Hello and welcome to a Sunday edition of NHL rumours! There isn’t much team news right now, but that doesn’t mean everything is quiet. The hockey world still has plenty of things happening to ponder and review. Today’s NHL rumours feature the Montreal Canadiens, CHL, Artem Anisimov, and Elias Pettersson.
Rumour: John Shannon recently clarified comments from the OHL’s commissioner regarding a special CHL prospect league prior to the 2021 Draft.
Follow-up what OHL Commissioner Dave Branch mentioned on @mccownpodcast, a potential of “Top Prospect” Tourney…3 teams from the 3 CHL Leagues…would include a partial NHL Combine, and possible player interviews by the teams…Looking like late June in Edmonton.
— John Shannon (@JShannonhl) April 22, 2021
Analysis: Demand for any prospect information will be high as the 2021 Draft approaches. None of the Canadian junior leagues had anything resembling a normal year and the Ontario League didn’t compete at all. It would be impossible for teams to accurately pick players without any sort of player information.
And while it’s certainly possible for the CHL and NHL to have a partial combine, it may not be very extensive. The pandemic continues to wreak havoc on hockey. The Vancouver Canucks have only just recently returned to play after a very long hiatus. Canada as a nation lags behind the United States in vaccinations as well. It’s unclear from this initial concept if U.S. personnel would be allowed to attend a combine of CHL players if such an event is in Canada or how Canadians would be housed in the States. None of this means nothing will take place; the league has far too much competitive incentive to not try to provide teams with player data, but there are many things to consider if this indeed takes place.
Rumour: Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet has recently heard conflicting reports regarding Artem Animismov’s future in the NHL.
Some reports today about OTT C Artem Anisimov going to KHL after this season…agent Todd Diamond denies: “His only focus is to continue his career in the NHL.”
— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) April 23, 2021
Analysis: He may not like it, but Anisimov might have almost no market for his services after 2020-21. The 32-year-old forward has just two goals and eight points in 18 games for the Ottawa Senators. The .15 points per game is the lowest of Anisimov’s career outside of his one-game debut in 2008-09. More alarming is the Corsi For of 45.6 percent and -3.2. It doesn’t look great to have the worst season of a career on a Senators team in last place.
However, it’s impossible to rule out the possibility that Anisimov will secure a job for 2021-22. Despite his lack of stats, there will always be room for a 6’4″ skater with Anisimov’s experience. He won’t be particularly expensive, which is very helpful in a world where the cap remains flat at $81.5 million. The Seattle expansion draft will also create opportunities for veteran skaters as the league’s newest team fills its roster. Anisimov may have more of a market in Russia, but a veteran with over 700 NHL games will still have some value to a rebuilding team. He should still be a fine bottom-six performer if expectations are kept low.
Rumour: The Sportsnet team reported via its Saturday Headlines segment that Elias Pettersson will not return for the Vancouver Canucks.
Analysis: It is highly unlikely that Vancouver would have made the postseason with Pettersson’s return, but his absence almost guarantees they miss it. The Canucks have won two of three since returning from an extended COVID-related layoff, but it just isn’t a deep or talented enough roster to outpace both the Calgary Flames and the Montreal Canadiens with so few games left. It is safer to begin working towards the 2021-22 roster.
That leads to an interesting conversation regarding Pettersson’s next contract. There is no doubt that the fifth overall pick from 2017 is an electric talent, but missing roughly half of a shortened season going into restricted free agency damages what little leverage he had. Most teams could succeed in offering Pettersson a cheaper contract knowing that other teams might not offer sheet an injured player.
The good thing for Pettersson is that Vancouver is not most teams. This is an organization that takes very good care of its players from a financial perspective, even to the point of vastly overpaying bottom-six players. That could mean Pettersson receives a sizeable raise regardless of the setback in 2020-21. This is still a player who has 65 goals and 153 points in 165 games with a Calder Trophy to his name. The Canucks can’t and shouldn’t anger their star young player as any hurt feelings from this contract negotiation could spill over as he reaches unrestricted free agency. It’s always worth respecting a player of Pettersson’s talent despite injury.