In today’s NHL rumors rundown, one scribe wonders if a trade out of Boston will help forward Jake DeBrusk explode offensively. Meanwhile, there is a ton of chatter surrounding Taylor Hall of the Buffalo Sabres and the asking price to acquire him in a deal before the deadline. The Montreal Canadiens are likely to make more moves after acquiring Eric Staal and are the Columbus Blue Jackets ready to give Patrik Laine huge money to stick around? Finally, what are the Carolina Hurricanes and Winnipeg Jets going to do over the next couple of weeks?
Will the Bruins Trade DeBrusk?
Acknowledging the fact that DeBrusk has underperformed with the Bruins so far this season, Fluto Shinzawa of The Athletic wonders if Boston has conceded to the idea of trading the forward and the scribe contemplated what happens if and when they do.
The conclusion the Bruins may reach is that DeBrusk serves them best in a trade. If so, they would be trading low. No opposing general manager would put his top cards on the table. The Bruins’ best bet would be receiving a similarly underperforming player.
source – ‘The Bruins’ big fear: Trading Jake DeBrusk will motivate him to meet his potential’ – Fluto Shinzawa – The Athletic – 03/24/2021
He goes on to say that DeBrusk could explode offensively if moved as “trades can shock young players awake to a greater degree than healthy scratches, benches and one-on-one meetings.” He cited Tyler Seguin as an example.
While Shinzawa doesn’t sound confident a deal makes sense for Boston, a DeBrusk trade became more of a possibility with the reduced quarantine time from 14 to seven days for over-the-border trades.
Everyone Talking About Taylor Hall
Yesterday, the rumor mill was abuzz with chatter about Hall and the fact he said he’d waive his no-move clause to facilitate a trade out of Buffalo if the Sabres asked him. The chatter about what he might be worth led to Pierre LeBrun reporting, “Hearing that the initial asking price for Taylor Hall involves a first-round pick… Probably going to be tough to get that in this buyer’s market but it’s the right place to start two weeks out if you’re Buffalo.”
On Friday, Eric Staal was traded for a third and fifth-round pick in the 2021 draft which some suggested could be an indication about the realities of the Sabres getting a first-rounder for Hall who has only scored two goals this season.
Canadiens to Make More Moves
Speaking of Staal, the Canadiens surprised people with the acquisition of the veteran forward as GM Marc Bergevin said that the team was more likely to remain quiet than do anything before the deadline. TSN’s Frank Seravalli asks what’s next for the Canadiens who are tight up against the salary cap after acquiring Staal?
Seravalli notes the Canadiens will need to send down a player in order to activate Paul Byron from their taxi squad and he added, “wouldn’t be surprised at all to see the Habs try and make a corresponding move to try and free up some salary cap space.” The NHL insider suggest Cole Caufield could come into play now that his NCAA season has ended. “He’s another guy the Canadiens may want to add into the mix and they’ll need cap space to do it.”
Blue Jackets and Laine On a One-Year Extension?
When asked what an extension might look like for forward Patrik Laine during mailbag segment, Athletic writer Aaron Portzline responded, “If I’m Laine’s agent, I feel really, really good about my leverage in these talks, and yes I realize he isn’t playing well right now. Doesn’t matter.”
Suggesting Laine holds most of the cards and the Blue Jackets don’t want to risk losing the big asset that came back in the Pierre-Luc Dubois trade, both sides might agree on a one-year deal worth between $9 and $10 million. Portzline explains:
“You can safely assume he’s going to make well over $9 million, right? And I’m adjusting there for COVID, which owners will try to use as a negotiating tool against the players. It might hit eight digits. I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised to see the two sides do a one-year deal that so that Laine is an RFA again the following summer.”
source – ‘What’s wrong with Patrik Laine? Trade for a No. 1 center? Locking up Seth Jones: Blue Jackets Mailbag’ – Aaron Portzline – The Athletic – 03/25/2021
Portzline suggested a one-year deal makes sense so that Laine can get a better read on what will happen with the team, specifically what will happen with coach John Tortorella, who may or may not be back.
Hurricanes Could Move a Goaltender
As per a report on NHL.com: Carolina Hurricanes GM Don Waddell told The Athletic he could consider trading one of his goaltenders. Alex Nedeljkovic and James Reimer have split the goalies duties since Petr Mrazek was sidelined, but with Mrazek close to returning and the Hurricanes with limited cap space, the GM might use on of his netminders as a trade chip.
Waddell said he could keep all three goalies, but suggested he’d like to add a right-shot defenseman to his blueline corps.
Jets Linked to Different Defensemen?
Ken Wiebe of Sportsnet wonders what the Jets might do if their primary targets of Mattias Ekholm and David Savard are off the table because of where their respective teams are in the standings. He writes, “Another player with term on his deal that could make sense for the Jets is Anaheim Ducks blue-liner Josh Manson.”
Wiebe points out that the Ducks will be guaranteed sellers and that Manson, 29, has one season left at $4.1 million but also notes his injury history is concerning. A backup name to monitor is Rasmus Ristolainen of the Buffalo Sabres. The Sabres are selling and the Jets have shown interest in Ristolainen previously. If the price has come down on the blueliner, he could be an option.
