NHL Rumor Mill – September 16, 2019

The latest on Brock Boeser, Mikko Rantanen, Brandon Carlo and more in today’s NHL rumor mill.

BOESER

THE PROVINCE: Ed Willes believes the Toronto Maple Leafs didn’t make it any easier for the Vancouver Canucks to re-sign Brock Boeser with their expensive re-signing of Mitch Marner on Friday.

While Marner had more points (94) than Boeser (56 points in 69 games) last season, the latter’s average production (.42 goals per game, .41 assists and .81 points) is comparable to the former’s .28 goals per game, .65 assists and .93 points. If the Canucks are offering Boeser $7 million annually, Willes suggests Marner’s contract could push that figure even higher.

Mitch Marner’s new contract could affect the Vancouver Canucks efforts to re-sign Brock Boeser (Photo via NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canucks limited salary-cap space also complicates things. Cap Friendly indicates they have over $4.1 million, well below what Boeser could be seeking. They’ll have to make a cost-cutting move or two to fit Boeser within their cap payroll.

THE DENVER POST: Mike Chambers speculates it could cost the Colorado Avalanche around $10.5 million per season to re-sign Mikko Rantanen. The 22-year-old winger is currently skating in his native Finland awaiting a new contract. Chambers also noted Marner’s new contract could be used as a comparable. Rantanen’s coming off a career-high performance of 31 goals and 87 points.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Unlike the Canucks, the Avalanche have plenty of salary-cap space (over $15.6 million) to re-sign Rantanen. Avs general manager Joe Sakic probably hopes to get the winger under contract for less than $10.5 million to squeeze out enough long-term cap room for other signings down the road.

CARLO

BOSTON HERALD: Steve Conroy reports Bruins GM Don Sweeney offered no timetable for when Brandon Carlo will be reporting to training camp. The 22-year-old defenseman is the Bruins’ only remaining restricted free agent after Charlie McAvoy re-signed yesterday.

The Bruins have a little more than $3.2 million in salary-cap space but Sweeney feels he can get the blueliner under contract without making another move. He could also place Kevan Miller and/or John Moore on long-term injury reserve if they’re not ready to start the season.

HUTTON

TSN: Former Vancouver Canucks defenseman Ben Hutton “has received multiple offers and he’s currently weighing all of his options, which reportedly include the Kings, Rangers, Red Wings and Wild.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: With training camps now underway, Hutton might not want to take too much longer weighing his options. Those clubs could decide to look elsewhere if he doesn’t soon reach a decision. 

BOYLE

TSN also reported veteran center Brian Boyle has attracted interest from four or five clubs. However, all have been in a holding pattern trying to clear sufficient salary-cap space.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Athletic’s Scott Burnside recently reported the logjam of unsigned restricted free agents has also prevented Boyle from landing a contract with a new team. Perhaps the recent signings will make improve his chances.










NHL Rumor Mill – September 15, 2019

Updates on Brayden Point, Mikko Rantanen, Ondrej Kase, and Julius Honka in today’s NHL rumor mill.

MARNER CONTRACT WON’T AFFECT POINT AND RANTANEN CONTRACT TALKS

THE ATHLETIC: Joe Smith believes Mitch Marner’s new contract with the Toronto Maple Leafs won’t affect the Tampa Bay Lightning’s negotiations with Brayden Point. Smith’s colleague Pierre LeBrun reported the two sides are far apart, with the Lightning’s offer believed to be a three-year bridge deal worth $5.7-million annually. Marner inked a six-year deal worth over $10.893 million per season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Smith indicates the Lightning have over $8.4 million in cap space for this season. That’s more than enough to re-sign Point to a much higher annual average value but Smith points out the Bolts are also looking beyond this season. They’ve got over $67 million invested in 13 players for 2020-21. Whatever can be saved from re-signing Point will be put toward a pending RFA like Mikhail Sergachev, Anthony Cirelli and Erik Cernak.

COLORADO HOCKEY NOW: Adrian Dater reports Marner’s contract won’t influence the Avalanche’s negotiations with winger Mikko Rantanen. He cited sources within the club indicating they won’t follow the Leafs example.

The Colorado Avalanche won’t let Mitch Marner’s new contract influence their negotiations with Mikko Rantanen (Photo via NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly indicates the Avalanche have over $15 million in salary-cap space. They have plenty of room if they want to invest over $10 million annually in Rantanen on a long-term deal.

GM Joe Sakic has indicated he’s will to be flexible on a long-term contract or a bridge deal. However, there’s speculation suggesting they don’t want to invest more than $9 million in the 22-year-old winger. Sakic is looking beyond this season, while players such as Gabriel Landeskog, Cale Makar, Philipp Grubauer, Nikita Zadorov and Tyson Jost will need to be re-signed over the next two years.

