Welcome back to another edition of NHL Rumours from the crew at Last Word on Hockey. The league has been dealing with a lot of postponed games recently due to COVID protocols. All the postponements so far have come south of the border as teams deal with multiple players being placed on the COVID protocol list. Most recently we saw the cancellation of the Washington Capitals vs Philadelphia Flyers game that was scheduled for Tuesday night. However, that doesn’t have any impact on this edition of NHL Rumours as we will be focusing on the North Division in this segment. Today’s rumours surround the Toronto Maple Leafs, Montreal Canadiens and Vancouver Canucks.
All NHL Rumours come from their original source and are subject to change.
Toronto Maple Leafs
Analysis: As Fox mentions, a deal for Bennett would be extremely complicated given the Leafs’ cap situation. However, Bennett is exactly the type of player the Leafs need in their lineup. Especially with the recent injury to Wayne Simmonds. The 24-year-old is in desperate need of a change of scenery. Bennett hasn’t been able to live up to his fourth overall selection in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft. His career-high in scoring came in his rookie season where he scored 18 goals and 36 points. However, he hasn’t managed to reach the 30 point mark since.
Bennett has spent the majority of his time in Calgary in the bottom six, which could factor into his lower point totals. However, he has recently been moved onto the top line next to Sean Monahan and Johnny Gaudreau. It will be interesting to see how this affects him over the course of the next few games.
For the Leafs, Bennett would be a solid addition to the lineup. As mentioned, Simmonds could miss up to six weeks due to a broken wrist. So bringing in a player who players with an edge much like Simmonds would be excellent for a Leafs lineup that doesn’t have a ton of sandpaper type players. However, his upside is much greater than Simmonds.
Bennett is just 24-years-old. He still has room to improve and given the right opportunity, he could flourish. He provides more upside than a player like Zach Hyman as well, who also plays that gritty style of game. Throwing Bennett into the Leafs’ top six would be a huge addition to a club that is already sitting at the top of their division. Fox mentions that Dubas has shown interest, so if he can figure out the cap, which he has done beautifully over his tenure, we could see a move within the division real soon.
Rumour: Speaking of Sam Bennett, in a tweet from Sportsnet’s Nick Alberga, he states that as of right now, the Canadiens do not have interest in Sam Bennett.
For what it’s worth, I’m told Montreal has zero interest in Sam Bennett.. at least right now.
— Nick Alberga (@thegoldenmuzzy) February 4, 2021
Analysis: This shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone, despite rumours of Marc Bergevin being interested in Bennett in the past. The Canadiens have a ton of depth at the forward position as it is, so making a move for Bennett would only complicate things further. As it stands, they already have Michael Frolik sitting on the taxi squad waiting to play his first game with his new club and Corey Perry only managed to get into the lineup after an injury to Joel Armia, who is back at practice and soon set to make his return. The Canadiens will already have a difficult decision on their hands, as Perry has been a welcome addition to the lineup and has earned his spot on the everyday roster with his solid play.
Not to mention, the club is on fire to start the season. Montreal currently sits second in the North Division with a record of 8-2-2. Making a move now to shake up the roster certainly wouldn’t be necessary with the success of the team. That’s without even mentioning the cap hit Bennett brings along with him. Any move to acquire Bennett would require them to send back a significant piece of their roster. One, to stay cap compliant and two, because the Flames are looking to contend this season as well. They’re not selling off pieces to rebuild, so any deal for Bennett will be a hockey deal. And a deal involving the Canadiens just doesn’t make sense right now.
Analysis: All the rumours surrounding the Canucks lately have been about Jake Virtanen. So hearing Gaudette’s name pop up is something new. Gaudette has struggled out of the gates scoring just two goals in the first 12 games this season. This, after putting up a solid sophomore season that saw him score 12 goals and 33 points in 56 games. There was a lot of promise surrounding Gaudette as he entered the league. However, he hasn’t quite lived up to the expectations yet. There’s still time obviously, but the Canucks don’t seem to want to wait. They made the gifted forward a healthy scratch for Saturday’s game against the Maple Leafs, however, he drew back into the lineup on Monday failing to register a point in 11:04 minutes of ice time.
As Kevin Bieksa pointed out, the Canucks are just fun to play against right now. They’re sitting second in goals for in the league, however, they are first in goals against. They also don’t have much in terms of grit, so teams do not have to worry about getting hit all over the ice when playing the Canucks. They can just go in and play their game. Which makes the Canucks easy to play against.
The other issue the Canucks face is they need a shake-up now, not later. Any trade they make outside the division requires the team to wait 14 days before they can use whatever player they would acquire in a trade. This limits the Canucks options. They may have to wait it out and try to see if Gaudette or Virtanen can wake up. If not, maybe they can find a suitor in their division.