NHL Rumors: Maple Leafs, Sabres, Red Wings, Jets, Oilers, More

In today’s NHL rumor rundown, Elliotte Friedman took an in-depth look at whether or not Mike Babcock is on the hot seat in Toronto, there is a ton of positive praise coming from the Buffalo Sabres organization thanks to Ralph Kreuger’s unique approach and the Detroit Red Wings tried to move a player before they waived him. Plus, are the Edmonton Oilers getting down to business with Darnell Nurse? And, are the Sabres looking at trading a different defenseman now that Rasmus Ristolainen is happy?

Babcock’s Leash Longer Than Some Might Hope

Elliotte Friedman was on with Tim & Sid on Wednesday and when asked about how hot the seat is for Maple Leafs head coach Mike Babcock, Friedman responded with “I don’t think it’s as hot as some people would like it to be.”

Toronto Maple Leafs Mike Babcock
Toronto Maple Leafs head coach Mike Babcock (John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports)

One of the reasons Friedman suggested Babcock was not going to be on the first plane out of town after a 5-4-2 start to the Maple Leafs season is because Babcock is taking a lot of heat for a Maple Leafs team that is inconsistent and injured.

Friedman writes:

As pressure mounts, there will be plenty of talk about Babcock’s future. One thing everyone should remember: he takes a lot of the heat. A lot of it. What I respect about him is that he recognizes it as part of the job. Where does it go if he’s gone?

Fans shouldn’t discount what it means for the Maple Leafs to be without John Tavares. It is expected, with their team leader out of action, the group will go through some ups and downs.

Related: Is John Hynes on the Hot Seat?

Krueger Getting Rave Reviews

New Sabres coach Ralph Krueger isn’t exactly taking the typical approach to preparing his team for games and it seems to be working just fine for the 8-1-1 Sabres.

Buffalo Sabres head coach Ralph Krueger
Buffalo Sabres head coach Ralph Krueger talks with Sabres players Jeff Skinner, Evan Rodrigues and Curtis Lazar (AP Photo/John Beale)

He’s made small changes that have paid huge dividends. Goaltender Carter Hutton says he doesn’t think the Sabres have used their video room once. Meetings are in the dressing room, “short and sweet” and the focus is on talking to smaller groups, not necessarily everyone.

Jason Strudwick said during the Jason Gregor show on TSN 1260 that this was pure genius knowing that players can’t focus for long periods of time, especially when not everything being taught during a 45-minute session is about their position.

In other Sabres news, Friedman reports that Rasmus Ristolainen may no longer be the target for teams since they know he’s happy working with Krueger. The focus has shifted to defenseman Marco Scandella. With an expiring contract and a cap hit of $4 million for the rest of this season Scandella could be of interest to some teams.

Related: Oilers History: The Paul Coffey Effect

Senators Trying to Add a Forward

With Artem Anisimov and Colin White down to injury, the Ottawa Senators are trying hard to add a forward. Who they are targeting in trade is unclear but one has to wonder if they take a look at Jesse Puljujarvi out of Edmonton who continues to play well in Finland.

Darren Dreger said, “Pierre Dorian is looking for Vladdy Namestnikov 2.0. He got Namestnikov at a very affordable…even a bargain type of price.”

Oilers To Begin Negotiating With Nurse

It appears the Edmonton Oilers will start working with defenseman Darnell Nurse on a contract extension. With his contract coming up at the end of this season and being two years away from unrestricted free agency, there is talk of the team working on a long-term deal for a player who really wants to stay in Edmonton.

Darnell Nurse Edmonton Oilers
Darnell Nurse, Edmonton Oilers (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Nurse has been eating up big minutes for the Oilers so far this season and has seven points in 10 games. If he’s signed long-term, his deal won’t come cheap.

Related: NHL Rumor Shootdown: Hall To Oilers Not Likely

Red Wings Tried to Trade Ericsson

Before waiving Jonathan Ericsson, the Detroit Red Wings did try to trade him. They were unable to find a trade partner, explaining why he cleared.

Speculation is that this could be the beginning of the end for Ericsson in the NHL. If so, it’s a testament to his career as he was the last-overall draft choice in 2002, but wound up playing 662 games.

Related: Is Leon Draisaitl Better than Auston Matthews?

Ho-Sang Is Still Waiting

TSN’s Darren Dreger notes New York Islanders GM Lou Lamoriello is still working to find a new home for Josh Ho-Sang.  In the meantime, the 2014 first-rounder continues to skate on his own to try to stay in game shape. 

Dreger expects a deal that includes Ho-Sang will happen when another team needs to move a player that wants a change of scenery. It would be a trade similar to the recent Chicago-Florida swap.

Byfuglien Still Out Long-Term?

According to Winnipeg Jets insider Mike McIntyre, that the Jets claimed Luca Sbisa off waivers suggests the outlook on a Dustin Byfuglien return to the team is not good.

This report runs contrary to the news from Darren Dreger that there was a growing sense that the defenseman would be returning to Winnipeg. 

Related: NHL Rumors: Maple Leafs, Penguins, Oilers, Seattle Names, More