It’s another edition of our NHL rumours to start the work week. Teams still have plenty on their plate when it comes to their respective players and front offices. The trade deadline isn’t for a while, but teams are still working on roster moves. Today’s NHL rumours focus on the Vancouver Canucks, Montreal Canadiens and the Pittsburgh Penguins general manager search.
All NHL rumours come from the original source and are subject to change.
Rumour: Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston said dealing Jake Virtanen is a possibility to give him a fresh start. This came on Saturday’s Headlines segment.
Analysis: It’s been a long and drawn out soap opera between the Canucks and Virtanen. The season is slipping away and general manager Jim Benning would make a big statement by shaking up the roster with a deal. The winger has been in and out of the lineup and hasn’t found a place at times.
He still has plenty to bring to a club and there would be no shortage of suitors for his services. Vancouver thought they found the right mix when in the playoff bubble. However, the chemistry has slipped and the team is leaking goals at the moment. It also doesn’t help that Jacob Markstrom and Chris Tanev jumped over to the rival Calgary Flames.
There’s no margin for error in this 56-game season and trading the British Columbia native would jolt the club. Vancouver likely won’t catch the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Habs at the top of the division. However, they have to do something before the Winnipeg Jets and Edmonton Oilers pull away for the last two spots.
Rumour: Elliotte Friedman said the Pens are into their second round of general manager search on Saturday’s Headlines. Some names include Kevin Weekes, Mike Futa, Patrik Allvin, Ron Hextall and Mark Hunter.
— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) February 7, 2021
Analysis: There are more interesting names on the list like John Ferguson Jr., Jason Karmanos and Chris MacFarland. However, more names can be added to the list. Team owners Mario Lemieux and Ron Burkle want to move quickly into the next phase of the interviews.
Weekes would be the first black general manager in NHL history if selected. It would be a big step forward as the league tries to add more diversity. Futa has strongly put himself out there, including shilling himself on various programs on Canadian sports networks.
Ferguson Jr. would love another chance to redeem himself after the disastrous Tuukka Rask for Andrew Raycroft swap he did with the Leafs. Hextall did have some good drafts with the Philadelphia Flyers and has been part of the Los Angeles Kings front office.
Karmanos would be making a return to the organization after he was let go. Hunter missed out on the Leafs GM job in favour of Kyle Dubas and helped build the London Knights.
Rumour: Stu Cowan on the Montreal Gazzette said that Phillip Danault would love to stay with the club.
— Stu Cowan (@StuCowan1) February 6, 2021
Analysis: Cowan went on to say that Danault rejecting a contract offer was more likely him being unhappy with his role. Danault stated that his role and ice time are more important than money. He added that his attitude changed when the season started and he didn’t want burden the team.
He did turn down a six-year, $30 million contract offer over the summer. However, he’s been used in more situations by Claude Julien and the staff. Danualt has yet to score, but the Canadiens are locked in a race with the Maple Leafs for the North Division title.
There was concern that Nick Suzuki and Jesperi Kotkaniemi would take all the prime minutes at centre, but Julien has been able to balance his lines better this season. Danault is in the final year of a three-year, $3.083 million contract.