It’s Monday and it’s time to start off the week with another edition of NHL rumours. We’re coming off the fallout of the big swap between the Columbus Blue Jackets and Winnipeg Jets. The league is also trying to figure out how draft the upcoming crop of talent despite many having limited seasons. This edition of NHL rumours focuses on the Patrik Laine extension talks, this year’s draft format and the New Jersey Devils.
All NHL rumours come from the original source and are subject to change.
Columbus Blue Jackets
Rumour: Aaron Portzline of The Athletic said that Blue Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen is already working on extension for Laine.
#CBJ Jarmo Kekalainen said he’s already had preliminary talks with Patrik Laine about a contract extension and establishing a long-term relationship. More serious talks to follow.
— Aaron Portzline (@Aportzline) January 23, 2021
Analysis: It may be some time before Laine can get on the ice thanks to COVID-19 regulations crossing the border. Pierre-Luc Dubois will also have to deal with the same procedure coming to Winnipeg. It makes sense to try to iron out a deal while the team waits for the Finn to be cleared.
Kekalainen already inked Jack Roslovic to a two-year contract extension, so that’s been taken care of. It also makes sense that the Columbus GM tries to sign Laine so he doesn’t have any long, drawn out negotiations like other RFAs.
The 22-year-old makes $6.75 million this season and is hoping to land a long-term, big-money deal. Columbus does have some decisions it needs to make about the future and how they can squeeze Laine into their budget.
Another factor is how the young star gets along with head coach John Tortorella. Previous stars like Artemi Panarin, Sergei Bobrovsky and Duchene have all left. Those three did leave for bigger paydays, but the coach can be fiery and demand the most from his players. However, Tortorella will be glad to have someone like Laine on his team if he can produce.
Rumour: Sportnet’s Chris Johnston on Saturday’s Hockey Night in Canada Headlines segment said the league is interested in doing something to showcase draft-eligible prospects.
Headlines: Big trade/Mete/TOR forwards/2021 Draft (any changes must be negotiated with NHLPA)https://t.co/V87PWEtmeC
— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) January 24, 2021
Analysis: It’s been a tough go for many of these players who haven’t been able to play in their respective junior leagues. Only the QMJHL, the NCAA and some European leagues have been playing. Many of the higher-end prospects got to take part in the World Juniors in Edmonton, but others have been idle during the pandemic. Many haven’t played since the 2019-20 season was halted in mid-March.
Some leagues are hoping to play in the next couple of months, but that may not be enough. A tournament could be viewed by scouts at a safe distance and it would get eyes on these players.
Elliotte Friedman also stated that some teams are looking to have the draft moved to December instead of the tentative late July date. The 2020 NHL Draft was slated for late June, but was moved back to October. Friedman said that these are preliminary ideas coming from teams and sent to the league.
New Jersey Devils
Rumours: Corey Masisak of The Athletic said the Devils won’t be in the market for a backup goalie Mackenzie Blackwood.
Super-sized #NJDevils mailbag:
– Early reviews of Smith, Sharangovich, special teams
– Who's out when Hischier/Bratt are in
– Problems to fix
– What is this team's ceiling
– Comparing Holtz to other high-end Swedish forwards
– Lots more https://t.co/Xs0omIhJSQ
— Corey Masisak (@cmasisak22) January 24, 2021
Analysis: The Devils did claim Aaron Dell off waivers from the Toronto Maple Leafs to be the backup. Scott Wedgewood can be used as a third option if there are any injury concerns. Dell got claimed after the sudden retirement of Corey Crawford, who was going to split time with Blackwood.
There will be an interesting situation in goal as Dell, Wedgewood, Eric Comrie, Gilles Senn and Evan Cormier are all free agents this summer. Comrie, Senn and Cormier are all restricted free agents and can be qualified. The Devils are still looking for their future backup and Senn might be that guy if he plays well in the AHL.