NHL Rumours: Boston Bruins, Edmonton Oilers, and More

Headliner of recent NHL rumours, David Backes, skates during a game.

The NHL preseason is in full swing and teams are attempting to evaluate young prospects. They are also working on trimming down their rosters to a workable size. That just causes more NHL rumours to pop up and we have them all covered here at Last Word on Hockey. Today we will cover NHL rumours concerning the Boston Bruins, Edmonton Oilers, and the Columbus Blue Jackets.

NHL Rumours

Boston Bruins

Rumour: Joe MacDonald of theathletic.com reports that the Boston Bruins forward David Backes is fighting for his job on the third-line right-wing.

Analysis: Backes only appeared in 15 of the Bruins 24 post-season games last season. After a career-low 20 points in 70 regular-season games, he had clearly lost his spot in the lineup by the time the playoffs rolled around.

Backes was aware of this, noting that he needs to fight his way back to a nightly spot. He told Macdonald, “I need to continue to get better and assert myself to be in the lineup every night and that’s been my focus all summer.”

Despite not having a guaranteed roster spot, Backes’ contract still counts towards $6 million of the Bruins salary cap. The options for the Bruins to move Backes are limited. They would only save $1 million if they bought him out. A more logical choice would be to go the trade route, yet there won’t be too many teams willing to make a deal for an aging, expensive forward like Backes.

Backes has played in one of the Bruins pre-season games thus far. He was on the ice for 14:48 and 1:53 on the power play in said game. He didn’t gather any points and is probably wondering what the team’s plans are for him going forward.

It’s no secret that the Bruins want to extend or trade Torey Krug before his contract expires next summer. They only have $1.15 million of cap space to get that done. Does that mean they will consider trading or buying out David Backes?

It could.

Edmonton Oilers

Rumour: Kurt Leavins from the Edmonton Journal reports that the Edmonton Oilers are still looking for a suitable third-line centre. 

Analysis: It was spotted that the Oilers had a scout at the Ottawa Senators versus Montreal Canadiens pre-season game on Saturday. Many have assumed that the scout may have been looking for a potential player who could play on their third line.

The Senators have Chris Tierney, who becomes an unrestricted free agent next summer. He has a very modest $2.9 million cap hit. They also have Jean-Gabriel Pageau, who has a $3.1 million contract and could be on his way out of Ottawa. While the former of the two boast a tremendous, and ideal, skillset, the latter would be much more affordable for the Oilers.

With Marcus Granlund pegged to be the third-line centre in Edmonton, it seems that the Oilers are looking for an upgrade. Granlund is only averaging 0.32 points per game just signed a one-year deal in Edmonton. If he doesn’t work out, the Oilers could take a look at Tierney or Pageau. A potential deal may be made easier by the rebuild Ottawa is currently undergoing.

Columbus Blue Jackets

Rumour: Aaron Portzline of theathletic.com noted that Martin St. Louis won’t return to his special consulting role with the Blue Jackets next season.

Analysis: After spending half of last season in an advisory role with the Blue Jackets, St. Louis said Saturday he won’t be back with Columbus in 2019-20. He told Portzline, “I really enjoyed working with the team last year… I would have loved to do it again, my priority continues to be my family.”

The retired St. Louis began serving with the Blue Jackets last season, often helping quite a bit with the team’s power play. This assistance was very highly received by head coach John Tortorella, who noted, “He’s doing a lot of work with (assistant coach Brad Larsen) on the power play.” Tortorella went on to mention that St. Louis helps elsewhere, particularly with struggling players.

St. Louis’ large responsibilities, despite being in a modest role, seemingly caught up to him. He has not been with Columbus during their pre-season camps, officially announcing that he is prioritizing time with family over his consulting role on Sunday.

Head coach John Tortorella mentioned, “It’s very difficult for [St. Louis] to be involved when he’s coming in every two or three weeks.”

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