NHL Rumor Mill – April 16, 2019

by | Apr 16, 2019 | Rumors | 32 comments

More speculation over Nazem Kadri’s future with the Leafs, an update on Karl Alzner, and the latest on the Kings in today’s NHL rumor mill. 

COULD KADRI BECOME A SALARY-DUMP CANDIDATE?

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Ken Campbell joins a growing list of pundits suggesting Nazem Kadri’s latest suspension could bring his tenure with the Toronto Maple Leafs to an end. Campbell points out the Leafs face a salary-cap crunch for next season and face re-signing restricted free agents Mitch Marner, Andreas Johnsson, and Kasperi Kapanen and signing or replacing unrestricted free agents Ron Hainsey and Jake Gardiner. 

Nazem Kadri’s future with the Toronto Maple Leafs has become a hot topic in the rumor mill (Photo via NHL Images).

Kadri carries a $4.5-million salary-cap hit over the next three seasons. While Campbell praised the center’s two-way skills and feistiness, his recent antics and the need to free up salary-cap room could make it easier for the Leafs to justify moving him.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: You can question the logic of trading Kadri over his playoff suspensions but the need to find sufficient cap space to re-sign other key players could rationalize moving him.

Cap Friendly indicates the Leafs currently have over $75 million invested in 19 players for 2019-20. They’ll get $5.3 million in cap relief to start the season by placing all-but-retired Nathan Horton on long-term injury reserve. Assuming a cap of $83 million for next season, they’ll have less than $13 million to re-sign Marner, Johnsson, and Kapanen and re-sign or replace Hainsey and Gardiner.

Shedding Kadri’s cap hit would provide some much-needed cap relief. His 10-team no-trade list and recent suspension history could complicate things. Still, if the Leafs were to shop Kadri this summer they should be able to find a club looking for a center of his talents and affordable contract. 

LE JOURNAL DE MONTREAL: Mathieu Boulay reports Canadiens defenseman Karl Alzner faces an uncertain future with the club. He spent most of this season with their AHL affiliate in Laval. The 30-year-old blueliner still has three years remaining on his contract with an annual salary-cap hit of $4.625 million. He said he’d like to find himself in a situation where he can play in the NHL again but said he’s had no discussions about his future with Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: In a league trending toward swift-skating youth, Alzner’s age and lack of speed hurt his effectiveness as an NHL defenseman. Maybe Bergevin can peddle Alzner to a club lacking blueline depth in need of reaching the salary-cap minimum this summer but he’ll likely have to include a sweetener like a draft pick or a prospect or agree to pick up half of Alzer’s annual cap hit as part of the deal.

A buyout would provide the Canadiens $3.55 million in cap savings for 2019-20 but the cap hit jumps to $4.1 million in 2020-20 and over $2 million the following season before dropping back to 1.069 million for the final three seasons. 

LATEST ON THE KINGS

THE ATHLETIC: Josh Cooper suggests goaltender Jonathan Quick’s lack of no-trade protection could make him a trade candidate this summer. He feels the Kings will have to pick up part of his $5.8-million annual average value through 2022-23 to make a deal happen.

Cooper considers aging defenseman Dion Phaneuf a buyout candidate. He has two years remaining on his contract with an annual average value of $5.25 million. The buyout cap hit will be high over the next two seasons but Cooper feels the Kings won’t be concerned about that as they retool with a younger roster. He also believes the Kings trading Jake Muzzin to Toronto indicates they’ll retain Alec Martinez. 

LA KINGS INSIDER: Jon Rosen reports Kings GM Rob Blake intends to meet with left wing Ilya Kovalchuk to discuss the club’s plans for next season and his potential role under a new head coach. Kovalchuk had a disappointing first season with the Kings and was a frequent subject of trade rumors. He’s got two years left on his contract ($6.25-million AAV) and a full no-movement clause. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The solid performance of goaltenders Jack Campbell and Cal Petersen was among the few bright spots in an otherwise miserable season for the Kings. They also earn considerably less combined than Quick. If there’s a market for the veteran goaltender, I think the Kings will explore it. I agree with Cooper regarding a potential buyout of Phaneuf and their retention of Martinez.

