Hello and welcome to a regular Monday edition of NHL rumours! We are less than two weeks away from the season and activity is picking up. Training camp rosters are coming into focus and deals are still being made for additional depth. Last Word on Hockey will bring you the latest news and analysis every day. Today’s NHL rumours feature the Columbus Blue Jackets, Calgary Flames, and the Montreal Canadiens.
Columbus Blue Jackets
Rumour: Aaron Portzline of The Athletic is reporting some friction between coach John Tortorella and Pierre-Luc Dubois.
#CBJ coach John Tortorella says Pierre-Luc Dubois’ desire for a trade will be handled similarly, in one respect, to how Bobrovsky / Panarin played out two seasons ago. They’ll confront it as a group and deal with it out in the open, he said.
— Aaron Portzline (@Aportzline) January 3, 2021
Analysis: It seems like a profoundly bad idea for trade negotiations to take place in the open. That isn’t something that typically results in happy parties on either side. However, Columbus and Tortorella seem fine with that being the case.
If Columbus is eager to move Dubois, they would receive a fairly hefty return. He is just 22-years-old on a very affordable contract. It’s hard to imagine a team turning down between 40 and 60 points annually for $5 million in salary commitments. There is a very real chance that the former third overall selection from 2016 produces excess value and secures a bigger contract after the current one expires following 2021-22.
Dubois would fetch a mighty return at the same time though. Columbus doesn’t have the deepest group of prospects coming up to reinforce a solid, but unspectacular roster. Trading the developing star would bring back at least one top young player or valuable draft pick. The Blue Jackets have been aggressive with moves in recent years and Dubois could be the exact sort of thing that extends their competitive window. It’s not as though they strictly need him with options like Oliver Bjorkstrand and Max Domi capable of carrying an offence for at least the next few seasons.
Rumour: Elliotte Friedman is predicting that Calgary GM Brad Treliving may be inviting forward Brett Ritchie to training camp.
Early prediction: Brett Ritchie https://t.co/ICZ4hwezHG
— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) January 3, 2021
Analysis: The Flames don’t really need Ritchie as their roster is fairly solid, but they could do worse for a taxi squad addition. The former second-round pick from 2011 is a serviceable physical forward after posting 89 hits in 27 games for the Boston Bruins in 2019-20. He doesn’t do much else, but he’s an experienced skater suitable for a 56-game sprint.
Calgary must also see value in Ritchie’s advanced stats. He has a solid 51.9 percent Corsi For thanks to a healthy 55.6 percent of his zone starts coming on offence. He also has a .63 expected goals per 60 rate per Evolving Wild. That was noticeably higher than his actual rate of .43 goals per 60. It’s enough of a discrepancy that is worth exploring further in training camp. There certainly isn’t much risk in a hit-first skater with mild offensive upside.
Using Ritchie gives Calgary a much more experienced option on its taxi squad than they might have otherwise. He has 268 NHL games across six seasons. That’s more than the vast majority of Calgary’s options who haven’t established themselves as regulars. Every little bit could make a difference in 2020-21. That includes someone with Ritchie’s relatively limited skill set.
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