NHL Rumors: Canucks, Maple Leafs, Ducks, Flames

In today’s NHL rumors rundown, there still isn’t much ground being made on talks between the Vancouver Canucks and Bo Horvat, but there’s also another deal pending that the team is starting to think about. The Toronto Maple Leafs certainly could use help on their blue line, but one scribe believes they may also be targeting a forward.

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The Anaheim Ducks have let everyone know they are open for business and the Calgary Flames are said to be buyers this season, regardless of where they sit in the standings over the next couple of months.

Latest on Canucks’ Horvat and Kuzmenko

Suggesting there isn’t urgency from Vancouver right now to get Bo Horvat signed, all sides know that the center is going to get paid a significant amount of money this offseason. Rick Dhaliwal notes that both sides seem to want to get a deal done, but that there haven’t been a lot of contract talks. “We haven’t heard of any closeness in talks. We haven’t any of that stuff. No one’s reported that. So it’s a process,” said the Canucks reporter.

Bo Horvat Vancouver Canucks
Bo Horvat, Vancouver Canucks (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Horvat and his agent know that it’s himself and Dylan Larkin as the biggest prizes for centers on the free agent market. Understandably, Horvat isn’t worried, especially with the season he’s having. It sounds like the Canucks intend, for now, to wait. They waited with J.T. Miller and make take the same approach with Horvat.

Dhaliwal also reports that agent, Dan Milstein didn’t reveal what forward Andrei Kuzmenko might be looking for on his next contract, but the pending UFA is on pace for a 40-goal rookie season. He said, “No clue to be honest when it comes to a number. Just proud of him. It’s been a long road to get him to NHL. Andrei deserves every bit of it through hard work and dedication.”

He’s noted that learning how to play proper defense in the NHL has been his biggest challenge. “For me, it’s a big challenge. Every day now, I learn.” As for his next contract, there was talk early that Kuzmenko would be open to signing a long-term deal in Vancouver. If he hits 40 goals, he’ll be well compensated.

Will Maple Leafs Need an Upgrade at Forward

Jonas Siegel of The Athletic took a look at the success the Toronto Maple Leafs are having by splitting lines up and getting good minutes out of a very depleted blue line. While most insiders believe the Leafs will go after a defenseman, the scribe wonders if GM Kyle Dubas might target a forward.

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He writes:

I’m very curious to see if Calle Järnkrok can stick with [John] Tavares and for now, [Mitch] Marner. [Sheldon] Keefe has exhausted every other option — Alex Kerfoot, Nick Robertson and Denis Malgin. Järnkrok brings speed and defensive chops. Can he bring enough zest offensively? Does it matter if the other two are rolling? If he’s not the answer, that spot will need upgrading ahead of the trade deadline.

source – ‘Mitch Marner’s hot streak, a sturdy patchwork defence, more: Monday Morning Leafs Report’ – Jonas Siegel – The Athletic – 11/28/2022

Ducks Are Open for Business Now

According to Eric Stephens of The Athletic, Anaheim Ducks’ General manager Pat Verbeek has reportedly let those who see themselves in the NHL’s buyers market that he’s open now to do business. Anyone that doesn’t want to wait until the deadline should pick up the phone and call about players like John Klingberg, Kevin Shattenkirk, Dmitry Kulikov, and backup goalie Anthony Stolarz.

John Klingberg Anaheim Ducks
John Klingberg, Anaheim Ducks (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Stephens adds:

“The term left on the contracts for veteran forwards Adam Henrique and Jakob Silfverberg is becoming more manageable. There is plenty of cap room to be a third-party facilitator and obtain an extra asset. Why wait until the trade deadline?”

source – ‘NHL playoff tiers and buyer/seller 1.0: Where each team stands at American Thanksgiving’ – The Athletic – 11/25/2022

Flames are Definitely Buyers

Julian McKenzie and Hailey Salvian of The Athletic note that despite early-season challenges, the Flames are in a wild-card spot and are trending in the right direction with solid play from some of the top stars they expected to be offering production. They note that whether the Flames pick up some wins or lose a few and find themselves out of the playoff picture, they’ll be doing everything they can to better their roster for a playoff run.

They write, “Regardless of playoff position, we expect the Flames to seek a top-nine scoring winger at the deadline. General manager Brad Treliving has been searching for one since training camp.”