NHL Rumours: Vancouver Canucks, Buffalo Sabres, Chicago Blackhawks, and Pittsburgh Penguins

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Welcome to Friday’s edition of NHL Rumours brought to you by the crew at Last Word on Hockey. We are less than a month away from the start of training camp and teams are still working on finalizing their rosters.

Some of these teams are still in negotiations with their top RFA players and are risking not having them to start the season, creating a terrific breeding ground for NHL rumours. Today we have NHL rumours from the Vancouver Canucks, Buffalo Sabres, Chicago Blackhawks, and Pittsburgh Penguins.

NHL Rumours

Vancouver Canucks

Rumour: We start NHL rumours with Ben Kuzma from The Province stating that Brock Boeser wants a 4-year deal worth 28 million dollars. He also notes the Canucks are hoping to get a deal done before training camp begins.

Analysis: This feels like a very reasonable ask for the RFA. Boeser has scored 29 and 26 goals in his first two seasons. This comes with both seasons only having games played in the ’60s. It seems reasonable that going forward if he plays 82 games he can easily score 30 year-in and year-out. Boeser has an amazing shot that routinely beats goalies.

Considering some of the other high asking prices we have seen, this seems like an incredibly reasonable ask for Boeser. It will walk him very close to being a UFA, however, the value it provides could be very helpful to a Canucks team that has shelled out lots of money. If the Canucks can get him even closer to $6 million for 4 years that would be an absolute steal.

The Canucks currently have $5 million in cap space to sign both Boeser and Nikolay Goldobin. So, money would need to be moved out. However, with money being thrown around to guys like Tyler Myers, Jay Beagle, and a trade for J.T. Miller, the Canucks will need all the space they can get going forward. Signing Boeser to a cheap, medium-term deal could really help with that. It seems likely a deal will be done before the season if this is the ask.

Buffalo Sabres

Rumour: Paul Hamilton from Radio.com reports that Jason Pominville still wants to play another year in the NHL. He is currently working out in Buffalo staying in shape waiting for a possible call.

Analysis: A deal could be done with any team but we have classified this as Buffalo because of where he is working out. Obviously, Pominville played a long time there, including the last two seasons after he played a stint in Minnesota.

It seems likely enough Pominville could help a team’s fourth line out, or at very least be a 13th forward. The article states he understands part of the lack of offers come from so many RFA’s not being signed. This apparently hasn’t stressed him out and he just keeps looking ahead.

This is the kind of attitude Pominville can bring a team. A team in need of a leader and a voice could really benefit from signing him to a cheap deal. As well, a team looking for leadership in a playoff atmosphere may want to take a look at him. He won’t get a very rich deal, however, one would think Pominville will find some sort of NHL home at some point this season.

NHL Rumours: Chicago Blackhawks

Rumour: Mark Lazerus from The Athletic did a mailbag Q&A where he answered all kinds of questions. In it, he opened up about a potential trade involving Erik Gustafsson.

He said, “Gustafsson’s status at the trade deadline is going to be a fascinating story. If the Blackhawks are in the mix, how do you deal away your No. 1 power-play quarterback and best offensive defenseman? On the flip side, if he posts another big season, Gustafsson likely will be well beyond the Blackhawks’ price range in 2020-21, and how can you let such a valuable trade chip walk away and get nothing in return?”

 Analysis: Lazerus seems to think that if the Hawks are out of the playoff picture Gustafsson will be dealt. However, if they are right in the hunt and he is playing well there is a very good chance he stays with the Hawks down the stretch.

Hawks Future

The Hawks are in a tough place because the team needs to keep on going for it. With Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane on the books, it is hard to truly rebuild. The team just isn’t what it used to be though. They did sign Robin Lehner who was lights out last season.

For the Hawks to keep Gustafsson and lose him for nothing they would have to look like a legit threat near the trade deadline. Being a middling team with just a shot at playoffs may not be enough to make sense. This team desperately needs assets going forward and he may be able to help with that. If somehow the Hawks are in a hunt for a top-three spot in the division it may make much more sense to keep him.

The depth for Chicago is already questionable and health will need to be a big factor. The top lines of the Hawks, including Gustafsson, are looked highly of by most analytical models. However, there are still some questions with depth. Unfortunately, depth is key into making huge runs into the playoffs. More often than not, one line will not get it done.

So, unless the Hawks have all four lines rolling come trade deadline time it does seem like it would make sense to see what return you can get. Gustafsson is a very solid Dman and would likely improve most teams top-four. The Hawks could likely get a decent haul for him.

Pittsburgh Penguins

Rumour: Mike DeFabo of PGSportsNow reported that Pens GM Jim Rutherford does not intend to hire a new assistant general manager just yet. This comes after Bill Guerin was hired as Minnesota’s new GM.

Analysis: It was noted that Rutherford intends to split the duties up between the front office and take a more wide approach. This is not always a terrible idea as more heads can help bring more ideas.

A search will continue but with no rush, it means the Pens can wait until they believe they have found the right candidate. This will help make a smarter decision than they would if they were rushing to find just anyone.

As for the season, Rutherford has a tough look ahead of him. The back-to-back Cup champs lost in round two and then last year were swept out of the playoffs. When you still have Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin you need to go for it. Their recent additions of grit haven’t gone over well. Jack Johnson has been abysmal and Erik Gudbranson is overpaid. This is not what you need on a cap team.

Rutherford will need to explore all options to try and make this team get back into the contender it was just a few years ago. Small successful moves helped him last time, look for him to try that again this year.

That is all for NHL Rumours, check-in every day for more!

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