It’s time for another edition of NHL rumours where we dissect the latest gossip on potential moves. Some teams are looking to make changes after their Qualifying Round exits last week. Three teams are at the focus of our NHL rumours and they are the Pittsburgh Penguins, Toronto Maple Leafs and Florida Panthers.
All NHL rumours are taken from the original source and subject to change.
Rumour: Elliotte Friedman’s 31 Thoughts talked about what general manager Jim Rutherford may do in the off-season. Friedman added that moving Evgeni Malkin or Kris Letang would not be part of those plans.
31 Thoughts (post-qaulification round). Enjoy! https://t.co/evXOrgmnvY
— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) August 11, 2020
Analysis: Rutherford said to the media that something was wrong and changes would be made. The Montreal Canadiens shocked the Penguins in four games in the play-in round. However, it was more than just a red-hot Carey Price powering the Habs to victory in four games. Montreal’s forward group outworked the Pittsburgh defence for a good portion of the series.
Rutherford’s comments only add to the speculation of what the Penguins’ off-season makeover will look like. Team captain Sidney Crosby and Letang are both 33 while Malkin is just turning 34. Crosby admitted that the window may be closing on the team being a contender. The three are the main part of the team’s success, but moving one of them would land a big return. However, it won’t likely be Crosby due to his place with the franchise.
There’s also the added factor that Malkin may be unhappy that assistant coach Sergei Gonchar was fired. The Athletic’s Josh Yohe tweeted that Malkin likely won’t be pleased by the firing of his best friend.
There’s also the impending decision on choosing Matt Murray or Tristan Jarry to be the team’s goalie of the future. Rutherford has some tough decisions to make with the cap staying flat at $81.5 million.
Toronto Maple Leafs
Analysis: Thornton would be a decent low-cost option for general manager Kyle Dubas. His last deal was only for $2 million with the San Jose Sharks. The 41 year old is from nearby London, Ontario and a move close to home could be tempting. He may also want one more shot at playing for a Stanley Cup-chasing team.
Thornton was rumoured to sign a deal with Swiss club HC Davos due to the NHL season starting later in the year. He’ll likely have an NHL out clause in case a team does want to sign him. “Jumbo Joe” did struggle last season in San Jose with seven goals and 31 points in 70 games. However, he has been working hard in the off-season and him playing in Europe might give him an edge when hockey begins in North America.
Spezza said that he would like to come back, but it’s Dubas’ call. He can be a veteran piece in the lineup and he’s four years younger than Thornton. Toronto will need low-cost options barring some dramatic roster moves.
Rumour: The search for a replacement general manager for Dale Tallon is heating up. Friedman reported that Chris Drury of the Rangers front office could be high on their list. Pierre Lebrun of TSN and The Athletic added that the team has permission from the Los Angeles Kings to speak to Michael Futa.
Hearing that the Florida Panthers plan to interview former Kings executive Mike Futa
— Pierre LeBrun (@PierreVLeBrun) August 14, 2020
Analysis: The Panthers were a disappointment again, but they do have some nice players in Aleksander Barkov and Jonathan Huberdeau. Florida also has Joel Quenneville behind the bench and he’s a future Hall of Fame. The Panthers were supposed to make a leap forward, but big-time free agent signing Sergei Bobrovsky struggled at times during the season.
Friedman added that he doesn’t think Drury is the right fit at the moment. Scott Mellanby and Laurence Gilman were also names that were mentioned on the list during 31 Thoughts. Some thought Eric Joyce would be a candidate, but the team wanted an outside point of view. Joyce does have tremendous knowledge and has been with the club for seven years.
Futa did interview for the Carolina Hurricanes GM job in 2018 and was the Kings director of player personnel. He does have a strong background in scouting and was a key part of the Kings success in the 2010s.