DUCKS GM BLASTS KASE TRADE SPECULATION

THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER: Elliott Teaford reports Anaheim Ducks GM Bob Murray implied Carolina Hurricanes owner Tom Dundon leaked the name of winger Ondrej Kase as the player his club wanted in exchange for defenseman Justin Faulk. Murray acknowledged he’s in the market for a right-shot defenseman but declined to say who he might be targeting or willing to part with.

Teaford believes Faulk didn’t get the seven-year contract offer from the Ducks that would’ve prompted him to waive his no-trade clause. Kase, meanwhile, claims to be unfazed by the rumor. He’s putting his focus on returning to form following off-season surgery to repair a torn labrum.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Looks like things have cooled significantly from last week when the Hurricanes and Ducks reportedly had a deal in principle that merely required Faulk’s blessing. If the Ducks aren’t willing to give the blueliner the contract he wants, this proposed trade is probably dead on arrival. 

CANADIENS INTERESTED IN HONKA

SPORTSNET: Eric Engels reports the Montreal Canadiens are among several clubs interested in Julius Honka. The 23-year-old defenseman last week requested a trade from the Dallas Stars.

It’s believed the Canadiens prefer a player-for-player deal rather than a player-for-draft pick swap. The Carolina Hurricanes are also said to be interested in Honka.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly lists Honka, a restricted free agent, as a right defenseman. The Habs could use more depth on the left side unless they’re concerned over the health of right-side blueliner Noah Juulsen. Perhaps they simply want more depth in their system.










NHL Rumor Mill – September 14, 2019

Updates on Brayden Point and Travis Konecny, potential Penguins trade candidates, and more in today’s NHL rumor mill.

POINT AND KONECNY

TSN: Pierre LeBrun yesterday reported little progress in contract talks between the Tampa Bay Lightning and Brayden Point. LeBrun speculates negotiations “might be even more stalled than people think.” He still believes a deal will get done but “right now not remotely close as far as I can tell.”

The Tampa Bay Lightning and center Brayden Point are reportedly still far apart in contract talks (Photo via NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As we saw with Mitch Marner’s negotiations with the Toronto Maple Leafs, things can change very quickly, especially with training camps underway. With Marner under contract, restricted free agents like Point will increasingly draw more attention.

Cap Friendly indicates the Lightning has over $8.4 million in salary-cap space. They’re trying to get Point’s new deal within their cap payroll while leaving sufficient space for anything that might come up during the season. 

NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: Jordan Hall reports Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher and head coach Alain Vigneault are disappointed Travis Konecny isn’t in training camp yet. The 22-year-old RFA winger’s camp reportedly prefers a long-term deal and Fletcher said he’s willing to be flexible in negotiations. Hall suggests a long-term deal for Konecny before he reaches a higher level in performance might be better for the Flyers.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: With Ivan Provorov re-signed earlier this week, the Flyers have around $6.6 million in salary-cap space. My guess is they’d prefer to bring in Konecny for around $5.5 million annually in order to leave sufficient wiggle room for other moves this season.

POTENTIAL PENGUINS TRADE CANDIDATES

THE ATHLETIC: In his latest mailbag segment, Josh Yohe was asked about the chances of the Pittsburgh Penguins trading Bryan Rust. He thinks the winger is a prime candidate if GM Jim Rutherford feels the need to make a cost-shedding move. Nevertheless, Yohe believes Rust will be in the Penguins’ lineup when the season opens.

Yohe noted they’d love to move Jack Johnson, pointing to Rutherford’s attempt to include the defenseman in a failed late-May attempt to ship Phil Kessel to the Minnesota Wild. He also suggested Nick Bjugstad as a trade option but feels the Penguins don’t want to touch their forward lines.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Yohe pointed out Rutherford also said he can find other means to get under the salary cap besides making a trade. I expect Rust, Johnson, and Bjugstad will be skating for the Penguins when the season opens.

Should the need arise to make a trade for cap or roster reasons, we probably shouldn’t overlook the possibility of Rust or Bjugstad getting shopped. I don’t see a market for Johnson unless his performance significantly improves this season.

STARS’ HONKA REQUESTS A TRADE

TSN: cites Dallas Morning News’ Matthew DeFranks yesterday reporting Stars GM Jim Nill told him Julius Honka has requested a trade. Nill has reportedly attempted to trade the 23-year-old restricted free agent defenseman during the off-season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A first-round pick (14th overall) in the 2014 NHL Draft, Honka’s stock declined as he struggled to crack the Stars roster. They won’t get much in return for him, perhaps a third- or fourth-round pick.










Leafs Re-sign Marner

Various sources this evening report the Toronto Maple Leafs signed restricted free agent winger Mitch Marner to a six-year, $65.38-million contract. The annual average value is $10.893 million.

