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TLN Rumour Recap: Dubas to evaluate Penguins roster, Blues will be active & Coyotes getting trade calls
By Shane Seney2 months ago
The NHL’s holiday roster freeze will take place from Dec. 20-27 and general managers around the league are making calls to see what kind of business can be pulled off before the break. In all likelihood, transaction activity will be quiet before the freeze, however, there’s a ton of rumours flying around about a few teams considering some major changes.
Dubas Will Do Wholesome Evaluation in Pittsburgh
The Pittsburgh Penguins have underperformed this year. Kyle Dubas’ vision for the team was originally a “last dance” run for the team’s core of Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and Kris Letang, but he may be stuck between a rock and a hard place with his roster in Pittsburgh. He had some very interesting things to say about the team’s direction recently:
I’m not going to make any decisions based on how we do this week or next week. When we get through the All-Star break and on the other side of that, we’ll have a better idea of what we are as a group and where we need to go.
The Penguins sit two points out of the final playoff spot in the east, however, they have several teams to leap frog and the team they’re chasing, the Washington Capitals, have three games in hand. Dubas won’t be shy if things don’t improve.
Potential trade candidates out of Pittsburgh include forward Jake Guentzel, who is in the final season of his contract paying him $6 million. Guentzel owns a modified no-trade clause which protects him from 12 teams. He’s recorded 32 points in 28 games and could be a player who gets rented by a contender and then circles back with Dubas, or another team, next summer during free agency.
Another couple of Penguins to keep an eye on as trade targets include Bryan Rust, who is signed through the 2027-28 season at $5.1 million AAV. Rust holds a full no-movement clause and would have full control of his destiny, but given the cap situation in Pittsburgh, he could be a player Dubas approaches about a change of scenery. Defenceman Marcus Pettersson is another Pen who will draw interest from other teams. The 27-year-old blueliner has another season on his deal at $4.02 million against the cap and he holds trade protection against eight teams. Regardless of the deal, it’s going to be hard for Dubas to navigate significant changes in Pittsburgh.
While it would be quite the headline seeing Dubas help out the Maple Leafs leading up to their Stanley Cup Playoff run, don’t expect to see the Maple Leafs and Penguins doing business before the trade deadline in March.
Blues Fired Coach, Evaluating Players
Blues GM Doug Armstrong admitted that firing Craig Berube was extremely hard. Many sleepless nights leading up the delivering the news made things tough on Armstrong, but that’s one of the many facets of the job he has to live with. What Armstrong doesn’t have to live with is his roster in St Louis and he’s been very candid recently regarding trades:
Roster changes are hard to make. I’ve talked to teams I’ve seen what what’s out there I’ve seen what you’re able to do. You know, nobody should feel safe in our group right now.
St Louis has posted a 13-14-1 record on the season and if new head coach Drew Bannister can’t motivate the group, expect to see Armstrong pull the trigger on multiple moves. The Blues have several pending free agents who could be of interest on the rental market including Kasperi Kapanen, Oskar Sundqvist, Sammy Blais, and Marco Scandella. There’s also a couple of core pieces Armstrong will get trade calls on, likely including Colton Parayko, Pavel Buchnevich and perhaps even goaltender Jordan Binnington.
Maple Leafs GM Brad Treliving will certainly be keeping tabs as the Blues could be a nice fit to land some bottom-six depth in Toronto. Sundqvist and Blais have a couple of playoff runs under their belt, but it’s actually Russian forward Alexey Toropchenko who could be the best match. He’s a bang-and-crash versatile winger who can help kill penalties and bring a ton of energy to the bottom six. At 6-foot-3 and with a sandpaper style, Toropchenko’s game is well suited for the playoffs and his contract of $1.2 million through next season, is well suited for the Leafs cap situation. Parayko, on the other hand, has a game the Leafs could use more of, but his $6.5 million AAV will be very hard for Treliving to maneuver.
Arizona Coyotes Goaltender Drawing Interest
The Coyotes have handed their crease to Connor Ingram and the 26-year-old netminder has done nothing but impress with his 11-6-0 record, along with a 2.56 GAA and .920 Sv.%. With Ingram turning heads, the Coyotes are starting to hear from other teams on the availability of Karel Vejmelka.
The southpaw goaltender hasn’t performed to his capabilities this season and has now taken a back seat to Ingram. With a $2.7 million cap hit this season and next, Vejmelka’s certainly someone a lot of teams could fit under their cap. He’s been known to have kept the Coyotes in several games they had no business being in over the last couple of seasons and even though the numbers may not be there this year, the trade interest will be.
Hockey insider Elliotte Friedman recently confirmed the Coyotes have heard from several teams this season regarding Vejmelka’s availability and even with Arizona currently holding the last playoff spot in the west, GM Bill Armstrong could leverage his depth in the crease to add some more experience to his roster.
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