As for Kovalchuk, he holds all the cards here. If he wants to stay put – and he’s made it clear how much he and his family love living in Los Angeles – the Kings will have to hope his production improves next season under a new head coach. Buying him out isn’t an option for cap relief as he’s on a plus-35 contract, meaning his full cap hit will still count against their payroll. 







32 Comments

  1. Still think there could be a solid deal between car and la centered around darling and quick with the canes adding a nice additional piece.

    Reply
    • Hi Chrisms

      No challenge here at all with that.

      I agree that it can be done.

      The challenge to the successful trade is what the extra pieces (I say plural) that Blake will insist on

      Waddell morning st give Blake a ding at least IMO

      The price of a call just to find out if it’s plausible

      Reply
      • Friggin autocorrect , fat fingers, small iPhone screen , weak eyes, lack of sleep….

        “Morning st” should be “must”

      • The Leafs have NEEDED to shore up their pathetic/soft D, for years now.
        Some thought Muzzin was the savior but Montour was had for less & is much younger & is what they desire.

        Leafs fans thought they won it all, after getting all their shiny new forward pieces, to display in meaningless games all season long, once playoffs come- where does Matthews hide???

        AS SOON AS THEY SIGNED TAVARES;
        they should have taken top offer for Matthews.

      • Muzzin and Montour are completely different players.
        Muzzin came at fair market price, Montour was just a robbery

    • All these so called TORONTO-Pens “fans” may need to choose 3rd & 4th “fav teams to cheer for” soon…

      A lot of them were preaching all year about Tampa Bay winning it all for a joke, this year.

      They must have forgotten(or never knew) that playoff hockey is a much different beast & any team can beat the other, from night to night.

      The Leafs & Pens are NOT built for playoff hockey.
      BRUINS or Leafs will be out in 2nd round.

      No matter who they face, the B’s have been beat up & hurt for awhile now.

      Reply
      • Leafs and Lightning are paper champions. No grit, no sandpaper. Razzle dazzle works for 82 games but is futile once the league stops playing ice capades and begins the mens season.

        Kucherov, Matthews, Stamkos, Tavares et al are great players but vanish when the heavy lifting arrives.

        Soft has never, and will never cut it come playoff time.

      • Hi En4sir

        Guilty as charged wrt calling Bolts to win

        I’m unbelievably shocked at where they are now

        Setting aside Hedman injury and Kucherov ousting for a game ; it’s the super playing by Bobo and sub-par by Vaz along with the invisible production from Stammer , Point et al that shocks me most.

        Is a comeback possible …. yes…. likely …., not now me thinks

        Down 1-2 and my perceived odds of them coming back are massively larger than down 0-3…… waaaaaaay waaaaaaay waaaay higher odds of them coming back

        The Leafs aren’t built (now) for play-off hockey …. you get no argument from me on that…. they need a D upgrade for sure

        Pens ….. not structured like other teams likely to succeed in the playoffs… true ; but their formulae has paid off in the past

        I will say it again though …. playing JJ has cost them everything

        Had he not played this season …. Pens finish 2nd in League and open at home against Carolina ….. a far better chance

        I posted down the stretch that my biggest fear for a first round match-up was NYI…. they gave Pens trouble in season and have a pair of goalies that can steal a series

        Gino and Phil have not shown up ; Sid and Guentzel have played well but not put up points.

        The first game went to OT so could have gone either way; and of course that changes a series dynamic …. winning on the road in OT in first game has a big motivation factor

        That said …. playing JJ instead of Maata in games 2 and 3 is the difference . PERIOD. End of sentence.

