NHL Rumor Mill – May 5, 2021
Could the Capitals shop Evgeny Kuznetsov in the offseason? Is Jets coach Paul Maurice in danger of losing his job? Will the Senators leave Matt Murray exposed in the expansion draft? Check out the latest in today’s NHL rumor mill.
TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports the Washington Capitals could be willing to listen to trade offers this summer for Evgeny Kuznetsov. The 28-year-old center has four years remaining on his contract with an annual average value of $7.8 million, plus a modified no-trade clause.
LeBrun noted Kuznetsov and teammate Ilya Samsonov were scratched by the Capitals from Monday’s game against the New York Rangers for disciplinary reasons stemming from missing a team function. The center also missed time earlier this season when he ran afoul of COVID-19 protocols. Two years ago, he was suspended by the league for three games for “inappropriate conduct.”
Kuznetsov’s play over the last couple of years has been inconsistent. LeBrun said he’s hearing it’s starting to irritate some members of the Capitals’ organization.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman also the Capitals could be running out of patience with Kuznetsov, pointing to head coach Peter Laviolette saying the club is “working through things inside the room.”
Kuznetsov is a talented player but his stats have tumbled since his career-best 83-point performance in 2017-18. His on-ice inconsistency, recent off-ice issues and a hefty contract could make him difficult to move, especially with the salary cap remaining around $81.5 million next season.
WINNIPEG FREE PRESS: Mike McIntyre suggests this season could be Paul Maurice’s last as head coach of the Jets if the club makes another early playoff exit. While the Jets are certain to clinch a postseason berth they’re mired in a seven-game losing skid.
McIntyre doesn’t expect Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff will make an immediate move to replace Maurice. Nevertheless, the pundit noted the Jets’ bench boss has made some questionable choices lately.
Maurice keeps playing Tucker Poolman with Josh Morrissey when it’s clear that defense tandem isn’t working while keeping Dylan DeMelo stuck on the third pairing. He has also relied heavily on the struggling first line of Kyle Connor, Mark Scheifele and Blake Wheeler and hasn’t found a way to get Pierre-Luc Dubois going.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Winnipeg Sun’s Paul Friesen doesn’t see Maurice losing his job before the playoffs. He noted the loyalty Cheveldayoff and team chairman Mark Chipman have toward their head coach. Friesen also pointed out the players aren’t showing any sign of quitting on Maurice. Still, he doesn’t rule out Maurice losing his job if the Jets get bounced from the opening round.
OTTAWA SUN: Ken Warren believes the Senators won’t protect Matt Murray in this summer’s expansion draft. He doubts the Seattle Kraken will select a goaltender “with a 10-13-1 record, 3.38 average, .893 save percentage, injury question marks and with three years and $21 million remaining on his contract.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Agreed. Even if Murray had better stats this season his injury history and remaining salary should scare off the Kraken.