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NHL Rumors: Oilers, Islanders, Blues, Canadiens, More – The Hockey Writers

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In today’s NHL rumors rundown, now that Kailer Yamamoto has signed, there’s already talk about whether or not the Edmonton Oilers can fit both him and Jesse Puljujarvi into their long-term plans. Meanwhile, the New York Islanders have potentially too many contracts and may need to move a prospect. What’s the latest on the status of Vladimir Tarasenko and are the Montreal Canadiens going to be down a prospect due to a refusal to take the COVID-19 vaccine?

Can Oilers Only Keep One of Kailer Yamamoto or Jesse Puljujarvi?

David Staples of the Edmonton Journal writes that Yamamoto’s one-year, $1.175 million deal certainly isn’t going to pose problems for this season, but wonders what happens if Yamamoto has a bounce-back 2021-22 campaign. If he ups his production, he could be eyeing Drake Batherson and Joel Farabee‘s six-year deals around $5 million per season.

Kailer Yamamoto, Edmonton Oilers, Oct. 21, 2017 (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

If so, Staples suggests this could be problematic. He writes:

The Oilers are pressed up against the cap and there’s going to be little cap space for years to come, what with the flat cap and big-ticket and long-term contracts for Connor McDavid, Darnell Nurse, Leon Draisaitl, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, and Zach Hyman. Where will the Oilers find the money to pay players like Yamamoto and Jesse Puljujarvi, both on expiring contracts now, if they have big years? Good luck with that, Ken Holland. You will need it.

source – ‘All systems go? Yes. Edmonton Oilers sign Kailer Yamamoto to a one-year deal’ – David Staples – Edmonton Journal – 09/18/2021

Staples suggests the Oilers may end up having to sign one of Yamamoto or Puljujarvi and trade the other.

Islanders Logjam in Terms of Contracts, Could Lose Bellows

While the salary cap doesn’t appear to be a massive concern, CapFriendly already has the New York Islanders roster at the maximum of 23 players. This does not include the recent signings of Zdeno Chara and Zach Parise. A move is likely on the horizon to free up spots.

Pro Hockey Rumors reports that one of the players worth watching is Kieffer Bellows. The unsigned prospect is the kind of player who is on the bubble to make the roster in such a tight competition for spots, but they’d have to try to sneak him through waivers if he doesn’t make the main roster. It might turn out the GM Lou Lamoriello looks at a potential trade if he cannot re-sign Bellows to a new deal or if he believes someone else has a better shot at a roster spot.

Still with the Islanders, Chara discussed why he chose to sign with the team this summer and said he talked to his family all summer about returning to the NHL for one more year and admitted there were other teams interested in him. He said: “We made the decision to go with the Islanders.” He’s honoured to be returning to the team that drafted him.

#Isles Chara says he’s “honored and humbled” to be an Islander again.
Mentioned he had conversations with his family all summer long about playing another year.

Tarasenko Trade Update

According to Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Blues GM Doug Armstrong expects Tarasenko to remain a member of the team to open the NHL regular season. He will continue to look at trade options out of respect for the player’s request but the team is expecting Tarasenko to return and contribute.

Armstrong noted the ideal scenario would be that Tarasenko contributes so much that he changes his mind on the trade request. “I guess my (hope) is that he’ll be playing so good that he won’t want to be traded,” Armstrong said with a laugh. “And we won’t want to trade him.”

St. Louis Blues Vladimir Tarasenko
St. Louis Blues right wing Vladimir Tarasenko (AP Photo/Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke)

As for whether or not he thinks Tarasenko returning will make for an awkward situation in the locker room, he responded:

“They’re all pros. Our medical staff are pros. Our players are pros. And Vladi’s a pro. So we just have to have a good season. He has to have a good season. He wants to play for a number of years, and to do that, he’s gotta make himself marketable. And to do that, we have to be a good team for him, too.”

source – ‘Armstrong expects Tarasenko to be on Blues’ opening-day roster’ – Jim Thomas – 09/18/2021

Canadiens’ Ylönen Out Due to Lack of Vaccination

According to a report from La Presse (translated to English) Jesse Ylönen is not vaccinated against COVID-19 and as a result, had to undergo quarantine upon his arrival in the country. What’s intriguing about this is that the report notes: “Ylönen is not vaccinated “for reasons which belong to him”. At the time of this writing, we had not received a response from his agent to our email requesting clarification.”

Jesse Ylonen of Espoo United
Jesse Ylonen of Espoo United (Ilari Nackel/Espoo United)

The NHL has stated that players who elect not to be vaccinated could be suspended without pay if they contract the virus. More interesting in Ylönen’s case is that he’s likely slated to be part of the Laval Rocket’s roster and his participation in games that take place in the United States (22 of 72) could be problematic. Ylönen could end up missing 30% of Laval’s games if the federal quarantine does indeed apply to professional hockey players.

It’s not clear why he hasn’t been vaccinated — pre-existing condition or personal beliefs — but NHL Assistant Commissioner Bill Daly said he expects less than15 players in all of the NHL will not be adequately vaccinated by the time the season starts on October 12. The report doesn’t indicate if Ylönen has plans to get vaccinated or not.

