NHL Rumors: Nurse, Maple Leafs, Canadiens, More

In today’s NHL rumor rundown, one local Edmonton media scribe suggests the Edmonton Oilers should look at getting one particular contract signed now. In Toronto, where the Maple Leafs need a backup goaltender, what is the plan? And, with rumors of the Montreal Canadiens potentially looking to shed large salaries, one scribe writes the team’s focus should be elsewhere.

Get Nurse Done Now

Of the Edmonton Journal and David Staples contends that Edmonton GM Ken Holland shouldn’t wait to get an extension done with defenseman Darnell Nurse. Staples suggests that if he waits too long, Nurse’s annual average number could jump.

Edmonton Oilers Darnell Nurse
Edmonton Oilers defenseman Darnell Nurse (Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports)

Staples writes:

When we look at the 17 other NHL d-men who are most similar statistically and stylistically to Nurse, they all make between $5.0 million and $8.0 million per year, with Trouba near the top end representing something of an overpay and Shea Theadore at the bottom end being more of a bargain.

source -‘The sooner that the Edmonton Oilers lock up six million dollar man Darnell Nurse, the better’ – David Staples – Edmonton Journal – 11/27/2019

It is assumed that the Oilers would like to keep Nurse because he’s been an important contributor on their blue line but how much he gets is important considering what the Oilers already have tied up in just 10 players for next season.

Staples notes that the Oilers need to find room for the contracts of Nurse, Zack Kassian, Ethan Bear, Matt Benning and Caleb Jones. That might mean possibly moving Kris Russell’s contract ($4 million).

Related: Ex-Maple Leafs Mike Babcock Teaches All Coaches a Valuable Lesson

Maple Leafs Looking for Backup

Steve Simmons of the Toronto Sun writes that the Toronto Maple Leafs are seeking a backup goaltender due to the struggles of netminder Michael Hutchinson. Hutchinson hasn’t won a game in his six starts this season.

Toronto Maple Leafs goalie Michael Hutchinson
Toronto Maple Leafs goalie Michael Hutchinson (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette)

Simmons writes of GM Kyle Dubas:

Now he’s left his team in a difficult spot without a second goalie who can win anything. What he needs to do now is to find another option, a way to open salary cap space, a way to alter his payroll, a way to find a backup goaltender who is both capable and ridiculously inexpensive. And around the league, nobody is about to do the Leafs any favours.

source -‘SIMMONS: Dubas needs to go shopping for a new backup goaltender’ Steve Simmons – Toronto Sun – 11/29/2019

Unfortunately, Simmons doesn’t offer any options or names in his piece which means there’s not really a target the Maple Leafs might be eyeing. The Pittsburgh Penguins have two netminders in Tristan Jarry and Casey DeSmith who have been in the rumor mill over the past month. Might there be a fit there? Both would be considering affordable options, but again, it’s not like the Penguins will want to do the Maple Leafs any favors.

Eric Comrie is out as he was just acquired by the Detroit Red Wings.

Related: 4 NHL Backup Goalies Who Should Be Starters

Canadiens Focused on Blue Line

While noise from the Montreal fanbase suggests the Canadiens consider shopping goaltender Carey Price, Pat Hickey of the Montreal Gazette notes that it’s likely not possible considering Price’s no-move clause and obscene salary. Instead, he believes the Canadiens are focused on improving their defense.

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

Hickey suggests general manager Marc Bergevin use some of his over $8.3 million in salary-cap space to land a top-flight defenseman. Hickey writes:

If Bergevin wants to upgrade the blue line, he has to be willing to make a hockey trade, but that could involve some of his prospects and he has been reluctant to make that type of move in the past.

source – ‘Hickey on hockey: Canadiens’ perfect storm starts with team defence’ Pat Hickey – Montreal Gazette – 11/29/2019

Of the teams that might have extra defensemen to spare, the Buffalo Sabres, Carolina Hurricanes, Anaheim Ducks, Chicago Blackhawks and Calgary Flames should make the short list.

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