NHL Rumors: Flames, Blackhawks, Oilers, Plus More Positive Cases

In today’s NHL rumor rundown, there is news on the Calgary Flames and whether or not Juuso Valimaki will join the team. In Chicago, there is potential pressure to change the team name and a shadow named Brent Seabrook ‘s status lingering over the roster. Would the Blackhawks even entertain the idea of a name change and can they move the defenseman’s contract? Finally, the Emdonton Oilers are feeling the cap squeeze. What gives first?

Flames to Sit Valimaki?

According to Eric Francis of Sportsnet, even if the Calgary Flames’ Juuso Valimaki gets clearance to play after injuring his knee, the Calgary Flames might elect to have him sit out the play-in round versus the Winnipeg Jets, 

Juuso Valimaki
Juuso Valimaki (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Francis notes that the issue isn’t necessarily health related but more that it forces the Flames to make unnecessary decisions around the Seattle expansion draft. If Valimaki plays, he’s likely to have seen enough NHL action that the Flames have to use one of their three defensemen protections on him. If they protect him, along with blueliners Noah Hanifin and Rasmus Andersson, the organization can’t protect captain Mark Giordano.

There’s a chance the Flames make a bet that Seattle wouldn’t want to select Giordano when he’s 37 years old but if Seattle wants to win as soon as possible, Giordano is potentially the best d-man they could grab.

Related: Flames GM Brad Treliving’s Draft History

Blackhawks Feeling Pressure to Change Team Name?

With pressure mounting on teams like the NFL’s Washington Redskins and MLB’s Cleveland Indians, could the Chicago Blackhawks be feeling the pressure to change their team name and/or logo? As The Athletic’s Scott Powers notes that some Native Americans find the logo racist while others find it an opportunity to educate.

“One thing that is important to keep in mind is there’s no such thing as the Indian point of view,” said Loyola University Chicago professor Theodore Karamanski, who teaches American Indian history courses. “Each Native American has its own traditions, its own history and view the world differently, and Native American viewpoints and beliefs change over time.”

source – ‘Is it time for the Chicago Blackhawks to drop their Native American logo?’ – Scott Powers – The Athletic – 06/25/2020

It’s an interesting debate and will get more attention now that the Redskins have agreed to take a look at their name and possibly make a change.

On-Ice Blackhawks Questions Surround Brent Seabrook

In some on-ice Blackhawks news, Ben Pope of the Chicago Sun-Times writes that there are a ton of questions when it comes to the future of 35-year-old defenseman Brent Seabrook and his $6.875 million contract over the next four seasons.

Brent Seabrook Blackhawks
Brent Seabrook, Chicago Blackhawks, Nov. 9, 2017 (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

The latest news is that he’s working towards being healthy enough to play in the play-in round versus the Edmonton Oilers but more long-term questions surround how the team will move on from his deal with a flat salary cap over the next two seasons.

Signing bonuses make a buy out almost pointless and he’s got a full no-movement clause through 2022. He’d need to be protected for the Seattle expansion draft (not that Seattle would take him), but protecting him means the team can’t protect forward Alex Nylander or defenseman Lucas Carlsson.

Pope writes:

The Hawks aren’t planning to force Seabrook to ride out his career on long-term injured reserve (a la Marian Hossa), despite three surgeries on his hips and right shoulder last winter. By all accounts, he remains on track to be at full health this fall.

source – ‘Brent Seabrook’s albatross contract will soon be even more problematic for Blackhawks’ – Ben Pope – Chicago Sun Times – 07/04/2020

Related: Blackhawks Memories: Stanley Cup Brings Out the Jerks

Will Smith and Sheahan Get Shafted by Oilers?

Like many teams, the Edmonton Oilers will be forced to make some difficult roster decisions when the season closes. The result could be that UFAs like Mike Smith and Riley Sheahan might not like their respective contract offers.

Mike Smith Edmonton Oilers
Mike Smith, Edmonton Oilers (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Because there is some leverage for RFAs like forward Andreas Athanasiou and Matt Benning, plus the team has to be cautious of future contracts for players like Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Adam Larsson, there’s an upper-limit the Oilers can’t pass when it comes to Smith and Sheahan. Either that, or they have to remove another contract.

With around $9.5 million in cap space, what gives? The Oilers have Smith, Sheahan, Athanasiou, Benning, Mike Green, Tyler Ennis and Patrick Russell to sign if they want to try and bring everyone back.


The NHL has announced nine more positives cases of COVID-19 among the populous of tested NHL players. That means in over 2,900 tests administered to 396 players, 23 came back positive.

TSN’s Ryan Rishaug has been covering the protocols for testing positive closely and citing what would happen if a players tests positive during the playoffs or needs to leave the NHL bubble during the postseason. He notes:

Any person who is sanctioned to leave the bubble, can return but will be “required to return at least four consecutive negative PCR test results over a four day period, and will be required to quarantine in their hotel room until such testing requirements have been fulfilled”. For example, a player leaving for the birth of a child, or in an emergency situation for a short period of time.

After a player recovers from COVID he could potentially return to play once he goes through the protocols layed out including multiple negative tests. “All Players must be cleared as “fit to play” by a cardiologist and team physician before returning to game activity.”

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