NHL Rumor Mill – April 26, 2018
Latest on the Leafs, Canucks and Devils in your NHL rumor mill.
WHAT NEXT FOR THE MAPLE LEAFS?
ESPN.COM: Making the right call on James van Riemsdyk, improving the defense and finding their next general manager are Greg Wyshynski’s offseason keys for the Toronto Maple Leafs. While the Leafs are a better team in the short term with van Riemsdyk, re-signing the pending unrestricted free agent could be expensive, especially when they have massive new contracts on the horizon for young stars Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner and William Nylander.
Wyshynski believes the Leafs must add some quality depth to the blueline, suggesting they are “about two defensemen away”. He also noted the rumors suggesting Leafs GM Lou Lamoriello could move up in the organization. That could mean someone else will be responsible for addressing their offseason needs.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: We’ll likely see plenty of speculation in the coming days over what the Leafs might do or should do in the offseason. For what it’s worth, I believe addressing their blueline depth is their priority. They gave up too many shots-against this season, had a lousy penalty kill and relied too much on goaltender Frederik Andersen to bail them out. Maybe they’ll pursue big fish such as Los Angeles’s Drew Doughty, Ottawa’s Erik Karlsson or Washington’s John Carlson. Perhaps they’ll look at more affordable blueline options.
As for van Riemsdyk, I think they already made their decision about his future when they signed Patrick Marleau last summer to a three-year deal. Signing him will complicate efforts to bolster the defense and re-sign Matthews, Marner and Nylander. As for the GM’s job, Wyshynski suggests it could come down to Mark Hunter or Kyle Dubas.
LATEST CANUCKS SPECULATION
THE ATHLETIC: JD Burke suggests the Vancouver Canucks should leverage their short-term salary-cap space for long-term gains by pursuing “slightly overpaid players on teams that can’t afford that inefficiency” who can provide a positive impact as soon as next season. His options include Chicago Blackhawks left wing Brandon Saad, San Jose Sharks winger Mikkel Boedker and Dallas Stars center Martin Hanzal.
THE PROVINCE: Jason Botchford believes the Canucks should dangle some veterans in hopes of stockpiling mid- to late-round draft picks. He proposed shopping defensemen Chris Tanev and Ben Hutton and winger Sven Baertschi. Meanwhile, Botchford’s colleague Ben Kuzma suggests Boston Bruins center Riley Nash could be a good, affordable addition to the Canucks if he becomes a free agent this summer.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Of those players suggested by Burke, Saad would have the most value to the Canucks. Boedker’s been inconsistent throughout his career while Hanzal’s bad back could limit his effectiveness.
Tanev, Hutton and Baertschi have been frequently mentioned as possible trade candidates this summer. One of them could be moved for a couple of mid-level draft picks. As for Nash, he might be a good addition but it remains to be seen if Canucks management feel the same way.
LATEST ON THE DEVILS
NORTHJERSEY.COM: Abbey Mastracco reports New Jersey Devils general manager Ray Shero acknowledged his club’s need for secondary scoring during his press conference yesterday. He’s also happy with what he considers two No.1 goaltenders in Corey Schneider and Keith Kinkaid.
If Shero decides to add a defenseman, Mastracco said “the challenge is balancing the young players and their need for consistent playing time with the more established players.” He’s also been given permission by the Devils’ ownership to spend up to the salary-cap ceiling but cautions against using up too much cap space in free agency.
NJ.COM: Chris Ryan reports pending unrestricted free agents Patrick Maroon and John Moore hope to re-sign with the Devils this summer.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly indicates the Devils have over $55 million invested in 17 players. Shero has plenty of room to work with next season. He can bring back Maroon and Moore on affordable short-term deals, re-sign restricted free agents Miles Wood, Stefan Noesen and Blake Coleman to cost-effective contracts and still have enough space to sign a quality free agent.
Shero has also shown a willingness to make player-for-player swaps (Taylor Hall for Adam Larsson, Sami Vatanen for Adam Henrique). I wouldn’t dismiss the possibility of him being active in this summer’s trade market.