchise. Interestingly, part of the committee is former players Paul Kariya and Scott Niedermayer.

Friedman writes that the Ducks have wanted both to be more involved with the franchise, so this is being seen as a real win internally that the club was able to get these two help weed down the list of candidates. Friedman adds, “There is a ton of interest in this job, from both external and internal candidates. Anaheim’s had what I’d call “soft conversations” with people, just to gauge interest and see where things might stand. But now they really get going.”