NHL Rumors: Maple Leafs, Canadiens, Hoffman, Duclair, Kane, More

In today’s NHL rumor rundown, there is talk from one former NHL GM and current analyst about how effective Joe Thornton will actually be in Toronto. Meanwhile, in Montreal, associate coach Kirk Muller is talking about expected improvements to the Canadiens power play. There are updates on free agent forward Mike Hoffman and Anthony Duclair and finally, San Jose Shark’s forward Evander Kane has laid down an interesting challenge to a YouTube star who was the talk of the sports world on Saturday night.

Brian Burke Calls out Maple Leafs for Thornton Addition

There are a lot of people who like the Joe Thornton addition to the Toronto Maple Leafs lineup, but Sportsnet analyst and former NHL GM Brian Burke is not among them. While on the Spittin Chiclets podcast, he said he just doesn’t understand why the Leafs made that move.

brian burke
Brian Burke (Rick Osentoski-US PRESSWIRE)

Said Burke during the podcast:

“So go back to Joe Thornton… this is a rock and a hard place for me because I love Joe Thornton as a player and I like him as a person, I don’t see a fit here this doesn’t make sense to me It doesn’t make sense to me, where is he gonna play? Who is he gonna play with? Whose job is he taking? What kind of look do they have [for] him?”

Burke noted the additions of T.J. Brodie and Wayne Simmonds made sense from a needs perspective but questioned Thornton’s ability to still be effective. He also pointed out that the Leafs already have Jason Spezza, who is filling a similar role.

Related: Maple Leafs News & Rumors: Rielly, Barrie, Abruzzese & Nylander

Canadiens Specifically Focused on Improving Their Power Play

Montreal Canadiens Associate coach Kirk Muller thinks that the additions of both Josh Anderson and Tyler Toffoli will do wonders for the team’s power play and that was something the club was focused on improving during the offseason.

Kirk Muller
Trading Kirk Muller was one of Milbury’s earliest transactions. (Photo Credit: Andy Martin Jr)

Saying his goal is to find a way to get the guys to do the same things at home that they do on the road, Muller said during a video call:

“Anderson and Toffoli have great hands. I’ve looked at their clips from their previous teams and they’re adaptable. They can play on the half-wall or they can fit in the middle, provide a goal line-type presence. They’ve had some success in those areas and that will help us because we have some good guys on the perimeter like (Jeff Petry) that can establish shots, but these are guys that are willing to play inside and make plays in tight areas. 

source – ‘Canadiens’ power play needs swagger on home ice, Kirk Muller says’ – Pat Hickey – Montreal Gazette – 11/26/2020

Muller compared his vision for the Canadiens power play to be a lot more like the Edmonton Oilers power play in the way they can work the man-advantage. That’s a pretty big improvement considering the Oilers had the best power play in the NHL last season.

Latest on Mike Hoffman

Emily Sadler of Sportsnet provided an update on the status of the top remaining NHL unrestricted free agents, including Mike Hoffman. She noted the UFA market hasn’t moved much but there’s still interest in the scoring winger.

Hoffman has gotten calls from the Nashville Predators, Boston Bruins, Columbus Blue Jackets, Carolina Hurricanes and New Jersey Devils. No decision has been made yet as it doesn’t sound like any of the teams have come up to Hoffman’s $5.5-$6 million asking price.

Related: Tyler Toffoli’s Winning Pedigree Will Benefit the Canadiens

Duclair Trying to Stir Up Interest?

Sadler also points out winger Anthony Duclair has made his way to Arizona to work out with stars like Connor McDavid, Auston Matthews, Matt Dumba and Jonathan Toews. The belief is that part of Duclair’s plan is to have his name thrown in the mix with such players and hopes that could up his value around the NHL.

Anthony Duclair Ottawa Senators
Anthony Duclair, Ottawa Senators (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Duclair has yet to land a contract as an NHL free agent. He’s repping himself and the belief is that he hit the market with far too high an asking price and that left him on the outside looking in as forwards came off the free agency board for less money than most insiders expected.

Kane Challenges Jake Paul to a Boxing Match

Sharks’ forward Evander Kane was one of many stars who watched YouTube star Jake Paul knock out former NBA guard Nate Robinson on Saturday night. After Paul called out Conor McGregor, Kane took to Twitter and laid down a challenge of his own.

The skilled but tough NHLer urged Paul to pick on someone his own size and said he wanted to fight Paul on August 31, 2021 in Las Vegas.

At this point, there’s been no response from Paul as it’s not clear if he would think this is a step up that would get him closer to a huge payday as an Internet star or if it would be wise risking it against a NHL player who seems to have some boxing experience.

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