NHL Rumor Mill – December 3, 2018
Latest on the Leafs, Bruins, and Wild in your NHL rumor mill.
CAN LEAFS AFFORD TO RE-SIGN GARDINER?
SPORTSNET: Mike Johnston reports William Nylander’s new six-year, $41.77-million contract could affect the Toronto Maple Leafs’ efforts to re-sign Jake Gardiner. The 28-year-old defenseman is due to become an unrestricted free agent next July and is earning an annual average value of $4.05 million on his current deal. The Leafs must also re-sign star forwards Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner, who become restricted free agents next summer and will be due to receive significant raises.
Johnston cites colleague Nick Kypreos could command between $6 million to $7 million per season on the open market next summer, though that might not be feasible for the Leafs, who have over $56 million invested in 12 players for 2019-20. Kypreos believes if Gardiner is willing to accept a slight increase over his current cap hit the Leafs would be more than willing to sign him to a long-term deal. Elliotte Friedman suggests using signing bonuses as a way of getting Gardiner to accept less than what he’d get via free agency.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It could cost around $22 million for the Leafs to get Matthews and Marner under contract, pushing the Leafs’ cap hit to around $78 million committed to 14 players. Even if Gardiner agrees to a slight pay bump, the Leafs won’t have much room to re-sign him and still have enough room to fill out the rest of their roster. They’ll have to shed some salary to free up sufficient cap space or watch Gardiner depart via free agency.
RECENT BRUINS SPECULATION
NBC SPORTS BOSTON: In a recent mailbag segment, Joe Haggerty addressed trade suggestions and questions from his readers. Asked about the possibility of adding a power forward, Haggerty suggested Philadelphia Flyers winger Wayne Simmonds could be a good short-term option if he’s available by the trade deadline.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: if the Flyers don’t gain ground soon in the Eastern Conference standings, their new general manager (whoever that might be) could try to trade him before the Feb. 25, 2019 deadline. Despite Simmonds’ struggles this season, he could still attract plenty of interest from playoff contenders (like the Bruins) in need of a two-way physical presence on their forward lines.
To add some secondary scoring, Haggerty suggests dealing from some of their surplus young wingers. He in favor of moving Anders Bjork as he’s not sure Bjork fits into the Bruins’ big picture. They might also have to part with Ryan Donato or Danton Heinen.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Those three have frequently surfaced in the trade-rumor mill of late. One of them could be playing elsewhere by the trade deadline.
Regarding the possibility of trading defenseman Torey Krug, Haggerty feels there’s more upside to keeping Krug than in trading him. The only reason to move him would be if there’s significant value for him in the trade market. Haggerty also shoots down the idea of dealing for St. Louis Blues winger Vladimir Taransenko, citing the high cost to land him.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Bruins aren’t landing Tarasenko and I don’t see the Blues making such an extreme move this season. If they decide to shop Taranseko, it’ll happen in the offseason, perhaps during the 2019 NHL Draft.
As for Krug, he was frequently mentioned in last summer’s trade chatter but that talk has since died away. Seems the Bruins value his puck-moving abilities and offensive contributions.
LATEST WILD RUMORS
THE ATHLETIC: During a recent mailbag segment, Michael Russo was asked about recent speculation claiming the Boston Bruins could be interested in Minnesota Wild forward Charlie Coyle. He believes Coyle might benefit from a fresh start and playing in his hometown. He mentioned Bruins forward Ryan Donato as an intriguing possibility for the Wild.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Russo’s colleague Joe McDonald recently reported the Bruins could revisit their offseason interest in Coyle, suggesting it could take packaging one of their young forwards with a draft pick to acquire him. Since then, however, there’s been nothing really new about this speculation. Could be worth watching as Wild GM Paul Fenton continues to evaluate his roster.
Asked if the Wild should pursue Edmonton Oilers winger Jesse Puljujarvi, Russo feels it depends on the asking price. He’d also like to see how Puljujarvi performs under new Oilers coach Ken Hitchcock.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s believed the Oilers remain reluctant to part with Puljujarvi as they fear he’ll blossom elsewhere. Baring a significant offer, they’re unlikely to move him this season.