In today’s NHL rumors rundown, are the Toronto Maple Leafs and forward Nick Robertson reaching a point where the two sides might need to look at a fresh start? Meanwhile, are the Edmonton Oilers set to sign Sam Gagner to an AHL contract? The Montreal Canadiens may be showcasing a player for a possible trade, and, finally, did the Winnipeg Jets sign Connor Hellebuyck and Mark Scheifele because of dwindling attendance?
Is Nick Robertson Growing Impatient in the AHL?
Nick Robertson’s impressive performance in the AHL, with five points in two games, raises questions about his future with the Toronto Maple Leafs. In a recent discussion on the Kyper and Bourne show, Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman expressed a sense of urgency surrounding Robertson’s NHL opportunity. Friedman noted that if Robertson doesn’t get a chance soon, the Maple Leafs might risk frustrating the forward to the point he looks to be moved to another team.
Despite being sent down, Robertson was reportedly told there would be an opportunity if he performed well in the AHL. However, as time passes, the likelihood of him seeking a new beginning with another organization increases. There are forwards struggling with the Leafs and if Robertson is overlooked, how long before he feels like he’ll never get the opportunity he needs in Toronto?
Friedman wonders if the Maple Leafs, aware of Robertson’s talent, face a crucial decision in integrating him into the NHL roster before his patience wears thin.
Oilers Likely to Sign Sam Gagner
Chris Johnston of The Athletic writes that there are updates on a few unsigned free agents in the NHL and the Edmonton Oilers are about to take one of those players off the market in Sam Gagner. Johnston writes:
The next step in a journey that he hopes will result in his third career stint with the Edmonton Oilers will be signing an AHL deal with their farm team in Bakersfield. Expect that to be announced any day now.
source – ‘Johnston: What I’m hearing about Phil Kessel, other unsigned NHL free agents’ – Chris Johnston – The Athletic – 10/19/2023
There is no guarantee Gagner sees any NHL action this season, but he could be called upon in the event of injuries or if the team continues to struggle and needs better depth.
Are the Canadiens Trying to Showcase Joel Armia?
On Saturday morning, the Montreal Canadiens revealed that 19-year-old forward Filip Mesar would be returning to the Ontario Hockey League and the team called up experienced forward Joel Armia. The Canadiens had actively sought a trade partner during the summer to take on Armia’s contract, a burdensome four-year deal with an average annual value and cap hit of $3.4 million per season.
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According to reports from The Fourth Period’s David Pagnotta, trade discussions involving Armia have recently gained momentum. It appears that the Canadiens are attempting to showcase the veteran forward to potential suitors. Armia’s contract, not only costly but also extending for another year beyond this season, complicates potential trades, necessitating creative solutions for any interested parties.
Jets Needed to Sign Their Two Star Free Agents
Darren Dreger noted on the recent TSN Insider Trading episode that the Winnipeg Jets drop in attendance is a real concern for that market and it could have been one of the key motivating factors to getting deals done with goaltender Connor Hellebuyck and forward Mark Scheifele. The team needs a winning product on the ice and if either player were to have left, that could have been a huge cause of concern for the franchise.
Clearly, the players are valuable to the team even if the attendance was great, but it makes sense to assume that a rush was put on those two deals getting done as a potential motivator to bring fans back into the arena.