Training camps are underway in all 31 NHL cities and as players reported to camp and began speaking to the media, we got some interesting pieces of information. That means fresh material for the rumours blog!
Will we see any big moves before the start of the season? I doubt it. But, there are some serious rumblings around the league and the beginning of the year is always an interesting time for rumours. Teams start to find out what they have and sometimes they don’t like it. A few weeks from now, we will have teams who are talking about wanting to shake things up after a rough start or a contending team will have a star player go down and suddenly be interested in adding a big piece.
One thing that I’m fairly certain of: the two biggest names that we’ll hear on the trade block this year are Patrik Laine and Pierre-Luc Dubois. That is where I’m starting this weeks rumours blog:
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PIERRE-LUC DUBOIS

The news that Pierre-Luc Dubois wants out of Columbus was certainly surprising but according to Elliotte Friedman, this wasn’t something that happened overnight. In his most recent ‘31 Thoughts’ blog, Friedman gave credit to the Blue Jackets for keeping this quiet for as long as they did. Apparently, Dubois has made it known he wants a change of scenery for a while now.
If history is any sort of indicator, Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen won’t be forced into making a move that doesn’t benefit the team, just like when he refused to trade Artemi Panarin when he was a pending UFA. Dubois’ camp is reportedly expecting a trade sooner rather than later, but I’m not so sure they’ll get their wish.
One interesting idea is the thought of Columbus and Winnipeg swapping their two disgruntled star forwards. That brings me to the next point.
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PATRIK LAINE

Feb 18, 2020; Winnipeg, Manitoba, CAN; Winnipeg Jets forward Patrik Laine (29) takes a shot on the Los Angeles Kings net during the third period at Bell MTS Place. Mandatory Credit: Terrence Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Laine is clearly not happy in Winnipeg. It’s been known for a while now that he wants out, but his comments early in training camp cemented that. He made it clear that he’s going to compete and be a good teammate this season, but I think this will be his last year in Winnipeg.
Would the Blue Jackets be a fit? I think there’s a chance that they would. However, I could see both teams wanting to make sure that the player they’re getting is willing to commit long-term. Would both Dubois and Laine be interested in committing to either of those cities? I’m not sure.
As for the Oilers, obviously, whenever quality young players hit the trade market, fans want to know if there’s a fit. I really don’t see a scenario where the Oilers make a push for either one of these players. Yes, Laine would be a great fit in the Oilers’ top six, but when you consider the acquisition cost and the money Laine will command on his next deal, expecting him to come to Edmonton would be foolish.
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Elliotte Friedman did say that the Philadelphia Flyers were interested at one point but backed away due to acquisition cost and salary. I wonder what kind of package the Seattle Kraken would be able to put together after the expansion draft. That seems a little far-fetched but Vegas wasn’t afraid of making a big swing to add a star player, granted most of their big trades came after they had already been in the league for a year. 

PENDING UFAs

Pierre LeBrun of The Athletic recently wrote about five players who are heading into contract years. The players were @Taylor Hall, @Tuuka Rask, @Dougie Hamilton, Alex Ovechkin, and Paul Stastny.
Ovechkin’s name obviously stands out, but Capitals beat reporter Tarik El-Bashir said there is a “0.00% chance” that Ovechkin would sign with another team. El-Bashir added that he could see Ovechkin signing an extension that lines up with the five -year $9.2 million extension that Nicklas Backstrom signed last year.
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For me, I wouldn’t be totally stunned if Ovechkin took less money to allow the Capitals to try to add some more quality players to their lineup. Of course with Ovechkin, there’s always going to be talk that he’ll go sign in the KHL. I don’t think that happens this offseason though.
Taylor Hall is heading into his one-year deal in Buffalo and most people think that Hall will want to go back to the free-agent market after this season. Lebrun did say that Hall is hoping to find a long-term fit next summer. Lebrun added that if things go well, he could see Hall wanting to stay in Buffalo and the team would have the cap space to do it.

QUICK NOTES

  • Arthur Staple is reporting that the Islanders will be signing Matt Martin to a four-year contract with an AAV of $1.5 million. That seems like $500k and two-years too long for a fourth-line winger, but Lou Lamoriello likes rewarding those kinds of players.
  • While the Islanders are locking up fourth-liners, they continue to be without their best player, Matt Barzal, at training camp. Barzal showed up to camp to have his physical but he will not take to the ice until he gets a contract. Talk is that it’s going to be a bride deal.
  • Some connections that Friedman made in his blog: Montreal was interested in Mike Hoffman, Dallas wanted to add Erik Haula, and the Senators were pursuing Tyler Toffoli.
  • Side note: I am so happy that 31 Thoughts is back. Friedman is the KING of rumour talk.
  • It will be interesting to see how many PTO’s around the league turn into contracts. With quarantine rules, it might be hard for a player to find another home if the team he’s in camp with suddenly releases him.
  • After bringing Travis Hamonic to camp, it was reported that the Canucks are out on Sami Vatanen. I am stunned that he doesn’t have a home yet. He’s a good defenseman.