We’re closing in on the start of the new season, but the NHL rumours won’t stop. There’s plenty to talk about as we get ready for puck drop on Jan. 13. Teams are trying to finalize rosters for a season unlike any other. Today’s NHL rumours focus on the Ottawa Senators, Minnesota Wild and how many games the AHL season may be.
All NHL rumours are taken from the original source and are subject to change.
Rumour: Elliotte Friedman’s 31 Thoughts column revealed the Senators were interested in Tyler Toffoli.
#31 Thoughts podcast: News of the day and good interview with @jordansubban — who, among other topics, just launched @UjimaaInc to support BIPOC and women-owned businesses. Enjoy!https://t.co/UQjiI5aJh2
— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) January 8, 2021
Analysis: Toffoli was hoping to stay with the Vancouver Canucks after they got him at the deadline. However, the cap numbers didn’t work and the Montreal Canadiens signed him. Ottawa has a younger team, but their prospects are highly-regarded.
The Senators struggled last season, but should be a much tougher out this season. Head coach D.J. Smith and company didn’t want to just hand lineup spots to the younger players without a battle. The 31 Thoughts article did speculate on if the younger players would be unhappy if their playing time was limited by the veterans that came to the team.
Freidman said the team’s moves were interesting with picking up veteran goalie Matt Murray from the Pittsburgh Penguins. They also took in Cedric Paquette and Braydon Coburn from the Tampa Bay Lightning. Veteran centre Derek Stepan also was part of the team’s off-season makeover.
There should be more positivity with players like Tim Stutzle coming off a very good World Juniors for Team Germany. Toffoli would have been a good piece to add, but the Senators seem to be trending upward.
Rumour: Dane Mizutani of the Pioneer Press in the Twin Cities said that defenceman Mathew Dumba would love to stay with the Wild. However, Dumba added that hockey is a business and understands the rumours.
FEATURE: Matt Dumba became a target by standing up to racism. But he knows he’s not alone.
“Not anymore,” he said. “That’s the feeling we had when we were younger and the feeling we are trying to get rid of.”https://t.co/Ne8edsS7UD
— Dane Mizutani (@DaneMizutani) January 10, 2021
Analysis: Minnesota seems to have this thing with drawn out trade sagas and some of their more beloved players. The Jason Zucker ordeal springs to mind with his wife making a hilarious social media post about it all. Trades can be hard to pull off, but the prolonged drama can be a pain. The Regina, Saskatchewan native understands that and praised the transparency between him and Minnesota general manager Bill Guerin.
Dumba’s name has been at the centre of rumours for a few months, but he’s still with the Wild at this point. He is in the third year of a contract that sees him making $6 million per season. His modified no-trade clause kicks in at the start of the next season for the final two years of his deal. Guerin may have a harder time moving him with that NTC coming into effect.
The Wild have defencemen like Ryan Suter, Jonas Brodin and new captain Jared Spurgeon all with at least five years left on their respective deals. Guerin will have to worry about who he exposes in the Seattle Kraken expansion draft and Dumba might be available.
2020-21 AHL Season
Rumour: Tony Androckitis of Inside AHL hockey talked to Syracuse Crunch owner Howard Dolgon about the upcoming season. The Crunch owner said schedule could be around 32 games. However, that number may fluctuate.
— Tony Androckitis (@TonyAndrock) January 10, 2021
Analysis: There’s already been movement with three teams opting out this season. Some clubs like the Binghamton Devils will move their operations to their Newark, N.J. to be close to their parent club New Jersey Devils. Dolgon said the Crunch would play 32 games, but the Lehigh Valley Phantoms said they were playing a 38-game slate.
It has to be hard for the owners of some of these teams like the Crunch, who will have limited to no fans at their respective arenas. The AHL is more of a gate-driven league than the NHL and doesn’t have the big television rights deal. Some teams are going to feel a big financial strain by going forward with a season.
However, it will be nice for some of these markets to finally get hockey after nearly a year of going without it. The league will also likely have strict COVID-19 protocols in place.