        GWG’s both games …. Hello JJ

        3 stupid and selfish penalties keeping the offence out of the game ….. hello JJ

        If it weren’t for spectacular saves by Murray and/or saves by team-mates; and/or posts; JJ would have been directly the cause of or partially the cause of 8 or even 9 GAs in two games…. he is, all on his lonesome, destroying any chances of success by Pens… Sully chose to play him so penultimately he is to blame

        I truly truly truly believe that if he (JJ) was sat in both games 2 and 3 that there would be a pretty fair chance at Pens up 2-1 and ZERO chance Pens down (as they are now) 0-3

        That said ; I never logically believed that Pens could get to SCF; I didn’t see them getting by Bolts and still acknowledged that they had to get by Wash

        En4Sir

        You are absolutely bang on …. any team at any time can beat ANY other team in the playoffs; but winning 4 of seven is a different story

        If in fact Bolts do succumb …. this will be historic and talked about for years; if they are swept …. epic and talked about for decades

        Can they come back… yes possible; improbable but possible

        If they do win game 4; I’d be very shocked if there wasn’t a game 6…. going home for game 5 with a chance! I think in that case; much much stronger probability of a win in game 5…… sending it back on the road for game 6

        As for my “other other” favourites …. as a Canadian of course I would cheer for any remaining Canadian clubs if Leafs lose…. so Cgy & Winn… that’s by default as a proud Canuck

        I have liked ; since the beginning; VGKs

        I love all hockey (pro, minors, international; men’s, women’s, youth)…. I’m seldomly NOT entertained

        Still with fingers crossed for Pens 🙏🤞

      • Only in hockey can the game be called one way in the regular season and another way in the playoffs. This is gonna have to change if the nhl wants to be considered one of the big boys.

      • Pengy;
        Youre 1 of the good guys- no matter what side of the fence youre ever on.

        Interesting to read your takes, you’ve known the Leafs NEED to shore up their D!

      • Chrisms, I think the NBA calls fewer fouls in the 4th QTR of a playoff game and it gets more physical not less.
        I seem to remember some no calls on pass interference in the NFL as well. At big moments. DB’s and WR’s are allowed to be way more physical come playoff time.
        Different sports so hard to compare apples to apples but I think those leagues change as well.

      • Can’t speak to nba Barky as I can’t stand the sport. But nfl if anything goes way beyond to ensure the game is called by the book in the playoffs. Maybe it’s the money involved (as tied to gambling).

      • The in game commentators probably influence my opinion on the NBA and NFL. I don’t watch much NBA, just playoffs and once in a while during the season if nothing else is on.
        NFL junkie, and to you point it is the best sport to gamble on.

      • Chrisms, gasp … you don’t like the slam-DUNK league?? You don’t oooh and aaah at its every variation?

    • A trade involving a sieve and a has been always injured goalie? LA, not Carolina would have to up the ante. This deal makes zero sense.

      Reply
      • Actually think about it and get back to me.

  2. I’ll repeat here my mantra stated many times before….

    Leafs future success lies in getting s D upgrade; with Cap hell coming ; the most prudent moves are (after signing bonus [SB] is paid) WW (he has no control over the move) and Marleau (all in his control)

    Pay WW’s SB, and he is then only owed $700 K for balance of year; and cash outlay for 5 years remaining is an AAV <$5M… he still carries a cap of $7M (rounded)

    Trade WW (after July 1st) to a team WITH Cap space; in need of (or desire for) top six winger; and having surplus of D…. Carolina comes to mind

    This trade will improve Leafs D; save Cap (no D coming in will be st $7M) and there should be no discernible decrease in offence (Leafs were doing absolutely fine before his return; and his offence since his return certainly not indicative of his contract)….. and a top 4 D coming back

    Note …. top 4 D coming back needs only to be better than Zaitsev to be defined as “top 4D” on Leafs …. almost any D coming over should be better than Zaitsev

    Now the hard part … Marleau…. who , after July 1st , will only take home $585K…. to play another gruelling 82 games; plus playoffs; and still very likely *NOT get the cup (with Leafs) at 40; and likely hid last year in the NHL.

    That’s very very little incentive for him NOT to retire…. if he retires … Leafs hit with entire $6.25 M in Cap

    *My opinion above of no cup in ‘20…. if Marleau and WW stay; the Leafs not only can’t afford a D upgrade ; they can’t afford their current D(or replacement of same talent thereof)…. if D is worse or same next year…. IMO … Leafs can’t win cup in ‘20

    ….. so GMKD work your magic; convince Marleau to waive ; pay his SB; and trade him in July 2nd…, it will probably cost a 2nd and maybe even plus a prospect to move him ; but worth the Cap savings

    Move both ; including WW swap for top 4 D; and Leafs have improved D and freed up close to $8M in Cap (new D coming in $5M-$6M Cap)

    This path leaves room to sign MM, Kappy , and Johnsson and have some Cap room to spare

    Don’t move Kadri …. it will cost more Cap to replace him and Leafs still lacking D upgrade

    Reply
    • @Pengy
      I thought Zaitsev had a great game.If he played like that every game….