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Jim Parsons is a senior THW freelance writer, part-time journalist and audio/video host who lives, eats, sleeps and breathes NHL news and rumors, while also writing features on the Edmonton Oilers. He’s been a trusted source for five-plus years at The Hockey Writers, but more than that, he’s on a mission to keep readers up to date with the latest NHL rumors and trade talk. Jim is a daily must for readers who want to be “in the know.”

Other content contributions include: NHLtradetalk.com, The Sportster and hosting weekly video casts, THW News and Rumors Rundown, plus Oilers Overtime.

For interview requests or to provide content info, follow Jim on Twitter or his social media accounts. They appear under his photo on articles like this one.

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Raptors Notes: Boucher, Roster, Nurse, Tax – hoopsrumors.com

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After missing the entire preseason due to a dislocated finger, Raptors big man Chris Boucher has been cleared to return for the team’s regular season opener, writes Lori Ewing of The Canadian Press (link via The Toronto Star).

Boucher had a breakout year in 2020/21, averaging 13.6 PPG, 6.7 RPG, and 1.9 BPG in 60 games (24.2 MPG). He’s expected to once again play a regular role in the Raptors’ frontcourt this season before becoming eligible for unrestricted free agency in 2022.

“My whole career, my whole time in Toronto, nothing has been promised … I had to work for everything, I see it the same way this year,” Boucher said of his mindset in a contract year, per Michael Grange of Sportsnet.ca (Twitter link). “… At the end of the day I gotta be consistent, that’s the one remaining thing I gotta focus on.”

Here’s more on the Raptors:

  • Toronto’s roster, which is heavy on long, versatile forwards, is unlikely any group the franchise has put together in its 27 years of existence, opines Doug Smith of The Toronto Star. As Smith observes, 11 of the Raptors’ 15 players on standard contracts have listed heights of at least 6’7″, but none are taller than 6’9″.
  • Having lost veteran leaders like Kawhi Leonard, Kyle Lowry, and Marc Gasol in recent years, head coach Nick Nurse will be tasked with leading a less experienced group this season, Smith writes for The Toronto Star. While Nurse adjusts his style to accommodate the new-look roster, Fred VanVleet says he’s helping the newcomers adapt to Nurse’s outside-the-box approach to coaching. “He’s a little weird at times, but he won us a championship, so he knows what he’s doing,” VanVleet said.
  • Following the Raptors’ roster cuts on the weekend, Blake Murphy of Sportsnet.ca took an in-depth look at the team’s cap and tax situation and which recently-waived players are – or aren’t – expected to play in the G League with the Raptors 905. Toronto’s team salary is currently above the luxury tax line, but the club still has the flexibility to duck below that line after pushing back the salary guarantee dates for Sam Dekker and Isaac Bonga.

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Raptors reveal starting lineup for season opener vs. Wizards – Yahoo Canada Sports

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After weeks of speculation, we finally know who Toronto Raptors coach Nick Nurse is using in his starting lineup — at least to start the season.

The Raptors announced Fred VanVleet, Goran Dragic, Scottie Barnes, OG Anunoby and Precious Achiuwa as their starting five for Wednesday’s season-opening game against the Washington Wizards at Scotiabank Arena. It’s not the most surprising lineup, with Dragic beating out Gary Trent Jr. and Achiuwa earning the nod over fellow big men Khem Birch and Chris Boucher.

Rookie Scottie Barnes (4) is starting the season in the Raptors' starting lineup. (Kevin Sousa-USA TODAY Sports)

Rookie Scottie Barnes (4) is starting the season in the Raptors’ starting lineup. (Kevin Sousa-USA TODAY Sports)

The frontcourt doesn’t possess much size, but Barnes, Anunoby and Achiuwa are all long players with plenty of athleticism to boot. That should make for a strong defensive unit, even without a traditional centre.

In VanVleet and Dragic, the Raptors feature a veteran backcourt that can facilitate for teammates and knock down the three-point shot with consistency.

Whether this five-man unit will be the norm going forward or if Toronto will adapt game-to-game based on matchups remains to be seen.

Nurse said he plans to use nine or 10 players in his rotation on opening night, meaning Birch, Trent, Boucher, and Svi Mykhailiuk should all see minutes off the bench.

Boucher was questionable after missing the entire preseason with a dislocated finger, but Nurse confirmed he was available against the Wizards.

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NHL great Mike Bossy reveals lung cancer diagnosis – CTV News

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Former New York Islanders winger and TVA hockey analyst Mike Bossy is battling lung cancer.

He announced the news in a letter to TVA Sports Tuesday.

“It is with a lot of sadness that I need to step away from your screens, for a necessary pause. During this break I’ll be receiving treatment for lung cancer. (The score is) 1-0 so far, but I haven’t said my last word,” Bossy wrote.

“I intend to fight with all the determination and fire you’ve seen me show on the ice.”

Referring to viewers, he added: “You’ll never be far away in my mind. To the contrary, you’ll have a choice seat and be a part of what motivates me to get better.

“Like all athletes who prepare for the biggest performance of their lives, I’ll need all of my strength and all my concentration.”

Bossy, 64, helped the Islanders win 4 straight Stanley Cup, starting in 1980.

The Montreal native tallied 573 goals and 1,126 points over 10 seasons.

Bossy won the Calder trophy as the NHL’s top rookie in 1978 and the Conn Smythe as the league’s MVP in 1982. He was also awarded the Lady Byng trophy for sportsmanship in 1983, ’84 and ’86.

He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1991.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 19, 2021.

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