NHL Rumours: Toronto Maple Leafs, Detroit Red Wings and Winnipeg Jets

NHL Rumours
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Welcome to another edition of NHL Rumours. Today, we explore the Toronto Maple Leafs’ interest in their former netminder and now San Jose Shark, James Reimer. We also look at the Detroit Red Wings being open to trade forward Tyler Bertuzzi and the Winnipeg Jets deciding what to do with Andrew Copp. Let’s dive in!

NHL Rumours

Toronto Maple Leafs

Rumour: The Athletic’s Pierre Lebrun reported that the Maple Leafs have done their due diligence on San Jose Sharks goaltender James Reimer.

NHL free agent frenzy

 Analysis: It’s no secret that the Maple Leafs’ goaltending has been horrendous since the all-star break. Jack Campbell has a .872 save percentage and a 4.03 goals-against average, and Petr Mrazek has a .872 save percentage and 3.87 goals-against average since the break. Campbell’s rib injury certainly doesn’t help the situation. In early March, Elliotte Freidman of Sportsnet reported that the Maple Leafs prefer to add a defenceman over a goaltender. But they may not have a choice with how poorly their goalies are playing. The Maple Leafs can’t go anywhere in the playoffs with subpar goaltending. Especially since they might face the high-powered Florida Panthers or Tampa Bay Lightning in the first round.

James Reimer has been good for San Jose with a 2.85 goals-against average and a .916 save percentage. His $2.25 million salary-cap hit makes him affordable for the Leafs, who are tight to the cap. Reimer is familiar with playing in Toronto. The Maple Leafs drafted him in 2006 and played six seasons there, from 2010 to 2016. Playing in the Scotiabank Arena in the high pressured Toronto market won’t be new to him, so that could be an advantage over other goalies Toronto can bring in. He is signed for one more year past this season, so he may not be a rental.

Reimer might not be the only Shark Toronto has eyes on. LeBrun also reported that they’re interested in Jacob Middleton. He is a physical top-four defenceman for the Sharks. Middleton’s $750,000 cap hit makes him an affordable addition, even if Toronto has to add a goaltender as well.

Detroit Red Wings

Rumour: Daily Faceoff’s Frank Seravalli reports that the Detroit Red Wings are “open for business,” including the possibility of trading Tyler Bertuzzi.

Analysis: Seravalli writes that everyone in Detroit except for Moritz Seider and Lucas Raymond is available to be traded, including Tyler Bertuzzi. He is certainly an effective player. He’s scored 24 goals and 48 points in 50 games this season and also has a bite to his game. Bertuzzi’s combination of skill and aggressiveness makes him attractive to contenders. He has one year left on his contract after this season, making the possibility of a trade more likely.

The big issue with Bertuzzi is that he is one of two unvaccinated players in the NHL, meaning he can’t travel to Canada. If a team is expecting to play a Canadian team in the playoffs, then Bertuzzi could miss half that series. Therefore, it’s more likely that if Bertuzzi gets moved, he will be dealt in the east than the west. Toronto is the only Canadian team making the playoffs in the east. While the Calgary Flames are the only relatively safe team in the west, the Vancouver Canucks, Winnipeg Jets and Edmonton Oilers are in the hunt.

Bertuzzi being unvaccinated might make teams hesitant to add him to their dressing room. However, it is common in the NHL for teams to add controversial players if they can help them win. Bertuzzi’s vaccination status might make him more difficult to trade but not impossible. If he doesn’t get moved by the deadline, there is a chance we hear more NHL rumours about this in the summer.

Winnipeg Jets

Rumour: Darren Dreger on TSN’s Insider Trading reported that the Winnipeg Jets will have to decide on whether to trade centre Andrew Copp. Copp is on an expiring contract, and the Colorado Avalanche, New York Rangers and Boston Bruins are interested in his services. 

 Analysis: The Winnipeg Jets went all-in this season to make a playoff run by adding multiple defencemen, complementing their fantastic forward group and stellar goalie in Connor Hellebuyck. But things didn’t go as planned. The Jets have been mediocre all season, and head coach Paul Maurice left the team. With it looking like they would miss the playoffs a week ago, it made the most sense to trade Copp, who is on an expiring deal.

How a week can change things. The Jets have won four of their last five games, and the Vegas Golden Knights have lost five straight games. Now Winnipeg is two points back of the final playoff spot in the west. If they can play strong down the stretch, they have the team on paper to make some noise in the playoffs.

This leaves the question of do they trade Copp? Unless they get an offer they can’t refuse, or things go badly for them this week, I think it’s more likely they keep him. Winnipeg signed Copp to a one-year deal this year knowing he could leave as a free agent. But that was a risk they were willing to live with if it meant going for a deep playoff run. If Winnipeg thinks they still have a shot at doing it, it’s in their best interest to keep Andrew Copp.

Thanks for reading NHL Rumours. It’s a busy week with the trade deadline on Monday, so watch out for more rumours.

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