Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – October 28, 2018
Coaches on the hot seat plus the latest on the Kings, Kevin Hayes, Zach Kassian, William Nylander, and more in your Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup
HIGHLIGHTS FROM HOCKEY NIGHT IN CANADA’S “HEADLINES” SEGMENT
SPORTSNET: Nick Kypreos reports St. Louis Blues head coach Mike Yeo and Los Angeles Kings bench boss John Stevens could be feeling the heat following their clubs’ poor starts to this season. However, it appears both coaches will be given some time to dig themselves out of their holes, though they need to start stringing some wins together soon.
Elliotte Friedman noted several former NHL coaches such as Alain Vigneault and Craig Berube have been mentioned but he wonders if a team could approach the Toronto Maple Leafs about hiring Marlies coach Sheldon Keefe, whose contract expires at the end of this season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Yeo and Stevens aren’t the only ones whose jobs could be in jeopardy, as questions are also being raised over the futures of Jeff Blashill with the Detroit Red Wings and Dave Hakstol with the Philadelphia Flyers. One of those four could be unemployed before the end of November.
Kypreos reports New York Rangers center Kevin Hayes is garnering interest among NHL scouts. He feels Hayes, an unrestricted free agent at season’s end, is going to price himself out next summer as the Rangers continue to rebuild. Hayes is on a one-year, $5.175-million contract.
Kypreos suggested the Winnipeg Jets might look at Hayes as a possible replacement for Paul Stastny, who departed for the Vegas Golden Knights this summer. If the Rangers shop him the asking price could be a draft pick or a prospect.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Could be worth keeping an eye on the Jets there. I’ve also suggested GM Kevin Cheveldayoff could be in the market for another rental center to replace Stastny. That move doesn’t have to be made now and it doesn’t necessarily have to be Hayes, though he could become one of their targets perhaps closer to the trade deadline.
Friedman reports Edmonton Oilers winger Zack Kassian could be on the move soon, as he’s been granted permission to seek a trade.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kassian’s signed through 2019-20 at an annual cap hit of $1.95 million. He’s never played up to expectations as a power forward but could have some value as an affordable physical winger to clubs in need of checking-line depth. We’ll find out soon if there’s a market for him.
Chris Johnston noted the recent busy travel schedule of Toronto Maple Leafs GM Kyle Dubas, who has traversed the continent over the past several days. Friedman believes there’s a stalemate between the Leafs and unsigned forward William Nylander and at some point, they’ll have to consider dealing him. Kypreos said he’s heard 12 to 15 teams are interested in dealing for Nylander, though the Leafs are still saying no. The Carolina Hurricanes and Los Angeles Kings could be among the suitors.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Lots of conflicting views on what Dubas is up to and where things stand in negotiations with Nylander. The folks at TSN have downplayed Dubas’ travels and mentioned the possibility of some movement in negotiations between the two sides. I don’t doubt there are a lot of teams who’d love to land Nylander. Perhaps Dubas can use that as leverage in contract talks with the Nylander camp if the youngster has his heart set on staying in Toronto.
HIGHLIGHTS FROM “GARRIOCH SUNDAY”
OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch believes the St. Louis Blues have limited options to address their sputtering start from within. The possibility of firing head coach Mike Yeo “is most certainly on the table”. He suggests former New York Rangers bench boss Alain Vigneault could be an option if the Blues decide on a coaching change.
Carolina Hurricanes general manager Don Waddell is open for business and has four right-shot defensemen that could attract interest between now and the trade deadline in February. The Edmonton Oilers and Toronto Maple Leafs are seeking a right-shot blueliner. Clubs could target Justin Faulk and Brett Pesce. Waddell might be listening but isn’t likely to make a move if his team remains in playoff contention.
Garrioch also notes the Hurricanes GM has shown interest in Toronto Maple Leafs forward William Nylander. He notes Leafs GM Kyle Dubas was reportedly at Friday’s game between the Hurricanes and San Jose Sharks.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s been assumed for months that Waddell might swap a defenseman for a scoring forward, preferably a center. But with the top line of Sebastian Aho, Teuvo Teravainen and Micheal Ferland leading the way offensively, that need might not be as urgent as it once was. If the Hurricanes seek secondary scoring they might be able to address it without giving up a top-four defenseman.
Teams are calling the struggling Los Angeles Kings to inquire into the availability of forwards Tyler Toffoli and Tanner Pearson. Defensemen Alec Martinez has been mentioned and a league executive tells Garrioch that teams could also start calling about blueliner Jake Muzzin. There’s speculation Kings coach John Stevens could be fired but GM Rob Blake is believed reluctant to make that move.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Trading those guys or firing Stevens won’t address the fact the Kings, built for a slower, more physical game, are carrying expensive veterans who are struggling in a league trending toward youth and speed. Maybe if they can move someone like Martinez or Muzzin for, say, William Nylander, that might help them get faster, though it will also create a hole on the blueline.
Garrioch believes the Vancouver Canucks would like to move a defenseman and suggests keeping an eye on Ben Hutton, who’s a restricted free agent this summer.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Of late, Hutton’s filled in for the sidelined Alexander Edler on the Canucks’ top pairing. Last night’s 5-0 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins aside, he’s looked good in recent games. If Hutton continues feeling comfortable in that role, the Canucks might be reluctant to part with him. Then again, it could also bolster his trade value.
Given the struggles of the Philadelphia Flyers, including a 6-1 blowout loss yesterday to the New York Islanders, Garrioch wonders how much more GM Ron Hextall can stand.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hextall is more patient than his trigger-happy predecessors. Still, if a change is coming it could be behind the bench as there’s growing dissatisfaction among Flyers fans over coach Dave Hakstol’s handling of the lineup.