In today’s NHL news and rumors rundown, the Montreal Canadiens have decided to sit three important players for Game 1 against the Toronto Maple Leafs. What is going on there? Detroit Red Wings made a decision to bring back head coach Jeff Blashill and GM Steve Yzerman talks why. There is injury news when it comes to the Winnipeg Jets, news and rumors updates surrounding the Calgary Flames, and the Arizona Coyotes might look to trade defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson again.
Canadiens Will Sit Caufield, Kotkaniemi, and Romanov
According to John Lu of TSN, “As anticipated based on practices since Saturday, Habs Caufield and Kotkaniemi will sit out Game 1. However, Ducharme expects he will play them in the series.” He adds, “Romanov will also sit Game 1. Merrill and Weber practiced together today and likely will be a pair to start the series.”
Fans in Montreal are not happy about the decision and it is believed that the experience factor is why coach Dominique Ducharme is going the way he’s going. “It’s clearly a matter of trust,” said Lu when it comes to Caufield sitting. He added that the rookie is just not going to slot in ahead of many of the other players the Canadiens have access to at the right wing positions. The team also wants him to sit and watch Game 1 so that, when they do call upon him, he’s seen the pacing, the physical play and the demands of a playoff game.
Why Yzerman Brought Back Coach Jeff Blashill
On Tuesday, the Red Wings decided to offer an extension to head coach Jeff Blashill, a decision that has been met with mixed reaction from the fan base. GM Steve Yzerman said of the decision:
“I feel our team was collectively very competitive. Whether we played well or not every night was different, but we played hard, and I think our players play hard, and I think that’s a reflection of the coaching staff, that the coaching staff has the respect of the players. That was important. The other part is, Jeff has really shown to work with me with transitioning our young players into the lineup, being patient with them, not handing them positions or ice time, really forcing them to earn it, and guiding them along and being firm, yet patient, with our young guys.”
source – ‘Jeff Blashill’s extension with Red Wings, assistant coach search, offseason needs: Steve Yzerman’s year-end comments’ – Max Buitman – The Athletic – 05/18/2021
Jets Injury Updates
Jets’ head coach Paul Maurice says that both Nikolaj Ehlers and Pierre-Luc Dubois will be on the trip to Edmonton and he’s calling them “game-time decisions”. He added they are more likely to be “game-time announcements”, which means they could play but are doubtful.
The Edmonton Oilers are a favorite in this Round 1 North Division matchup and it might be as simple as the coach not wanting to tip his hand as to whether or not these players will slot in. This way, the Oilers have to prepare as though both are playing.
Coyotes to Shop Ekman-Larsson and Kessel
There is talk the Coyotes will definitely try to trade Phil Kessel this offseason, but also that the organization might revisit the idea of trading Ekman-Larsson, as they did last offseason when the Boston Bruins and Vancouver Canucks were trying to acquire his services.
With some declining numbers and a hefty contract, it will be interesting to see if the same teams are still interested in the defenseman or if he would expand his no-trade list knowing that the Coyotes are, once again, potentially looking to move him. He’s an $8.25 million per season cap hit for six more seasons.
Flames News and Rumors
Eric Francis of Sportsnet writes that the Flames need to make a decision on GM Brad Treliving, who has two years left on his contract. They may elect to keep him through their organizational transition process as he knows more about this team than anyone. Among the changes he might make: trading Johnny Gaudreau, leaving Mark Giordano exposed during the NHL Expansion Draft, and making a play for Jack Eichel.
Francis doesn’t believe Calgary will be big players when it comes to Eichel. He writes, “The Flames just don’t have the sort of star players and top prospects needed to compete for a player of Eichel’s ilk.”
Jim Parsons is a freelance writer who covers the Edmonton Oilers and news and rumors posts here at The Hockey Writers.
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