NHL Rumors: Canadiens, Oilers, Offside Rule, Coronavirus, More

In today’s NHL rumor rundown, there is buzz the Montreal Canadiens may look at moving Jonathan Drouin before next season, the Edmonton Oilers are getting James Neal back in the lineup but who comes out, and there is some news that the Coronavirus has the NHL working on contingency plans. Finally, what did the GM’s decided to do about the offside rule in the NHL after voting not to touch the EBUG protocols?

NHL Exploring Options with Coronavirus Outbreak

According to ESPN’s Emily Kaplan, the NHL is “starting to explore contingency plans” in the event the coronavirus epidemic becomes a more serious threat to North Americans. There have now been a number of cases diagnosed in the United States and 27 cases confirmed in Canada.

Gary Bettman, Donald Fehr
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and NHL Player’s Association Executive Director Donald Fehr (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar, File)

NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly would not rule out postponing games, cancelling games and playing games to empty arenas without fans, although he called that “very unlikely.” Daly added, “But certainly everything is possible, and we have to look at all possible contingencies. If it gets to that point, we will be ready.”

Daly did say that it is unlikely the NHL will travel to China for exhibition games next season.

Related: NHL Rumors: Maple Leafs, Rangers, Oilers, Ayres, More

Josh Anderson Done For Season

The Columbus Blue Jackets have announced that Josh Anderson will not return to the team this season. The power forward who may be moved by the team in the offseason, has undergone surgery to repair the labrum tear in his left shoulder.

Josh Anderson Columbus Blue Jackets
Josh Anderson, Columbus Blue Jackets (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

GM Jarmo Kekalainen said of the news, “Unfortunately, the injury has not responded as any of us had hoped,” and he said a decision was made to have the surgery now so that Josh will be fully healthy and ready to go next season.

It will be interesting to see if the talk surrounding Anderson changes when he’s healthy. There was all sorts of buzz the team and player may choose to go their separate ways and the Blue Jackets will see what value is out there for him.

Related: Val James: The Forgotten Trailblazer

Drouin to Be Traded Out of Montreal?

Jean-Charles Lajoie of TVA Sports notes that there is speculation the Montreal Canadiens could shop forward Jonathan Drouin this summer. He figures, if so, the Canadiens would be looking for a left-side defenseman.

Jonathan Drouin, Montreal Canadiens
Jonathan Drouin, Montreal Canadiens (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

One player who might be on the Canadiens radar is Colorado Avalanche’s Samuel Girard and the Canadiens had two scouts in Colorado just before last Monday’s trade deadline.

Related: Bill Torrey: How ‘The Architect’ Constructed a Dynasty

Palmieri Interested in Staying With Devils?

NJ.Com’s Chris Ryan recently reported that New Jersey Devils winger Kyle Palmieri hasn’t really considered signing a contract extension with the team. He’s not opposed to it, he just hasn’t thought about it.

Palmier is slated to become a UFA next July and he was the subject of many trade talks this trade deadline. In the end, it was believed the Devils didn’t move him this season because if they find themselves in a similar position next season, he’s just as tradable as a rental.

Oilers Get James Neal Back

After an 8-3 drubbing over the Nashville Predators, the Edmonton Oilers get more good news as forward James Neal is ready to return and will join the roster as the Oilers take on the Dallas Stars Tuesday evening.

James Neal Edmonton Oilers
James Neal, Edmonton Oilers (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Who comes out is unclear but it might be Alex Chiasson or Jujhar Khaira may sit. One thing worth noting is that if Neal scores one more goal for the Oilers this season, the draft pick compensation going back to the Calgary Flames as part of the Milan Lucic trade changes.

It is also being said that defenseman Oscar Klefbom may be back in the lineup for the Oilers on Thursday versus the Chicago Blackhawks. Kris Russell is a bit banged up and will be a game-time decision.

GM’s Vote to Change Offside Rule

While the emergeny backup goaltender protocols won’t change, during the second day of the general manager meetings in Florida, the group of NHL executives have voted to amend the offside rule.

Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet reports that the new rule will mean a player no longer has to keep their skate one the ice, but over the plane of the blue line.

Catch up on all the latest NHL Rumors