In today’s NHL rumor rundown, there is news on which teams are opening their facilities to players starting Monday. A Pittsburgh Penguins player has tested positive for COVID-19 and the media in Buffalo are talking a lot about which Buffalo Sabres players might be traded and which ones won’t. Finally, which Edmonton Oilers will make the team for playoss and which players won’t?
Some Teams Open Facilities, Others Don’t
After the NHL announced that Phase 2 will officially begin on Monday, a number of teams are opening their facilities to small groups of players. Teams like the Edmonton Oilers have made official announcements for fans that the facility will be open.
Still, there are a few teams not ready to take that step. As Frank Seravalli of TSN reports, with limited players in town to use the facility, a number of the NHL’s 24 teams do not plan to open their practice rink on Monday – including the Montreal Canadiens and Winnipeg Jets to start.
With no new cases of COVID-19 in Manitoba, it is believed the decision in Winnipeg is strictly a logistical one as there would be no one using the facility. The Canadiens shared the NHL’s announcement on their website, but didn’t comment on the team taking part.
Related: Worst Trades in Oilers’ History
Oilers Black Aces
Jonathan Willis took a look at the potential black aces (spare players) for the Oilers and listed some interesting names as back-ups instead of regular roster players. Willis notes that Kris Russell and Matt Benning will probably all be spare players on the blue line, making ways for names like Mike Green and Caleb Jones.
At forward, Willis believes Joakim Nygard and Gaetan Haas aren’t shoe-ins for play.
Is it pertains to Russell being left off the list, Willis writes:
Russell playing would likely come at the expense of dressing Caleb Jones. However, if the coaching staff deems Mike Green isn’t ready to play in Game 1 after a Feb. 26 knee injury, Russell could get the call with Jones sliding over to the right side (or vice versa). Matt Benning would remain out in that scenario. Russell is expected to be part of a small group skating in Edmonton when Phase 2 begins.source – ‘Projecting the Oilers’ black aces and how much they’ll play’ – Jonathan Willis – The Athletic – 06/05/2020
Penguins Player Tests Positive
The Pittsburgh Penguins have announced that one of their players has tested positive for COVID-19. The name of the player was not released and he is not in Pittsburgh. The illness hit a while back and this player self isolated after experiencing symptoms. He has already recovered.
While not something that will affect the return to play in any way, it is being discussed because it goes to show that players can and will likely still contract the virus. This is the ninth NHL player who has publicly tested positive — five were members of the Ottawa Senators and three were members of the Colorado Avalanche.
Sabres Trade Talk
After both writers agreed that Rasmus Ristolainen being moved out of Buffalo could fetch the Sabres some scoring help, both Lance Lysowski and Mike Harrington of The Buffalo News believe Brandon Montour should be traded.
He’s a better defenseman than he showed last season, as we saw when he played for Anaheim in the 2017 Western Conference final. He’s just miscast in Ralph Krueger’s system and other teams have to know that.
He doesn’t make enough of an impact on the power play or penalty kill to justify a price tag that could be around $5 million per season. There should be enough interest in Montour to help Botterill acquire an undervalued, talented forward for the top-nine.source – ‘Which Sabres should stay, go during Jason Botterill’s fourth offseason?’ – Lance Lysowski and Mike Harrington – Buffalo News – 06/04/2020
One player out of Buffalo fans shouldn’t expect to see moved is Jack Eichel. Despite stating his frustrations with losting again, Dan Rosen of NHL.com said he doesn’t believe the Sabres center will wind up on the trade block. It would take a lot for the Sabres to move him, if they’d consider it at all.
Rosen notes that any Eichel talk would have to include at least one key NHL player and a combination of high/top draft picks and prospects. And, it certainly wouldn’t be happening before the playoffs as it wouldn’t make sense to limit trade options to just the other non-playoff teams, they would want everyone bidding.
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Jim Parsons is a senior THW freelance writer, part-time journalist and audio/video host who lives, eats, sleeps and breathes NHL news and rumors, while also writing features on the Edmonton Oilers. He’s been a trusted source for five-plus years at The Hockey Writers, but more than that, he’s on a mission to keep readers up to date with the latest NHL rumors and trade talk. Jim is a daily must for readers who want to be “in the know.”