In today’s NHL rumor rundown, there is news on the rumored interest from the Toronto Maple Leafs in KHL forward Konstantin Okulov. Plus, are the Pittsburgh Penguins ready to shake up what one insider is calling an “imbalanced roster”? There is more news about the Carolina Hurricanes being connected to Edmonton Oilers forward Jesse Puljujarvi and finally, there is talk surrounding the Seattle expansion franchise, including the team being down to five final names, when those will be released and when a coach will be hired.
Maple Leafs and Okulov Have Spoken
We reported yesterday that the Maple Leafs appeared to be front runners to land Konstantin Okulov out of the KHL and that while the Montreal Canadiens were also interested, other teams were taking themselves out of the race because Toronto was farther along in the process of securing a deal.
Further to that, Igor Eronko of Sport-Express confirms that the Russian forward has indeed spoken to Maple Leafs head coach Mike Babcock already. What they’ve spoken about and where he would fit on the team is unclear, but it appears he’s versatile, listed at 6’0 and 185lbs and can play all three forward positions, with centre being where he’s used most often.
Penguins Eyeing Free Agent?
Dan Kingerski of Pittsburgh Hockey Now writes that an already injury-plagued team just got more bad news as the Penguins scratched Brian Dumoulin and Jared McCann due to injury on Saturday. Kingerski says it’s clear that this roster is imbalanced and needs fixing.
The suggestion is that general manager Jim Rutherford try to fix things by trading for someone like the New York Islanders’ Josh Ho-Sang or signing a free agent like winger Jason Pominville.
Rutherford doesn’t seem to have good luck when he gambles on unbalanced rosters. It seems to invite worst-case scenarios, such as 2015 when the Penguins were forced to play with five defensemen for the final weeks of the season.
… He’s not without options, though none are ideal.source -‘Battered Penguins Need Help: Poulin, Pominville, or Trade’ – Dan Kingerski – Pittsburgh Hockey Now – 10/20/2019
Specifically, when speaking about Pominville, Kingerski notes that he’s perhaps not got much left in the tank at his age but he’s a right-handed shot who potted 16 goals with Buffalo last season. He would be an immediate upgrade.
It is assumed Pominville is waiting on Buffalo but their 7-1-1 record suggests he may be waiting for a while.
Seattle Seals Names
Tne new expansion Seattle franchise has decided to hold off a bit longer before announcing their team names. The team announced they had sealed the final five options in the Space Needle 100th anniversary time capsule.
While fans will learn the team name before that time capsule is opened in 2062, it does suggest that the final name of the five won’t be announced until just prior to their first season in the NHL, the 2021-22 season.
GM Ron Francis also announced that his timeline for hiring a coach is likely the summer of 2021. He’s not in a hurry and wants to find a coach who has vast NHL experience.
New Name Tied to Puljujarvi
Pierre LeBruin had reported a few days ago that he believe the Carolina Hurricanes were keenly interested in the service of Edmonton Oilers disgruntled forward Jesse Puljujarvi. Allan Mitchell of The Athletic has added more fuel to that fire.
Mitchell discussed LeBrun’s report in his latest column for The Athletic with one key difference. He writes:
Julien Gauthier was reportedly the player discussed; perhaps there’s a more attractive name in play. … One player who hasn’t been mentioned: Dominik Bokk, who was a high-skill winger in the St. Louis Blues system. Carolina acquired him in the Justin Faulk trade, Bokk is playing in the SHL in Sweden and might be a good fit for the Oilers.Source – ‘Jesse Puljujarvi’s impressive Liiga performance headlines Oilers prospects this week’ – Allan Mitchell – The Athletic – 10/20/2019
One thing both reporters noted was that Puljujarvi’s impressive play in Finland has sparked an increase of interest in the young winger and if he keeps on playing well, perhaps it won’t just be the Hurricanes who come up as a rumored destination.