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NHL Rumours: Buffalo Sabres, Montreal Canadiens, Toronto Maple Leafs

NHL Rumours

Welcome back to NHL Rumours! We’re rapidly approaching the deadline, and teams are starting to fall into place in the standings. As we approach April 12th, teams will be shipping players left and right. Make sure to keep your eyes on Last Word on Hockey to get all the news and updates.

NHL Rumours

Buffalo Sabres

Rumour: Elliotte Friedmn spoke on WGR550, saying that he thinks the lack of compete in the Sabres lineup will impact any trade value. This is especially true for Taylor Hall, who Friedman says probably wouldn’t fetch a first round pick right now.

Analysis: The Buffalo Sabres have looked… bad. Really bad. They are on a 16-game losing streak and with their pace of play, there’s no end in sight. NHL stars Jack Eichel and Taylor Hall have looked slow, lazy, and aren’t scoring because of it. They both have two goals each. And Friedman says this lethargy is going to cost the organization. It’s no secret that NHL rumours are swirling around the Sabres. This has spilled over into the Sabres fanbase, who have begun debating what a trade involving Eichel or Hall could bring in.

If this rumour persists into the private-side of hockey business, there’s no doubt teams would be chomping at the bits for Hall. He’s struggled massively this season but he is only one year removed from a modest 66 point-pace. He scored 37 points in 33 games in 2018-19 as well, before injury pulled him from play. The year before that he won the Hart Trophy. The point is, Hall is a good player with a successful track record. He is in the latter half of a one-year contract. If a team could reel in his talents for less than a first-round pick, Hall might be one of the most cost-effective rentals of all time.

Montreal Canadiens

Rumour: Chris Johnston of Sportsnet reported that Marc Bergevin has announced he doesn’t have any plans for the Montreal Canadiens Trade Deadline.

Analysis: This might come as a bit of a let-down for Habs fans. The team is in decent need of a left-defenceman to round out their top-four. Jeff Petry and Brett Kulak have continued to dominate as a pairing but finding the right man for Shea Weber is a bit of a tougher challenge.

But Mattias Ekholm is being very heavily rumoured to be on the trade block. And his price tag is modest, with rumours claiming a deal would look similar to the Jake Muzzin trade from a few years ago. That’s to say a First Round pick and a couple of modest young players. That’s not a terribly expensive deal, especially for two years of Ekholm, who only has a $3.75 million cap hit.

But Marc Bergevin isn’t very interested, shutting down NHL rumours in their track. The Canadiens only have roughly $800,000 in cap space right now and would need to make space with any potential deal. There are a handful of Habs with cap hits around that of Ekholm’s this season, including Paul Byron‘s $3.4 million and Joel Edmundson‘s $3.5 million.

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Toronto Maple Leafs

Rumour: In his latest 31 Thoughts, Elliotte Friedman said that the Toronto Maple Leafs have sent feelers around the league, looking at potential goalie trades. They’ve looked into the Arizona Coyotes goalies and Jonathan Quick, who is close with Jack Campbell.

Analysis: Frederik Andersen is struggling. Evolving Hockey’s goaltender GSAx stat (goals-saved-above-expected) argues that, in the last month, only six goalies have struggled more than Andersen.

The Leafs have been saved by Jack Campbell, who ranks fifth-best in the league in GSAx over the last month. However, they’re still faced with plenty of goaltender drama. With a team as talented as this year’s Leafs, there’s not a whole lot of room for any sort of doubt. Dubas clearly agrees as he’s sent out flyers, trying to find a good fit to platoon with Jack Campbell.

But, as Friedman argues, the list of true-upgrades over Andersen isn’t very extensive. Sure he’s struggled over the last month but Andersen has still done right by the Leafs organization. Friedman says that Dubas doesn’t want to involve himself in any sort of trade that isn’t a clear boost from their current goaltending situation. That could exclude most of the players on the open market, including Jonathan Quick in Friedman’s eyes.

Still, there are plenty of names that Dubas will surely take a look at. Arizona’s Darcy Kuemper has two years left of a $4.5 million cap hit and his backup, Antti Raanta, is finishing the final year of his deal, with a $4.25 million cap hit. The Coyotes could be the team to look at come the April 12th deadline. With two highly-talented, relatively cheap goalies, and a need for help at centre, they may be the perfect team to take in Alex Kerfoot in exchange for a goalie.

Thank you for reading today’s edition of NHL Rumours!

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