Motor racing-Canadian Grand Prix cancelled for second year
(Reuters) -The Canadian Grand Prix scheduled for June 13 at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal has been cancelled for the second year in a row, CBC Radio reported on Thursday although Formula One said discussions remained ongoing.
With the spread of new COVID-19 variants and Canada battling to contain a third wave of the virus, Montreal public health authorities concluded that even if run behind closed doors without spectators the risks were too high, reported the CBC.
F1 officials, according to the CBC, wanted to bypass the mandatory 14-day quarantine for the hundreds of staff, crew members and drivers and rely on private medical staff and have the entire operation run in a bubble.
The race is scheduled to follow on immediately from Azerbaijan, whose grand prix is scheduled for June 6 in Baku and is due to go ahead after also being cancelled last year.
“We are continuing our discussions with the promoter in Canada and have no further comment,” an F1 spokesperson told Reuters.
The Autosport website quoted a spokesperson for the Canadian promoter as saying the radio report referred to “a document of recommendations from public health.
“We as an organisation have not had confirmation from our public health officials and won’t comment until we get an official confirmation.”
Canada, with some of the world’s toughest travel rules, obliges its citizens and residents arriving from abroad to self-isolate for 14 days.
International arrivals are required to quarantine for up to three days in a hotel.
One of Canada‘s biggest sporting events, it would mark the second consecutive year the grand prix has been removed from the F1 schedule due to the spread of COVID-19.
Media reports have suggested Turkey is on standby to be slotted in as Canada‘s replacement.
The Istanbul circuit is logistically convenient for freight coming from Baku and was brought in last year also at short notice to bolster a calendar ravaged by the pandemic.
(Reporting by Steve Keating in Toronto/Alan Baldwin in London; Editing by Ken Ferris)
Boston Bruins Add Offense With Solid Taylor Hall Trade – Boston Hockey Now
The Boston Bruins clearly understood they had serious deficiencies on their NHL roster this season and credit them for going and doing something about it.
The B’s finished off their Sunday night fireworks ahead of the NHL trade deadline by sending a second round pick and Anders Bjork to the Buffalo Sabres in exchange for top-6 winger Taylor Hall and bottom-6 forward Curtis Lazar. TSN’s Darren Dreger, Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman and ESPN’s John Buccigross were the first to report about the completed deal between the Bruins and Buffalo Sabres in the hours following the B’s getting stomped by the Washington Capitals, 8-1, at TD Garden.
— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) April 12, 2021
The Buffalo Sabres retained half of the $8 million salary that Hall signed for prior to the start of the 2021 hockey season.
After acquiring Hall @ 50% & Lazar for Bjork, the #NHLBruins added $772K Cap Hit for remainder of year.
They have $24K of Projected Cap Space; $100K Annual Cap Hit that can be added, w/ 24 Active on Roster. Sending players to taxi would create more room.https://t.co/2o0hsHzUIy https://t.co/rXiRKKk3lt pic.twitter.com/I7ZRUSmSQp
— PuckPedia (@PuckPedia) April 12, 2021
The 29-year-old Hall is having a terrible season in Buffalo with just two goals and 19 points in 37 games along with a minus-21 rating after he chose to sign a one-year deal with the Sabres during the offseason. But he brings legitimate offensive talent as a former No. 1 overall pick and Hart Trophy winner to a Boston Bruins team that’s ranked in the bottom third of the NHL offensively all season.
The Bruins were one of the suitors for Hall prior to him choosing the Sabres months ago, and now they get him for a deep discount while keeping their own first round picks after making their deadline deals.
Holding onto their own first round pick was a priority for Boston Bruins GM Don Sweeney after spending first rounders at the deadline in two of the last three deadlines in trades for damaged goods Rick Nash and Ondrej Kase.
The 26-year-old Lazar has five goals and 11 points in 33 games as a bottom-6 forward for the Sabres this season and is signed for $800,000 for next season. It seemed clear that something was going on with the 24-year-old Anders Bjork over the last couple of weeks as he was a healthy scratch for five straight games, including Sunday night against Washington, and heads to Buffalo hoping to further develop a game built on speed and skill level that hasn’t translated into offense as of yet.
Hall should fit right into the top-6 with the Bruins as a skilled winger for playmaking center David Krejci, but it remains to be seen how he’s going to fit as another left winger on a team with Nick Ritchie and Jake DeBrusk.
Either Ritchie or DeBrusk is going to have to play the off wing with a Krejci/Hall combo, but that’s a problem that Boston Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy will gladly figure out after being forced to piece together lineups all season due to injuries and offensive inconsistency. With the acquisition of Hall, Lazar and left-handed defenseman Mike Reilly on Sunday night, it would appear the Boston Bruins are largely done with deals ahead of Monday’s NHL trade deadline.
Interestingly enough, the Boston Bruins are set to play the Buffalo Sabres on Tuesday night at TD Garden.
