NHL Rumors: Sabres, Ducks, Islanders, More

In the Canadian Thanksgiving edition of NHL rumors, we look at the Buffalo Sabres’ defensive logjam, and are the Anaheim Ducks still looking for a defenseman? Also, what are the New York Islanders’ plans with Jordan Eberle and Casey Cizikas out, and is Minnesota Wild top prospect Kirill Kaprizov headed for the NHL after this season.

Related: NHL Rumors: Hall, Puljujarvi, Gudbranson, More

Sabres’ Plans on Defense

In a recent Sabres Mailbag, Buffalo News writer Lance Lysowski was asked about the team’s plans once defensemen Brandon Montour, Lawrence Pilut, and Zach Bogosian all return from injury. (from ‘Sabres Mailbag: Why isn’t Rasmus Dahlin playing more?,’ Buffalo News, 10/13/2019) When they’re back in the lineup, they’ll join a defense corps that already consists of Rasmus Ristolainen, Marco Scandella, Colin Miller, Jake McCabe, Rasmus Dahlin, and Henri Jokiharju. Lysowski’s initial answer is that he doesn’t know what they’ll do.

Chicago Blackhawks, Henri Jokiharju
Former Chicago Blackhawk Henri Jokiharju (AP Photo/Kamil Krzaczynski, File)

He goes on to state that a few days ago he would have thought that Jokiharju would have been sent down to the American Hockey League, but that given his play and the trust head coach Ralph Krueger has exhibited in him, that now seems unlikely. It also appears that Jokiharju is destined to stay in the NHL all season now.

Jokiharju has been told by Sabres management to find a place to live in Buffalo. The 20-year-old defenseman will be sticking around for a while and he deserves that opportunity.

Lance Lysowski

Lysowski mentions that a Ristolainen trade doesn’t appear to be the immediate solution given the team’s likely high asking price, and offers a few short-term answers like sending Montour to the AHL for a conditioning stint, which Pilut and Bogosian will need as well. Lysowski ends with believing that a trade remains the likeliest option, but is unsure who will be dealt or when the trade will happen. He also brings up that the Sabres are operating from an advantageous place and can use this to their benefit.

Related: Ristolainen: The Swirl Continues

Ducks Still Seeking a Blueliner?

The Ducks have been rumored to be looking for a right-shot defenseman for quite awhile now and were at one point among the favorites to land Justin Faulk. However, with Faulk off the market, it’s unknown if the Ducks are still in the market for a defenseman. In a Ducks Mailbag from last week, The Athletic’s Eric Stephens was asked this exact question and he was unable to speculate on whether the Ducks were still in the market. (from ‘Ducks Mailbag: Playing with more pace, Sprong’s next steps, Brendan Guhle’s potential,’ The Athletic, 10/11/2019)

Carolina Hurricanes Justin Faulk
Former Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Justin Faulk (AP Photo/Julio Cortez, File)

If they are still looking to add a right-shot blueliner, a natural fit is the Sabres’ Ristolainen, whom the Ducks have been linked to in the past. However, with the Sabres off to a 4-0-1 start and in first place in the Atlantic Division, they’re not in any hurry to make a move. Similarly, the Ducks’ own 4-1-0 start is better than expected and they’re unlikely to rush to make a trade. Plus, there’s the aspect of the Sabres’ asking price for Ristolainen, which will be high. Are the Ducks willing to part with someone like Ondrej Kase, Troy Terry, Max Jones, or Maxime Comtois to make a trade happen? It’d be a big price to pay for a team that is transitioning from a veteran roster to one that is more youthful.

Wahlstrom Gets the Call-Up

After the Islanders placed Casey Cizikas on injured reserve, and with Jordan Eberle day-to-day with a lower-body injury, the team called up 2018 11th-overall pick Oliver Wahlstrom and he is making his NHL debut today. Although there was talk of him making the NHL roster out of training camp, he started the season in the AHL and excelled with three points in four games.

He has all the skills to succeed in the NHL and scored 94 points in 62 games his final season with the U.S. National Team Development Program in 2017-18. He spent last season with Boston College of the NCAA and joined the AHL’s Bridgeport Sound Tigers at season’s end. Given Eberle and Cizikas’ importance to the team, Wahlstrom will likely have every opportunity to contribute right away.

Kaprizov Planning to Join Wild

The Athletic’s Michael Russo was recently asked on Twitter whether or not it was true that Wild top prospect Kirill Kaprizov was planning to join the team after this season when his Kontinental Hockey League contract expires. Russo, who interviewed Kaprizov, confirmed the rumors, which have also been discussed at length by Kaprizov’s agent.

Kaprizov, since the Wild selected him in the fifth round of the 2015 Draft, has been in the KHL and currently plays for CSKA Moskva. He has 20 points in 17 games this season and is tied for the league-lead in points. When the Wild drafted him, it was a gamble that he’d eventually join them, as it is with all players drafted from the KHL. However, if he does in fact join the Wild, it will immediately provide a spark to their roster, one that is currently aging.