NHL Rumor Mill – October 28, 2017
Proposed trade targets for the Toronto Maple Leafs plus the latest on Matt Beleskey in your NHL rumor mill.
SPORTING NEWS: Michael Augello lists six possible trade targets to upgrade the Toronto Maple Leafs’ defenseman. They are Vancouver’s Chris Tanev, Anaheim’s Sami Vatanen, Detroit’s Mike Green, Carolina’s Noah Hanifin, Arizona’s Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Winnipeg’s Jacob Trouba.
Augello suggests Vancouver need reinforcements at forward and notes Tanev was paired with the Leafs’ Morgan Reilly on Team Canada at the 2016 World Championships. Anaheim could also use some offense, especially with Patrick Eaves being recently sidelined.
Green is a UFA next summer and the Leafs have the cap room to take on the remainder of his $6 million salary this season. Carolina is stacked on defense and budget constraints could force them to move Hanifin for a scoring forward.
Ekman-Larsson, whose contract expires in 2019, might have to be dealt if he’s unwilling to re-sign with Arizona. Trouba is a restricted free agent (with arbitration rights) next summer and has a contentious contract history with Winnipeg.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Some interesting suggestions here from Augello. Bear in mind he’s not saying the Leafs will target those blueliners.
Green could be the most readily available this season. because of his UFA eligibility and the Red Wings are in the midst of a rebuild. However, he’d only be a short-term addition. As Augello points out, he might not be the type of defenseman the Leafs want to add.
Ekman-Larsson would provide an immediate boost for the Leafs blueline. However, I think the earliest the Leafs (or anyone else) could get him is next summer, when he’s a year away from UFA status.
Trouba would also be a solid addition but, like Ekman-Larsson, the earliest he could be available is next summer. That will depend upon how his contract negotiations go.
The 20-year-old Hanifin certainly has considerable potential but he still hasn’t reached it yet. The Leafs need someone who can step into a top-pairing role right away. For all the talk of the Leafs pursuing him, I think they’re better served with a slightly older and more established rearguard.
Vatanen would be a good fit with the Leafs. He’s a skilled all-around blueliner carrying an affordable contract ($4.8 million annually) through 2019-20. But as Augello points out, he’s yet to return from shoulder surgery and the Ducks are unlikely to move anyone until their injury-ravaged blueline is healthier.
Like Vatanen, Tanev carries an affordable deal ($4.4 million) through 2019-20. If the Canucks were to shop him, however, they’ll likely want a center, especially if they decide to part ways with Henrik Sedin after this season.
As for trade bait, the asking price for all but Green will be expensive. It could cost the Leafs William Nylander or Mitch Marner. You’re not going to get a long-term blueline upgrade with castoffs and prospects. Those teams will want at least a young established forward.
THE BOSTON GLOBE: Fluto Shinzawa reports the ongoing offensive struggles of Bruins winger Matt Beleskey is raising questions over his future in Boston. He’s scoreless in six games and was a healthy scratch in two of the last three Bruins contests.
However, Beleskey won’t be easy for the Bruins to move. He carries a $3.8 million cap hit through 2019-20 and carries a modified no-trade clause. Shinzawa believes the Bruins would either have to include a draft pick or prospect or pick up another bad contract in return.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Beleskey’s signing is one Bruins GM Don Sweeney probably wishes he could undo. He were blinded by the winger’s performance in a contract year (22 regular-season goals and eight postseason goals) in 2014-15. While the cap hit wasn’t ridiculously expensive, it’s the term that’s hurting them.