NHL Rumours: Montreal Canadiens and New Jersey Devils

NHL Rumours

Welcome to the Wednesday edition of NHL Rumours as the expansion draft is here. With all eyes on the Seattle Kraken, there are other names out there being talked about heading into the NHL Draft and Free agency. Teams are trying to position themselves to make the playoffs next year or at least be contenders. Then there are others going in a different direction and trying to move players to change the culture. As news continues to break, keep locked on Last Word on Hockey. Today’s NHL Rumours feature the Montreal Canadiens and New Jersey Devils.

NHL Rumours

Montreal Canadiens

Rumour: Pierre LeBrun on TSN Insider Trading stated the Montreal Canadiens are interested in bringing in Rasmus Ristolainen

Analysis: We know that Ristolainen and the Sabres are heading their separate ways. Ristolainen will be a great addition for the Canadiens defence corps considering the news that Shea Weber is probably missing next season. So general manager Marc Bergevin has money to play with if Weber ends up on LTIR. In addition, if Carey Price heads to Seattle that means Montreal will have even more cap manoeuvrability this offseason. There are several reports out there that state that Montreal will be looking to spend money in the offseason as they try to get back to the playoffs. Even though Ristolainen’s numbers are poor that does not mean he isn’t a good player. Like most of the guys in Buffalo, they just need a change of scenery.

And Montreal could be that right situation. Paired with the right partner, Ristolainen can turn into the player everyone hoped he would be when he was drafted. Even though his production dipped last season, he has four seasons over 40 points with a shot that is only getting better. Now it is not the same shot as Weber’s, but it is very effective on the power play. The Canadiens have the ability to add his $4.5 million price tag. It will interesting to see if Bergevin makes a run at him or goes in a different direction to upgrade the Habs’ defence.

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Montreal Canadiens

Rumour: Eric Engels of Sportsnet says it is unlikely the Canadiens will bring back Phillip Danault 

Analysis: It is no surprise the Canadiens are looking to move on from Danault. They offered him a six-year, $30 million deal last offseason but Danault refused it as he headed into the final year of his three-year contract. Looking back this was a mistake by Danault. He even admitted so after the season was over as it weighed on his mind this past year. Worse still, his production was down. Danault recorded 24 points in 53 regular-season games in 2020-21 for the Canadiens. In addition, he added just four points in 22 post-season games as the team went to the Stanley Cup Final for the first time since 1993. With contract talks tabled and a downturn in output, it appears the centreman is moving on.

Danault bet on himself and at least with the Canadiens it did not pay off. However, it was reported that Seattle had a deal in place with Danault. While this was ultimately not the case, the hubbub created shows teams are possibly willing to offer the same amount of money to him. After all, he is still considered a Selke Trophy candidate despite the fact his offensive numbers are down. But that is not the only thing you are paying for. Teams are paying for Danault’s shutdown ability as he displayed in the playoffs, stopping the top players from each team the Canadiens went up against. The price tag is just too much for the Canadiens to pay if they want to keep him which at this point is highly unlikely. Montreal will look internally to fill the void Danault leaves behind.

New Jersey Devils

Rumour: Andy Strickland tweeted that P.K. Subban is on the move again as the New Jersey Devils are looking to move the former Norris Trophy winner

Analysis: For those that have followed the situation between the Devils and Subban, it was only a matter of time before this was going to happen. New Jersey has left him unprotected for the Seattle Expansion Draft. At this stage, Subban simply does not fit what the Devils are looking to do under general manager Tom Fitzgerald. After the Devils made the playoffs during the 2017-18 season, former GM Ray Shero was looking to upgrade his defence. He made a splash acquiring Subban. However, Subban has been more of a liability than anything. Not to mention his antics in the locker room, which are starting to rub some people the wrong way. The Devils are tired of his distractions off the ice. Perhaps, they would be ok with it if he was producing on the ice, but he is not. That said, who really expected Subban to be the Subban of old when he got to New Jersey.

Eating Crow… and Salary

Unfortunately, if the Devils do move Subban, they are going to have to eat half of his salary. Subban carries a cap hit of $9 million for just this season; that’s a hefty cost for any team to take on. However, if the Devils eat half of his salary this will entice teams to take him to start the year. New Jersey may have to throw in a draft pick as well to get him off their hands, but there is a team or two out there that could use Subban on their bottom pair. He can no longer play top or even second-line minutes anymore. Although, his shot is still good enough for the power play.

The question surrounding Subban is can he focus his energy on the ice instead of being an internet sensation. Some believe Subban is just planning for his next career at this stage.

That does it for this edition of NHL Rumours. Stay tuned for another edition on Thursday.

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