Hello and welcome to a regular Sunday edition of NHL rumours with the playoffs and offseason approaching quickly! Teams are busy readying themselves for the postseason or what to do when the offseason begins. Continue to check in with Last Word on Hockey for the best news and analysis as time marches forward. Today’s NHL rumours feature the NHL Playoffs, Klim Kostin, and the Carolina Hurricanes.
Rumour: Sportsnet recently reported that the NHL is preparing plans in the event that cross-border travel is not possible for the 2020-21 playoffs.
Analysis: This situation will continue to be a hot topic until the Canadian government clarifies future travel rules. Something will have to happen if Canadian vaccination rates do not improve before a team is forced to play another from the United States. Nobody wants to see a bubble situation like last year, but it is still possible.
The smarter move might be the second scenario, the article outlines. That would mean a hub in the United States that includes a Canadian team. However, that probably excludes Canadian fans who are not vaccinated from attending. They would need to cross the border, attend a game, and then remain in the U.S. until the Canadian government clears them to return. That may not bother the teams themselves who have played without fans this year, but it would diminish the overall experience.
The good thing is that while the playoffs start soon, a Canadian team would not play a U.S. team until June. Of course, that is unless a bubble is formed. That would give the country that much more time to either vaccinate a suitable number of players, or determine a good alternative. It’s clear that this is a very fluid situation with no obvious solution right now.
Rumour: Last Word on Hockey’s Gabriel Foley recently spoke with sources close to Klim Kostin about the possibility of returning to Russia if he is sent to the AHL.
Analysis: Kostin would have serious cause to return to his home country if the St. Louis Blues do not see a future with him on its NHL roster. The team has failed to call its first-round pick from 2017 up to the NHL team despite several injuries to forwards during the course of the 2020-21 season.
That is somewhat odd considering that Kostin has been fairly solid in the KHL this year. He scored seven goals and 18 points in 43 games during the regular season. Then he contributed five and nine in 24 games during the postseason as Avangard Omsk won the league’s Gagarin Cup. It would seem, based on that solid production that Kostin doesn’t need the AHL to readjust to North America.
There should also be at least one roster spot opening up on the wing in 2021-22 that Kostin could claim in training camp. Several players including Mike Hoffman will reach free agency. That could mean St. Louis shuffles its roster enough that creates an opening for Kostin. It would be unfortunate for the promising Russian to return home, but he would have much more opportunity if he did.
Analysis: Carolina would have no reason not to acknowledge Brind’Amour’s wishes to have the rest of his staff receive new contracts. The staff has collectively refined Carolina into a very dangerous team. It is a team that currently leads the Central Division and is a strong threat to win the Stanley Cup. It doesn’t make sense to break that group up at this time.
However, last week’s 31 Thoughts indicated that some ownership groups want to address coaching salaries this offseason. That could mean an impasse between a coach deeply concerned about the people who help him succeed and an owner concerned with profit. It seems like a messy situation where the real losers are Carolina fans.
It feels unlikely that Brind’Amour won’t get his staff new contracts. But it is getting late in the year for a new extension. Several teams would pay significant money if the Ottawa native enters the coaching market. Both his hometown Senators and the Montreal Canadiens would love to have him lead their team starting in 2021-22. Hurricanes leadership needs to be very careful. They could derail a budding powerhouse if they are unwilling to spend the requested money.