March has finally arrived and the NHL rumours are picking up. We’re moving towards the April 12 trade deadline, but the COVID-19 pandemic makes everything uncertain. Money is tighter, so teams will be careful on when or if they make moves. Today’s NHL rumours focus on the Vancouver Caucks, New York Islanders and Columbus Blue Jackets.
All NHL rumours come from the original source and are subject to change.
Rumour: Eric Stephens of The Athletic reports that a deal between the Canucks and Anaheim Ducks for Jake Virtanen for Danton Heinen fell through. This was also mentioned in Satuday’s Headlines segment.
Headlines: Scary title this week, but as we recorded this — ANA/VAN deal was stymied. Also: Matthews, Draft and with NHL-NHLPA-Alumni looking into @nba_topshot, an attempt at explaining what it is https://t.co/1xyoAwvzhP
— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) February 28, 2021
Analysis: The main sticking point is Virtanen’s real money goes up from $1.7 million to $3.4 million next season. Heinen’s deal expires at the end of this campaign and the Ducks want the Canucks to take on some of Virtanen’s salary. Heinen is in the last of a two-year deal that carries a $2.8 million cap hit. Virtanen’s AAV is $2.55 million, but the base jumps up to $3 million and total goes up to $3.4 million according to Capfriendly.
Stephens added the deal is likely dead because Vancouver won’t eat $800,000 in salary. The trade is at least shelved for now, and there’s little chance of being revived.
The Canucks seem to be cutting their loses with the young winger and are trying to shake things up in the lineup. Vancouver is five points out of the last playoff spot in the North Division and needs to do something if they want to make the post-season. The 24-year-old has only one goal and isn’t producing like he did from last season’s 18-goal campaign.
New York Islanders
Rumour: The Athletic’s Arthur Staple speculated on what Adam Pelech‘s next deal will look like.
What is Adam Pelech worth to the Islanders? League sources debate his next deal https://t.co/CPkcZAwE3x
— Arthur Staple (@StapeAthletic) February 23, 2021
Analysis: Pelech will still be a restricted free agent with arbitration rights and one year away from becoming an unrestricted free agent. He currently carries a $1.6 million cap hit in the last year of his current deal and will be looking to cash in with a big contract.
The 26-year-old has become a shutdown defender for the Isles and leads the team in ice time along with Nick Leddy. Pelech plays 18:45 a game and is reliable on the penalty kill as well. Ice time plays a factor in defenceman contract negotiations like points would for a forward. The Isles are also a team that prides itself on shutting down teams and playing solid defence.
Staple used a salary range that had Colton Parayko ($5.5 million) on the high end and MacKenzie Weegar ($3.25 million) on the low end. Pelech would fall into a range that includes Weegar and Brett Pesce at $4.025 million. One agent did state that Pelech is better than Parayko and Jaccob Slavin ($5.3 million) and the Islanders may want to buy up when the cap number goes up again.
Columbus Blue Jackets
Rumour: The Athletic’s Aaron Portzline reports that general manager Jarmo Kekalainen won’t dismiss head coach John Tortorella unless it’s a last resort.
— Aaron Portzline (@Aportzline) March 1, 2021
Analysis: Portzline mentioned the status after a fourth straight loss, which has now swelled to five consecutive losses. The Montreal Canadiens fired Claude Julien after he went 2-4-1 in a recent stretch. Columbus is trying to play with a reshuffled lineup that now has Nick Folingo playing centre.
Kekalainen is someone willing to make a big move, but does think firing the winningest and longest-serving Columbus coach is a last resort. Tortorella is also in the final year of his contract and is not worried about his job status.
It’s always a trend that things don’t usually end well for Tortorella in his coaching stops. There’s usually initial success, but the ends aren’t the most pleasant. The margin for error is a lot tighter in a 56-game schedule and there were plenty of expectations for a team that’s made the playoffs four seasons in a row.