In today’s NHL rumors rundown, the Edmonton Oilers got one of their top defensemen back on the ice today. Will he play to open the series against the Los Angeles Kings? Meanwhile, it looks like Aaron Ekblad and Alex Ovechkin will be good to go in the Florida Panthers and Washington Capitals series.
Jeff Petry says he’s open to staying in Montreal, but will the Canadiens still try to move him? Finally, are teams seriously looking into Joel Quenneville as a coaching option for next season?
Nurse on the Ice for the Oilers
According to multiple reports from media who were at the Oilers’ practice Sunday morning, both Darnell Nurse and Philip Broberg are on the ice. Broberg was sent down to Bakersfield but recalled today and Nurse is returning from a lower-body injury that was rumored to be serious enough that he might miss some playoff time. He was skating with Cody Ceci and taking multiple reps with other blueliners too, which is a good sign for Oilers fans.
TSN’s Ryan Rishaug wrote on Twitter, “Skating looks pretty good, shooting the puck well. Good early signs on Nurse here.” One of the first questions Nurse will get when he comes off the ice is if he’ll play Monday night. Nothing is definitive until he or coach Jay Woodcroft confirms.
Petry Open to Staying in Montreal
As per TSN’s John Lu, Canadiens defenseman Jeff Petry told reporters this week that he hasn’t closed the door on staying in Montreal. Most expect the Canadiens will try to trade Petry this offseason and the veteran blueliner requested a move a few months ago but played much better after interim head coach Martin St. Louis took over. He finished with 21 points in his final 28 games this season.
His production will certainly have caught the eye of teams that were possibly thinking he could be an option (Dallas Stars), confirming that he’s not lost his touch and the Canadiens will probably want to trade him while the return is there. Petry has three years left on his contract with a $6.25 million AAV.
Also with the Canadiens, Sportsnet’s Eric Engels reported that GM Kent Hughes said he’ll evaluate all options to navigate his tricky salary-cap situation. He said he has no plans to trade winger Brendan Gallagher, who has five seasons left on his contract with an annual average value of $6.5 million. Instead, the Canadiens are counting on Gallagher to have a bounce-back season.
Maple Leafs Injury Update
As per Chris Johnston, Ondrej Kase is a game-time decision for Game 1, per head coach Sheldon Keefe. Michael Bunting is “doubtful” but Keefe adds that the Leafs will have him back in the lineup during Round 1. Bunting was on the ice wearing a blue regular practice jersey. He has been out with an undisclosed injury.
Ekblad and Ovechkin Should Be Back In First Round
Panthers head coach Andrew Brunette said today that defenseman Aaron Ekblad was a full participant in today’s practice and the team is hopeful he returns at some point during the First Round series against the Washington Capitals. Based on comments, some believe Ekblad will be ready to go for Game 1 on Tuesday night.
Speaking of the Panthers versus Capitals series, it appears Alex Ovechkin should also be ready to go for Game 1 of that series. The Capitals are already going to struggle against the Presidents’ Trophy winners, but without Ovechkin, they probably didn’t stand a chance.
NHL Teams To Look Into Hiring Joel Quenneville
As per Andy Strickland, expect NHL teams to inquire about hiring former Florida Panthers head coach Joel Quenneville. Despite being removed from his job thanks to his role in the Chicago Blackhawks scandal with Kyle Beach, there is talk that Quenneville wants back behind the bench and there is expected to be significant interest in hiring the future Hall of Famer.
First, he will need to meet with Commissioner Gary Bettman to be reinstated. If that happens, there will be teams calling as a number of coaching changes are expected.
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.”