Drouin must return to mentality that’s led to success this season – Sportsnet.ca
It was something Dominique Ducharme said after his Montreal Canadiens played an abysmal game against the Ottawa Senators last week, something that only truly resonated after they lost 3-2 to the Toronto Maple Leafs on Wednesday — a game that emboldened the struggle Jonathan Drouin’s currently enduring.
“Ninety per cent of the mistakes we made were mental, and the rest of it was above our shoulders.” the coach said after the 6-3 loss to Ottawa last Saturday, somewhat channelling New York Yankees legend Yogi Berra with this bit of wit and wisdom.
It was hard not to think of those words watching Drouin play the way he did on Wednesday. For much of this season, the talented left winger has played a primary role in Montreal’s success. He’s led them with 19 assists, been tenacious on the forecheck, physically engaged all over the ice, cerebral as always in his execution and, as he’s said on several occasions, relatively unconcerned by whether or not his name has been featured on the scoresheet.
But it seemed clear, after watching Drouin dump a breakaway into Jack Campbell’s chest with one of 32 shots the Maple Leafs goaltender turned aside to set a franchise record with his 10th consecutive win, he had diverted from that. And that affected the way he played the rest of the game.
It was Drouin’s fifth in a row without a point, his 18th without a goal, and he’d have to be a robot not to be suffering the mental wear of not seeing the puck go in more than twice since the season started, the torment of seeing only three per cent of his shots hit the back of the net through 36 games after 10 per cent of them resulted in goals through the first 348 games of his career.
“It is weighing on me where, when I have a chance and miss the goal, I might be trying to score too much,” Drouin said. “It’s something I obviously think about — every player would — and I’ve just gotta put it past me and just keep shooting pucks.”
Ideally, the 26-year-old wouldn’t be thinking about any of this. These are thoughts that weigh a player down and right now the Canadiens are in tough without Brendan Gallagher for the rest of the season and Drouin needs to be light and free to help account for that loss. And in order for him to do that, he needs to focus on what he does best.
Because the reality is that even though Drouin can score more, scoring isn’t what he needs to do in order to be at his best and really help this team.
“When his feet are moving and he’s making plays, Drou’s a pass-first guy,” explained Jake Allen, who made 29 saves in Carey Price’s absence. “When his feet are moving, his head’s always in it. When his feet are moving, he’s controlling the play, controlling the puck. He’s a guy who really can control the play for a whole line. You want the puck on that guy’s stick and let the other guys do the dirty work and he’ll find them.”
But when Drouin’s feet aren’t moving, there just isn’t enough of that other stuff happening.
When Drouin’s feet weren’t moving, he lost a battle for the puck in the offensive zone and allowed the NHL’s leading goal scorer to start the rush that resulted in the winning play of Wednesday’s game.
Auston Matthews to Mitch Marner, back to Matthews, off Allen and slammed into Montreal’s net by Zach Hyman with 9:39 remaining in the third period, with Drouin watching from just inside his own blue line.
“You give a 3-on-2 to the Matthews line and it’s the kind of play they’re going to make you pay on,” said Ducharme.
Was Drouin still thinking about that shot he didn’t bury in the second period?
It’s understandable if he was, but those are the kind of thoughts he needs to shake right now.
“He wants to do well, and I’m sure it’s getting a little bit in his head,” said Ducharme. “I think the best remedy for him is to be scoring that goal or making that big play, and I think he’s going to be energized by that and less thinking, more acting.
“It is a fine line. Those kind of thoughts is not something that you want to happen. But when you receive that puck and you see the opening and stuff, (the slump) comes back to (your mind). That’s why the mental part of the game is something that’s very tricky. It’s not his will to be thinking that way. Every player who’s going through a time like that will have that thought and scoring that goal will take him to a different level. At those kind of times you need to make it even simpler and being even more inside going at the net and finding a garbage (goal) right there and you put it in and sometimes you go on a little run. It might be that kind of goal that he needs to get that monkey off his back.”
It’s the kind of goal Corey Perry scored twice to give the Canadiens a chance in this game.
But Drouin isn’t Perry, who rightly pointed out after the game he’s made a career of scoring goals that way. And even if Drouin can borrow from what Perry does next time he has a chance like the one Brett Kulak set him up with for that breakaway, there are other ways he can positively impact the game.
You can appreciate that Drouin said he’s putting pressure on himself to score more and help make up for the goals the team will be missing with Gallagher sidelined, but that might not get him to where he needs to be mentally to contribute as much as he already has this season.
What would, though, is a sharp turn towards the mentality he described just days ago. The one that’s enabled him to be a much more consistent player this season than he has in seasons past.
“When I was younger, I’d stay on one game or stay on one play for too long and wouldn’t be able to let it go for a bit or a couple of days,” Drouin said. “But I think for me now it’s can I look at myself in the mirror after a game and did I give my good effort? Was I a part of this game? Was I doing something right in a lot of areas?
“That’s what I do now. I think points are there, goals are there, assists are there, but it’s just about playing that real game and playing to help your team win.”
Drouin’s done a lot of that this season and has a chance to get right back to it when the Winnipeg Jets visit the Bell Centre Thursday.
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