NHL Rumors: Oilers, Rangers, Sabres, Phase 3, More

In today’s NHL rumor rundown, Edmonton’s Connor McDavid spoke about the process of the players voting for the 24-team play-in and how it specifically affected the Oilers. Why did the team vote for the format despite it not being in their favor?

One of the teams out as a result of that vote was the Buffalo Sabres whose season ended. Rasmus Ristolainen of the Sabres told media that he assumes he’ll be traded now. And, as a member of one of the seven teams that didn’t make the play-ins or the playoffs, could his trade come sooner than later? Technically, these teams can make deals starting right away.

Finally, there is news from the NHL on Phase 3 of the league’s return to play plan, even though Phase 2 hasn’t technically began yet.

McDavid and Nurse Comment on Oilers Vote

Despite the fact that the approved format hurts the Oilers as much as hurts any of the teams now forced to compete in a play-in game, Connor McDavid noted this is what was best for the league as a whole.

Darnell Nurse & Connor McDavid (Photo Credit: Connor Mah/Flickr)

McDavid said, “Lots of guys had to make sacrifices and the Oilers were part of that. We had a good season and put ourselves in a good spot but we still got to play in the Play-In Round and that’s the way it goes.” Now, if the season resumes, Edmonton has to get past the Chicago Blackhawks.

Ultimately, the Oilers didn’t vote based on what was best for them. He said, “It’s best for the League and guys understood that.”

Darnell Nurse was the Oilers’ team rep in meetings and he explained that the Oilers decided by democracy vote. “There’s no perfect situation here. We want to play and I think we showed that,” he said. He added:

“No matter what position you’re in, you got to win every series to get that ultimate goal. We could sit here, complain and hope for a different format but at the end of the day, the Return To Play Committee put together a good format. They worked hard on it and if we have to play an extra series, we’re OK with that.”

Related: Best & Worst Oilers of the Decade

Rangers Unsure About Kakko’s Status

Larry Brooks of the New York Post notes that New York Rangers president John Davidson isn’t sure what Kaapo Kakko’s status will be for any games the Rangers play during the pandemic. Like Max Domi of the Montreal Canadiens, Kakko has Type 1 diabetes and that means medical staff may determined it’s not safe to play.

When it comes to playing in the playoffs, Davidson said, they “will listen to science and the medical people.”

Ristolainen Thinks a Trade is a Given

Rasmus Ristolainen spoke with media after confirmation the regular season closed and made a few newsworthy comments. Among them, he told John Vogl of The Athletic, he believes he’ll be “one of the first ones that’s probably going to get traded”.

Rasmus Ristolainen Buffalo Sabres
Rasmus Ristolainen, Buffalo Sabres (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Ristolainen has been a part of trade rumors out of Buffalo for a couple of seasons but recently re-upped GM Jason Botterill referred to him as a “core player” for the organization. Obviously, there’s a disconnect there.

If the Sabres do try to trade Ristolainen, some teams will be a bit leery of his advanced stats numbers but he’s a strong defenseman that could do well on a team with some cap room. Risotalinen has two years remaining on his current contract which carries a $5.4 million per season.

Related: Sabres Goalie Rocky Farr Recalls Memories From Early Buffalo Teams

Phase 3 Set For July?

According to Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet, the NHL has informed players that Phase 3 of the league’s return to play plan, a three-week training camp, will not start before July 10. This estimate comes without Phase 2 actually having gotten underway yet. Phase 2 is small group workouts, but could being next week.

If mid-July is accurate for a training camp, James Mirtle of The Athletic suggests it could be October before a 2019-20 champion is crowned.

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