NHL Rumors: Sabres, Maple Leafs, Flames, More

In today’s NHL rumor rundown, there is buzz around the Maple Leafs who got their first win on Thursday under new coach Sheldon Keefe, the Buffalo Sabres are getting frustrated with the NHL system while they try to complete a trade and the Calgary Flames just can’t catch a break.

Maple Leafs Win, Keefe Signs

New head coach Sheldon Keefe picked up his first win in his first game as the Maple Leafs head coach and most watching the game commented on how they were watching a team that looked like the handcuffs were taken off. They probably were.

Nov 21, 2019; Glendale, AZ, USA; Toronto Maple Leafs head coach Sheldon Keefe looks on against the Arizona Coyotes during the third period at Gila River Arena. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Prior to the game, Travis Dermott took part in a pre-game interview and said, “The boys wanna play for him. He lets us play to our skill and that’s exactly what we needed.” 

Struggling defensemen Tyson Barrie scored a goal and said, “That style that you saw tonight you’re going to see a lot more of it.”

Those might have been subtle shots at Mike Babcock or they might have just been excited players because that always happens when a big change happens.

The Maple Leafs also took care of a bit of housekeeping as they signed Keefe to a three-year deal that includes the remainder of this season. As for Mike Babcock, the Maple Leafs will have to continue to pay him for this year, plus three more at $5.875 million per season. We was given a flat salary over an-eight-year term with a $3 million signing bonus. That’s an NHL record for salaries going to coaches at the same time.

Related: One for the Ages: Roger Crozier’s 1970-71 NHL Season

Babcock Coaching Again?

In speaking of Babcock’s salary, that makes it difficult to imagine him coaching again anytime soon. The panel on TSN Insider Trading asked if he’d be considered for the new Seattle job.

Maple Leafs head coach Mike Babcock
Maple Leafs head coach Mike Babcock (John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports)

Pierre LeBrun explained how the Maple Leafs might force any new team to pick up his entire ticket if they want to hire him and there’s no guarantee he wants to coach again, or at least anytime soon.

“Mike Babcock right now wants to decompress. He’s going to do a lot of skiing this winter, that’s his focus. Certainly I think he’s going to take his time. It’s not a guarantee that he will coach again. I think he will. I think he’s going to miss it too much.”

LeBrun did say if there was one team that came to mind, it was the team in Seattle. “I think they’re going to want to talk to him. Again, Seattle probably [is] looking to hire a coach between January and June 2021. So will he be available a year from now.”

Flames Ready For Major Shakeup

Darren Dreger took to social media on Friday morning and said, “Yup. Some sense a major shake up is coming,” when speaking about what the Calgary Flames might do after losing their sixth-straight game on Thursday night.

Dreger did say that at this exact moment in time, it’s hard for any team to do something big so many players on LTIR, which is a similar problem plaguing the Buffalo Sabres.

In respect to how long coach Bill Peters leash might be, Dreger said, “Coach? I don’t see Treliving doing anything knee jerk…yet. We’ll see. Adversity can be a good thing.”

In a story of kicking a team while they’re down, the Flames’ plane had to make an emergency landing last night thanks to mechanical issues.

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Sabres Getting Frustrated With NHL System

During that Trading Insider segment, Dreger reports Buffalo Sabres GM Jason Botterill has made offers for forwards but the trade market is gummed up a bit. He’s finding the process of trying to get something done quite frustrating.

Between salary-cap constraints and injuries, not much is happening. Dreger noted speculation that Botterill would like to make one or two trades soon.

Related: THW’s Top-12 NHL Trade Rumors Tracker