NHL Rumours: Ottawa Senators, Buffalo Sabres and Edmonton Oilers

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Welcome to another edition of NHL Rumours. Today, we look at what Joshua Norris might be looking for in his next contract with the Ottawa Senators. We analyze the Buffalo Sabres wanting to bring back goalie Craig Anderson. We also explore Zack Kassian being bought out by the Edmonton Oilers at the end of the season. Let’s jump in!

NHL Rumours

Ottawa Senators

Rumour: Postmedia’s Bruce Garrioch said on TSN’s Question Period, “does Josh Norris want to sign long-term? I think he does. Does Josh Norris want to sign a bridge deal? I doubt he does.” 

Analysis: It makes sense for Norris to want to sign long-term this offseason because he doesn’t have anything to prove on a bridge deal. He’s Ottawa’s number one centre. A bridge deal could give Tim Stützle time to challenge him for that spot. He has 31 goals, and he could argue he was on pace to score 47 if he didn’t get hurt. Norris’s shooting percentage is high at 21.5, it will go down, so it isn’t known if he will have the chance to argue again that he could flirt with 50 goals. Elliotte Freidman wrote in his 32 Thoughts blog that he interviewed Norris and, “the thing that will make Senators fans happiest about our conversation is that it’s very clear Norris loves the group.” It sounds like Norris would enjoy being a Senator long-term.

From Ottawa’s perspective, they have signed Brady Tkachuk, Thomas Chabot, Drake Batherson and Colin White long-term after their entry-level deals. Their approach is to lock up their young core. That is probably Ottawa’s approach with Norris, but it isn’t a certainty. The passing of owner Eugene Melnyk could have Ottawa looking for a bridge deal and sign Norris long-term once there is stability at the ownership level. Ottawa getting Norris on a bridge deal will also give them time to assess their sniper’s true goal-scoring ability and see where things stand at the centre position.

Given how important of a player he is. There will be more NHL Rumours about his contract negotiation.

Buffalo Sabres

Rumour: On 32 Thoughts the Podcast, Elliotte Freidman said that the Buffalo Sabres have told goalie Craig Anderson they want him back. However, he said teams were calling about Anderson at the deadline, so the free agent will have some options if he wants to play next season. 

Analysis: Craig Anderson has been Buffalo’s best goalie this season. He’s won 14 out of 26 games while posting a 3.06 goals-against average and a .901 save percentage. No Buffalo goalie who has played over 10 games has better numbers. While Anderson is 40-years-old, the Sabres have seen the issue of not having a goalie locked up after losing Linus Ullmark unexpectedly in free agency last year. Lance Lysowski of The Buffalo News wrote that Anderson has been a calming leader for the team. Anderson’s impact is felt beyond his play.

The biggest hurdle Buffalo will face is the retirement possibility. If Anderson does keep playing, there’s a strong possibility he remains a Sabre. In Lysowski’s article, Anderson said he had enjoyed his time in Buffalo, and the organization has treated him and his family well. He said he wanted to stay during the trade deadline. However, Buffalo can’t provide a Stanley Cup, which Anderson has yet to win. If Anderson does return, he can play with the Sabres, a team he’s proven to have success with, and chase a cup at the trade deadline if he wants to.

Edmonton Oilers

Rumour: The Athletic’s Daniel Nugent-Bowman explores the Edmonton Oilers buying out Zack Kassian in the off-season.

Analysis: Zack Kassian has been a bottom-six right-winger for the Oilers this season. He plays on average 12:00 minutes a night and has scored five goals, 11 assists for 16 points in 48 games. This is a bump in production after scoring five points in 27 games last year. But that production from someone with a $3.2 million salary-cap hit over the next two seasons is pricey. It is problematic when considering the Oilers are tight to the cap. Nugent-Bowman writes, “Given how he’s played in most games, that much cheaper option would likely be a more effective player.”

If the Oilers buy out Kassian, according to CapFriendly, they will save $2.54 million in cap relief in the first season, 1.33 million in the second season, and then will have a $966,667 cap hit for the next two seasons. The Oilers save some cap room by doing this, especially next season. Therefore, a Kassian buy-out could be possible.

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