NHL Rumours: Vancouver Canucks, Boston Bruins, Buffalo Sabres

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Welcome back to another weekend edition of NHL Rumours with Last Word on Hockey. The 2021 Trade Deadline is now within sight, only five weeks away. Teams are beginning to heat up negotiations with expiring talent, and the trade market is beginning to heat up as well. Today’s set of rumours features some currently dysfunctional squads in the Vancouver Canucks and Buffalo Sabres, as well as the high-flying Boston Bruins.

NHL Rumours

Vancouver Canucks

Rumour: Per The Athletic’s Harman Dayal, Canucks general manager Jim Benning says he intends to re-sign winger Tanner Pearson.

Analysis: A 2014 Stanley Cup Champion with the Los Angeles Kings, Pearson has struggled mightily with inconsistency over the past few seasons. That bug has bitten him again this year, with only nine points in 27 games. After a career-high 45 points last season, Pearson isn’t putting points on the board. He’s completely pointless in his last five games.

Interestingly enough, some of his rawer possession numbers suggest he’s underperforming. His 49.1 percent Corsi for is actually his best since 2017-18, simultaneously, he’s seeing the highest defensive usage of his career (62.1 percent defensive zone starts). This suggests that if Pearson was placed in a more offensive role by his coach, his numbers could begin to rise again to make him a bit more valuable of an asset. With that said, it may not make a lot of sense to re-sign Pearson if Vancouver is intent on Travis Green being this team’s coach past this season.

Boston Bruins

Rumour: Per a piece in The Athletic by Scott Burnside, the Bruins might be a good fit for New Jersey Devils defender P.K. Subban if the deal is right.

Analysis: You’d have to have been living under a rock the past few seasons to not be aware of Subban’s recent struggles. Ever since being a Norris Trophy finalist in 2017-18 with the Nashville Predators, Subban’s point totals have dropped precipitously. Considering his cap hit of $9 million, these struggles are a real concern. But P.K. has shown signs of life this year. His eight points in 19 games would have him on pace for 35 points in a full year.

It’s not great, but it’s much better than his first season as a Devil. He was only on pace for 22. With New Jersey using him in a more defensive role than any team before him, the uptick in numbers is promising. With his Corsi numbers back over 50 percent and his value rising yet again, the Bruins could take a flyer on the ageing defenceman. The Devils would certainly need to retain a solid chunk of Subban’s salary, and the Bruins would need to clear some cap space (potentially Sean Kuraly‘s expiring contract), but Subban could be a boon to Boston’s Cup hopes this year.

Buffalo Sabres

Rumour: Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston relays that Sabres captain Jack Eichel has not requested a trade amid rumours that he could be on the market.

Analysis: Enough is enough, Sabres general manager Kevyn Adams stated today in a presser. With Eichel lagging in goal-scoring this season (only two in 19 games), many have suspected that another big shift could be taking place with this dysfunctional Buffalo organization.

Apparently, there’s something in the locker room and with the team that is leading Eichel to still have faith in the squad. Playing now in almost 400 games with Buffalo, the 24-year-old Eichel is beginning to enter his prime while still having never made the playoffs. Buffalo’s abhorrent start this year certainly isn’t doing those hopes any favours. With Buffalo potentially retaining him, they at least still have a superstar to construct a roster around. They’ve shown a stark inability to do so throughout Eichel’s tenure, however. The future remains remarkably uncertain.

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