Welcome to the Tuesday Edition of NHL Rumours. Things are starting to heat up again on the rumours front after the NHL officially announced the start of the 2020-21 season. With only about three weeks until the start of the season, it will be a race for teams to become cap compliment. Don’t worry as the Last Word on Hockey will be there every step of the way providing you with the latest news and rumblings from around the league. Today’s NHL Rumours feature, the Edmonton Oilers, Nashville Predators, and Boston Bruins.
Rumour: David Pagnotta of The Fourth Period is reporting the Edmonton Oilers will be in the market for a defenceman after losing Oscar Klefbom for the year. One of the names being thrown around is defenceman Sami Vatanen.
No Klefbom for the Oilers this season. His $4.167M cap hit can go on LTIR if the team needs the space to go over the $81.5M cap. Do they pursue a D via trade, explore UFA Vatanen, or give one of their young D a shot? https://t.co/uEwRIHvSEv
— David Pagnotta (@TheFourthPeriod) December 21, 2020
Analysis: With the news coming out about Klefbom being lost for the year, the Oilers have to scramble to find a replacement. It will be hard to fill the shoes of Klefbom who did everything for the Oilers. However, for the Oilers, they knew this was a possibility after it was he had been dealing with a shoulder injury for years. Last season, Klefbom tailed 34 points (five goals and 29 assists) in 62 games with the Oilers. The year before that he put up 28 points in just 61 games. While Klefbom is injury prone, he was the Oilers’ best defenceman. What will general manager Ken Holland? He can look to the free-agent market. There he will find Sami Vatanen.
Vatanen recorded 23 points (five goals and 18 assists) in 47 games last season between the New Jersey Devils and Carolina Hurricanes. While he may not have the shot Klefbom has, he can still produce offence from the backup. Not to mention he is a good puck-moving defenceman, something the Oilers need. Vatanen is a good replacement for Klefbom for this season and that is about it. Just like Klefbom, Vatanen is prone to injuries. The Oilers could also explore a trade for a defenceman with a team like Vegas. They need to get under the cap and there is talk they want to move Alec Martinez. With $4 million remaining on his deal this could be a good fit especially when Klefbom’s money goes on LTIR.
Rumour: Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet was on ESPN 102.5 The Game in Nashville and said that the Nashville Predators will add a forward prior to the start of the season and the name on their radar is Andreas Athanasiou.
Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) says he believes that the Preds were the runners-up in signing Anthony Duclair (just signed with Florida) and are interested in current free agent Andreas Athanasiou, and thinks that David Poile will add a forward as the season begins in three wks
— ESPN 102.5 The Game 😷 (@1025TheGame) December 21, 2020
Analysis: For years now, we have talked about how the Predators need help scoring goals. Even with the additions of Matt Duchene and Ryan Johansen, the two most consistent goal scorers have been Filip Forsberg and Viktor Arvidsson. The Predators are in need of some scoring. Duchene and Johansen have not provided the scoring the Predators expected. Now they will continue to look at the free-agent market. With Mike Hoffman out of reach, the name they have circled is Andreas Athanasiou. Athanasiou was a hot commodity coming into the NHL Trade Deadline. He had put up 24 points (10 goals and 14 assists) with the Detroit Red Wings before being traded to the Oilers. In nine games he put up two points, but that is a small sample size considering the season got stopped right after the deadline.
He is an interesting case though. It appears the Predators are looking to add depth scoring and Athanasiou is that. He is a good player to have that can play in a team’s top nine and in this Predators lineup he could fit in their top six. Considering the Predators have a little over 12 million in cap space, they could add Athanasiou add a decent price and still have room to add another piece or two. There is even a possibility that Mikael Granlund gets re-signed to a reasonable deal to bolster the scoring.
Analysis: The Bruins are in need of help on defence. More specifically on the left side of their defence. With Torey Krug signing with the St. Louis Blues, that left a major gap on the left side. Not to mention what is going on with Chara. While the Bruins want Chara to come back, they want to explore other options first. This was a similar strategy prior to last season too. The Bruins filled their needs first before signing Chara to a one-year deal. And that is what Chara will get this season too. A one-year deal. Chara is close to the end of his career and has lost a step or two. However, he is still a force on the ice. But again there has to be a fit between him and the Chara.
Bruins management also is looking towards the future. They want to see how Jakub Zboril and Urho Vaakanainen do. Both are former first-round picks and could complement the likes of Matt Grzelcyk, Jeremy Lauzon and John Moore very well. While both are inexperienced at the NHL level, they are young and fast. Something the Bruins are lacking on defence right now. Obviously having Chara back would be ideal, but he has time on his hand. And according to his agent has gotten offers from about 20 teams. Ideally, he would like to stay, but if the Bruins find a younger defenceman on the market or in their system, they may let him walk.
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