In today’s NHL rumors rundown, Wednesday morning was busy in the NHL. The Buffalo Sabres fired their head coach, the Toronto Maple Leafs found out their player was being claimed off waivers and the Vancouver Canucks and Ottawa Senators picked up new assets. The Canadiens have decided not to make drastic moves, but the Leafs are certainly all in. The San Jose Sharks may be trading a goalie before the deadline and the Edmonton Oilers are making lineup changes after losing a couple players in their recent loss to the Calgary Flames.
Maple Leafs Lose Jimmy Vesey to Canucks
On Tuesday, the Maple Leafs placed forward Jimmy Vesey on waivers and on Wednesday the Canucks picked him up. A depth forward for Toronto, Vesey will likely get more time in Vancouver and this should be a good opportunity for him. Vesey had 7 points (5 goals, 2 assists) in 30 games with Toronto this season and it’s hard to argue the Canucks didn’t pick up a good depth piece for cheap.
Vesey will join the Canucks in Ottawa today and his availability to play will be updated once details of work permit status are confirmed. Agent Peter Fish says he is talking to the Canucks about the next move, there may not be a seven day quarantine.
When asked about his decision to waive Vesey, Maple Leafs’ GM Kyle Dubas suggested it was all about injured players making their return. He said, “One of the things we’re looking to do is to increase our flexibility on the roster, but also as [Jack] Campbell gets closer to return and [Wayne] Simmonds is closer to return, we do have to do some juggling with the cap situation.”
Sabres Couldn’t Wait Any Longer
Also on Wednesday, the Sabres announced they were relieving head coach Ralph Krueger of his coaching duties. The team also removed assistant Steve Smith.
12-straight losses made it nearly impossible to ignore making a change. While some thought Krueger’s close relationship to GM Kevyn Adams would get him a bit more of a chance to right the ship, Adams spoke with the media on Wednesday and said, “It needed to be done now.” He added:
“For me, the results haven’t been good enough. I look and evaluate everything and I try to take a real honest, fair evaluation, understanding the adversity and the situation our team was in, take it all into account. But, it felt like the right time now and this is about moving forward. This is about how do we improve.”
The search for a new head coach will begin right away. Speculation is that the team will look to a veteran and experienced coach but that’s not been indicated by Adams, nor how long it will take to make a decision. For now, Don Granato will take over as interim head coach and he will be joined by assistants Matt Ellis and Dan Girardi.
Canadiens and Leafs Taking Two Different Paths to Deadline
TSN’s Pierre LeBrun noted during the recent Insider Trading segment that the Maple Leafs and Canadiens are taking two different approaches heading into the April 12 trade deadline. Dubas is going all-in and buzz is that the team would like to add a forward. Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin indicated he might not do much thanks to limited salary cap space, 14-day quarantine issues and returning players from injury.
LeBrun does suggest the Canadiens stance could change because on their inconsistent play and further struggles could mean Bergevin adds at the deadline. Bergevin didn’t completely rule out making a trade if something made sense but it’s clear it would have to be a dollar-for-dollar swap.
Dubas has said the Leafs are willing to do what’s need to improve the team, including trade a top prospect. That said, Frank Seravlli considers Rasmus Sandin as close to untouchable as the Leafs might have on their team. It would take something really special for Toronto to move him.
Senators Claim Anton Forsberg
For the third time this season, goaltender Anton Forsberg has been claimed off waivers. NHL insider Elliotte Friedman tweeted the netminder is headed to the Ottawa Senators where the team is dealing with injuries to both Matt Murray and Marcus Hogberg.
The good news for Ottawa is that Forsberg is coming from the Winnipeg Jets. He won’t have to face a full two-week quarantine reserved for players coming to Canada from the U.S.
Oilers With Some Lineup Changes
As per a report by Jason Gregor of TSN 1260, head coach Dave Tippett said of the plan of attack for the Oilers power play, “If Barrie can’t play tonight, then [Darnell] Nurse will be the first option as he has played there the most.” Both Barrie and Zack Kassian are game-time decisions, while Kyle Turris and Jujhar Khaira are not available. Khaira is out after badly losing a fight to Brett Ritchie and Evan Bouchard will draw into the lineup.
It also appears third-string goaltender Alex Stalock is close to joining the team. Coach Tippett noted this morning that he expects Stalock to be able to join the main group for practices starting tomorrow. TBD on how soon he might see game action.
Devan Dubnyk Could be on the Move
LeBrun also notes that San Jose Sharks goalie Devan Dubnyk could be available by the trade deadline and that despite having a 10-team no-trade clause in his contract, the goaltender would waive it for the right contender and the right fit. LeBrun notes that the Colorado Avalanche and Washington Capitals are teams to watch.
Specifically, he noted the Avs have been calling around and are in the market for a short-term replacement for sidelined backup Pavel Francouz.