NHL Rumors: Oilers, Hurricanes, Sabres, Jets, Kings, More

In today’s NHL rumor rundown there is news the Carolina Hurricanes and Buffalo Sabres are shopping defensemen, there is more from Elliotte Friedman on the Dustin Byfuglien drama, and what’s going on with the Los Angeles Kings? Finally, there is word from the closest source to Jesse Puljujarvi about how he’d feel about coming back to the Oilers if a spot was there for him.

Hurricanes and Sabres Willing to Move a Defensemen

After acquiring prospect forward, Dominik Bokk, and another established defenseman in Joel Edmundson for Justin Faulk in trade this summer, the Carolina Hurricanes are still employing a surplus of blueliners with a need for a top-six forward. TSN’s Pierre LeBrun reports that the Hurricanes are making calls and shopping veteran Trevor van Riemsdyk, and Haydn Fleury. 

Trevor van Riemsdyk, Carolina Hurricanes
Trevor van Riemsdyk, Carolina Hurricanes (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

In a similar situation, LeBrun’s colleague Darren Dreger reports that the Buffalo Sabres are willing to move Jake McCabe as they try to make room for the returns of Zach Bogosian and Marco Scandella. Dreger said the Sabres would like add both a top and bottom-six forward.

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Toffoli Hoping to Move Sooner Than Later?

LeBrun also noted that he believes the Los Angeles Kings will make Tyler Toffoli available before the February trade deadline and LeBrun assumes that if Toffoli knows as much, he’s probably hoping a trade happens sooner than later.

Tyler Toffoli #23, Los Angeles Kings
Tyler Toffoli #23, Los Angeles Kings – December 18, 2017 (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Toffoli is in a contract year and it would serve him best to get to another team that has a desire to play him in a prominent role, boost his numbers and provide an opportunity to make himself as valuable as possible so he gets multiple offers in free agency.

Sticking with the Kings, Friedman notes last Christmas, the Kings made it clear they were willing to move some of their veteran content for younger pieces. That plan has not changed. One of the names coming up is Kyle Clifford but Friedman thinks it will take a lot to acquire him.

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More Drama In Byfuglien Case

As the Dustin Byfuglien situation rolls along and new information comes to light, one thing that Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman is noting is that Byfuglien did not like how the Winnipeg Jets dressing room was not a comfortable place last season.

Bryan Little Patrik Laine Dustin Byfuglien Nikolaj Ehlers Jets
Winnipeg Jets center Bryan Little (18) celebrates with right wing Patrik Laine (29) defenseman Dustin Byfuglien (33) and right wing Nikolaj Ehlers (27) after scoring the game winning goal in overtime against the St. Louis Blues at Scottrade Center. (Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports)

Friedman writes in his latest 31 Thoughts article:

Another [player] said not to dismiss the divides that occurred in the Jets’ dressing room last season, and how Byfuglien felt about all that. He believes those took a toll on the big defenceman, too. The organization has worked hard to address those concerns, from giving Patrik Laine much more responsibility, to captain Blake Wheeler promising a change in his leadership, to head coach Paul Maurice pushing a positive environment.

Friedman also noted that there are lot of people within the NHL and the NHLPA who are on the side of the team on this issue because Byfuglien was not forthcoming with his injury issues. He simply did what he wanted, signed off on the physical and “wasn’t excited” about beginning the season in pain. As a result, he went and got surgery without telling anyone simply to avoid being poked and prodded in training camp.

Many seem to understand what and why Byfuglien did so, especially knowing his personality, but it left team the organization in the dark. The NHL is not interested in setting a precedent here where a player can sign a physical then dispute it and win.

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How Puljujarvi Feels About Oilers’ Early Success

Friedman asked Puljuajrvi’s rep, Markus Lehto, via text if the winger would consider returning to the Oilers now that things seem calmer. Lehto responded, “Jesse’s unwillingness to return has nothing to do with current coaches, management, the team, fans or the city.”

Edmonton Oilers forward Jesse Puljujarvi
Edmonton Oilers forward Jesse Puljujarvi (Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports)

Lehto added that Jesse has simply asked for a change of scenery and to get a fresh start somewhere else. “Nothing wrong with that considering the past three seasons,” he wrote. He finished by saying if things don’t work out with another team, “there is nothing wrong (with playing) the whole season in Europe.”

If Puljujarvi is not on the table, Friedman can see Edmonton making a run at Konstantin Okulov.