NHL Rumours: Montreal Canadiens, Toronto Maple Leafs and New Jersey Devils

NHL Rumours
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Welcome to the Tuesday edition of NHL Rumours! We are quickly approaching the trade deadline as the action continues to heat up on and off the ice. Who knows what to expect once the April 12th trade deadline comes, but one thing is for certain it will be eventful either way. Be sure to keep your eyes glued to the Last Word on Hockey for all the latest information and analysis. In today’s NHL Rumours we look at the Montreal Canadiens, Toronto Maple Leafs, and New Jersey Devils.

NHL Rumours

Montreal Canadiens

Rumour: Pierre LeBrun of TSN and The Athletic says the Montreal Canadiens are in the market for a puck-moving defenceman and two names that could fit the bill are Mattias Ekholm and Alex Goligoski.

Analysis: The Canadiens despite winning the off-season have been struggling. Though they got over their overtime woes, their defence is not what it used to be especially with the loss of Ben Chiarot. General manager Marc Bergevin has to look to upgrade his top-4 and one name that fits the bill is Mattias Ekholm of the Nashville Predators. Ekholm is the biggest prize at the trade deadline this season, especially on defence. The Canadiens could use a player like him. Considering Ekholm eats a lot of minutes and his puck-moving ability is very underrated. While rookie defenceman Alexander Romanov has looked good this season, he still needs time to adjust to the NHL. Adding a veteran like Ekholm can take some of the pressure of Romanov.

Ekholm is the ideal fit for the Canadiens, but the big thing is the quarantine restrictions coming into the North Division. There is no changing the 14-day quarantine rule. This means if the Canadiens did trade for Ekholm, they need to do it in the next couple of weeks, not on April 12th. That way they have Ekholm for the stretch run to the playoffs. Alex Goligoski of the Arizona Coyotes is being thrown out there too. But he is a little bit more expensive. Regardless of whom the Canadiens trade for they will need to make cap room.

Toronto Maple Leafs

Rumour: Darren Dreger of TSN said on the Instigators Podcast that Toronto Maple Leafs forward Zach Hyman could get in the $5 million – $5.5 million range at free agency. Something the Maple Leafs can’t afford.

Analysis: Hyman is the perfect fit for the Maple Leafs especially playing alongside Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner. Hyman is not a fancy player by any means. But he will outwork and will win puck battles allowing his linemates to show off their skill. He has been with the Maple Leafs since 2015 when his rights were acquired in a trade. Considering the identity the Maple Leafs want to play with losing a guy like Hyman will be a tough blow. Especially if he is commanding over $5 million. Currently, Hyman is making $2.250 million this season. This season Hyman has 20 points (11 goals and nine assists) in 30 games. So he is due for a pay raise.

The big thing for Hyman, does he want to take the money free-agency offers him or try to win in Toronto by taking a discount? We know the Maple Leafs are in salary cap purgatory. So in order to keep Hyman, they will have to rearrange their books a little bit. They do have some money coming off this season with Frederik Andersen, Joe Thornton, Jason Spezza, and Wayne Simmonds all free-agents. However, the team will need to sign a goalie, so there is not much left for Hyman on the table without trading someone else. Considering how well Hyman fits the system, the Maple Leafs have to figure out a way to keep him, especially for chemistry in the locker room.

New Jersey Devils

Rumour: Larry Brooks of the New York Post writes that the New Jersey Devils could move defenceman P.K. Subban to a contending team by retaining about half of his salary next season. 

Analysis: With the trade deadline approaching all sorts of names start to get thrown out in the rumour mill. However, a guy like Subban has had his name in trade rumours for most of the season. Subban is focusing his attention more on the ice and it has shown. He is quietly putting together a good season. Subban is fifth on the team in points with 14 (three goals and 11 assists). And that is not saying much for a Devils team that is rebuilding. But for Subban whose game has been on the decline, he is showing he can still play in the league especially when a lot of people doubted him.

Is he the player he once was in Montreal or Nashville? No, but he is still effective out there. And with contending teams needing help on the right side, he could go to a team where he is not the focal point of the defence. Subban could slot into the second pair and not eat as many minutes. As it stands right now, Subban is on the top pair for the Devils, playing against the other teams’ top lines. Not to mention he has a rocket of a shot and which will help a contending team, especially on their power play. While the $9 million salary-cap hit might scare some teams away. If the Devils retain 50 percent or more, a team might just bite on it.

That does it for this edition of NHL Rumours. Be sure to check out Wednesday’s edition too.

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