Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – April 29, 2018

by | Apr 29, 2018 | Rumors | 59 comments

Latest on the Maple Leafs, Blue Jackets and Flyers in your Sunday NHL rumor roundup.

Could the Toronto Maple Leafs put Jake Gardiner on the trade block? (Photo via NHL Images)


TORONTO SUN: Terry Koshan expects rumors will run rampant before the unrestricted free agent market opens on July 1, pointing out the Maple Leafs have already been linked to potential UFAs such as Washington’s John Carlson and the New York Islanders’ John Tavares. Noting the Leafs need to bolster their blueline, he notes Carlson, Detroit’s Mike Green, Calvin de Haan and Ian Cole could hit the open market.

Koshan also wonders what the future holds for Leafs defenseman Jake Gardiner. He’s a year away from UFA eligibility and Koshan speculates the Leafs could chose to trade him.

OTTAWA SUN: Ken Warren recently dismissed the notion of the Ottawa Senators trading Erik Karlsson to the Leafs. Among the reasons is he doesn’t see the Leafs having sufficient long-term salary-cap space to sign Karlsson to an expensive contract extension while leaving sufficient room to re-sign Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner.

SPORTSNET: Damien Cox expects the Leafs to stick with the “Shanaplan” of building their roster with their young players. He doesn’t anticipate they’ll trade one of them for a top-pairing defenseman.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Leafs must improve their blueline corps or they can forget about being a legitimate Stanley Cup contender next season. If they’re unwilling to consider moving one of their promising youngsters for a defenseman, they’ll have to address that need via free agency. If they’re unwilling to do either, they’d better hope that their young blueliners show significant improvement in 2018-19.

As for Gardiner, I know most Leafs fans want him gone after his horrible performance in Game 7 against the Bruins. Trading him, however, is a pointless move if there isn’t anyone of equal or greater skills coming in to replace him.

Despite Gardiner’s sometimes questionable defensive abilities, he’s a skilled puck-moving rearguard who tallied a career-best 52 points this season. His absence could adversely affect the Leafs’ production from the blueline, especially on the power play. Perhaps if the Leafs can find a good shutdown d-man, they can pair him with Gardiner. 


THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: Michael Arace recently reported the Blue Jackets’ lack of depth at center was among the factors that led to their opening-round elimination by the Washington Capitals. He called upon general manager Jarmo Kekalainen to make bolstering that position a priority and suggested he consider pursuing New York Islanders center John Tavares if he hits the open market on July 1. Failing that, Arace proposed looking at secondary targets via trade, using the Jackets depth in defensemen as trade bait.

FANRAG SPORTS NETWORK: Chris Nichols cited TSN’s Darren Dreger’s recent appearance on Buffalo’s WGR 550 discussing the future of Blue Jackets forward Matt Calvert, who’s likely to depart this summer via free agency. Calvert’s performance this season didn’t impress Jackets coach John Tortorella, who compared the winger’s game to being up and down like a toilet seat. Dreger, however, believes there are probably 15 NHL teams that would have an interest in Calvert. Among them could be the Buffalo Sabres, who are in need of a hard-working character player.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Lack of skilled depth at center is an ongoing issue for the Jackets stretching back to last season. That’s why the Jackets were frequently linked last summer to Matt Duchene before he was shipped last fall to the Ottawa Senators.

While Tavares would certainly address that issue, the Jackets probably can’t afford to bid for his services. Cap Friendly indicates they have over $61 million invested in 19 players. While that’s plenty of room to make a big bid, doing so would push their cap hit well over $70 million for next season, which could be too much for the team’s ownership, especially with Sergei Bobrovsky, Artemi Panarin and Zach Werenski all due for big raises next year. They’ll have to turn to the trade market to address that need or consider more affordable free-agent options such as Winnipeg’s Paul Stastny, Toronto’s Tyler Bozak or San Jose’s aging Joe Thornton.

I concur with Dreger’s take on Calvert. While he was inconsistent this season it may have had something to do with Tortorella’s system. Calvert won’t lack for suitors via free agency this summer. The Sabres could be among them. 


NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: John Boruk recently reported there won’t be any changes to the Flyers coaching staff. He also wasn’t planning on re-signing pending UFAs Matt Read, Valtteri Filppula and Brandon Manning, but hasn’t ruled out bringing one of them back next season. He could also look toward affordable additions via free agency.

Hextall also indicated he doesn’t intend to buy out the final season of Jori Lehtera’s contract. Noting the Flyers’ prospect depth, Boruk speculated Hextall might get creative and attempt a bold move at this year’s draft.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hextall also enters this summer with considerable salary-cap space. Cap Friendly indicates the Flyers have over $57 million invested in 17 players with all their core talent under contract through next season. Should the cap jump to $80 million as projected, he’ll have around $23 million to work with this summer. While Flyers’ ownership has given Hextall the green light to spend as he sees fit to improve the roster, it doesn’t sound as though he’ll chase the big fish in this summer’s free-agent market.



  1. I can’t wait to watch Rasmus Dahlin skate through the Leafs swiss cheese defense lol. Gardner ha ha

    • Sabres have to work on their 3rd and 4th defense spots, now that #1 and #2 are set.

    • I can’t wait until his soul is destroyed like everyone else the miserable Sabres have signed or drafted in the last 5 or 6 years.

      • We had a terrible drunk GM with Tim Murray, I have no clue what he was thinking signing old slow guys to long term deals(Moulson for example), Good news is our new GM already drafted a great young high end skilled player in Casey Middlestat(5 points in 6 games), With Dahlin next year and bringing in more talent and speed the team should be much better, the big problem is we don’t have a goalie who is any good. It will be interesting to see what goalie they sign or trade for to go with Ullmark.

        Leafs have zero chance at a cup, I’m not sure why Leafs fans always talk to much crap on Sabres forums. I never go to Leafs forums and say anything. If I had a dollar for the amount of times I’ve heard Leafs fans trash Eichel and say he is Jack ECHL I would be rich. Jack is a much better playmaker than Matthews(he has more assists playing with guys like Girgensons and Pominville) and Matthews didn’t do anything in the playoffs. Who had more points in the regular season? We shall see, last I remember the Leafs won only a few games in Buffalo over the last 3 seasons.

      • I’ve been a Sabres fan since 1979-80 season, they have been a winning team for many of those years. We had a cheap owner Golisano who didn’t re-sign our best playoff scorers(and Briere was best playoff scorer since lockout for 5-6 years), Once a team gets bad it takes a while to recover. Look at how bad the Leafs were for so long with Harold Ballard. The Leafs have not had a team with enough talent and desire to win a cup in almost 50 years. They had no chance to win a cup this year with their defense even though it’s a way over priced unit. Go worry about Nylander and how he was soft as mink fur in playoffs two years in a row.

    • Bold prediction. i can barely hear ya from the basement. and ya keep putting the pressure on the kid. that always works.

    • Well Toronto’s battling for the Division title, having Cup aspirations next season, Dahlin will be wondering how fate landed him on what has been 1 of the worst teams of the modern era. 7 years without a playoff appearance, only 2 in the last 11 years. In the last 7 years, no team has been worse than Buf. both in wins & goals scored.

      No way BUF will make the playoffs next season. Can Buf even get out of the cellar finishing outside the bottom 5 in the league next season with Ott, Van, Det & Mon?

      Tor’s D will be getting better just through attrition & development of their young D. Reilly, Zaitsev, Dermott & Carrick are all just kids far from fully developed at the NHL level. Gardner just hit his prime to start the year for NHL Dman at 27, he’s never going to be great defensively but that’s not what he’s paid to do. He is paid to drive offence. His positives far outweigh his negatives. Top 20 scoring Dman don’t grow on tree’s & as he’s reached the 400 regular season games played mark he’s gotten significantly better defensively as all Dman do & he will continue to get better but again not his primary role or responsibility.

      With only 1 season to UFA status, Tor has to make a decision on Gardner. If not signed to an extension this summer he may well be moved before next seasons deadline & ton’s of teams will line up happily to take Gardner off Tor’s hands. Who does Tor have to replace him with?

