In today’s NHL News & Rumors column, the Columbus Blue Jackets are entertaining offers for forward Patrik Laine and defenseman Ivan Provorov. Will there be a team looking to acquire one or both available Blue Jackets? Is Blue Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen willing to move other pieces too? Would the Blue Jackets consider a swap centered around their disgruntled goaltender Elvis Merlikins and the Edmonton Oilers free agent blunder Jack Campbell? The Montreal Canadiens welcomed back Hall of Fame goaltender Patrick Roy who was recently named the head coach of the New York Islanders. The fans cheered, and the Canadiens played an emotional video tribute. Finally, Canadiens forward Brendan Gallagher hit Islanders defenseman Adam Pelech in the head, resulting in a five-game suspension. Was it the right length or not long enough?
Columbus Entertaining Offers on Patrik Laine & Ivan Provorov
Per TSN’s Insider Trading, Darren Dreger reported that the Columbus Blue Jackets are entertaining offers on forward Patrik Laine and defenseman Ivan Provorov. Both of these players have decent value for potential suitors, but the limited cap space around the NHL presents the biggest issue so far.
The complications surrounding both pieces are a massive issue for teams looking to pick up players before the March 8 trade deadline. Laine’s $8.7 million salary till the end of the 2025-26 season presents significant risk, but also a massive reward if the forward can find his form again. While Winnipeg Jets fans would love a reunion between the 2016 second overall pick, it most likely won’t happen due to Columbus likely unwilling to retain any salary.
Provorov is another complication, as he was just recently acquired by the Blue Jackets in the offseason. The Blue Jackets defenseman has been in trade rumors for several years now, but with Los Angeles retaining a portion of his salary already, it can make for an easier trade. The only issue is, again, the lack of salary cap space available around the league for the contending teams.
Does A Campbell for Merzlikins Swap Make Sense?
The Edmonton Oilers are on a 15-game winning streak right now. They have a strong goaltender in Stuart Skinner right now, but they do not have a strong backup goaltender option for him. Jack Campbell is currently in the AHL after clearing waivers in November and has not been able to find his footing since.
Campbell is in the second year of his five-year contract, worth $5 million annually. He played 36 games in the 2022-23 season and posted a goals-against-average (GAA) of 3.41 and a 0.888 save percentage (SV%). In his five games this season before being assigned to the Bakersfield Condors, Campbell posted a 4.5 GAA and a 0.873 SV%. With the Condors, Campbell has played 14 games and posted a 3.03 GAA and an okay 0.904 SV%.
As mentioned first on Oilers Nation by Cam Lewis, the Oilers have added Corey Perry, and it might have changed their outlook on the season. The Oilers could certainly use the cap space for either another defenseman or goaltender. The Columbus Blue Jackets have a goaltender looking to prove himself that the Oilers might like. Elvis Merzlikins has reportedly asked for a trade request, and there has been no significant interest or market for the Blue Jackets goaltender. If the Oilers are looking to add a goaltender with experience, swapping Campbell for Merzlikins makes sense. Although, Edmonton would have to add another piece or two to the puzzle to make this trade work if both teams come to the negotiating table.
Montreal Canadiens & Fans Show Love for Patrick Roy in Return
The newly named head coach for the New York Islanders was caught up in his past. Patrick Roy didn’t want to make Thursday, January 25th’s game versus the Montreal Canadiens about him, but the fans and the team certainly wanted to make his return to the Bell Centre special.
The Canadiens played a video with Roy holding the Conn Smythe Trophy and the Stanley Cup, Roy making a spectacular glove save, Roy winking through his mask, Roy raising the cup, Roy’s banner rising to the rafters. The fans cheered for the legendary goaltender and then cheered even louder once the live shot of his banner was shown.
A live shot of Roy was shown on the jumbo tron and television. He couldn’t help but acknowledge the fans with a nod and a wave. Although the Islanders lost 4-3 to the Canadiens, the fans certainly made Roy’s return special. Roy is one of many living legends in Montreal, which is seen by the love the fans give him every time he returns to Montreal.
Canadiens’ Gallagher to Have Phone Hearing, Later Suspended Five Games
Brendan Gallagher will have a phone hearing with the National Hockey League Department of Player Safety on Friday, January 26. The Canadiens forward is facing supplemental discipline after throwing an illegal check to the head against New York Islanders defenseman Adam Pelech the night before.
The incident occurred at 11:52 in the third period, resulting in a five-minute match penalty and game misconduct. The penalty was reviewed and the call on the ice stood, Brendan Gallagher was thrown out of the game. Pelech left the game and did not return due to this egregious hit. The NHL Department of Player Safety elected to have a phone hearing rather than an in-person (zoom) hearing with the Canadiens forward.
Gallagher does not have a history of supplemental discipline in over 700+ career NHL games. This likely factored into him not receiving an in-person hearing. With the phone hearing, the maximum length Gallagher can be suspended is five games for an illegal check to the head. However, the NHL Department of Player Safety retains the right to make adjustments to the infraction as necessary.
Around 5:00 pm EST on Friday, January 26, the NHL Department of Player Safety announced that Montreal Canadiens forward Brendan Gallagher was suspended for five games. It was expected that Gallagher was going to receive a multi-game suspension, five games was far more than what was expected. If Player Safety was wanting to give him a lengthy suspension, one has to wonder why they didn’t opt to give him an in-person hearing. An in-person hearing doesn’t automatically prompt a suspension of five games or more, but it the department an option. Additionally, this doesn’t look good for the reputation that NHL Player Safety has for supposedly throwing darts at a wheel to determine supplemental discipline.