NHL Rumours: Chicago Blackhawks, Buffalo Sabres and the Olympics

NHL Rumours
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To our American readers, Happy Thanksgiving! We’re thankful that you’re taking some time to read about new NHL rumours. To readers from outside the United States, we are happy to have you too, and happy Thursday.

NHL Rumours

Chicago Blackhawks

Rumour: Mark Lazerus of the Athletic writes about the future of Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane. Next year will be the final year for their eight-year $84 million dollar contracts, and with the team not being a contender for years, Lazerus explores five options about the future of their two greats. 

Analysis: Lazerus’s third option of the team extending Kane and waiting on Toews is the most realistic. One is business, the Blackhawks are sixth in the NHL in average attendance with 18,141 fans per game, which is really good for most teams, but Chicago has been at the top for years, regularly drawing over 21,500 fans per game. Moving on from their best player in Kane won’t help put fans in the stands.

Also, the team just signed Seth Jones to an eight-year contract worth $9.5 million a year. Even though the management team is gone, the owner is still around, and no team makes that deal with the intention of rebuilding. Maybe things change under a new management team and with how terribly this season has gone. But signs point that Chicago prefers the retool over the rebuild model. Keeping Kane will simultaneously help the development of Kirby Dach and Alex DeBrincat and help the team stay competitive.

Jonathan Toews is different because he’s not playing well and has no goals. It’s unclear what his level of play will be at going forward. It’s best for both sides to give him a year-and-a-half to recover from missing last season with chronic immune response syndrome to see where his game is at.

With their contracts coming to an end, there will be many NHL rumours to come about the future of Kane and Toews.

Buffalo Sabres

Rumour: On the Jeff Marek Show, Marek and Elliotte Freidman look at the possibility of Buffalo looking for a goalie now that Craig Anderson is hurt.

Analysis: The Buffalo Sabres have played better than expected to start the season. Their success was supported by the strong play of Craig Anderson who has a .921 save percentage in six games. Now that Anderson is hurt and Dustin Tokarski (.904) and Aaron Dell (.862) are not the best options in net, leads Friedman and Marek to discuss the possibility of Buffalo trading for a goalie. Friedman says,” the one thing I think about Buffalo is you do have to reward your kids. You do have to give them a chance to win. You gotta get somebody in (the net) quickly I think.”

Friedman doesn’t see a good fit because Buffalo will only make a trade if they get someone better than Tokarski, and he doesn’t see anyone being willing to move a goalie right now. In the immediate future, the only guy that I can see moving is Alexandar Georgiev. Larry Brooks of the New York Post wrote that the New York Rangers have to figure out what to do with him.

Georgiev wants out but his .858 save percentage doesn’t help the situation. He will be cheap, but if Buffalo goes for him, they’re doing it in the hope that he will bounce back. I can see more goalies being available later. If Tuukka Rask comes back, that could create a goalie logjam somewhere. Another logjam looks to be developing with the Dallas Stars with Jake Oettinger playing excellent, but it’s still too early there.

There are more NHL rumours to come for goalies, but maybe not on Buffalo’s timeline.

The Olympics

Rumour: Pierre LeBrun of The Athletic wrote that the NHL is starting to feel logistic issues about the season and the Olympics. They’ve already had to postpone three Ottawa Senators‘ games and the New York Islanders have a COVID outbreak. They’re also putting restrictions on the All-Star game to avoid a spread of COVID right before the Olympics start. These challenges are putting Olympic participation on the hot seat. 

Analysis: LeBrun reports the NHL has until January 10th to pull out of the Olympics without any financial penalties. A lot of the decision-making will have to happen in December as to what to do. If the NHL can get through December without having to postpone too many games, I think there is a very high probability the NHL goes to Beijing. LeBrun reports the NHL does want to stick to their commitment to the players under the CBA extension of 2019 that they will go. The fact that they are putting restrictions on their own All-Star game shows that commitment.

Projecting COVID is a fool’s task. However, the NHL has gone close to two months now with only the Ottawa Senators having to postpone games. The Islanders having seven positive cases in their line-up is concerning but they’re marching on so far. It took 10 players contracting the virus for the NHL to postpone Ottawa games. The bar is pretty severe for games to be postponed. It will have to take a number of serious outbreaks for the schedule to be too broken up to go. If players want to go to the Olympics, their best bet is to follow protocols as closely as possible.

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