Mitch Marner inks a six-year deal with the Toronto Maple Leafs (Photo via NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Finally, the long wait iover this year’s most-hyped contract negotiation has been resolved. It came in pretty close to what many of us expected, being a hair shy of $11 million per season. The term is slightly less than the Leafs wanted (seven or eight years) but longer than the three years the Marner camp sought.

Fans and pundits will likely debate over whether Marner was worth that much. If he continues putting up 90-plus point seasons. no one will remember what all the fuss was about in a few years. But if his numbers decline, things could get ugly.

Honestly, no one should be surprised Marner got as much as he did. We all knew he, Matthews, and Nylander were going to be expensive re-signings. We also knew Tavares’ signing was going to complicate matters. In today’s NHL, it costs a lot of money to re-sign top young talent. Anyone who’s shocked by all this is living in a fantasy world. This is a business, and it sometimes gets messy and expensive.

According to Cap Friendly, the Leafs now carry three players (Marner, Auston Matthews, and John Tavares) among the league’s top-ten salary-cap hits. Their combined cap hit is over $33.5 million. Toss in William Nylander and they’ve got over $40.5 million tied up in just four players. That’s almost half of this year’s $81.5-million salary cap.

It could also have far-reaching consequences for the Leafs’ cap payroll. Indeed, the effects will be felt as early as next season, as they now have over $66 million invested in just 12 players. They’ll also have Jake Muzzin, Tyson Barrie and Cody Ceci to re-sign. 

For now, the Leafs’ cap payroll is a league-leading $94.865 million. They’re expected to place the dormant contracts of David Clarkson and Nathan Horton ($10.55 million combined) on long-term injury reserve. Zach Hyman and Travis Dermott (over $3 million combined) are also expected to be placed on LTIR to start the season. Demoting a lower-salaried player or two should provide sufficient wiggle room to become cap compliant when the season opens.

Hyman and Dermott, however, will return at some point this season, meaning the Leafs will have to shed some additional salary to accommodate their eventual return. In other words, general manager Kyle Dubas will continue to walk that fine salary-cap line into the regular season.

The ripples from Marner’s signing will be felt throughout the league, specifically among the clubs with notable restricted free agents of their own yet to re-sign. That includes Colorado Avalanche winger Mikko Rantanen, Tampa Bay Lightning center Brayden Point, Calgary Flames winger Matthew Tkachuk, Winnipeg Jets forwards Patrik Laine and Kyle Connor, and Vancouver Canucks winger Brock Boeser.

It’s believed they were waiting to see what Marner got. Now that they know, perhaps their respective negotiations will be resolved before the end of September.










NHL Rumor Mill – September 13, 2019

Kyle Connor could be an offer-sheet target plus updates on Justin Faulk, Mitch Marner, and Michael Frolik in today’s NHL rumor mill.

CONNOR AN OFFER-SHEET TARGET?

SPORTSNET: Sean Reynolds reports at least three teams have considered signing Kyle Connor to an offer sheet. The 22-year-old winger is a restricted free agent coming off back-to-back 30-goal seasons. Reynolds said several teams checked into offer-sheeting Connor back in June. Contact with them has been ongoing and at least one club “checked in with interest” following the August long weekend.

Could Winnipeg Jets winger Kyle Connor sign an offer sheet? (Photo via NHL Images)

Reynolds suggests Arizona Coyotes center Clayton Keller’s new contract (eight years, $7.15-million annually) could be a good comparable. Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff has said he intends to match any offer for his unsigned RFAs.  The Jets have over $15 million in cap space but must also re-sign winger Patrik Laine.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A rival GM could wait until close to the start of the season to sign Connor to an offer sheet. it could complicate Cheveldayoff’s efforts to match and remain salary-cap compliant when the season opens next month. That depends on whether Connor’s still unsigned by then and if he’s willing to agree to an offer sheet.

CapFriendly indicates six teams (Boston Bruins, Tampa Bay Lightning, Anaheim Ducks, Columbus Blue Jackets, Ottawa Senators, and Colorado Avalanche) have sufficient cap space to sign Connor. Half of them – the Bruins, Lightning, and Avalanche – have RFA talent of their own to re-sign.

LATEST ON THE FAULK-TO-THE-DUCKS TRADE RUMORS

THE ATHLETIC: Josh Cooper reports there’s nothing new to report since rumors broke earlier this week claiming the Anaheim Ducks and Carolina Hurricanes have a deal in principle that would send defenseman Justin Faulk to the Ducks.

Cooper wonders if this situation was made public by the Faulk camp to drum up interest in the blueliner, who’s slated to become an unrestricted free agent next July. He also wondered if the Hurricanes leaked the news to make it known Faulk’s available.

