It’s another edition of NHL rumours to start the workweek. There’s a lot of uncertainty in the hockey world due to COVID. However, there are some teams trying to make some moves to shore up their depth. Today’s NHL rumours look into a possible schedule pause, plus items on the New York Rangers and Edmonton Oilers.
All NHL rumours are taken from the original source and are subject to change.
Rumour: Many insiders have speculated that the league is going to have to halt the schedule to stem the spread of COVID.
Expect more NHL postponements to be announced today. A league-wide pause feels inevitable but for now sense is the NHL/NHLPA will try to power through next few days if possible with case by case approach still…
— Pierre LeBrun (@PierreVLeBrun) December 18, 2021
Analysis: The league and NHLPA are trying to find a way to power through the schedule and get to Christmas. However, more teams got shut down and the NHL has stopped cross-border games until the break is over on Dec. 27. TSN and The Athletic’s Pierre LeBrun said the league is going to evaluate on a case-by-case basis.
However, the whispers are getting louder in the NHL office. The league may have to pause because teams may not have enough players that aren’t in the protocol. The Carolina Hurricanes were shorthanded against the Detroit Red Wings and the Colorado Avalanche had 16 skaters against the Nashville Predators. It’s a tough ask for teams to have to mix and match lineups and play with short benches.
The rise in cases may force the players to back out of the Olympics. It’ll be a tough pill to swallow, but it may be a necessary one. A decision on that may be coming sooner rather than later.
New York Rangers
Rumour: Arthur Staple of The Athletic looks at the possibility of the Rangers getting scoring help.
Five questions for the #NYR after a blah weekend: Trade for scoring help? Can Alexis Lafrenière do more?
— Arthur Staple (@StapeAthletic) December 13, 2021
Analysis: The Blueshirts are in the mix for the Metropolitan Division title, but they do need some depth scoring. New York’s fast start allows general manager Chris Drury to be patient, but there needs to be some more punch for the bottom six. Artemi Panarin, Chris Kreider, Ryan Strome and Mika Zibanejad can’t be depended on the shoulder the whole load.
Vitali Kravtsov would have been good to bring up from AHL Hartford had he reported. However, he is in Russia and won’t be available until the end of the KHL season if he wants to come back. AHL veterans Johnny Brodzinski and Anthony Greco are playing well for the WolfPack, but their help may be limited.
Staple suggested the Rangers go after a rental with all the cap space they’ve already got committed to next season. A name like Phil Kessel would be a huge move, but the Arizona Coyotes may ask for a lot. Dustin Brown and Joe Pavelski may be older, but they could add some help. Tomas Hertl is also an unrestricted free agent and the San Jose Sharks will likely ask for a hefty package.
Rumour: Allan Mitchell of The Athletic speculated on some names in the AHL that could help the Oilers forward depth problems.
Some pre-game reading. Oil have a plethora of young NHL-ready blue in Bakersfield, benefits clear already. The forward group? Opposite. It's a good time to look at what's out there/possibly available. Here are 7 AHL forwards worth pursuing. @TheAthleticNHL https://t.co/EllMaS8Jmq
— Lowetide (@Lowetide) December 19, 2021
Analysis: Edmonton’s lineup is very top-heavy with Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl leading the way. However, the team needs help with secondary scoring and there may be some players in the AHL that can fill that need.
Cody Glass of Nashville was a name that was mentioned, but the Predators would likely want a decent return package because of Glass’ offensive potential. Evander Kane is with the San Jose Barracuda, but he comes with a lot of baggage. General manager Ken Holland has helped players revive their careers in Detroit. Daniel Cleary and Larry Murphy at the end of his career both come to mind.
Other names like David Gustafsson, Matias Maccelli, Valtteri Puustinen and Zach Sensyshyn were also mentioned. Edmonton does have some defensive prospects that could be used to help make something happen.