NHL Rumors: Oilers, Maple Leafs, Canadiens, Blackhawks, More

In today’s NHL rumors rundown, the Edmonton Oilers not only lost a close contest to the Calgary Flames on Monday night, but they got some potentially bad injury news as well. Meanwhile, Toronto Maple Leafs GM Kyle Dubas spoke with the media on Tuesday and outlined his plan for the NHL Trade Deadline. The Montreal Canadiens could get some salary cap relief with Ben Chiarot on LTIR, but that doesn’t mean they are free and clear to spend money. Finally, could the Chicago Blackhawks be a busy team at the trade deadline and could they intentionally add some bad contracts in the process?

Oilers Lose Barrie and Khaira

It’s not clear now long each player will be out of action, but both Tyson Barrie and Jujhar Khaira are listed as day-to-day for the Oilers. Barrie left Monday’s game in the first period with an unknown ailment. He tried to return for the third period but couldn’t play. It’s not clear what’s wrong with the defenseman or how serious the injury might be but it would not be good news if it was anything long-term.

For now, the Oilers will likely slot in Evan Bouchard, which will make some Oilers fans happy.

Jujhar Khaira Edmonton Oilers
Jujhar Khaira, Edmonton Oilers (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Khaira tried to answer for what some are calling a dirty hit and lost a fight with Brett Ritchie. The Oilers center was tagged at the end of the bout and partially knocked out. While he was mostly able to skate off on his own (with a bit of help from the trainers), it didn’t look like Khaira was doing well.

Dubas Talks About Leafs Deadline Plans

The Maple Leafs GM met with media on Tuesday and provided more insight as to what the organization is thinking as the April 12th trade deadline approaches. He said he’s not transfixed on any one position but also said they may focus on adding a forward because they moved out some good pieces in the offseason. He’d like to try and make a trade right away and when asked if he was willing to trade a top prospect before this deadline: “Yes.”

He noted that he’s trying to find a trade partner to make a deal sooner than later but seemed to hint that finding a dance partner was harder was not necessarily easy.

He also noted that this was one of those rare years when the team might prefer to do a deal for a player that is an obvious rental. The way the salary cap is structured, anything they add that has a commitment beyond this season will affect their allotment for next season. Dubas noted that if the right deal comes along, they’ll make it work, but he seemed to be leaning towards adding someone the team could walk away from at the end of the season.

Related: NHL Rumors: Maple Leafs, Oilers, Ducks, Coyotes, Islanders, More

Salary Cap Questions for Canadiens

The Athletic’s Arpon Basu took a look at what the Canadiens might do now that they’ve placed Chiarot on LTIR. He points out that the team will get some salary-cap relief to pursue a player at the trade deadline but there is uncertainty over how long he’ll be sidelined.

Basu writes:

In a weird way, the Canadiens might have been better off if Chiarot’s injury meant he would absolutely not be available prior to the end of the regular season. It would open up a world of trade possibilities for them, but there’s nothing guaranteeing the Canadiens would be able to acquire a player to use that additional cap space.

source – ‘How the Canadiens’ trade deadline plans are impacted by the injury to Ben Chiarot’ – Arpon Basu – The Athletic – 03/15-2021

The speculation is that Chiarot will be back before the end of the regular season meaning the team will have to clear cap space for his return. To that end, Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin said on a media call says he’s not looking to go out and trade for a defenseman to replace Chiarot because they expect the player to be back.

Could Blackhawks Take on Bad Contracts?

Ben Pope of The Chicago Sun-Times discussed 10 players the Blackhawks could target at this year’s trade deadline. Interestingly, he noted the team could use their ample LTIR space to get a bad contract but pick up some prospects or draft picks in the process. Essentially, the team has $21 million in LTIR space for this season and still have quite a bit of space for next season too.

Pope names players like Vancouver’s Loui Eriksson, the Islanders’ Andrew Ladd, Edmonton’s James Neal or Carolina’s Jake Gardiner. He writes:

There are risks to that strategy, but it’s a possibility, especially with many teams around the NHL tight against the cap heading toward the trade deadline April 12.

source – ’10 bad contracts the Blackhawks could potentially acquire using LTIR space’ – Ben Pope – Chicago Sun Times – 03/15/2021

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