NHL Rumours: Montreal Canadiens, Calgary Flames, New Jersey Devils

NHL Rumours
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Another Thursday, another edition of NHL Rumours from the Last Word on Hockey team. Players are starting to be shuffled around again after teams begin to know their worth. This season has been erratic, to say the least, as teams have seen some pretty significant winning and losing streaks occur that change their team’s outlook. We’ll look at some of those teams today, including the Montreal Canadiens, Calgary Flames, and the New Jersey Devils.

NHL Rumours

Montreal Canadiens

Rumour: Via Montreal’s 98.5 FM, Martin McGuire speculates that the Habs are in deep trade talks with the Philadelphia Flyers regarding maligned defenceman Shayne Gostisbehere, who’s been oft mentioned in NHL rumours. However, Sportsnet’s Eric Engels says that there doesn’t appear to be anything in the works at the moment.

NHL free agent frenzy

Analysis: Montreal and Philadelphia are in two very different positions right now. The Habs are coming off a recent eight-game losing streak that has seen goalie Carey Price falter in addition to some concerningly terrible defence. The Flyers are winners of five games in a row and don’t seem to have a large weakness at the moment.

Philadelphia’s Point of View

Gostisbehere has been an interesting name to watch in Philadelphia over the past few years. Gostisbehere has served as a healthy scratch as of late, however, he is just two seasons removed from a 65-point campaign and his $4.5 million salary-cap hit is quite reasonable for his peak performance. However, he has shown the ability to be appallingly inconsistent, leading to his barrage of healthy scratches recently. He’s been pushed down the depth chart by the emergence of Ivan Provorov and Travis Sanheim and has mostly become an expendable asset in Philadelphia.

Montreal’s Point of View

Montreal needs left-side defensive help to complement a solid right side of Shea Weber and Jeff Petry. Being put in a position where Ben Chiarot has to play top-pairing minutes isn’t desirable, and while Gostisbehere has been inconsistent, there is a niche for him in Montreal that isn’t there in Philly. Montreal has enough cap space to fit him in without giving up a roster player. However, given Philadelphia’s position in the standings, they may look for immediate help as well to bolster their lineup. However, if there is no trade, it is a lose-lose situation for all parties involved, considering Philly is saddled with Gostisbehere’s contract, Montreal doesn’t get help, and Gostisbehere doesn’t play.

Calgary Flames

Rumour: Considering Calgary’s struggles this year, Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reports via his 31 Thoughts podcast that other teams have consistently called about forward Sam Bennett.

Analysis: Bennett has had a very conflicting career in Calgary. While never living up to his fourth-overall pick hype, he has become a solid top-nine piece over the years. He’s money in the bank for 10 goals and can put up between 25-30 points. He’s only got five points in 20 games this year.

The teams that have called about him could all use another depth piece on the wing — the Anaheim Ducks, Nashville Predators, and Montreal. His best season was his first full year in the NHL. At age 19, he put up 18 goals and 36 points. All these teams are looking at Bennett with the hope that he may be able to jumpstart his career in a new city. He had 91 points in 57 games in his final year of junior play. There’s some untapped offensive potential in this player that has yet to pan out. Maybe a change of scenery could help him vault into being a true top-six winger.

New Jersey Devils

Rumour: Also coming from his 31 Thoughts podcast, Friedman reports that the Devils are interested in selling off a less high-profile forward in Miles Wood.

Analysis: Nothing has gone right for New Jersey this year. They’re looking to sell off pieces to build up their draft assets and prospect pool yet again. One player who hasn’t been himself this year is Wood, who’s got seven points in 27 games. He is already at a -10 rating, which was his rating last year. Wood has also seen a departure from his physical game. He has been a non-factor but has shown the potential to be a potent depth piece and good agitator.

Wood’s cap hit is steep for a cap-strapped contender to swallow. At $2.75 million with two additional years left on his deal, he isn’t exactly a rental. Wood is likely going to a team that is stuck between being a buyer or seller at this point. Considering New Jersey’s struggles and his odd situation, expect him to be dealt before the trade deadline, if at all.

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