Welcome back to another edition of NHL Rumours from the crew at Last Word on Hockey. The regular season is winding down and teams are gearing up for what should be an exciting Stanley Cup Playoff. Despite the season coming to an end, rumours are still hot and heavy around the league. Today we will focus on NHL rumours from the Buffalo Sabres, New York Rangers and the Ottawa Senators.
All NHL rumours come from their original source and are subject to change.
Rumour: The Athletic’s John Vogl recently wrote an article focusing on potential targets for the Sabres to help improve the offence this offseason.
The Sabres need a wing and a prayer. They could find one on the UFA market. https://t.co/fg0xwbnVLd
— John Vogl (@BuffaloVogl) March 8, 2020
Analysis: Of the names Vogl lists, the two most intriguing names would be right-wingers Mike Hoffman and Evgenii Dadonov. The right-wing position is certainly the weakest point in terms of depth for the Sabres. Sam Reinhart currently slots in on the club’s top line and he is an outstanding player. However, it drops off after that with Dominik Kahun slotting into the second line right-wing position. Kahun is only 24 and can certainly grow into the role, however, he is more suited for the third line.
When you think of Hoffman and Dadonov you think of one thing, goals. This is something the Sabres desperately need. As Vogl points out, the Sabres have not been in the top half of the league in scoring since the 2010-11 season. Hoffman and Dadonov are two players who could certainly help propel them to this level.
Since returning from the KHL, Dadonov has been lights out of the Florida Panthers. He has scored 20 plus goals in all three seasons and has managed over 60 points in both seasons as well. While his production has dropped off points wise this season, scoring 47 points in 69 games, his goal total is still at 25. Once again hitting the 20 goal plateau and still has 13 games remaining to beat his career-high of 28.
Hoffman, on the other hand, has hit the 20 goal plateau each of the last six seasons and is looking to hit the 30 goal mark in back to back seasons. He currently sits with 29 goals, just one away from this feat. While the chances of him beating his career-high of 36 are slim, he will most likely become a two time 30 goal scorer.
Both these players would be a huge grab for the Sabres who desperately need help in the scoring department. Luckily for the Sabres, they are both unrestricted free agents at seasons end. With around $21.5 million in cap space to spend this summer, they certainly have the money to go out and grab their biggest need.
New York Rangers
Rumour: The Athletic’s Rick Carpiniello reported via Twitter that the Rangers have been in contact with 2018 first-round pick K’Andre Miller. Carpiniello mentions Miller could head to Hartford on an Amateur tryout now that his season is over.
Rangers have also been in contact with Wisconson D K’Andre Miller, a first-round pick in 2018, whose season is over. Miller could go to Hartford on an ATO if he chooses. I’m told Miller has not yet made his decision. #NYR
— Rick Carpiniello (@RickCarpiniello) March 9, 2020
Analysis: Miller is a big strong defender who skates extremely well given his size. Getting him to the AHL for the remainder of the season would be an excellent move to give him a taste of professional hockey before the offseason.
Miller saw his production drop off a bit this season, scoring 18 points in 36 games after posting 22 points in 26 the year prior. However, he still had an excellent season. He was also an important piece of Team USA in the 2020 World Junior Hockey Championships.
Miller is set to join an already impressive defence group featuring Jacob Trouba, Adam Fox and Anthony DeAngelo. While he has not made up his mind yet on what he is going to do, it’s a safe assumption he won’t be playing for the Rangers as early as next season. However, the Hartford Wolfpack are a legitimate option and he is certainly ready to play at the AHL level.
— Bruce Garrioch (@SunGarrioch) March 5, 2020
Analysis: This makes complete sense. As the Senators continue their lengthy rebuild, they want to have some veteran presence there for the young kids coming up. That’s exactly what Hainsey brings.
Hainsey has been a regular partner for the Senators top defenceman Thomas Chabot and he has certainly helped improve his game. With so many other young defencemen on the way up including Erik Brannstrom, Lassi Thomson and Maxime Lajoie, keeping a defender like Hainsey around who has 1130 games of NHL experience and Stanley Cup ring will go a long way for the team. As head coach, D.J. Smith is quoted saying in Garrioch’s article, ” On a daily basis, he deals with Chabot and he’s got him playing really well. He’s teaching these guys and that’s like having an extra coach.
That’s outstanding praise for the veteran defender and outstanding news for the Ottawa Senators and their fan base. It’s great to have a mentor like Hainsey around to teach these players. Since he already has a Stanley Cup ring, he doesn’t need to be chasing a championship with legitimate Cup contenders. Hainsey can have a totally different outlook on the final years of his career and not stress about the chance of never winning a cup. Now, he can focus on helping the youth improve for the future, which is rewarding in itself.