NHL Rumors: Canadiens, Canucks, Kraken, Blackhawks, Oilers, More

In today’s NHL rumors rundown, Montreal Canadiens head coach Dominique Ducharme is dealing with some COVID complications. Meanwhile, Travis Hamonic of the Vancouver Canucks says he’s open to playing outside of Western Canada. Could the Edmonton Oilers land their much-needed third-line center via trade? Finally, could the Chicago Blackhawks be big players in the Seth Jones or Dougie Hamilton sweepstakes?

Ducharme Press Conference Canceled

The Canadiens announced on Friday that Ducharme’s morning press conference had been canceled due to irregularities in his Covid test. He’s been sent home to isolate until further testing in the day. He’s had two doses of the vaccine and been tested every day. This is more a precautionary measure until the test results can be sorted out.

This feels not that different from the situation that happened to Colorado Avalanche head coach Jared Bednar during their second-round series against the Golden Knights. Bednar was eventually allowed to coach that evening after further testing came back negative. The hope is that Ducharme’s additional tests on Friday will show he’s negative.

Kraken’s Price for Side Deals High

According to NHL insider Pierre LeBrun, he’s hearing that the ask from the Seattle Kraken to do side deals that will allow teams to protect certain players or dump salary is extremely high. This is not good news for franchises that have no good decisions to make when it comes to trying to protect a player they don’t want to lose.

LeBrun writes:

Hearing from team execs around the NHL that there’s still some sticker shock to what Kraken GM Ron Francis wants in return on side deals for teams with protection issues who want some certainty now… tick tock. The poker game is on. One month away.

Still with the Kraken, Elliotte Friedman is reporting that the team has a third interview scheduled with former Arizona Coyote head coach Rick Tocchet. LeBrun said during TSN Insider trading segment that he wasn’t comfortable enough to call this a done deal, but all signs seems to suggest Tocchet will be the first coach of the expansion franchise.

Travis Hamonic Willing to Leave the Western Conference

Set to become an unrestricted free agent this offseason, Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman is reporting that defenseman Travis Hamonic has opened the window to leaving the Western Conference and is interested in playing for whatever team provides the best option. While he could re-sign with the Canucks, and the team still appears to have interest in bringing him back, it’s a massive change from his reputation as a player who was only willing to play for a handful of teams.

Hamonic played 38 games with the Canucks, scoring three goals and 10 points and averaged just under 20 minutes per game in ice time. He finished second on the team with 81 blocked shots.

Oilers to Trade for Third-Line Center

According to Oilers Now host Bob Stauffer, the belief in Edmonton is that, if GM Ken Holland is going to land the right third-line center for this team, it might have to come outside of free agency. He notes: “When it comes to the third line center, I think the Oilers are going to have to acquire that player via trade.”

Stauffer adds, “We’ll wait and see and monitor if that’s even something that’ll occur, nudge nudge wink wink, before the expansion draft.” The suggestion is that the Oilers are looking at teams that will lose a good player in the draft to Seattle and trying to work out a deal ahead of it. Teams would rather trade a good player than lose one for nothing.

Blackhawks in on Jones and Hamilton?

As per Mark Lazerus and Scott Powers of The Athletic, a source claims the Chicago Blackhawks are gearing up to make a pitch for one of defenseman Dougie Hamilton or Seth Jones. Jones would need to be acquired via trade and Hamilton could be signed in free agency, but the Blackhawks are apparently interested.

Seth Jones Columbus Blue Jackets
Seth Jones, Columbus Blue Jackets (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

The report notes that the Hawks don’t intend to leverage their future to add either blueliner. They write:

The Blackhawks don’t plan to go all-in just to add Hamilton or Jones. They realize their defense needs to improve, but they also aren’t going to leverage their future to add one player… In the case of Hamilton, the price will have to be right. … With Jones, it’ll depend on what the Columbus Blue Jackets ask for him.”

source – ‘Dougie Hamilton? Seth Jones? Nikita Zadorov? What we’re hearing about the Blackhawks’ offseason plans’ – Mark Lazerus and Scott Powers – The Athletic – 06/17/2021

The speculated ask for Jones is at least a first-round draft pick, a second-round draft pick and a high-end prospect.

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