Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet dropped another edition of 31 Thoughts and updated fans on a number of rumors and addressed a variety of topics. Among them, he discussed the Penguins potential rebuild, how the Edmonton Oilers GM search has slowed a touch thanks to the Golden Knights, and if Pavel Datsyuk is working on a return to the Red Wings.
Crosby Means No Rebuild in Pittsburgh
While we never reported insiders suggesting the Pittsburgh Penguins would undertake a rebuild, we have speculated a number of changes with some potentially big trades. The Penguins want to undergo a full audit first.
For anyone who was writing the Penguins might consider a rebuild, Friedman wrote, as long as Sidney Crosby is playing in Pittsburgh, the Penguins won’t go through that process.
Friedman did say, however, that some teams believe there is some truth to the Evgeni Malkin trade rumors and that the Penguins might be internally trying to figure out if moving him is a realistic option.
Mario Lemieux is apparently against the idea and the list of teams who would make this deal is small (Rangers or Florida), but it is out there.
More likely, the Penguins may consider moving Phil Kessel and teams will call them about Kris Letang.
Oilers GM Interviews
Friedman said the Vegas Golden Knights may not have granted the Edmonton Oilers permission yet to speak with Kelly McCrimmon about their GM position. That is what could be slowing down the process from an Oilers perspective.
Mark Hunter has been interviewed twice by the Oilers and others who have gone through the interview process include, Sean Burke, John Ferguson, Mike Futa, Ross Mahoney, Scott Mellanby, and Pat Verbeek. Friedman added that former Canucks GM and player agent, Mike Gillis had a phone interview.
Sabres and Lightning Talking Trade
The Buffalo Sabres and Tampa Bay Lightning had talked in the past about a trade that would involve defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen and there is speculation those trade talks could be revisited.
That said, the Sabres would like to keep him and there is speculation the team is asking potential coaches during the interview process how they would work with him if they were hired.
Among those interviewed for the Sabres head coaching job are Dave Tippett, Swedish coach Rikard Gronborg and Jacques Martin. There is buzz the Sabres might ask the Toronto Maple Leafs if they can talk to Sheldon Keefe. Toronto might say no if they have intentions of moving Keefe to their coaching staff should they lose one of their assistants – Jim Hiller or D.J. Smith.
Pavel Datsyuk Working on Return to Detroit?
Pavel Datsyuk’s contract has come to an official end with SKA St. Petersburg in the KHL, but not the Arizona Coyotes who still own his rights until July 1, 2019.
Ted Kulfan of the Detroit News reports that Datsyuk is on his way to Michigan soon to discuss options with his agent Dan Milstein of Gold Star Hockey and work on a plan for his return to the NHL with the Red Wings.
A return to the NHL is not a lock. Datsyuk is reportedly prepared to play for his hometown team in Russia and it could be that his odds are actually greater that he winds up with Avtomobilist Yekaterinburg. Their successful season and his age make them a more realistic option, especially with Yzerman behind the Red Wings future moves.
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.”