      Reply
      • Pengy, you might be right about the Leafs not winning in 2020. But they might win in 2019.
        TB is on the ropes big time and the Leafs are leading my B’s and I think they deserve to be. They have been the better team.
        If TB gets punted, I give the Leafs as good a shot as anybody to hoist Lord Stanley’s Cup.
        ds agree, Zaitsev has been excellent now that he is in a pairing that works. They compliment each other.
        The B’s top line having only one 5on5 goal so far is one of the biggest reasons the Leafs have a lead in this series and Babcock has been throwing Zaitsev and Muzzin against that line all series with the Tavares line.
        I goota say I have a greater appreciation of Tavares and Marner’s overall game watching this match up.
        Turns out Babcock can still coach, Anderson is still clutch and Zaitsev can actually play!
        It sucks for us B’s fans, but this is great news for the Leaf fans IMO.

      • Hi ds,

        Zaitsev does have some great games…. I’ve never denied that. Concur that last night he did step up.

        But…., he has way more very poor games and this over-shadows his good performances

        Over-all ; he is a bottom pairing DMan if on (at least) 28 other teams

        To put this in context (and I know I’m beating a dead horse here)…, Jack Johnson [JJ] has two (maybe even 3 ) good games all year…. that doesn’t push him out of the moniker of worst Dman in the entire NHL…. he is…. there is no way around it. Even if JJ miraculously had even 10 excellent games (0f 82) the rest of his 72 performances still put him as the worst Dman in the League; and I would ascertain ; in the history of the NHL…. he’s that costly to his team and game outcomes

        So , yes, good game for Zaitsev; and he has had good games throughout the year…. he is still (weighing his overall year’s play) NOT really a top 4D man

        I truly believe that a WW trade for a D will have a player come in the is substantially better at D than Zaitsev

        A D upgrade is truly , IMO, the number 1 priority for Leafs….

        Move WW, Marleau , get D upgrade in WW trade; extend MM, Kappy, Johnsson , keep Kadri and still have Cap flex …. that’s a team with a good shot at a cup (or 2) from June ‘20 to June ‘25

        Go Leafs Go

      • Don’t under estimate Columbus they are not winning by Luck. They are good!

        No they haven’t advance yet but if they do, I see them reaching the finals.

        Just to point out I said from the beginning Columbus will upset TB and I’m one win away from my cookie! and I want it, damn it.

      • Well done Caper, I thought Clb would be a tough out against TB, but still an out. Didn’t have the balls to take them to beat TB. I do have COL to beat Cgy though. Have a chance at that one.
        TB can still come back as they were so dominant during the season but no Hedman really hurts their chances. All of a sudden nobody wants to play the Jackets.

  3. Pengy, I have the same argument with many of my Leaf friends. These people, like you, are very well versed and like you they don’t prefer Zaitsev. I happen to love what Zaitsev brings and his struggles have been more team oriented then sell skill oriented – IMO.

    When the Leafs play right, like Babcock wants, all defensemen look better and Zaitsev can play his game and be very strong with the right kind of support. Bear in mind, there isn’t a defensemen on the planet that can play well if the team doesn’t play right in front of him.

    Zaitsev has been dynamite in games 1&3, the entire team suked game 2.

    We’ll see how things go in game 4.

    Reply
    • Hi Trekkie

      Sorry if I inferred the play of Zaitsev fell on his shoulders…. certainly not the case

      Matching him properly to a D partner and with a team playing in a conducive style ; yes for sure elevated and maximizes his play.

