Buffalo Sabres, Jacques Martin, Kelly McCrimmon, Mike Babcock, NHL Rumors, Top Story, Toronto Maple Leafs

NHL Rumors: Babcock, McCrimmon, Sabres, More

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In today’s NHL rumor rundown, there are updates on the Vancouver Canucks, Toronto Maple Leafs, Vegas Golden Knights, Edmonton Oilers and more. Also, there is a new name linked to the Buffalo Sabres coaching search.

Vancouver Canucks on Dean Lombardi Speculation and Contracts

Francesco Aquilini says that despite reports he’s reached out to Dean Lombardi on a number of occasions, he has not. “I want to correct erroneous media reports that I tried to hire Dean Lombardi. In fact, I’ve never spoken to Dean Lombardi in my life.”

Dean Lombardi
Jun 3, 2014; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Kings general manager Dean Lombardi during media day before game one of the 2014 Stanley Cup Final against the New York Rangers at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Also in Canucks’ news, Jason Botchford of TSN Radio Vancouver reports the Canucks can make and have room to make a lot of moves. That could include taking on a contract like James Neal or “find free agents, weaponize the cap space and find players with high upside.”

Related: NHL Rumors: Mikheyev, Zuccarello, Jets, More

Jacques Martin in Buffalo?

It was heavily speculated that the Buffalo Sabres went after Todd McLellan as their new coach only to lose him to the LA Kings. They were then recently linked to several other names after a recent courting process, and have now been linked to several other names like Dave Tippet or Ralph Kreuger but the latest name out there is Jacques Martin.

Darren Dreger of TSN was on The Instigators on WGR550 in Buffalo and reported that Martin is a leading candidate for the job. He says:

There’s been speculation of Todd Richards, although a couple of days ago I got the sense that [Richards] is of interest and is certainly a candidate, but things weren’t heating up there. Maybe that’s changed in the last 24 hours, I don’t know that, but yesterday I was told that Jacques is considered a top candidate. We’ll see.

source – ‘(quote via WGR550 producer Brayton J. Wilson)’

John Shannon of Sportsnet also notes that the Ottawa Senators have asked for permission to speak with Martin who is currently an assistant coach with the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Related: NHL Rumors: Ehlers, Oilers, Lightning, More 

Requests Coming in Fast to Speak With Kelly McCrimmon

Now that the Vegas Golden Knights are officially out of the playoffs, one person who will quickly have interested parties calling on him is assistant general manager Kelly McCrimmon.

Kelly McCrimmon
KELOWNA, CANADA – OCTOBER 25: Head coach Kelly McCrimmon of Brandon Wheat Kings stands on the bench during first period against the Kelowna Rockets on October 25, 2014 at Prospera Place in Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada. (Photo by Marissa Baecker/Getty Images)

McCrimmon has been linked as the new possible GM of both the Edmonton Oilers and expansion Seattle team. Darren Dreger of TSN tweeted that the Oilers will send a request for permission to speak with McCrimmon almost immediately.

That the Golden Knights were eliminated last night really helps the timing for the Oilers if McCrimmon is, in fact, their guy.

Related: NHL Rumors: Trouba, Neal, Penguins, Oilers, More

Mike Babcock on the Hot Seat?

There is a ton of premature speculation in Toronto after the Maple Leafs got booted from the playoffs on Tuesday but there are also plenty of reputable names in the media suggesting he just coached his last game for the team, noting they haven’t advanced past the first round in the past three years and his player usage is under fire.

Toronto Maple Leafs head coach Mike Babcock
Toronto Maple Leafs head coach Mike Babcock (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette)

It seems unlikely that Babcock is relieved of his duties with four years left on a contract that pays $50 million over eight years. So too, the man in charge who hired him still very much in charge and having watched the team rack up four 100-point seasons in a row isn’t likely to throw in the towel yet.

Instead, the Maple Leafs will focus on getting a Mitch Marner contract done (which could be much harder now that the team is not a “winner”) and improve the blue line.

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