Hello and welcome to a Thursday edition of NHL rumours! Both the postseason and offseason are very close to starting. That means plenty of talk about extensions, signings, and the draft. Last Word on Hockey remains committed to bringing you the best, so check in with us frequently for the latest news. Today’s NHL rumours feature the Arizona Coyotes, Vancouver Canucks, and New Jersey Devils.
Rumour: The latest 31 Thoughts from Sportsnet indicates that Arizona may be the frontrunner for Russian forward Dmitrij Jaskin‘s return.
31 Thoughts, enjoy!
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— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) April 27, 2021
Analysis: This could be a very smart move for Arizona. They do have several promising prospects, but lack the depth of many other organizations. Jaskin is a skater with over 300 NHL games of experience. The 6’2″ skater has also been very good with Dynamo Moscow in the KHL where he posted 38 goals and 60 points in 59 games during the regular season. Jaskin never scored more than 17 points in any season in North America, but he might have learned something since returning to Russia that has unlocked his potential.
The Coyotes could certainly afford to try Jaskin out as a middle-six forward for several seasons. He is just 28 years old and probably won’t cost too much despite his excellent production in Russia. Arizona has several potential spots opening up if neither Derick Brassard nor Michael Bunting returns after this season. The team could replace those two with young players, but Jaskin allows them to proceed more slowly.
It won’t be a surprise if other teams enter the mix either. The Chicago Blackhawks have mined the international market in recent years, most notably with Pius Suter for 2020-21. However, Chicago might have a packed roster going into 2021-22 with very few unrestricted free agents scheduled. The good thing is that even if Arizona does have competition, they have arguably one of the better situations for a free agent such as Jaskin given their general youth and upside.
Rumour: 31 Thoughts also speculates that Vancouver is about to seriously engage coach Travis Green about an extension.
Analysis: Retaining Green feels like a very smart thing to do. Yes, he has finished no higher than fourth since he became head coach in Vancouver in 2017-18. However, the front office has provided him with strange rosters and injuries have struck as well. Green seems to have done the best he can given the circumstances.
There is also a strong chance the team returns to prominence in 2021-22. Elias Pettersson and Michael Ferland should return healthy and join several other promising skaters. Those two in addition to Brock Boeser, Quinn Hughes and Nils Hoglander could be one of the better offensive units in the league. Shuffling the coaching staff with such a young core might do more harm than good from a development standpoint.
However, Green can’t afford to slip too much if he does receive a contract extension. The Canucks have a strong group of players that feel poised for a deep playoff run if everything goes just right. The front office might be to blame for some of the team’s struggles, but Green will be the first casualty if he stumbles next year.
New Jersey Devils
Rumour: The final rumour also speculates that Tom Fitzgerald could return as New Jersey’s general manager after this year.
Analysis: Fitzgerald has helped build a roster that could be very dangerous next season. Thanks to several high draft picks, New Jersey has one of the best young cores in hockey. The only active skater in the team’s top 10 in points over the age of 25 is Damon Severson.
Keeping Fitzgerald sets the organization up for further success if they are able to claim a top draft slot yet again. Since joining the team as an assistant general manager in July 2015, New Jersey has selected first overall twice. Plus they selected in the top 10 in 2020. Fitzgerald seems to have confidence in the scouting people around him. Comfort and stability are two key aspects of building a potential championship team and New Jersey’s GM seems to have done just that.
Keeping Fitzgerald also means that the team has one less worry on its mind as the expansion draft and free agency approach. The Devils do not have many players in danger of going to Seattle, but they do have a handful of restricted free agents to re-sign. Keeping one of the top decision-makers on the upswing of a rebuild is the right thing to in New Jersey’s current situation.
The real is does he want the job, he says he does, but will ownership give him the necessary direction to see his vision through.
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