NHL Rumors: Blackhawks, Canucks, Maple Leafs, Oilers

In today’s NHL rumors rundown, Chicago Blachkawks’ GM Kyle Davidson invited Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews to stay during the team’s upcoming rebuild. Will they? The Vancouver Canucks have elected not to offer an extension to head coach Bruce Boudreau. What’s the plan here?

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The Toronto Maple Leafs will get a key forward back in the lineup and the Edmonton Oilers are going back to Mike Smith for Game 2.

GM Has Open Invite to Kane and Toews

Speaking to the media today, Kyle Davidson responded to a question by Chicago Sun-Times’ reporter Ben Pope about how Toews and Kane fit into the Blackhawks’ rebuild plans. Davidson said there was “definitely a place” for both if they wanted. He explained:

[We’re] being very honest about with how we see their role and what we need out of them moving forward. They’re fully aware of what those [views] are, and there’s going to be questions and further conversations to really firm that up because it is something that isn’t… solved with one conversation or understood with one conversation.

Chicago Blackhawks
Chicago Blackhawks celebrate (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

Davidson noted that the team would welcome having them around because they can be an example to the younger players who are the future of the team. Because the organization doesn’t know the timeline for success, they can’t say whether Kane or Toews will or won’t be part of that success.

It wasn’t made clear what the Blackhawks were willing to spend to retain either player, should that desire to stay extend past next season. Both players’ deals run out at the end of the 2022-23 season.

Rutherford Won’t Commit to Boudreau

Jim Rutherford, the Canucks president of hockey operations, told media this week he would like to bring head coach Bruce Boudreau back to the Canucks but that he was not willing to offer anything different than pre-existing arrangement. Rutherford said on Tuesday, “We would be willing to have him back under the contract he agreed to when he came here,” Rutherford said. “And that’s certainly not to say that at the end of next year, we wouldn’t want him back [if] he continues to do the job he’s doing.”

Bruce Boudreau Vancouver Canucks head coach
Bruce Boudreau, Vancouver Canucks head coach (Photo by Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty Images)

Boudreau has an option to decline the extra year on his current deal, meaning if a team wants to come in and hire him based on the incredible job he did with the Canucks to close the 2021-22 season, he can accept other offers. Rutherford noted that both sides have until June 1 to decide.

Many see this as Rutherford playing hardball or that he’s more interested in bringing in his own guy to coach and is thinking either Boudreau will take a more stable offer elsewhere or isn’t in high enough demand to get a multi-year deal. It will be interesting to see if this opens a window for another team to scoop him.

J.T Miller Wants to Stay With Canucks

Rick Dhaliwal tweeted that J.T. Miller’s agent Brian Bartlett said his client would be happy to stick with the Canucks and sign an extension this summer. Miller has made re-signing with Vancouver one of his goals, although it was not made clear what salary compensation he is expecting to see after a 99-point season.

Related: 4 Reasons the Red Wings Missed the 2022 Playoffs

If the asking price is north of $8 million per season, it won’t be an easy decision for the Canucks as that long a term at that kind of money for a player who is current 29 years old is risky.

Bunting Back for Maple Leafs

Multiple media members are reporting that head coach Sheldon Keefe has confirmed that Michael Bunting will make his playoff debut tonight for the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Leafs are hoping to go up 2-0 in their series with the Tampa Bay Lightning and expect a much better team to show up as a response to an embarrassing loss in Game 1 from the defending Stanley Cup Champions.

Bunting said of watching the first game from the stands, “It was unreal. It got me going. I was standing up. I was cheering… I was sweating.”

Mike Smith Starts Game 2

Despite a brutal giveaway at the end of Game 1 to cost the Oilers the first loss of their series versus the Los Angeles Kings, goaltender Mike Smith will be the starter for Game 2 in Edmonton.

Fans will be watching closely to see if Smith makes any other egregious turnovers, something journalist David Staples calculates is likely to happen based on the veteran netminder’s history of handling the puck. At the same time, Staples notes:

But I’m not going to bet against Smith recovering just now. You see, I previously doubted he would recover at all this year, so I won’t make the same mistake again, at least not now that he’s healthy. When Smith has been healthy, he’s been super solid the past few seasons, as seen in his final eight games of the year (see chart above for major mistakes in those eight games), all of them victories, where he had a .963 save percentage.

source – ‘Panic-o-meter: How likely is it that Mike Smith will make another dangerous turnover?’ – David Staples – Edmonton Journal – 04/04/2022

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