In today’s NHL rumor rundown, there is good news for the Toronto Maple Leafs as their top defenseman is back, the San Jose Sharks are going to have to figure out how to play three games in the month of March that will be affected by a Coronavirus ban and the Edmonton Oilers are in hot water with their coach after a number of poor offensive outings. And, what is the latest on Jesperi Kotkaniemi’s injury?
Morgan Rielly Returns to Lineup
A struggling Maple Leafs team will get some much-needed help Tuesday night as defenseman Morgan Rielly will return to the lineup after missing 23 games with a broken foot.
It wasn’t 100% clear after yesterday’s media conference that Rielly would be back as both he and coach Sheldon Keefe said they needed to see how responded to yesterday’s practice before confirming he’d slot in. Still, both were confident and he’ll join Cody Ceci among the list of returning players trying to help the Maple Leafs secure a playoff spot.
Keefe called Rielly one of the few vocal leaders on the team and the Maple Leafs will need his talent and his energy if they’re going to make waves in the last 11 games.
Related: Do You Know Your Bruins Trivia?
San Jose Sharks to Have Games Canceled?
Santa Clara County has implemented a mandatory ban on all large gatherings and that ban will include and apply to San Jose Sharks games planned for the SAP Center.
The ban, which will begin at midnight on Wednesday, will span three weeks and affect three Sharks games. The Sharks official website posted the following statement:
SAP Center at San Jose is aware of the County of Santa Clara’s Public Health Department order to prohibit public and private mass gatherings through the end of March. We will adhere to the mandated guidelines. No events are scheduled at SAP Center until Tues., March 17. We will be reviewing each scheduled event due to take place for the rest of the month and provide an update in the coming days. We appreciate the understanding and patience of our fans, guests and partners during this unprecedented time.
The NHL has yet to comment on the matter and if alternate sites will be found to play those games or the games will be made up at a later time and date. TSN’s Frank Seravalli notes that the three options: the Sharks can play with no fans, play at a neutral site or postpone the games. As Seravalli notes, the Sharks have lots of time to figure it out as they’re headed out on the road for nine days.
The biggest area of concern seems to be what happens if more than just the San Jose market enacts similar restrictions.
Related: San Jose Sharks: A Brief History
Brouwer and Ness Waived on Tuesday
Today, Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet reports that both Troy Brouwer and Aaron Ness have been placed on waivers by their respective clubs.
In the case of Ness it appears, according to Craig Morgan of The Athletic tweets, the Arizona Coyotes are expecting Jakob Chychrun back this week and while their wasn’t a need to make room, Ness is eligible to play for the Tucson Roadrunners and is better used there versus with the Coyotes.
Oilers Planning to Shake Things Up?
Despite being second in the Pacific Division, having great odds to make the playoffs an picking up points in their last number of games, the Edmonton Oilers look completely out of sorts, according to head coach Dave Tippett.
Tippett said of their performance on Monday:
“This is as disconnected as we’ve been in a long time. And it’s not just tonight’s game I’m talking about, it’s a number of games. We can’t continue to play like that and feel like we’re a good team,”
The Oilers have been out-shot by a margin of 94 to 48 in their last two games and the belief is that if Tippett can’t get some things fixed in practice, they’ll be sitting some players. The last two games, goaltender Mikko Koskinen has been stellar, but to rely on that continuing is dangerous.
Edmonton Oilers forward Connor McDavid missed last night’s game with an illness but it isn’t expected he’ll be out long-term.
Latest on Kotkaniemi’s Injury Situation
Eric Engels reports that Montreal Canadiens coach Claude Julien has updated fans on the Jesperi Kotkaniemi spleen injury and said he was able to leave the Cleveland hospital after one day.
Engels adds that Kotkaniemi didn’t have surgery and there is no timeline for his recovery just yet. He’ll be meeting with the Canadiens doctors for further evaluation.
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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.”