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Happy Thursday Nation! As always, I’m here to get you caught up on the all hottest rumours and trade talk flying around the OIlers and the NHL. This week there are five stories that I want to touch and unfortunately, the first one is Jesse Puljujarvi. (I say unfortunately because I’m sick of writing these rumour blogs about him)

JP TO REMAIN IN FINLAND

So Jesse Puljujarvi has let it be known that he plans on spending all season with Karpat regardless of is he is traded before the December 1st deadline. That date is important because if he doesn’t have an NHL contract by then, he won’t be coming back.

I’m still of the belief that a team acquiring Puljujarvi would likely view him as more of a long-term solution. I just couldn’t see a team look at him as a player who could hop into the NHL this season and improve their chances of making the playoffs. Some insiders think that teams would view him as an immediate NHL upgrade but that’s not going to happen this year.

Despite this news, I still think Puljujarvi could be dealt at the trade deadline this year. He is the Oilers’ most significant trade asset and if they want to bolster their forward core for a playoff run, packaging Puljujarvi and a draft pick could probably get you a good piece. That’s optimistic but still possible.

The harsh reality of this situation for the Oilers is that they’ll likely deal him at the  NHL Draft in June and the return probably won’t be very sexy.

LEAFS & THEIR GOALTENDING

Michael Hutchinson is not an NHL calibre goaltender and the Toronto Maple Leafs have had to learn that the hard way through the first month of their season. They put the veteran back-up on waivers earlier this week and recalled Kasimir Kaskisuo from the AHL but I don’t believe for a second that’s a long-term fix.

Elliotte Friedman mentioned in this week’s 31 Thoughts that it doesn’t seem like the Leafs are as worried about this as others outside of the organization are, but I expect that to change. There are a handful of quality backup goaltenders on relatively cheap contracts that could be acquired. Casey DeSmith, Eric Comrie, Louis Domingue, and even Jack Campbell out in LA are all in situations where they could be dealt.

It’s only a matter of time until Kyle Dubas does something to address this.

THE KINGS & THE KOVALCHUK SAGA

So the LA Kings are seemingly done with Ilya Kovalchuk. They told the Russian forward that he’s more than welcome to practice with the team but he will not be seeing game action any time soon.

Kovalchuk has one more year on a deal that carries a cap hit $6.25 million. The interesting part in all of this is that the amount of real dollars owed to him is very different from his cap hit. 

Once his massive bonus is paid on December 15th, he will be owed less than 700k for the remainder of this season and just $4.25 million for next season. It will be tough to find a team willing to take on his massive cap hit but the fact that the real dollar amount is less could make it easier to do.

I’ve seen a few fans ask if the Oilers could make something happen if the LA Kings keep 50% of Kovalchuk’s money but I do not want to see Ken Holland go anywhere near this player. He can still score goals but that is about it. He doesn’t skate well, work ethic is always a question, and I don’t think he would help spark the Oilers bottom six. 

The most likely resolution to this, in my opinion, is the Kings either buy him out or the two sides mutually terminate his deal this summer.

CANES & SABRES NEED FORWARD HELP

Two teams that are reportedly ready to be active on the trade market: the Buffalo Sabres and the Carolina Hurricanes.

The Sabres will be without Vlad Sobotka for the next 4-6 weeks and even when he’s back, rumours are that they still would like to add a forward. I’m not sure what they have to trade right now considering their back-end is also a little banged up but they’re no doubt in the market for a forward.

As are the Canes and when it comes to them, it’s clear that they’re willing to trade a defenseman for a scoring forward. Haydn Fleury and Trevor Van Riemsdyk are the obvious trade candidates and I would imagine that they could bring back a pretty good middle-six forward in a trade. 

They exploded for eight goals against the Senators but I don’t think that is going to change anything. I expect a move from the Hurricanes before Christmas. There’s just too much chatter for something not to happen.

WHO REPLACES CHERRY?

I’ll end on this. A lot of people wondering who will replace Don Cherry during the first intermission on Saturday nights. For right now, and probably the remainder of the season, they’ll probably just go to a panel for the first intermission.

Next year? They could bring someone in to do a weekly segment but I would almost guarantee you they won’t call it ‘Coaches Corner’. Who could be the analyst? Ray Ferraro would be amazing but I doubt TSN and NBC are just going to let him walk. Brian Burke is obviously the favourite.

How about this for a dark-horse candidate? Roberto Luongo. He’s hilarious, familiar with the Canadian media landscape, and would probably have some good opinions. 

Anyways, that’s all for me this week!