NHL Rumors: McDavid, Byfuglien, Johnson, More

In today’s NHL Rumors, does Connor McDavid have a deadline for the Edmonton Oilers to get competitive? Also, what is the status of Dustin Byfuglien? Plus, Pittsburgh Penguins coach Mike Sullivan gives his thoughts on the Jack Johnson trade rumors, and will there be another World Cup of Hockey in the near future?

Related: NHL Rumors: DeBrincat, Ho-Sang, Oilers, More

Will McDavid Give Oilers a Deadline?

To re-ask the introduction question, does Connor McDavid have a deadline for the Oilers to get competitive? Another way to ask it is, will McDavid’s patience with management run out? Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman thinks so. Appearing on Sportsnet 590 on Friday, he discussed how the Oilers captain is not patient and believes that the team has two years to convince McDavid that they’re on the path to competitiveness.

I think the answer is no, he’s not patient. But he’s also willing to be convinced. I think they’ve got two years to show him they’re going in the right direction. This year and next year.

Elliotte Friedman

It should be noted that these thoughts are Friedman’s own and weren’t the result of insider knowledge. Yet, there’s reason to believe he’s right. McDavid is one of the most competitive players in the game. The best ones usually are; see Sidney Crosby as an example. The 2019-20 season is McDavid’s fifth in the NHL and the Oilers have reached the postseason just once.

Edmonton Oilers' Connor McDavid
Edmonton Oilers’ Connor McDavid (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson)

That’s unacceptable to him as the Oilers are now on their third head coach since he was drafted and aren’t any closer to winning a Stanley Cup. It’s not difficult seeing him going to Oilers general manager Ken Holland and saying he needs to see progress over the next two seasons. As a result, how Holland manages the team’s salary cap situation and roster over this season and next offseason will be interesting.

Is Byfuglien Leaning Towards Retiring?

Winnipeg Jets defenseman Dustin Byfuglien has been away from the team since the start of the season as he takes a personal leave from hockey. The reports are that the rugged blueliner is considering his future in the sport. According to Friedman, this time on Sportsnet’s Lead Off program, Byfuglien is leaning towards retiring and that the Jets need to convince him to stay: “word is Jets have to talk him out of retiring.”

Winnipeg Jets Mark Scheifele Dustin Byfuglien
Winnipeg Jets centre Mark Scheifele celebrates a goal with defenceman Dustin Byfuglien (THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Ross D. Franklin)

Furthermore, on Sportsnet’s 31 Thoughts podcast with Jeff Marek, Friedman mentioned that Byfuglien and Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff are close and that the Jets are willing to wait on Byfuglien’s decision as long as they need to. Byfuglien was expected to be a vital part of the Jets’ blue line this season after the team parted with Jacob Trouba and Tyler Myers over the offseason. With Trouba and Myers both right-shot defensemen, Byfuglien, also a right shot, was going to be the team’s top blueliner on the right side and play the most difficult minutes. Instead, in his absence, the Jets have had to play a lot of players above their projected roles. Whether or not Byfuglien returns will have a large impact on the Jets’ potential in 2019-20 and beyond.

Related: Jets Will Have Big Hole if Byfuglien Retires

Mike Sullivan on Johnson

One of the more popular rumors in recent weeks was that the Penguins were close to trading defenseman Jack Johnson. At one point, the rumors were so prevalent that he was expected to be moved within 48 hours. It’s not well beyond that 48-hour window and Johnson is still on the team. Since the Penguins signed him to a five-year deal during the 2018 offseason, fans have called for the team to move Johnson, whose struggles have been glaring. Although he is still a Penguin, the speculation surrounding his future in Pittsburgh remains. Earlier this week Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan was asked about Johnson and the trade rumors that swelled up not so long ago. Sullivan’s response was straightforward and dismissive: “We don’t overly concern ourselves…”

Sullivan can dismiss the rumors and suggest that he and his coaching staff don’t pay attention to them, but the reality is that the Penguins’ defense is struggling right now and Johnson is at the center of it. And until Johnson is traded or the team explicitly shuts down the rumors, Sullivan will continue to be asked about them.

World Cup of Hockey Future

Yesterday, Oct. 4, NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly gave a press conference from Prague, Czech Republic, where the Chicago Blackhawks and Philadelphia Flyers faced off in the NHL Global Series game. During the press conference, Daly discussed the future of the World Cup of Hockey and how both the NHL and players want to bring the event back.

We’re totally, 100 percent aligned with the Players’ Association on the value of that property, to growing the game and promoting the game and creating a competitive, entertaining tournament

Bill Daly

With neither the league nor the players’ association opening the Collective Bargaining Agreement before its expiration before Sep. 2022, there is time for the next World Cup of Hockey to be planned and played. The biggest question will be how it fits into the league’s calendar, especially as the players, and possibly the league, want to return to the Winter Olympics in 2022 when they’re hosted by China. The last World Cup of Hockey occurred in 2016 prior to the start of the 2016-17 NHL season and was held in Toronto.