It’s time for another edition of NHL rumours to start the work week. We’re getting close to the Jan. 10 Olympic deadline and some hard decisions will have to be made. Teams in the NHL are already thinking ahead to the trade deadline next season. Today’s NHL rumours focus on the Olympic protocols, Boston Bruins and Toronto Maple Leafs.
All NHL rumours are taken from the original source and are subject to change.
Rumour: Sportsnet’s Jeff Marek on Hockey Night in Canada’s 32 Thoughts laid out the upcoming rules NHL players will have to follow at the Beijing Olympics.
HNIC 32 Thoughts: Stiff Olympic Protocols mean players have difficult decisions to make/Cap future/VAN GM/Blake Wheeler — https://t.co/0l4eH0S1ac
— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) December 12, 2021
Analysis: There’s a lot to unpack with these rules that have been set down for the upcoming tournament. There’s expected to be an updated Olympic handbook given to athletes early in the week. However, some information has already come out on if a player gets a positive COVID-19 test.
Any player with a confirmed positive test must produce two negative tests that are 24 hours apart, or the quarantine period can last from 21 days to five weeks. The longer times in isolation are if a player is symptomatic. There may be a chance for a player to not have to quarantine in China, but the NHLPA wants clarity on the situation.
A player may also miss out on game checks if they are stuck in Beijing in isolation. The IIHF has set up a fund of $5 million for anyone that misses out on games. However, there’s a question on what happens if that money runs out.
There may still be a break as non-Olympic players have already planned vacations and arenas have booked events as well. The break could be modified, but the league may still get time off.
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said it’s the players’ decision to go to the Olympics. It’s a fluid situation that will be monitored closely.
Rumour: The Athletic’s Fluto Shinzawa said there are a few snags in the team dealing Jake DeBrusk.
Jake DeBrusk’s pending qualifying offer may have some GMs proceeding cautiously. https://t.co/KldSEoponU
— Fluto Shinzawa (@FlutoShinzawa) December 10, 2021
Analysis: Boston is trying to accommodate the impending restricted free agent, but there are a few stumbling blocks. The Edmonton native will be due a qualifying offer of at least $4.41 million in the coming off-season. DeBrusk has played most of the season on the fourth line and has five goals in 23 games.
A team would have to believe in the 25-year-old to give up some assets to the Bruins. Former linemates Ondrej Kase and Nick Ritchie weren’t qualified and ended up signing with Toronto. The club that does get DeBrusk might trade for him but not qualify him in the off-season. Not qualifying him would make DeBrusk an unrestricted free agent that would be free to sign with any team.
Toronto Maple Leafs
Rumour: Part two of the James Mirtle mailbag from The Athletic addressed if Russian players might be hesitant to sign with the Leafs.
— James Mirtle (@mirtle) December 10, 2021
Analysis: There have been a few players to sign for Toronto in recent seasons from the KHL. However, some of those recent signings haven’t worked out. Players like Mikko Lehtonen, Kirill Semyonov and Alexander Barabanov didn’t make an impact with the team.
The Leafs did find a way to ship Barabanov to the San Jose Sharks, where he’s thrived. However, it’s fair to be worried after a top star like Lehtonen struggled for playing time.
Semyonov headed back to the KHL, but he could have gotten some playing time in light of the Jason Spezza suspension and the Mitch Marner injury. The Leafs do have some edges in trying to attract European-based players. Their farm team is still right in Toronto and not like other teams where the AHL affiliate is in a very small city.
Players like Erik Kallgren also don’t need to sign entry-level contracts. This allows Toronto to pay a little bit more for players at the AHL like what Kallgren gets at $350,000 this season.