      As always sign de Haan at 4.5 for 6 years, play him on his off side at right D. Let him play against the other teams best players at ES & on the #1 PK & be happy with his solid shut down game. If Tor loses out on him I assume Polak will be regurgitated again. These years UFA market for D doesn’t have another young player available like this. He turns 27 in May & he himself isn’t fully developed at the NHL level but he is a solid 2nd pairing Dman & would allow Tor to create 3 decent pairings. There is no short-term solution to what ails Tor’s D their youth at D needs far more NHL experience only time can solve that issue really.

      • Striker, signing De Hann is the right move. Assuming that is done, Gardiner will be dealt and I agree teams will line up for him. The Leafs need a different type of defenseman as we have Reilly/Dermott/Liligren that play a very similar game to Gardiner. I get Dermott and Liligren are 3-5 years away from being good-very good NHL defenseman, but not trading Gardiner would be a mistake assuming we sign De Hann.

        Hainsey gives us another year in the development of Dermott and Liligren. The Leafs will find another stop gap solution the following year.

        And of course, alot depends on who comes back in the Gardiner trade. A solid defensive defensive with some offensive game would be my target when dealing Gardiner. Anaheim may be the right team – Montour comes to mind on that team. Well, that type of player.

      • Striker, just a reminder you didn’t have Winnipeg making the playoffs this year. Did anybody see Ottawa not making the playoffs after their run last year.
        I’ll wait until Oct before I’ll say who is or isn’t making the playoffs.

      • The leafs defense is terrible no one can deny that! Striker didn’t you also have vegas finishing bottom 5?

      • Toronto had zero chance to win cup this year. Golden Boy Matthews was upset with coach and was a no show in playoffs with soon to be overpaid Nylander. I watched Dahlin play live he will go around Gardner and fake him out of his jock.

    • Buffalo finally has something to look forward to, until the 1st puck drops next year. Welcome to cancer city Dahlin! Pick a side in that divided locker room early!!!! Lol

      • Let’s give Botterill a chance here – he just got very lucky and Brendan Shanahan can vouch for picking first when there’s a truly excellent choice at the top of the draft. The Sabres just took a big step forward.

  2. Think the Shanaplan is to wait till next summer to make a pitch to Doughty????

    By then he will have the contracts ready to offer Marner & Matthews. All 3 young players including Nylander….for many cup runs which is what Doughty wants.

    They will have the room by not resigning Bozak and JVR to LTDs.

    • How could he get Drew without sending Nylander or Marner for him…

    • Doughty is going to do the exact same thing as Stamkos , and that’s to stay where he is ; living in So. Cal , great weather , beautiful mansion , less media pressure , as much as Leaf fans would like to dream of this , LA will not let him walk for nothing , so worse case scenario , if talks fall apart between the Kings and DD , he will get traded at the deadline and one team will have to pay big to get him .

      Let’s be realistic here , the Bruins/Leafs series should have been done in 5 games , Matthews didn’t show up , Andersen had 2 good games to push the series to Game 7 , this series was not yours to begin with , so you take a deep breath , re-tool the roster for next season , stay with the plan , and don’t panic …. You are going into Year 4 of your rebuild , do you want to be a one time ahot at the Cup , or be perennial favourites for the next 7-10 years ? Just my take on things

      • ya but it didn’t end in 5. and if the bruins win it all. what does that say about the leafs that came back to bring them to the 3rd period of a game 7. in the lead with a so called suspect defense. now what does that make the leafs?

      • The Leafs represented themselves very well against Boston, especially on home ice which is more than I can say for Tampa yesterday. I get it was only one game, but when the game mattered, Boston was the better.

        One thing I want to point out that doesn’t appear obvious to anyone else is Boston didn’t beat the Leafs because they were better on the blueline. They beat the Leafs cause they were better at the centre position. The centres dominated the dot and dominated the most important area of the ice, the middle. They will do the same to Tampa. Tampa’s defensemen are far better then Boston, yet Tampa got hammered yesterday.

        Pittsburg can match or better Boston at centre. I don’t see Boston getting past Pittsburg because of it.

