NHL Rumor Mill – July 15, 2019
Updates on Tyson Barrie, Kyle Turris, David Backes and more in today’s NHL rumor mill.
WILL THE LEAFS RE-SIGN BARRIE?
SPORTSNET: Luke Fox recently reported Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Tyson Barrie seeks $8-million annually on his next contract. Earlier this month, the Leafs acquired the 27-year-old Barrie from the Colorado Avalanche. He’s a year away from unrestricted free agent status and ranks sixth in scoring among NHL defensemen over the past two seasons.
The Avalanche weren’t going to pay Barrie $8 million per season. Fox speculates the Leafs might, depending upon how well their overhauled blueline corps performs in 2019-20. Morgan Rielly is the only Leafs defenseman under contract beyond this season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Much will depend upon Barrie’s performance. So will their cap space for 2020-21. According to Cap Friendly, the Leafs have over $55.3 million invested in just 12 players. They still have to re-sign Mitch Marner this summer.
Assuming Marner’s next contract is worth between $8.5 million – $10.5 million, the Leafs could have between $63 million to $65 million wrapped up in 13 players. Depending upon how much the cap rises for 2020-21, they won’t have much left to re-sign Barrie and flesh out the rest of the lineup.
Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas did a fine job this summer shedding burdensome contracts while addressing his roster’s weaknesses. Time will tell if he can successfully walk that salary-cap tightrope again next summer.
LATEST PREDATORS SPECULATION
THE ATHLETIC: Adam Vingan recently reported the Nashville Predators appear willing to retain Kyle Turris this season. The 29-year-old center struggled in 2018-19 but Predators GM David Poile hopes he’ll bounce back. The Preds addition of Matt Duchene via free agency sparked speculation over Turris’ future in Nashville. If he struggles again his trade value will decline, especially with his $6-million per season contract.
Vingan noted Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman floated the notion of the Montreal Canadiens pursuing Turris before free agency. The Habs had interest in Duchene and made a failed attempt to sign Carolina’s Sebastian Aho. Vingan’s colleague Marc Dumont believed the Predators would either have to pick up half of Turris’ salary-cap hit or take back defenseman Karl Alzner.
In a recent mailbag segment, Vingan was asked about the likelihood of Turris or Nick Bonino getting moved before the start of the season. He won’t be surprised if they’re still with the club on opening night. Given the Preds’ limited salary-cap space, however, he can see one of them being part of a cost-cutting trade. He felt Bonino was a more likely trade candidate.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Predators have over $5 million in cap space with Colton Sissons and Rocco Grimaldi still to re-sign. They should have enough to get both under contract but, as Granger points out, they won’t have much wiggle room for other moves.
The Canadiens have over $4.8 million in cap space. The Predators will have to absorb half of Turris’ cap hit to make him enticing. Even then, I doubt he’s on GM Marc Bergevin’s radar. At $4.1 million annually through 2020-21, Bonino is more affordable than Turris but his cap hit could still be a stumbling block.
DEVILS INTERESTED IN BACKES?
BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Jimmy Murphy cites “a league source with knowledge of the situation” claiming the New Jersey Devils could have interest in Boston Bruins forward David Backes. The 35-year-old has two years remaining on his contract with an annual average value of $6 million.
The Bruins have around $8 million in salary-cap space and must re-sign restricted free agent defensemen Charlie McAvoy and Brandon Carlo. Shedding Backes’ contract via trade would free up more cap room. The Bruins might have to include a sweetener, such as their first-round pick in 2020, which GM Don Sweeney is reluctant to move.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Murphy notes the Devils have the cap space ($19.8 million) to comfortably absorb Backes’ cap hit. However, they’ll want something worthwhile included in the deal. Otherwise, the Devils could ask the Bruins to pick up part of Backes’ cap hit.