NHL Rumors: Wild, Blackhawks, Sabres, Oilers, Canadiens, More

In today’s NHL rumors rundown, the Minnesota Wild aren’t just going to dump Kevin Fiala because of an on-ice slump, but the Buffalo Sabres could use a new goaltender while the team is short netminding consistency. Meanwhile, there are a number of storylines surrounding the Chicago Blackhawks, one scribe looks at the Edmonton Oilers roster plans and there’s talk about the coaching staff at the Olympics.

Fiala Trade Talk Updates

According to Elliotte Friedman, Minnesota Wild GM Bill Guerin isn’t going to trade Fiala just because he’s in the middle of a difficult run right now. The Wild are still leading their division despite a lack of production from Fiala, but trading him would make the team worse if they don’t get the right return.

Morning Skate newsletter Click To Subscribe

There’s been chatter about a connection between the Canucks and the Wild and perhaps Fiala’s name is out there.

Numerous Blackhawks Rumors

Mark Lazerus of The Athletic offered updates on a number of running storylines out of Chicago. Noting the team is still near the bottom of the Central Division standings, there are three players that will make over $9.5 million next year on the roster and if they choose to rebuild, the Blackhawks may move some of those pieces to restock their cupboards with better and guaranteed draft picks.

Related: 3 Trade Destination for Canadiens’ Gallagher

This could equate to the exits of Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews and Lazerus writes:

Well, it’s not so hard to imagine the Blackhawks cutting the two legends loose. With the need for a real long-term rebuild of some sort, the drop in Toews’ production (he has no goals and eight assists in 18 games after missing all of last season) and the organizational inclination to wipe the slate clean of anyone affiliated with the 2009-10 team in light of the Kyle Beach assault by video coach Brad Aldrich and management’s failure to properly act on it, it’s certainly a plausible option.

source – ‘A franchise-altering decision looms for the Blackhawks on Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews’ – Mark Lazerus – The Athletic – 11/26/2021

The club needs to find a way to extend Alex DeBrincat and he also mentioned the team has three other potential trade assets in Dominik Kubalik, Dylan Strome, and goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury. The problem with moving all three is that they won’t net the return the Blackhawks might hope. Lazerus says Chicago has been unable to land a mid-round pick for Strome and moving Kubalik like won’t land them a first-round pick.

Are the Canadiens Holding Off on Tanking the Season?

Sean McIndoe of The Athletic was asked when the Canadiens might start to tank their season and said that GMs tend to do so early if they know they’ll be out of it at the end of the year. That said, the Marc Bergevin factor in Montreal makes it less likely the Habs do so.

Marc Bergevin Montreal Canadiens
Marc Bergevin, Montreal Canadiens, 2019 NHL Draft (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

McIndoe writes:

There’s also the Marc Bergevin factor, as the Habs’ GM sure seems to be on the way out after his contract expires this season. If so, that complicates things. NHL GMs love to tank early in their tenure, since it lowers expectations and buys them time, and they can still expect to be around to reap the rewards. It’s a tougher call when you suspect you won’t be there at the finish line, and Bergevin might not want to take the hit to his reputation that would come with a last-place season right before hitting the open market. So there’s that.

source -‘When should the Habs tank? Plus Sabres vs. Canucks misery, Quebec City expansion and more: DGB mailbag’ – Sean McIndoe – The Athletic – 11/26/2021

If true, one has to wonder what direction the Canadiens will eventually go and if someone needs to take the decisions out of the hands of Bergevin. If he’s not going to make the necessary moves for the team because of how it will affect his resume, someone else needs to step in.

Sabres Looking for a Goaltender

According to Friedman, “Buffalo has to be looking for a goalie.” He notes that Aaron Dell was pulled and has struggled this season and without a return date for Craig Anderson, the Sabres need to better support their young players. The issue is that there aren’t many, if any goaltenders available, and teams aren’t willing to part with their assets just yet.

Oilers Roster Through 2023-24

Jonathan Willis examined what the Oilers roster might look like moving forward and noted the forward corps is unlikely to change much over the next few years. The biggest question mark is Jesse Puljujarvi and Ken Holland salvaged that relationship and a multi-year extension that buys some UFA years is probably the direction Edmonton goes.

Jesse Puljujarvi Connor McDavid Edmonton Oilers
Jesse Puljujarvi, Edmonton Oilers (Photo by Richard A. Whittaker/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Willis calls Yamamoto’s lock on his role with the team a bit uncertain and notes:

If the Oilers make a big swing next summer, it’s likely to be in net. Defence might be the most interesting position, with six of Edmonton’s starting seven this year back and three other players likely to join them: a graduating Broberg, a waiver-eligible Samorukov and (maybe) a healthy Klefbom.

source – ‘Projecting the Oilers roster through 2025: The Oilers might be relatively stable, but will they have the necessary pieces?’ – Jonathan Willis – The Athletic – 11/26/2021

Spengler Cup Coaches Are Also Olympic Backups

TSN’s Darren Dreger confirmed an earlier report by Friedman that Claude Julien will be the head coach of the Spengler Cup team with Bruce Boudreau as his assistant coach. If the NHL is forced to pull out of the Olympics, this same coaching staff will coach in the Olympics games.

Dreger also added that Julien’s second assistant will be Scott Walker former Canadian Olympian Shane Doan will be the general manager of the team.