      • Yes Doughty will stay but he will be extended this summer, thankfully eliminating the need for us to discuss the what if’s of fans from almost every other team with dreams of Doughty playing for them.

        Listening to a year of BS about where Stamkos was going & now Tavares is punishing. I’m a Bruins fan & my hope is Tavares resigns in NYI at 10.5 for 8 years. With his UFA status & McDavid resetting the bar Tavares is almost free to choose his stop with a few exceptions & could get more almost anywhere & even NYI would be willing to pay as that’s the nature of the NHL’s UFA business model.

        I’m never putting my organization in a position to see 1 of my stud players or even great players to see UFA status at 27. Crazy. I force bridge deals on virtually every player, locking them up for 2 to 3 years longer freeing them to the UFA market at 29 to 31.

      • Kinda like Mcdonagh was re-signing a 6-7 year deal and not getting traded?

      • I disagree, Trekie. Not only are the Bruins deeper at centre than the Leafs, but they have a better defence. The Bruins d-men are all better than either Hainsey or Polak and they don’t have a giveaway artist like Gardiner. As well, Chara, even at 40 years old, is a force – just ask Matthews and Nylander. Also, the Bruins are playing without Brandon Carlo, but you’d never know it. As a Bruins fan, I fear Washington more than Pittsburgh. The B’s have been jinxed against the Caps, whereas, they’ve had good results against the Pens.

    • The leafs have roughly 32 million tied up for 2019/2020. That doesn’t include extensions for nylander Mathews Marner gardiner, Kapanen . Also doesn’t include paying replacements for bozak komarov jvr polak Hainsey Carrick johnnson . How are they going to pay a doughty ? Or Carlson ? Trading a young stud , or as I mentioned previously trade gardiner , And find a way to replace him with a real defender . Can only say next year so many time for gardiner and Reilly before accepting the fact they are not top pair d men on there own . They need a stud alongside them to take on those roles and to get one it’s either young stud or gardiner gone imo. Then maybe Reilly could take on top pair minutes with said defender and not get run over in his own end and top lines

      • cap going up 5 mil as well.

      • And the agents will be negotiating percentages and hits off this new number. A slightly lower percentage off of 80 could make Auston the new highest paid player and that’s what it may take to get him to sign this summer . He feels misused and has a tonne of leverage and incentive to play another year . Unless , like Edmonton or buffalo to a lesser extent with eichel , they show him an offer worth signing .

      • Teams need to use the leverage they have when they have it. That’s 7 years of contractual obligation.

        The next CBA is going to again level several salary issues with the NHLPA. I’m not signing any players coming out of their ELC’s a year early like Edm did with McDavid.

      • Striker , your not, but any gm with a mcdavid , Mathews would try and pay a huge price to avoid possible offer sheets or another year to build resume . You just refuse to actually acknowledge in your brain that they have a tonne of leverage . You will again see that with Mathews this summer and where the number lands . What will you claim then ? Just another gm who didn’t “have” to pay up ?

    • JVR and Bozak had more points in the playoffs than Nylander, Matthews combined No?

      • & your point being?

      • The point is that Nylander has bombed two years in a row in playoffs and looked soft like a mink coat, many Leafs fans are wanting him to be traded, Matthews was shut down easy. Fans like when they have star players that elevate their games in playoffs like winners do.

    • Doughty will be extended on July 1st by Blake. I’m assuming 10.5 mil per, Kopitar monies give or take 500K. He won’t be going anywhere. Next pipe dream.

  3. Being a Jackets fan from the day Columbus was announced as having won an expansion, I disregard everything Arace writes. He has been the most negative beat reporter/commentator on the Jackets. While he has a point that the Jackets lack center depth, he has been very critical of Pierre Luc Dubois despite Dubois’ successful rookie season. Where the Jackets need reliable centers is on the 3rd and 4th lines, not the first line. As for Calvert, there has been speculation all season (by people better informed than Arace) that he wouldn’t be offered a contract after this season due to his age and declining performance.

    • Had Columbus not lost Wennberg their #1 C centring their 2nd line for 3 games, Columbus may well have gotten by Was.

