In the depths of a tumultuous NHL season, the business of hockey rolls along. Last Word on Hockey brings you today’s NHL Rumours. Today’s edition is largely managerial in nature, as the player movement has taken a bit of a backseat to front office fiascos. We turn an eye towards the Pittsburgh Penguins, Ottawa Senators, and New Jersey Devils today.
Rumour: Per The Athletic’s Rob Rossi, former goalie and current NHL Network analyst Kevin Weekes has made the shortlist in the Penguins’ general manager search.
A veteran of almost 350 NHL games, Weekes would be the unconventional candidate. It would be a rather large jump for him considering he’s never held a front-office role in the NHL. But Weekes has broken barriers everywhere he’s gone, and his hiring would signify a newfound willingness to breed new life into NHL organizations. Weekes’ broadcasting career would be the impetus for his hiring, as he’s displayed incredible knowledge of the game in a media role. It screams parallels to Avangard Omsk’s hiring of prominent journalist Igor Eronko in an assistant general manager role in the KHL last year. Notably, Weekes would also be the first Black general manager in NHL history. It would mark another step in the right direction in that regard.
Rumour: The Ottawa Senators are looking to trade newly acquired centre Derek Stepan after an extremely disappointing start to the season.
Analysis: Stepan had shown extreme signs of decline in Arizona, and they seem to only be continuing. His point totals the past three seasons dropped from 56 to 35 to 28, and now he’s got just three points in 10 games for the Sens.
While Stepan provides some veteran leadership, they can find that from players like Evgenii Dadonov and Erik Gudbranson. There are players like Logan Brown and Alex Formenton pushing for spots in the lineup. Stepan is taking time away from the younger talent that Ottawa is trying to develop.
Ottawa will likely take a loss on Stepan in a trade. They gave up a second-round pick for him but they’ll be unlikely to recoup that value now. A defensive centre at this point in his career, he’s best suited for a third- or fourth-line role. That’s hard to swallow considering his $6.5 million cap hit. Ottawa may now have to include a sweetener just to move the contract.
Coyotes fans rejoice.
New Jersey Devils
Rumour: The Athletic’s Corey Masisak theorizes that the Devils will not let interim general manager Tom Fitzgerald interview for the Penguins’ vacancy.
Analysis: Honestly, it’s a wonder why the Devils didn’t sign Fitzgerald to a longer term deal as general manager. He’s given the Devils nothing but promise and smart deals since his promotion. So it begs the question of why Fitzgerald has not come out and said anything about the position, to begin with. We know the Devils value Fitzgerald as a part of their organization. But do they see him as the long-term general manager of this team. And does he really want to be the general manager of the Devils? All legitimate questions. However, one thing is for sure you cannot knock what he did since taking over as general manager of the Devils.
Many people see Fitzgerald as a general manager in this league whether it will be long-term with the Devils or in another spot. He is just too good at what he does. And if the Devils were to let him go that would be a major blow to the organization. But it appears that ownership has big plans for Fitzgerald. After he is signed to a long-term deal with the team. However, we do not know what his official position will be. One thing is for sure the Devils are in good hands with Tom Fitzgerald as their general manager. He is doing things the right way and acquiring the assets so the Devils can be successful down the road. There is a reason why other teams want him.
That does it for this edition of NHL Rumours. Keep your eyes peeled for another edition this weekend.
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