NHL Rumours: Toronto Maple Leafs, Florida Panthers, Ottawa Senators

NHL rumours
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The NHL Trade Deadline is looming and things are heating up. This has sparked plenty of NHL rumours, adding to the excitement of the mid-season. As long as NHL rumours remain around, Last Word on Hockey will look to keep fans up to date. Today, we will cover rumours surrounding the Toronto Maple Leafs, Florida Panthers, and Ottawa Senators.

NHL Rumours

Toronto Maple Leafs

Rumour: The Buffalo Sabres may terminate Zach Bogosian‘s contract, making him a free agent. If this does happen, Pierre LeBrun says he wouldn’t be surprised to see Toronto look into signing him.

NHL free agent frenzy

Analysis: To hear Toronto may be involved is no surprise. They’ve searched for defensive help all season long, particularly since the calendar turned over. Star defenceman Morgan Rielly fell to injury in early January, leaving a huge hole in the Leafs blue-line. This only heightened their search for both a standout defenceman and added depth.

Bogosian would be a great fill-in for this latter goal. He served a very ill-advised top-four role in Buffalo, to little avail. With things hitting a wall in Buffalo and Bogosian continuing to struggle in his top-four role, Sabres general manager Jason Botterill decided to send the defenceman to the AHL. He has refused to show up to the team, though, leading many Sabres analysts to assume that contract termination will be the only option for Buffalo.

If Bogosian hits the mid-season open-market, he’ll surely be quick to sign a new deal. While he noticeably struggled in Buffalo, it was in a poorly conceived role; serving as the team’s number-two defenceman behind Rasmus Ristolainen. In a more appropriate, depth role, Bogosian could definitely turn things around. This is particularly true with the added motivation that comes from leaving a league-bottom-dweller to one of the best teams in the league. While many may be hesitant to jump on the “Bogosian to Toronto” train, it may be a great opportunity for Bogosian to turn things around while also being a great opportunity for Toronto to find a cheap depth option.

Florida Panthers

Rumour: Elliotte Friedman, during an appearance on SN 590, noted that jobs could be on the line if the Panthers end up missing the playoffs.

Analysis: The Panthers hired Joel Quenneville to be their head coach last April. They then signed Anton Stralman, Brett Connolly, and Noel Acciari to multi-year deals; and then most notably signed Sergei Bobrovsky to a record-breaking deal. It was all-in-all a humongous statement from Florida. After only making the playoffs twice since 2000, the Panthers had put their foot down. They made multiple huge moves to improve a roster that wasn’t all-that-bad as is with one goal in mind: finally making the playoffs.

But things are not looking as emphatic as Florida had hoped five months into this season. The Eastern Conference playoff race is very tight, with Florida sitting just on the outside of it. They’re two points out of the Atlantic Division top-three, nearly toppling the Leafs. They’re also three points out of a Wild Card. Playoffs seem just out of grasp for Florida and with Toronto being the team standing in their way, the hopes seem bleak.

If they miss the playoffs, there’s supposedly going to be a price to pay. This will likely come in the form of a general manager-firing, as the team is certainly not going to fire their brand new, Hall-of-Fame-calibre head coach in Quenneville. Of course, other front office jobs could be lost but the loss of the team’s GM of 10 years is beyond notable. The team has 10 players set to become free agents this summer, meaning that a GM-firing could also come with a complete overhaul of the lineup in preparation for the 2020-21 season.

Ottawa Senators

Rumour: During their latest Insider Trading episode, the TSN crew discussed Jean-Gabriel Pageau, who has supposedly started contract talks with the Senators.

Analysis: This has been a career-year for Pageau. On a Senators team that has struggled notably, Pageau has managed to rise above the ashes. With it being a contract-year for the forward, though, he’s been on the trade block all year as a potential rental. And while he’s been strong all year, his lack of consistency has kept him from being dealt away just yet.

With the NHL Trade Deadline on February 24th, the prospect of a deal is dwindling. In response to this, Ottawa has opened up contract talks with the 27-year-old Pageau. This likely marks the end of any trade talks. Though, Pageau will still be able to get a big reward for his great year. He has 24 goals and 40 points in 59 games, making him more-than-worthy of an admirable raise from his $3.1 million cap hit that he holds currently. This is especially if Ottawa wants to keep him around, as they’ll likely have to pay a bit extra for his services. A finalized extension is surely a long time coming but the start of talks is a good sign for the Pageau-faithfuls in Ottawa and for the team’s future outlook.

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