Edmonton Oilers, Ken Hitchcock, NHL Rumors, Sheldon Keefe, Top Story, Toronto Maple Leafs

NHL Rumors: Zuccarello, Hitchcock, Maple Leafs, More

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In today’s NHL rumors, there are updates on Mats Zuccarello out of Dallas, updates on the coaching situations in Edmonton, Toronto, and Buffalo with some specific details on Ken Hitchcock, Sheldon Keefe, and Mike Babcock.

Dallas Stars Updates

Matthew DeFranks of the Dallas News says that Dallas Stars pending free agent winger Mats Zuccarello is looking to stay with the Stars but waiting on the team. He says, “This is my team now. We’ll see what’s going on. I’m kind of a guy when someone believes in you and wants you, I usually like that. We’ll see.”

Roope Hintz, Mats Zuccarello, Alexander Radulov, Jim Montgomery
Dallas Stars’ coach Jim Montgomery (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

Larry Brooks of the New York Post doesn’t think Zuccarello will be back in New York as there are some hard feelings by Zuccarello toward management and if the Stars re-sign him, they get New York’s 2020 first-round pick. Zuccarello’s comments on being wanted tend to lead credibility to the idea he wouldn’t rush back to New York.

Sean Shapiro of The Athletic believes that forward Jason Spezza’s time in Dallas is done. Shapiro isn’t saying he think Spezza is done in the NHL, just with the Stars who used him primarily as a fourth-liner.

In coaching news, Bob McKenzie reports that the Dallas Stars have given the Ottawa Senators permission to talk to assistant coach Rick Bowness.

Related: [Rumor] Holland to Send “Jolt” Through Oilers Lineup

Ken Hitchcock’s Role Moving Forward

It appears former Edmonton Oilers head coach Ken Hitchcock might have a few options available to him for next season. The Edmonton Journal’s Jim Matheson writes that there are rumors that the Columbus Blue Jackets might have interest in Hitchcock as a possible team president if John Davidson leaves for New York.

Ken Hitchcock of the Edmonton Oilers
EDMONTON, AB – NOVEMBER 27: Ken Hitchcock of the Edmonton Oilers stands on the bench prior to the game against the Dallas Stars on November 27, 2018 at Rogers Place in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. (Photo by Andy Devlin/NHLI via Getty Images)

Matheson writes:

They’re running Ken Hitchcock’s name up the flagpole in Columbus as a possible team president if John Davidson leaves for the Rangers, citing Hitchcock’s availability and ties to the Jackets as coach for four years.

source – ‘Edmonton Oilers coaching candidate Dave Tippett keeping intentions quiet’ – The Edmonton Journal – Jim Matheson – 05/10/2019

From the sounds of things, Hitchcock is expecting that he’ll stay in Edmonton and work with Ken Holland. He said he believes they would work well together and the team just needs “to find a role for me that would have value,” said Hitchcock. Speculation is that Holland is relying heavily on Hitchcock’s opinion when it comes to player and coach evaluations. Hitchcock has been tasked with gathering information on all the coaching candidates and using his contact list to help the Oilers in their search.

As far the Columbus job goes, Matheson believes another former Oilers coach, Ralph Kreuger, might be more suited for the gig.

Related: NHL Rumors: Rinne, Subban, Kings, Capitals, More

Sheldon Keefe Staying with Marlies?

Apparently, Sheldon Keefe‘s window to interview for a coaching job in the NHL is very short. Because of this and other factors, Elliotte Friedman suggests that Keefe may just stay with the Marlies organization in the AHL knowing he might get a shot at the Maple Leafs head coaching job, especially with Mike Babcock on a shorter leash.

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

Friedman suggested that if Keefe leaves, it’s because he’s leaving for a great situation. Keefe makes well above $400k per year, probably the highest paid coach in the AHL.

The Maple Leafs may have taken less time to worry about Babcock staying or going if they were under the impression they’d have Keefe ready and able if they needed to make a change.

Related: NHL Rumors: Canucks, Sabres, Panthers, More

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