Welcome back to another edition of NHL Rumours from the crew at Last Word On Sports. We’re about a month away from the NHL Entry Draft and Free Agency and rumours starting to become more frequent. Today we look at rumours surrounding the Montreal Canadiens, Toronto Maple Leafs and Pittsburgh Penguins.
All NHL rumours come from their original source and are subject to change.
Rumour: In an interview with TVA Sports, Charles Hudon‘s agent Alain Roy stated that he believes there is no place on the Canadiens roster for Hudon and that a change of scenery may be the best thing for the forward.
Analysis: It’s been a long road for Hudon and the Habs. Hudon was drafted in the fifth round of the 2012 NHL Entry Draft. He put in his work playing for the Canadiens AHL affiliate in three different cities (Hamilton, St. John’s and currently Laval). He became an excellent AHL player scoring over 20 goals in each of the last three seasons he spent in the AHL and scoring a total of 197 points in 253 games.
Hudon managed to crack the Canadiens lineup in the 2017-18 season scoring 10 goals and 20 assists in 72 games. However, since then, he has only appeared in a total of 47 games and scoring just four goals and three assists. Hudon found himself in Claude Julien‘s dog house and just could not find his way out of it. He did, however, manage to draw into two games during the postseason, where he was held pointless.
Change of Scenery Might be Best
As Roy said, a change of scenery is needed for Hudon. Hudon works hard and plays with a bit of an edge to his game. He’s not afraid to get into the dirty areas despite usually giving up size against his opponent. He has shown the ability to be able to score as well, cracking double digits in his only full season in the league. Marc Bergevin will most likely qualify Hudon to hold onto his rights so that they can at least get something for their asset. However, it shouldn’t cost any team a whole lot to acquire his services. A late-round pick or a prospect in the same shoes as Hudon would most likely be the return unless he is moved in a package. Whoever does get Hudon, however, could get a solid depth piece capable of scoring around 10 or 15 goals per season.
Toronto Maple Leafs
Rumour: In his most recent article for The Athletic, Pierre LeBrun sat down with Wayne Simmonds to discuss his future. When asked about the possibility of joining the Leafs, Simmonds said it has crossed his mind.
Chatted with Wayne Simmonds about the uncertainty of the UFA market. Would he be a good fit in Toronto? That, plus a look at the five head coaches entering the last year of their contracts: https://t.co/L4BpR2pkzy
— Pierre LeBrun (@PierreVLeBrun) September 8, 2020
Analysis: This would be a match made in heaven. If there is any team in the entire league that could use a player like Wayne Simmonds, it’s the Toronto Maple Leafs. What makes it even better, is the fact that it is his home town. Simmonds moved to Aurora, which is just north of Toronto three years ago with his family and says he gets asked all the time when he is going to sign with the Leafs. This, of course, makes him start thinking about the possibility of playing for his home town team. As he states in the article, he would fit right in with the Leafs and would make an instant impact.
Outside of Kyle Clifford who is set to become an unrestricted free agent and Zach Hyman, the Leafs don’t have any other “sandpaper” type players upfront. They would like to keep Clifford around but adding a playing like Simmonds as well would make the Leafs a whole lot harder to play against. As it stands they’re a pretty soft team so this needs to be a focus in the offseason. Simmonds may not be the player he was in Philadelphia, but he can still be extremely effective. Simmonds states he is 100 percent healthy now and has been “training like an animal”. He also mentions wanting to play for a contender and with the core the Leafs have and a few tweaks they should certainly make noise next season.
Deal to be Had
The only issue that would present itself is cap space. However, Simmonds isn’t expected to break the bank or anything. So the Leafs should be able to make a deal that works for both him and the club. What Simmonds brings to the table is invaluable. He can score. Big net presence especially on the powerplay. He can fight and certainly isn’t afraid to stick up for his teammates. He is the type of player every team wants in their lineup. As Simmonds says, he wants to be a difference-maker and be the piece of the puzzle that puts a club over the top. He would certainly be that for the Leafs.
Rumour: In his most recent article for The Athletic, Rob Rossi states that even though Kris Letang wants to retire a Penguin, Letang himself doesn’t feel like he is going to and has told several teammates that he believes he will be traded in the offseason or during the season.
Kris Letang wants to retire with the Penguins. But he doesn’t think he’ll get that chance.
GM Jim Rutherford is gauging interest, and Letang has told teammates he expects to be traded this offseason or coming season.
— The Athletic Pittsburgh (@TheAthleticPGH) September 8, 2020
Analysis: The article goes on to state that multiple league sources have mentioned that Rutherford has asked opposing general managers if they had any interest in Letang. Moreso feeling out what he could get for his star defenceman. It’s hard to believe that with an ageing Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin that Rutherford would look to move Letang. Those are the three big pieces that they have. If they want to stay competitive right now and push for one last Stanley Cup, you would think they would want to keep those three intact. However, after getting eliminated by the Canadiens in the Qualifying Round, Rutherford is looking to shake things up.
Letang has spent his entire career with the Penguins and has been outstanding. He has managed to win three Stanley Cups with the club during that time. However, the Penguins are an ageing team. The oft-injured Letang is 33-years-old and Crosby and Malkin aren’t getting any younger either. With so many teams crying out for a right-shot defender, and Letang having just two-years remaining on his current contract, now might be the best time to trade him.
Possible Win-Win Situation
Letang is still playing at an extremely high level, so the Penguins would get quite a haul for the defender. The team acquiring him knowing that they’re not tying themselves to a long-term deal worth over $7 million also has it’s benefits for a player who could put them over the top. When the deal is up, they can then look at resigning him at a lesser cap hit. Keeping him around even longer. It’s a win for any team that would acquire the star defender. It’s also a win for the Penguins looking to shed cap and get younger in the process.
That does it for this edition of NHL Rumours. Be sure to check back daily for more of the hottest rumours around the league.
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