      …. and yes I will give him full marks for G3 and I saw him as “fair” more than “excellent” in game 1…. if this pairing and his play from it , shown in games 1 & 3 , continues and becomes his norm ; then I’m ok to keep him. I’m skeptical of this being his norm ; but very open to be enjoyably wrong on that perception

      Regardless ; overall … Leafs still need a D upgrade; don’t need to keep either WW or Marleau ; and would truly benefit by moving both; and should keep Kappy; Kadri; Johnsson and MUST keep Marner

      A skeptic awaiting for the eventual parade 🙏😄

      Reply
      • Pengy, I like your assessments.
        Regarding the leafs, as you know the salary cap seems to be more of an issue then positional needs and Marleau’s salary is key to how everything unfolds.
        I believe Dubas rumors suggest Zaitsev and Brown rather than Nylander, but that will depend on trade options.
        The leafs are in a pickle either way as they will lose gardiner / hainsey & possibly zaitsev while still being pressed against the cap, but probably will be OK with some new fill-ins.
        The leafs need to win tonight and put the 3rd nail in the coffin…so GO LEAFS GO

  4. Agree with keeping Kadri but someone needs to read that guy the riot act. Still think a winger to Carolina for a right shot defence man makes sense.

    Reply
  5. Kadri isn’t a guy you trade, especially not at that cap hit. How many of these guys actually exist in the NHL?
    I see comparables as DeBrusk, Marchand, Gallagher, Tkachuk(s), Wilson, Schenn and Perry.

    Keep him and talk some sense into him – that was a brutal penalty, just stupid. Coach him to be smarter but don’t lose the asset.
    If you are trading him, don’t sell low. He has scored 30 goals more than once, brings energy, grit, draws penalties and is a center.

    No Escaping cap hell, find other players to move (Nylander comes to mind, though he played his best game of the year yesterday IMO). There is (very little) hope that maybe Marleau can be moved but I wouldn’t count on it.

    Reply
    • BC/Taz, yesterday I was 100% behind getting rid of Kadri no matter what. I’ve cooled off. What he did was inexcusable and so very selfish. It’s happened too many times. I’ve cooled off now and hope to see him again in this playoffs, but Boston will have alot to say about that.

      Reply
  6. Carolina’s defensive depth is talked about a lot but lets not forget Faulk and TVR will be on the last year of their contracts next year, Fox doesn’t want to play in Carolina, and DeHaan has injury problems. Fleury is developing slower than hoped and Jake Bean has yet to prove himself at the NHL level.

    What tends to get overlooked is Carolina’s depth at forward throughout the organization (thanks to Ron Francis). It takes the pressure off having to trade a defenseman to improve the offense.

    This summers contract negotiations with Faulk will play a significant role in Carolina’s off season moves.

    Reply
  7. Chism….this is a reaction to the idea of keeping games meaningful.. I think the NHL does a terrible job on this….an evening of hockey in Toronto including supper and parking could easily set you back $600…yet for the last 6 weeks everyone knew what as coming and no one played as if they cared ( in Toronto).Bettman to pay attention to this as it could hurt the League’s credibility and result in declining revenue streams.

    Potential solutions….change the play off set ups 1 vs 8, distribution of revenue and/or draft picks that encourage wanting to finish higher in the standings, let higher teams control who they play in playoffs, almost like a second draft with first choice of who they play in the playoffs going to highest point getters and down through the order ( that would make great TV show ) , a play off round off but full participation in play off revenue for 1 st team in each conference….just ideas some maybe highly improbable others not worth doing….

    But too many years of too many teams not having meaningful games to play in March could catch up to Mr Bettman

    Reply
    • The one aspect of “choosing who you want to meet in round 1” that is set up to backfire is the reaction of the team you “chose” to be your victim. With Columbus barely squeaking into the playoffs in all likelihood TB might have “chosen” them to be their first victim. We can see how that would have turned out just by comments before the playoffs got under way, that TB was a shoo-in to go on to round 2. Same with Pittsburgh. no WAY the Tavares-less Islanders, with a cast-off goalie, was going to get by Crosby, Malkin & Co. It just conjures up the old adage “be careful what you wish for.”

      Reply
    • Lots of innovative stuff here. But I’m wrangling two little ones and can’t comment now. More to come in the offseason drudgery

      Reply

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