NHL Rumours: San Jose Sharks, Los Angeles Kings, Toronto Maple Leafs

Trevor Lewis, a prominent member of recent NHL rumours, skates for the puck.

The NHL season is underway and there have been plenty of surprises thus far. This has sparked plenty of NHL rumours, adding to the excitement of the early-season. As long as NHL rumours remain around, Last Word on Hockey will look to keep fans up to date. Today, we’ll cover rumours surrounding the San Jose Sharks, Los Angeles Kings, and Toronto Maple Leafs.

NHL Rumours

San Jose Sharks

Rumour: In his latest piece, Pierre LeBrun goes over coaches that are likely on their way out. In it, he details the NHL rumours surrounding Sharks head coach Peter DeBoer. LeBrun notes that DeBoer is much less likely to be fired than some may think, despite San Jose’s woes.

Analysis: The Sharks have disappointed to start the year. They currently sit at a 4-9-1 record. The Sharks offence has been just as strong as last year, with their star-power carrying the load once again. San Jose ranks second in the league in goals-for to start the year, a surprising stat given their record.

The Sharks goaltending has damned the team. Martin Jones has allowed 35 goals through 11 games played, tallying a save percentage of .887 in that stretch. Aaron Dell has been just as bad, with a .891 save percentage and 14 goals allowed through five games. While the defence hasn’t helped much, with a team-wide Corsi-for of 47.4 percent, the goalies have to step up.

Ultimately, most of the blame has fallen on DeBoer’s shoulders. His poor defensive system and failure to respond to poor play has consistently put the Sharks in a state of worry. Yet, LeBrun notes that DeBoer is a bit farther from the hot seat than some think. This is for no other reason than Doug Wilson‘s track record. Wilson has served as the Sharks general manager since 2003. In the 16 years he has been under helm the Sharks have only had three different head coaches. This includes DeBoer, who has served since 2016. Unless the Sharks cold-streak carries far into the season, fans can expect the head coach to get the benefit of the doubt from Wilson.

Los Angeles Kings

Rumour: In a recent appearance on Edmonton’s 630 CHED, Elliotte Friedman noted that Trevor Lewis was on the trading block in L.A.

Analysis: This isn’t much of a surprise. The Kings are in the middle of a full rebuild, transforming a roster that found a lot of success in the early 2010s. It’s out-with-the-old and in-with-the-new in Los Angeles and moving Lewis seems like the biggest roadblock. He’s been with the Kings since 2008, being drafted by the team in the first round of the 2006 NHL Draft. Since then, he’s been stuck on the team’s bottom-six. His career ice time-average is a mere 13:48, with a career-high of 26 points. This year, he has two points in 13 games.

Ultimately, Lewis is a very poor piece in a very old roster. His presence blocks the way for players like Carl Grundstrom. Grundstrom has two assists in two games so far and eight points in 17 career NHL games. He’s clearly apart of the Kings’ future but has been held out of the lineup more-often-than-not thanks to Lewis’ upper-hand in the lineup.

While he has been fairly unproductive through his career, Lewis does have a few redeeming qualities. He ranks third among the team’s forwards in hits, with 17, and second among all regular skaters in Corsi-for with a daunting 57.2 percent. He’s a prominent, physical presence in the Kings bottom-six, something that can be fairly sought after in younger teams. His cap hit may turn away some suitors, coming in at a daunting $2 million, but his contract does expire after this season. For teams looking to add a dominant presence to their bottom line, Lewis may be a perfect option.

Toronto Maple Leafs

Rumour: On SN 650, David Pagnotta reported multiple NHL rumours surrounding the Leafs. This includes word that the team is in search of a backup goalie.

Analysis: The Leafs are off to a very slow start to the year. After a summer of fighting to maintain a star-studded roster, they’ve looked nothing more than mediocre. They currently sit at a record of 6-5-3, placing them fifth in the Atlantic Division. While their offence has clicked, with four players with double-digit points and John Tavares tallying seven points in eight games, the team still suffers. They sit at fourth in the league in goals-for but 29th in goals-allowed.

Earlier in the year, Toronto announced that they planned to give star goalie Frederik Andersen less responsibility this season, in an effort to preserve him for their eventual playoff push. Backing up Andersen has been Michael Hutchinson thus far. To say Hutchinson has struggled would be putting it lightly. In five appearances and four starts, he has allowed 18 goals, on pace to a 0-3-1 record. His save percentage comes in at .885.

While it’s still early in the year, finding a stable backup will be a ‘must’ for the Leafs heading forward. If they want to continue to give Andersen less of a workload, they need to find a backup that can win games just as well. While no names have been mentioned, there are a handful of goalies that could fit this role. Jake Allen out of the St. Louis Blues is the most prominent goalie on the market right now. While he has struggled to keep his footing in recent years, a consistent role on a dominant Leafs lineup could bring out the form that Allen boasted in the minors. If not him, the Leafs could also pursue players like Jimmy Howard, an aging but sturdy netminder currently with the Detroit Red Wings.

The only issue is that both of these options come with very notable cap hits. The Leafs are currently facing a salary cap dilemma, being forced to make tough decisions as Zach Hyman returns from IR. Investing in a reliable backup goalie won’t be cheap for Toronto. They may be looking a gift horse in the mouth with this ask. As a result, a trade isn’t likely to come very soon. Expect the Leafs to instead try to find fixes internally first.

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