Welcome to another edition of NHL Rumours! Things are picking up steam across the league and the rumour mill is churning fast. It is exciting times, especially for the San Jose Sharks who have won two in a row. While that is all fun, todays rumours concern the Toronto Maple Leafs and a prized free agent forward.
Toronto Maple Leafs
Is it time to panic in Toronto? Not necessarily. It is still early in the season but there are glaring things that the club needs to address. Sheldon Keefe coming out and talking about protecting defencemen John Klingberg is eye opening as well. While he makes a good point, Klingberg is only part of the problem.
Toronto is struggling with consistent goaltending and defending well. As a team, they rank 28th in goals against per game (3.62) and sit 23rd in save percentage (.885). Despite the talent up front, these issues are glaring and simply plaguing the team. But where do they go from here and how can they improve?
Dreger outlines that they are working the phones and exploring the trade market. Toronto could use a shut down defencemen and help on the back end. However, it is worth noting the amount of injuries to the back end. Being down top tier guys is never easy and players that would normally be an extra player are playing full time.
With a next man up mentality, the biggest thing Toronto can do is put together a consistent effort defensively. At 5v5, Toronto has the fourth most expected goals against (31.08) and have allowed 30. Simply put, they need to be better and not allow the opposition to generate quality chances. Brad Treliving is not shy to making a move and time will tell how they address things.
The second of our NHL Rumours surrounds the biggest free agent on the market. We are officially on Patrick Kane watch. He is still recovering from offseason hip surgery and is inching closer to game action. The time has come and the race is off and running. Four teams remain in the mix and they are the New York Rangers, Buffalo Sabres, Florida Panthers, and Detroit Red Wings. Each team has their own special connection and a fit for him in the lineup.
The Rangers as we all know is the team that he wanted to be traded to and he got his wish. But does he make a return? It is possible that he returns to Broadway and there is a fit on their top line. Alexis Lafreniere has been great and has found a great connection playing with Artemi Panarin. However, Kaapo Kakko has just two points on the season and Blake Wheeler scored his first goal last night against Minnesota. Depth has been tremendous for the team this season but Kane moves the needle on the top line. A healthy Kane alongside Mika Zibanejad and Chris Kreider would be great for the team that sits at the top of the division.
Kane being the latest of the NHL Rumours has him linked to Buffalo since the summer. Welcome home. After an illustrious career with the Chicago Blackhawks, he could cap off his career by returning home. Buffalo has shaped out its core group and is one of the better offensive teams in the league. The young talent has taken the next steps in there games and adding a veteran to the mix could give them a boost.
Buffalo has scored the tenth most goals at 5v5 (30) and has scored 41 overall. This team is led by Tage Thompson and Rasmus Dahlin but has great depth. A Thompson and Kane combo would be lethal for the league and could be the move that helps propel them further in the standings and get into the playoffs.
This is simply due to the connection with Bill Zito. Zito and Kane were together in Chicago and reuniting seems like a perfect match. Florida is down key players with injury but are hanging on in the standings. However, they could use a boost offensively as they have scored 35 goals in all situations. It is not for a lack of effort, as they have generated the 12th most expected goals for (43.1).
Adding Kane gives them someone who can be a playmaker but also finishing ability. It will be a challenge, as they are right up against the salary cap. The connection is there but it’ll be a challenge to bring him in.
Lastly, another great addition to the “Yzerplan”. Steve Yzerman is starting to see the Yzerplan come to fruition. The team is performing well and is near the top of the standings in the Atlantic Division. The happiest man in the Motor City is Dylan Larkin, who has caught lightning in a bottle playing with Alex DeBrincat. DeBrincat is the link for Kane being lured to Detroit as Johnston mentioned.
Kane and DeBrincat played together in Chicago and played well together. Like Panarin, DeBrincat loved playing alongside Kane and the two could reunite with Detroit. Kane would give the Red Wings another scoring threat and rounds out the depth on the team. The forward group is playing well and contributions are coming from everywhere, but adding Kane would give Detroit a lethal top line.
It will be something to monitor as the decision will be made sooner than later. These are the teams in the mix, so get the popcorn ready.
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