In today’s NHL rumor rundown report, there is news on Steven Stamkos’ injury situation, speculation on what’s going to happen with the general manager’s position in New Jersey and some news about what might be discussed at the GM meetings in Florida next week. Finally, are the Toronto Maple Leafs getting a couple of players back sooner than expected. And, did Robin Lehner just throw the Chicago Blackhawks under the bus?
Devils GM Search Continues, Interview Gillis
Elliotte Friedman noted on Saturday’s Headlines report that there were many who wondered if the New Jersey Devils might elevate interim GM Tom Fitzgerald to the permanent GM position after his work at the NHL Trade Deadline this season. His work was “highly praised” said Friedman.
Friedman went on to say that the answer is no. The Devils will continue to search for a GM. Fitzgerald will certainly get strong consideration but the team will open up discussions.
One of the first people interviewed was former GM and player agent, Mike Gillis. He’s not currently tied to any teams so interviewing him is not a problem. From there, the Devils will move onto more interviews after the season.
Steven Stamkos Injury Details
The earliest anyone will see Steven Stamkos back in the NHL is the first round of the playoffs, assuming the recovery is on the positive side of expectations, noted Chris Johnston.
Now out six-to-eight weeks and ready to undergo surgery. Johnston added, this is something Stamkos was trying to play through and manage. He sat out a couple of games but ultimately, it became a question of whether or not he could continue. They decided he couldn’t.
If Tampa misses the playoffs, it is expected Stamkos won’t play during the rest of the season.
GM Meetings in Florida This Week
One of the items on the docket is the emergecy backup goaltender protocol. Other items of note is the offside coaches challenge and whether or not players have to keep their skates on the ice versus the blue line being treated like a plain. Salary cap projections are among the other topics.
Johnston noted this was going to be one of the “slower” GM meetings for news items regarding the league which might give teams a chance to talk a few trade ideas for when the season ends.
Update on Maple Leafs Muzzin and Rielly
According to a report from Sportsnet insider Chris Johnston, both Jake Muzzin and Morgan Rielly will be joining the Toronto Maple Leafs on their upcoming road trip. This is great news for the Maple Leafs as it wasn’t expected either would be back this quickly.
Both players are expected to skate with the team, and while that doesn’t equal a return, it might mean a potential return is not far off. This also comes after news that Cody Ceci skated with the team for the first time after suffering a serious ankle injury.
Lehner Comments on His Exit From Chicago
Following the trade that sent goaltender Robin Lehner to the Vegas Golden Knights, Lehner spoke with Justin Emerson of the Las Vegas Sun, and essentially threw the Blackhawks organization under the bus.
Lehner said of his time in Chicago:
I went to Chicago to help them out and got promises of getting a fair chance to play. I came there with a good mindset, fit into the team. I didn’t play much in the beginning, or middle, beginning of the season, even if I played well, had a good camp.
Eventually, I took over and I won — I think I won like nine out of 10, 12 out of 15 — and we walked up one point out of a playoff spot. Then, all of a sudden, I found myself on the bench for no reason. That was tough. Plus, negotiations totally died out.source – ‘Goaltender Lehner doesn’t predict his future with Golden Knights’ – Les Vegas Sun – Justin Emerson – 02/27/2020
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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.”