NHL Rumor Mill – October 8, 2019
The latest on the Jets, Senators, and Leafs in today’s NHL rumor mill.
CONCERN LINGERS OVER JETS DEFENSE
WINNIPEG FREE PRESS: Mike McIntyre expressed concern over a battered Jets defense that gave up 14 goals in their first three games of the season. Until Dustin Byfuglien decides on his future, however, there’s not much they can do to address the issue. “A money in, money out trade seems to be the only tangible option at this point,” said McIntyre.
The Jets are using largely untested defensemen, such as Ville Heinola and Carl Dahlstrom, to fill the gaps. They’ll also turn to Sami Niku, who’ll make his season debut tonight after recovering from a groin injury.
THE ATHLETIC: Murat Ares looked at possible trade options like Buffalo’s Rasmus Ristolainen and Dallas’ Julius Honka. Ristolainen has plenty of experience but also comes with a $5.4 million annual salary-cap hit and would be costly to acquire. Ares is also critical of his five-on-five play. Honka would be more affordable and has potential but has yet to establish himself as a full-time NHL defenseman.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Jets breathed a sigh of relief when top-pairing rearguard Josh Morrissey returned to practice yesterday after getting injured in the pre-game skate before Sunday’s game against the New York Islanders. I expect they’ll continue waiting for Byfuglien’s decision and hope the call-ups will improve. If Big Buff retires, they’ll have plenty of salary-cap space to pursue a top-four defender in the trade market.
IS ANOTHER MOVE COMING FOR THE SENATORS?
OTTAWA SUN: Ken Warren mused over which position recently acquired Vladislav Namestnikov will fill on the Senators’ forward lines. He played primarily as a winger with his former club, the New York Rangers.
If Namestnikov moves to center, Warren wonders what happens with current centers Colin White, Jean-Gabriel Pageau, Chris Tierney, and Artem Anisimov. “Could there be an additional move coming?” he asked.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The initial reaction to the Namestnikov trade indicated the move was made to bolster the Senators’ depth at center. His versatility gives the Senators some flexibility to adjust their forward lines. It’ll be interesting to see how this plays out.
LATEST ON THE LEAFS
TORONTO STAR: Dave Feschuk wonders if the Maple Leafs backup-goalie position will remain a concern this season. Leafs coach Mike Babcock didn’t blame Michael Hutchinson for the club’s 6-5 meltdown on Saturday against the Montreal Canadiens. However, the Leafs need to know they can trust Hutchinson to spell off starter Frederik Andersen this season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Feshuck acknowledged it’s just one game and too early to start worrying about Hutchinson’s performance. Nevertheless, this could be something worth watching as the season progresses. If Hutchinson can’t get the job done as Andersen’s backup, the Leafs could be forced to address the issue via trade or waivers.