Welcome back to the Last Word on Hockey NHL rumours. The deadline is fast approaching and teams will now have an idea if they are buying or selling come February 24th. Lots of rumours are swirling about because of it. Today we will be looking at the Carolina Hurricanes, Vancouver Canucks, and Toronto Maple Leafs.
Rumour: In Pierre LeBrun’s most recent article, he notes that the Hurricanes were going into the deadline looking to add a more defensive-minded defenceman. This is even more so after Dougie Hamilton‘s recent injury.
Analysis: It always seems like Carolina’s looking to add a defenceman despite their strong group. Carolina has had a strong year thus far, and they will be looking to make another deep run in the playoffs. LeBrun mentions that the Hurricanes may have inquired about Brenden Dillon with the San Jose Sharks, so that speaks to what the Hurricanes may be looking at for an addition. If the Hurricanes were to acquire a Dillon type, it would mean Haydn Fleury would come out of the lineup once again. While there is still no timetable for Hamilton’s broken leg, the Hurricanes should anticipate he’s out for the rest of the year. An addition like Dillon would soften the blow of losing a player like Hamilton.
Rumour: According to Pierre LeBrun, Vancouver Canucks goaltender Jacob Markstrom‘s next contract still has work to be done.
Markstrom/Canucks contract talks update, told there’s still “lots of work to be done” there … will be fascinating if/when they get a deal done to see where the number is at.
— Pierre LeBrun (@PierreVLeBrun) January 24, 2020
Analysis: Markstrom is having a good year in Vancouver this season. With a .916 save percentage on the season, the soon-to-be 30-year-old goaltender will be a unrestricted free agent at the end of the season. Keeping Markstrom around on a short, multi-year deal would be in the Canucks best interests. Markstrom will be 30 by the time he signs a new contract and he could serve as a buffer while Thatcher Demko continues to grow. With a .904 this season, it seems Demko still needs some time before he is the go-to starter for Canucks organization. If Demko does begin emerging as that goalie as early as next season, Markstrom will be a good goaltender to have as a tandem.
The Canucks also must have at least one goaltender they can expose for the upcoming expansion draft in 2021. They will most likely be protecting Demko there, so having Markstrom under a multi-year deal would be beneficial for that purpose when NHL Seattle comes into the league.
Toronto Maple Leafs
Rumour: Bob McKenzie said on TSN 1050 that the Leafs are currently looking for a defenceman that’s more than a rental. They’re hoping to add a player with at least two years left on his deal.
— TSN 1050 Toronto (@TSN1050Radio) January 24, 2020
Analysis: The Leafs have done this in the past when trading for Jake Muzzin, who had an additional year left on his contract when they acquired him from the Los Angeles Kings. The Leafs currently only have two NHL regular defensemen under contract for next season (Morgan Rielly and Justin Holl). Acquiring another that is more than a rental would be ideal. The Leafs defence has always been an area people have addressed as a problem spot, and defencemen are always seemingly linked to Toronto, so this should come as no surprise.
To seal up the Leafs defence for another year past this would absolutely help. Having a player for a potential playoff run this season, as well as next, will be an excellent asset. Also, there is the benefit of knowing what the player’s salary is going into next season. It’d help the Leafs in negotiating with Travis Dermott for a new contract, and potentially one for Muzzin or Tyson Barrie.
This wraps up this edition of Last Word on Hockey’s NHL rumours. Check in again tomorrow for another scoop of the latest around the league.
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