NHL Rumours: Toronto Maple Leafs, New York Rangers and Columbus Blue Jackets

NHL Rumours
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Welcome to another NHL Rumours. Today we’re exploring Travis Dermott possibly being on the trade block.  We’ll also look into the New York Rangers need for depth defencemen, and the Columbus Blue Jackets are taking calls on goalie Joonas Korpisalo.

NHL Rumours

Toronto Maple Leafs

Rumour: Sportsnet’s Elliotte Freidman said on the Jeff Marek Show that a Toronto Maple Leafs right-side defenceman could be available. Freidman suspects that it is possibly Travis Dermott

NHL free agent frenzy

Analysis: Travis Dermott being in NHL rumours is nothing new. The timing is odd because they scratched right-side defenceman Justin Holl two nights ago and played Dermott. With Dermott being the guy on the block, the Leafs see Holl as a fit with the club; the scratch might have been a wake-up call. It could also be a way for the team to showcase Dermott and give more ice time to Rasmus Sandin and Timothy Liljegren. Both those two young players have to be ready to become full-time players for it to make sense for the Leafs to want to move Dermott. 

What could the Leafs get in return for a Dermott trade? I don’t think it will be as much as Leaf fans would be hoping. He is a bottom-pairing defenceman with Toronto and scores 10-15 points a year. He will soon turn 25, so he’s not an up-and-coming player anymore. I think there’s a lot of value in him because of his mobility, puck-moving ability and strong defensive numbers, but opposing teams will argue the former to try to lower the price. This past off-season, Kurtis MacDermid, who is not as good as Dermott, fetched a fourth-rounder. Dermott is not worth a second-round pick as a bottom pairing defenceman, which leaves his value as a third-round pick. 

New York Rangers

Rumour: Arthur Staple of The Athletic writes that the New York Rangers could use some depth on defence. While it’s too early to speculate on trades, he wonders if the Rangers may target Ben Chiarot or Calvin de Haan as pending unrestricted free agent defenceman playing on bad teams. 

Analysis: Looking at Natural Stat Trick, there seems to be a clear divide between their top four defencemen, Adam Fox, K’Andre Miller, Jacob Trouba and Ryan Lindgren and their bottom pair defencemen of Patrik Nemeth, Jarred Tinordi and Nils Lundkvist. From the bottom pairing guys, Tinordi has the best Corsi For percentage at 42.86, Lundkvist has the best shots for percentage at 36.84 and goals for percentage at 33.33. None of them are close to being an even 50 percent with their competition in shots generated, shots on goal or goals scored. They could use some depth. 

The reason Staple only brought up pending unrestricted free agent defenceman as targets are because the Rangers will enter a tight cap once Adam Fox’s $9.5 million and Mika Zibanejad’s $8.5 million deals kick in next year. They don’t want to hold on to players past this season. Calvin De Haan and Ben Chiarot’s names are both pending free agents. Chiarot brings the size, physicality and a snarl the Rangers are looking for. De Haan is not an overly physical defenceman but is steady. I think Chiarot will be worth more because of his important role in last year’s playoffs with the Montreal Canadiens.

Columbus Blue Jackets

Rumour: Aaron Portzline of The Athletic reports that “Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen was taking calls on (Joonas) Korpisalo that were more serious than those he had in the offseason.” The Arizona Coyotes, Buffalo Sabres and Montreal Canadiens were the teams interested. 

Analysis:  Like Dermott, Joonas Korpisalo has been involved in NHL rumours for a while, and we might be seeing the end of it. However, the teams involved are a bit strange. As long as the Coyotes and Canadiens keep losing, I don’t see why this makes sense. Korpisalo is a pending unrestricted free agent, so it wouldn’t make any sense to acquire a goalie for possibly one season where they miss the playoffs. There is more hope for Montreal to turn things around, and if they do, Korpisalo can help Jake Allen and the team as they await Carey Price’s return. 

The Buffalo Sabres make sense if they keep winning. They have a surprising 5-3-1 record with Craig Anderson and Dustin Tokarski as their goaltenders. If they are still in the playoff hunt by mid-December, management should reward their players by getting a true starting goalie. If they fall out, there’s no point. 

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