NHL Rumours: Toronto Maple Leafs, Edmonton Oilers & Washington Capitals

NHL Rumours

The NHL season is in full swing. There are lots of moves being made still while each team figures out what is working and what isn’t for their roster. With lots of moving parts in the background, there are numerous NHL rumours as a result. Today we will be looking at NHL rumours surrounding the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Edmonton Oilers, and the Washington Capitals.

NHL Rumours

Toronto Maple Leafs

Rumour: Elliotte Friedman said on WGR550 that the Leafs have inquired about Linus Ullmark. The talks are preliminary and not serious, but with Frederik Andersen out the Leafs are looking into the goalie market.

Analysis: The Leafs goaltending has been a contentious subject so far this season. With Frederik Andersen injured for an unknown amount of time at this point, the Leafs need to locate some goaltending help. While the net seems to be Jack Campbell‘s to lose, the Leafs need some serious improvement. While Campbell has played well to date, it’s still unknown if this can be a long-term solution.

If Andersen is out long-term (or if the Leafs decide to move on this season without him) the Leafs need some help in the net. Currently, the Leafs have Michael Hutchinson as their backup. He’s seen some ups and downs this season. Playing like two different goalies in his game against Edmonton vs his game against Ottawa. It’s not a stretch to say that Leaf fans don’t trust him in net. This is where Linus Ullmark could come into play.

It would seem like Ullmark has faired reasonably well, especially considering he plays for Buffalo. But he actually has a negative goals-saved above expected, especially struggling with high danger shots. There could be something the underlying metrics aren’t capturing, as Ullmark still has a 0.920 save percentage this week, but it seems he can’t make big saves. This mimics Frederik Andersen. He could potentially see an increase in quality of play in fewer games in a backup role. If the Leafs want to go out and acquire Ullmark, though, it should be to fill in for an injury, not to swap out for Andersen hoping for a significant upgrade.

Edmonton Oilers

Rumour: According to Frank Seravalli on Insider Trading, the Oilers and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins are not close to a new contract for the forward. The team proposed a 5-year contract and it “wasn’t flattering”.

Analysis: This is a difficult situation for the Oilers to navigate. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins is very clearly the Oilers third best forward. While he isn’t a strong defensive player, his offence more than off-sets that quality of play. He’s a player that the Oilers need to keep, or will need to fill the hole of. Because if he leaves, they will feel the effects of it.

However, in a world with a flat cap, it becomes difficult to find that price point. The Oilers have a lot of money tied up in players that are worse than Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, but what matters is what they can afford right now. If this were an 82 game season, he’d be on pace for his third straight 60+ point year. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins seemingly wants to get what he thinks he’s worth. And rightfully so. It’s his chance for the biggest payday of his career. If he isn’t leaping at a 5-year deal that was recently offered, he clearly has a higher number in mind. Many teams across the NHL would leap at the chance to add a forward like Nugent-Hopkins, especially if they have the cap space.

It seems like both sides want to find a match, however. While they’re not close now, they will keep working on a deal. This should provide Oilers fans with some comfort since it seems Nugent-Hopkins likes it in Edmonton.

Washington Capitals

Rumour: Tarik El-Bashir of The Athletic lists Riley Nash and Mikael Granlund, among others, as potential trade targets for the Washington Capitals leading into the NHL Trade Deadline.

Analysis: Based on these names, it seems the Capitals want to get better defensive forwards. While Luke Glendening is also listed, he seems to be overrated defensively by the vast majority because of his strong faceoff numbers. Granlund and Nash have both historically had good defensive numbers, Nash is definitely having the better season in 2020-21. The advantage of Granlund, however, is that he is able to contribute offensively more than Nash. While Nash thrives on the penalty kill, Granlund seems to struggle there.

While there are definite benefits to both, Nash seems to be the better option based on the perceived archetype of the players listed. He has been excellent, both historically and this season, defensively. He thrives on the penalty kill, and he has a lower cap hit than Granlund. If the Capitals believe Granlund can bounce back defensively on a better team, he may be easier to rip away from the Predators than they would be able to with the Blue Jackets and Nash.

This concludes today’s NHL rumours!

 

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