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.
Rumour: TSN’s Shawn Simpson has said that now that Thatcher Demko is signed, the Vancouver Canucks may look to move Braden Holtby.
With Demko getting 5 x 5, Vancouver will be looking to move Holtby, who has another year at 4.3.
— Shawn Simpson (@TSNSimmer) March 31, 2021
Analysis: This is great news for Canucks fans. Not because Holtby has been terrible — although he’s not blowing anyone away — but Holtby is glued into the Canucks backup spot; a spot that should belong to Michael DiPietro. The neglect of DiPietro has been a hot topic among most of the Vancouver fanbase all year long. He’s a 21-year-old prospect that has looked strong in glimpses. But he clearly needs more time to round out the edges of his play.
But despite the need for incubation, the Canucks haven’t allowed DiPietro to play in a single hockey game this season. He has been on the team’s Taxi Squad all year, barred from AHL or NHL play. That could be a death sentence for such a young and promising goaltender. Moving Holtby should be a must for the Canucks, simply to open the door to DiPietro.
Columbus Blue Jackets
Rumour: TSN updated their Trade Bait board. Now in the top spot is Columbus Blue Jackets defenceman David Savard. Also a hot-topic name has been Nick Foligno.
Analysis: This isn’t a tremendous shock. Savard has been among the names in NHL rumours for some time now. But TSN’s Frank Seravalli says his, and Foligno’s, names have become more prominent in trade rumours after the Blue Jackets lost back-to-back games against the abysmal Detroit Red Wings. Columbus is 1-3-1 in their last five games.
Savard would be a modest addition for any contending team. He has a steep $4.25 million cap hit but is on a contract that’s set to expire after this season. He’s also 30, meaning his next contract may very well be his last. That could be a boost for some teams looking for lineup-consistency. A savvy general manager may also be able to work his age around to try and cheapen a pending deal.
But is Savard worth it? He scored his first goal since the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs on Wednesday and only has six points through 36 games. He’s also been fairly stagnant defensively. While not a total liability, it might be hard for some fans to get behind the idea of their favourite team acquiring Savard, especially given the cap hit he bears. Columbus should ship him out at any opportunity.
Rumour: Greg Wyshynski of ESPN says that Chris Driedger has become expendable now that the Florida Panthers have signed Spencer Knight.
Now that FLA signed Spencer Knight, pretty much cements that Chris Driedger isn't in future plans. I think they'd move him at the deadline and acquire a downgrade at backup. I wonder if someone interested in him as UFA that might try and get him in early, with intention to sign.
— Greg Wyshynski (@wyshynski) March 31, 2021
Analysis: This isn’t a shock at all. The Panthers have Sergei Bobrovsky and Driedger manning their NHL roles right now. But they also spent a First Round pick on Knight. And he’s lived up to the high bar that his Draft selection set. He was named a top-three finalist for both the Mike Ritcher Award as the NCAA’s top goalie and a top-three finalist for the Hobey Baker Award, as the NCAA’s MVP.
That’s impressive, especially for a goalie. Knight put up a terrific 0.932 save percentage this season, nearly matching the 0.931 he recorded in his freshman season last year. Dominance at the 2021 World Juniors Championship only solidified his worth. Knight is ready for some serious competition. And, by signing him to his first professional contract, the Panthers are showing they’re ready to give it to him.
This makes Driedger — a very, very talented goalie in his own right — expendable, though. But that could serve to benefit Florida. Driedger has consistently performed well, even alleviating all concerns from the team when Bobrovsky missed time early in the season. He’ll be a sought-after name come the Trade Deadline for sure. Among suitors could be the Toronto Maple Leafs, who are appearing everywhere in NHL rumours and are currently shopping for a goalie.