Welcome to another edition of NHL Rumours! Last evening the Connor McDavid vs Connor Bedard show did not disappoint. Auston Matthews is looking to capture another Rocket Richard trophy and the Pittsburgh Penguins finally scored a goal on the power play! Although, there is trade buzz surrounding the league, which is intriguing to many. Today’s rumours swirl around the Toronto Maple Leafs and New Jersey Devils.
Toronto Maple Leafs
Rumour: David Pagnotta from The Fourth Period discusses the latest defenceman that the team Maple Leafs have interest in.
The search is in full swing for the Toronto Maple Leafs regarding a defenceman. With John Klingberg out for the season, the need becomes more pressing. Toronto suffered another big blow with Joseph Woll being out with an ankle sprain. Ilya Samsonov has played well as of late but that doesn’t mean that the search comes to a halt.
General Manager Brad Treliving has made an attempt to land a pair of players from the Calgary Flames but he is pivoting elsewhere. Pagnotta mentions that the Maple Leafs have been interested in Ilya Lyubushkin.
Even though Lyubushkin is a free agent at the end of the season, he has a desirable salary cap hit of $2.75 million. For a team that does not have a tonne of money to work with, this is a perfect fit. Lyubushkin is your typical shutdown defenceman and starts majority of his shifts in the defensive zone. He is not going to light the scoreboard but he is solid in his own end and brings a physical edge Toronto craves. Lyubushkin is second in hits on the Ducks (51) and is unafraid to sacrifice the body and block shots (69).
The Anaheim Ducks started the year hot but have cooled down since. Lyubushkin is in similar territory that John Klingberg was last season. With being a rental player, his name will be called on and it’s matter of time before he’s dealt. Defenceman have shown to go for a premium at the trade deadline and Pat Verbeek will look to capitalize on a return.
New Jersey Devils
Rumour: David Pagnotta from The Fourth Period mentions the Devils interested in John Gibson
The next set of NHL Rumours stay on the same course; Duck. With Anaheim trending downward in the standings, the club may opt to part ways with players that will net good returns. Pagnotta has linked Lyubushkin to the Maple Leafs but also John Gibson to the New Jersey Devils.
This is a move that fits like a glove. New Jersey has been strong defensively, as they have surrendered the fourth fewest shot attempts, seventh fewest shots on goal, and the sixth fewest expected goals against (all at 5v5). However, they’ve had a hard time keeping the puck out of the net.
The team defence has been strong but the goaltending has been poor. With the Devils having Stanley Cup aspirations and being a playoff contender, they’ll need to improve in net. New Jersey owns the 31st ranked save percentage (.878) and has a combined goals saved above expected of -9.0. This is where John Gibson comes in.
Gibson has performed better this season. He has a 2.83 goals against average and a .906 save percentage. Furthermore, he has a 2.6 goals saved above expected and would perform better in front of a better Devils defence.
Gibson is not a rental piece, so General Manager Tom Fitzgerald would secure the crease for the foreseeable future. Gibson has a salary cap hit of $6.4 million and is under contract until after the 2026-27 season. The options are limited but Gibson is a great place to begin.
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