Rumor Roundup: Could a Yakupov-for-Gardiner swap happen?

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The appearance of Toronto Maple Leafs GM Dave Nonis at Rexall Place for Friday’s game between the Vancouver Canucks and Edmonton Oilers raised eyebrows among NHL followers. Sportsnet’s Mark Spector wondered if Ben Scrivens performance in that game could affect the whereabouts of Leafs goalie James Reimer.

Evidently, the game’s outcome (a 2-0 win for the Canucks) had no effect on Reimer, who remains the Maple Leafs backup. Still, with the Oilers off to a franchise-worst start (0-4-1 in their opening five games) and the Leafs lurching from the gate with a 2-3-1 record, it’s only natural that Nonis’ appearance at that game would generate trade speculation.

Nonis could be doing some advanced scouting, but as The Score’s Thomas Drance observes, the Leafs don’t play the Oilers or Canucks until December, so an early-October scouting trip seems unusual. If Nonis’ Western swing is to pursue a trade, the Toronto Sun’s Steve Simmons believes it’ll be a small deal, not a significant one. Read more

Oilers goalie Ben Scrivens supports mental health via special masks

Adam Proteau
Ben Scrivens (Andy Devlin/NHLI via Getty Images)

Ben Scrivens is one of the more conscientious NHLers of his generation, so it was entirely within character to see the Oilers netminder stand up for mental health Monday by announcing he’d wear a series of goalie masks to raise awareness of the issue.

Scrivens’ “Ben’s Netminders” program, in support of the Schizophrenia Society of Alberta, is providing a platform for four local artists diagnosed with schizophrenia to design a goalie mask for him that touches on the disease. The masks will be auctioned off to raise funds for the organization – and the first artist selected, Richard Boulet, stressed the words “empathy” and “hope” on his version: Read more

Blink and you’ll miss it: Rangers score twice in four seconds

(Photo by Brian Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images)

Scoring goals is hard enough these days for NHL teams, but the New York Rangers got two in a hurry Sunday against San Jose. In fact, when Rick Nash scored on Sharks goalie Alex Stalock just four seconds after teammate Martin St-Louis did, they set a franchise record for consecutive goals not including an empty-net goal.

In what would eventually end in a 4-0 win for the Blueshirts, St-Louis made it 2-0 for the Rangers late in the second period when he whacked away at the puck from close range and pushed it past Stalock:

Then, off the ensuing faceoff, Nash fires the puck in at Stalock, who comes far out of his crease, misplays the puck and allows the Rangers winger to swat at it and somehow bat it into the Sharks net: Read more

Top 5 early season surprises

Gustav Nyqvist (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

The year has just begun, but already we’ve seen more than our fair share of surprises. Here’s your top-five before we enter the second Saturday of the season:

5. Gustav Nyquist continues to shoot out the lights

After the summer of Advanced Statistics, it would have been fitting if Red Wings’ sophomore forward Gustav Nyquist’s shooting percentage fell off.

In 2013-14, Nyquist shot an outrageous 18.3 percent and proprietors of so-called fancy stats said he was due for regression. You wouldn’t have gotten much disagreement from anyone about that, either. Extrapolated over an entire year, that would have been nearly 40 goals for the Swede.

So far – and yes, it has only been four games – Nyquist has already potted four goals on 11 shots, good for a 36.4 shooting percentage. Certainly, he’s due to regress to somewhere near the league average of somewhere between 8.5 to 9 per cent, but when? If he keeps this up, he might be throwing his name into the ring for the Rocket Richard. Read more

Rumor Roundup: Eric Staal in Toronto’s sights?

Jordan & Eric Staal (Photo by Jamie Sabau/NHLI via Getty Images)

In their quest to land a true first-line center, the Toronto Maple Leafs have reportedly cast their eyes south to Carolina and Hurricanes captain Eric Staal. TSN’s Bob McKenzie reports the Maple Leafs held discussions with the Hurricanes during the summer, but the asking price could be “enormous.”

McKenzie speculates such a move could cost the Leafs either Nazem Kadri or Tyler Bozak (as the Hurricanes would need a center to replace Staal), a first-round pick and perhaps defenseman Jake Gardiner, but he believes it’s a price the Leafs are willing to pay. Read more

Enough, Oilers – latest loss proves it’s time for major changes

Adam Proteau
Jordan Eberle (Andy Devlin/NHLI via Getty Images)

Everything written this time of the NHL’s regular season of is legally and morally bound to include the phrase “it’s early, but…”. And it is indeed early, but after seeing the Edmonton Oilers get rolled for the fourth straight game, I think I speak for their fan base – actually, I know I do, because their vocal cords are paralyzed with rage – when I say the following words:

Enough. No mas. Detener la locura.

That’s right – I’m so done watching these Oilers get humbled virtually every time they take the ice, I’m speaking in short bursts of Spanish. This is all affecting us in different ways. But as a writer who isn’t a fan of any team, I have no horse in this race, so I can only imagine how simultaneously furious and defeated Oilers fans must be feeling this morning. Is there a single barf bag available for purchase anywhere within the city limits right now?

This stopped being comically inept a long time ago. It is now tragically inept. And while you never want to make knee-jerk moves after a bad run, at some point you have to jerk the knee to prove you’re not a cadaver. The Oilers are at this stage. Read more

25 years ago today, Wayne Gretzky broke the all-time scoring mark in astounding fashion

Casey Ippolito
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The Los Angeles Kings slaughtered the Edmonton Oilers 6-1 last night. Today’s Kings are a powerhouse, while today’s Oilers are a punchline. In 1989, both were model franchises. Almost entirely because of Wayne Gretzky. And today marks the anniversary of No. 99 setting his greatest record of all.

A quarter century ago, Gretzky broke the NHL’s all-time career points record, then held by his idol, Gordie Howe.

Howe had amassed his total of 1,850 thanks to consistency, and more so, longevity. Howe played 1,767 games across five decades, outlasting his peers and retiring at 52. Read more

Los Angeles was playing chess, Edmonton was playing checkers

Ryan Kennedy
Taylor Hall and Jarret Stoll  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)

Darryl Belfry is a skills coach who works with elite NHLers such as Sidney Crosby, Patrick Kane and John Tavares. So when he breaks down game tape, the analysis is pretty sound. And if you needed any more evidence of how big a gulf exists between the Los Angeles Kings and the Edmonton Oilers after a 6-1 thrashing, just watch Belfry’s assessment of a Kings breakout from Tuesday night:

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