It’s possible the Ducks can’t afford the Hurricanes’ asking price. If a deal doesn’t happen, Cooper wonders what will happen to Ducks winger Ondrej Kase, who was said to be part of the return to the Hurricanes. If this falls through, he also pondered what defensemen the Ducks could pursue.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Ducks are said to be on Faulk’s 15-team no-trade list. It’s also said Faulk or the Ducks want a contract extension. Ultimately, it’s up to the blueliner to decide if this trade goes through.

LEAFS GM HOPE TO SIGN MARNER BY OCT. 2

TSN: Toronto Maple Leafs GM Kyle Dubas remains optimistic of getting Mitch Marner signed before the season opens on Oct. 2. He told reporters he won’t comment again about this situation until it’s resolved “one way or another.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Folks will zoom in on the “one way or another” remark to mean Dubas could trade Marner if a deal can’t be reached by Oct. 2. While I don’t rule anything out, I believe the Leafs GM doesn’t want to go that route.

If he changes his mind and put Marner on the trade block it could be difficult finding suitors willing to part with what would be a hefty asking price from Dubas and Marner’s rumored demand. It’s said the winger seeks over $11 million annually on a short-term deal.

LATEST ON FROLIK

SPORTSNET: Eric Francis reports Calgary Flames winger Michael Frolik could be a cost-cutting trade candidate. The Flames still have to re-sign RFA forwards Matthew Tkachuk and Andrew Mangiapane and their combined cost could exceed the club’s $7 million in salary-cap space.

Frolik was nearly shipped to the Minnesota Wild last season but the deal fell through by the trade deadline. He carries a $4.3 million cap hit for this season and Francis suggests moving the winger would address the Flames cap quandary. Frolik said he’s never requested a trade and hopes to remain with the Flames this season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Frolik seems an obvious trade candidate but his cap hit and 10-team no-trade list could complicate things.










NHL Rumor Mill – September 12, 2019

The latest on Mitch Marner, Charlie McAvoy, Brandon Carlo, and Jesse Puljujarvi in today’s NHL rumor mill.

MARNER

TSN: Darren Dreger tweeted the Toronto Maple Leafs were persistent in pushing for a seven- or eight-year contract for Mitch Marner. “The $11 mil per offer was made in June and included the $1.6 mil in B bonuses Toronto wouldn’t pay Marner in his entry-level contract. 3 yr ext remains the focus.”

No end in sight in the contract standoff between Mitch Marner and the Toronto Maple Leafs (Photo via NHL Images).

Dreger’s colleague Bob McKenzie replied those numbers “help to illustrate why it is so difficult to see a path to a Mitch Marner contract settlement any time soon.” He adds those long-term offers by the Leafs were around $11 million annually. Because they were lower than Auston Matthews’ AAV, they weren’t palatable to the Marner camp.

McKenzie feels a three-year bridge deal is a logical solution. However, “because Marner wants an AAV in the $9M to $10M universe and the third year (base for QO) would be substantially higher, TOR has no incentive to do the bridge at those numbers.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: While a resolution is always possible it appears both sides have dug in their heels. This could drag on into the regular season just like William Nylander’s negotiations a year ago.

If social media is anything to go by, this isn’t sitting well with Leafs Nation. It seems to be costing Marner a lot of goodwill among Leafs fans, though all will be forgiven and forgotten if he re-signs soon. The longer this drags on, the uglier it could get. 

MCAVOY AND CARLO

NBC SPORTS BOSTON: Joe Haggerty reports Bruins general manager Don Sweeney said contract talks are ongoing with defensemen Charlie McAvoy and Brandon Carlo. Haggerty believes the three-year, $15-million contract signed by Zach Werenski with the Columbus Blue Jackets earlier this week will affect McAvoy’s negotiations. McAvoy could get a similar bridge deal if a long-term contract can’t be worked out, while Carlo could get $3-$4 million annually on a three-year deal.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The key to the Werenski deal is he gets a much higher actual salary in the final season of his new deal ($7 million) than the annual average value of $5 million. That means his next qualifying offer will be $7 million, regardless of his performance. If the Bruins pitch something similar, that could prove enticing to McAvoy and Carlo.

PULJUJARVI

EDMONTON JOURNAL: Derek Van Diest reports Oilers GM Ken Holland hasn’t received any decent offers for Jesse Puljujarvi and is willing to let this situation play itself out. The 21-year-old winger is playing in Finland waiting for the Oilers to action his trade request. Holland believes there are teams interested in Puljujarvi but things have gone quiet in recent weeks. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If the Oilers don’t sign Puljujarvi or trade him to a club willing to sign him, he becomes ineligible for the remainder of this NHL season. However, Puljujarvi isn’t a core player so his absence won’t hurt the Oilers’ performance this season. It wouldn’t surprise me if he spends the entire season in Finland. The Oilers will still hold his NHL rights.