NHL Rumors: Maple Leafs, Oilers, Predators, More

In today’s NHL rumors rundown, a couple of new reports suggest the Toronto Maple Leafs have a type of player in mind as they try to find a forward on the trade market. The Nashville Predators are rumored to be official sellers now and have only three untouchable players. Finally, with the emergence of some depth on the blue line, would the Edmonton Oilers consider trading Ethan Bear?

Predators Have Few Untouchables

During Saturday’s Headlines segment, Elliotte Friedman noted that only Roman Josi, Ryan Ellis and Pekka Rinne are the players the Predators won’t consider trading this season. The NHL insider believes the team is willing to listen to offers on all other players, including winger Filip Forsberg and defenseman Dante Fabbro.

Filip Forsberg Nashville Predators
Filip Forsberg, Nashville Predators (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Rinne might be a surprise name to see here but Friedman points out it’s because he’s coming to the end of his contract. Honestly, there wouldn’t be much of a market for him anyways.

While most of the team will be available, there are a handful of players worth watching. The most obvious trade candidates are pending UFAs like Mikael Granlund, Erik Haula and Brad Richardson. Players like Mattias Ekholm, Calle Jarnkrok and Nick Cousins could be interesting targets because their deals aren’t far off from expiring.

Should Ethan Bear Be Traded by Oilers?

Jonathan Willis asks in a recent article for The Athletic, “Could Ethan Bear go from valuable contributor to valuable trade chip?” The scribe looked at the depth the Oilers now have on their blue line and the emergence of Evan Bouchard and noted a number of reputable members of the Oilers media have looked at the “talk” floating around.

Willis says, “No. It’s a bad idea.”

Ethan Bear
EDMONTON, AB – MARCH 3: Ethan Bear #74 of the Edmonton Oilers lines up for a face off during the game against the New York Rangers on March 3, 2018 at Rogers Place in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. (Photo by Andy Devlin/NHLI via Getty Images)

Willis argues that Tyson Barrie has done a serviceable job replacing Bear but the numbers aren’t as strong when you look at an assortment of different metrics. He also suggests that the Oilers would be better off moving a veteran righty. Finally, Willis explains:

We haven’t even touched on the fact that Bear combines here-and-now ability with cost certainty in a way that nobody else on the roster does. He’s on a bargain contract through 2022; when his deal expires, he’s still a restricted free agent. He’s the only mainstay defenceman on the roster who isn’t staring at the open market when his current deal expires. That’s not something to dismiss lightly given the cap challenges Edmonton will continue to face over the next few seasons.

source – ‘Could an Ethan Bear trade improve the Oilers? There’s a short answer and a long answer’ – Jonathan Willis – The Athletic – 02/19/2021

It doesn’t help that Oilers defenseman Slater Koekkoek suffered a broken collarbone in the Oilers 7-1 win over the Calgary Flames Saturday night. Having the extra bodies is important for the Oilers.

Maple Leafs Still Want to Add a Top-Six Forward

The talk surrounding the Maple Leafs potentially adding another forward isn’t going away. Friedman was on Sportsnet 590 talking about the team’s trade deadline plans and he noted, “I think Toronto is looking for another winger. I just think they are trying to find someone else to play with Tavares and Nylander and see if they can unlock something a bit more.”

Friedman added:

The way the Leafs are playing and the way it is setting up, you are going for it this year. This is a year where you say, “I’ve got all of these poker chips in front of me. I am pushing them in. I am going for it.”… I think they are going to look pretty hard at what is available and they are going to try to add.

Friedman also noted that one of the reasons the Maple Leafs did the deal with the Carolina Hurricanes was to get down to 46 contracts. It gives them a chance to add another piece or two.

On First Up with Michael Lansberg and Carlo Colaiacovo, TSN’s Darren Dreger said that the Leafs are looking for a 6.5-7th forward and that GM Kyle Dubas wants to pressure guys in the top six. Dreger said, “They need a little bit more from that third line.” He added, “I think the action for the trade deadline might come three or four weeks prior to the deadline — mid-March due to Covid-19 and quarantine restrictions.  I wouldn’t be surprised if teams jump a bit ahead of time.”

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