Hello and welcome to a Sunday edition of NHL rumours! The league is remains very active despite some teams not playing recently.. teams are busy adjusting rosters and just trying to survive the sprint that is the 2020-21 season. Last Word on Hockey is committed to bringing you the best analysis each day as events occur. Todays NHL rumours feature the Pittsburgh Penguins, Detroit Red Wings, and Vancouver Canucks.
Analysis: Trading Crosby would be a huge move for multiple reasons. It would signify a partial rebuild for the Penguins and immediately boost his new team’s Stanley Cup chances. Pittsburgh is an older team, so moving Crosby would make them younger and less expensive as it enters an era with Ron Hextall as the general manager.
There is no doubt that the 33-year-old Crosby can still produce at a high level. He is tied for the lead in scoring with four goals and 10 points in 12 games. That is despite being at an age where some players, even elite ones, can start to experience a drop in production. However, all the numbers still look great for the first overall pick from 2005. His scoring rate is still a solid 0.83 points per game and a 59.9 percent Corsi For is the highest in his career. The same is true for Crosby’s 8.6 relative Corsi. Any team would love to have him, even if he does carry a cap hit of $8.7 million for four more seasons.
That probably means that Pittsburgh takes back a big contract in any potential trade scenario. Very few teams have that level of flexibility while also being a championship contender. One possible trade partner could be the Colorado Avalanche. The Avs could consider upgrading from Nazem Kadri to improve their championship probability. The Pens would also take a hard look at goalie prospect like Justus Annunen given their struggles in the net this year. It would not be cheap to acquire Crosby’s talent, but the pieces exist if both parties are interested.
Detroit Red Wings
Analysis: Detroit absolutely needs to be involved in most situations involving young available players. They have one of the thinnest NHL rosters and a large number of expiring contracts. They have 10 players scheduled to enter unrestricted free agency on the NHL roster alone.
Three of those are on the blueline along with two pending restricted free agents. Top prospect Moritz Seider will probably fill one of those, but a defender like Mete seems like a perfect addition to a defensive group that should look very different in 2021-22. It’s not hard to imagine the 22-year-old taking a spot on the team’s top-four next to Filip Hronek. That combination would give Detroit a promising right-handed/left-handed pair at the top of their defence.
Detroit also has plenty of capital in-hand to try and entice Montreal. They have two extra second-round picks and one extra third in the 2021 Draft. The Canadiens currently have 14 picks for the upcoming draft, so they might instead want Detroit’s extra fourth-rounder in 2022 and a prospect instead. The Red Wings have such an enviable situation. Their prospect pool is deep and their accumulated draft picks are such that they can easily acquire a player like Mete. They wouldn’t interrupt their rebuild trajectory either.
Rumour: Canucks Chairman Francesco Aquilini is on the record as not advocating for any significant changes to the front office despite Vancouver’s unsatisfying year.
I have full confidence in Jim, Travis, and this group. I have no plans to make changes. #WeAreAllCanucks
— Francesco Aquilini (@fr_aquilini) February 14, 2021
Analysis: General manager Jim Benning probably appreciates a vote of confidence from his team’s chairman. He has been criticized at times for his decisions regarding free agents and inability to build a consistent winner in the Pacific Division. The Canucks have an expensive and unproductive bottom-six that has seriously hampered them this year, especially.
However, Benning also has an eye for talent. He can claim credit for drafts that brought Elias Pettersson and Nils Hoglander to the organization. Hoglander is particularly exciting as one of the league’s top contenders for the 2020-21 Calder Trophy with three goals and seven points in 17 games. He has some draft misses, but every general manager has that regardless of how long they do the job.
The real question Vancouver’s ownership needs to ask itself is if Benning is the right man to right the ship. The current front office has a prime opportunity to partially rebuild the roster. They have contracts for Brandon Sutter and Alexander Edler about to expire. Those two alone would give the Canucks just over $10 million to improve. The roster is young enough that they don’t need to blow things up, but Benning has to execute after this season is over.
That’s it for NHL rumours for now, be sure to catch the next edition!