      As expected speciality teams were Columbus undoing. Their PP sucked & their PK was brutal. Everyone said before this series started if Columbus took penalties against Was they were doomed.

      Columbus is an elite level team 5 on 5. I don’t understand why their 2 speciality teams are so bad. It has to be a system coaching issues as the talent is there.

      I have never shared the opinion that Columbus needs a C. Dubois, Wennberg, Dubinsky & Sedlak are all C’s. Foligno & Jenner can both play C & Columbus brought in Letestu at the trade deadline.

      I have never been a Torts fan. You bring in Letestu a 4th line C & PP specialist, he see’s 0:06 seconds of PP TOI/GP in the playoffs. I don’t understand, nor will I ever, why some coaches keep rolling out the same players in the same roles expecting a different result.

      Columbus’s PP & PK in the playoffs was worse than it was in the regular season whuch makes sense as the level of competition rises but you had 82 games to try different formations. Columbus never did, same units virtually all season & into the playoffs. Perhaps youth, Bjortstrand, Milano or Anderson may have lead to different results.

      Jack Johnson didn’t get a single playoff game. Torts love is hard love. If Columbus is going to improve this coach needs to be sent packing. His player decisions are a significant reason Columbus can’t make it over the hump.

      • I’ll agree with most of what you say. The PP & PK have been weird all season. However, I support Jack Johnson not getting into a game. He’s easily the Jackets’ 7th best d-man and one of the worst d-man, defensively, ever. Also, Dubi is slipping heavily. Foligno is better suited to the wing. Jenner’s offense has dropped every year since his 30 goal season. Some changes to the forward lines are needed. Happily, Johnson won’t be resigned since Cole is better and will be cheaper.

  4. How you get a good backend is by drafting them. Nashville is a good example. Flames have a decent one and still drafted Valimaki. Boston another illustration over recent drafts. Flyers the best example and are going to great on defence once they get some games in. Won’t take 400 😜
    Tortonto did last year and will have to over the next number of drafts. Forward core is set. Bozak would be a nice fit in Clb.

  5. Speaking of a team that lacked center depth, have to believe if Tavares doesn’t sign with Isles, Rangers will make him a priority. They have the cap space. With so many younger players now on elc and bridge deals, making a splash now is feasible. In 3 years Lundquist, Staal and Shatty contracts will be up…If anyone’s been listening to management comments, they’ve often alluded to positioning themselves for elite players that may become available. Signing a proven #1 center will have a huge trickle down effect without giving up assets and hurting transition to younger team. The whole hated rival thing is over blown, and JT already in NYC .. would allow them to focus any trade on a true top pair D man not named Karlsson.

    • Tavares won’t slight the Isles by going to the Rangers.

      He’ll be skating as a Devil for the next 7 seasons instead

  6. Lyle, I disagree with your assessment of Jake ‘The Mistake’ Gardiner.
    There is no way the Leafs are going to re-sign him at the end of next season, especially now that they have a similar/(better)player with the Marlies [Timothy Liljegren] who is a 1/2 to 1.0 year away from being ready to make the jump to the Leafs.
    Gardiner will be traded by next years deadline at the latest.

    • Greg, 100% agreed, Gardiner will not be a Leaf in the 2019/20 season. He may not be a Leaf in the 2018/19 season.

    • I watched Timothy Liljegren play in AHL this year, vs Amerks, he is a quality player. Leafs should ditch many of the overpaid D men they have and place him into a spot.

  7. Leaf fans have no problem throwing Gardiner under the bus but never say a negative word about Mathews who was a no show in the series. Leafs should try and sign one real good D man forget about Tavares and don’t over pay signing their three musketeers there not worth crazy money.

    • Obe,

      Agreed. Matthews stunk in the playoffs this year; however, he has shown he can do it. Exhibit A last year against the Capitals. This is not meant to throw Gardiner under the bus. Spector is 100% correct, although it wouldn’t take a rocket scientist to see Toronto’s problems, that the Leafs need D! They need the shut down variety they sorely lack. Gardiner is not the only defence man the Leafs employ that does not fit the shut down profile. When you are on the ice as often as he is with the overall defence they have you fun the risk of being -5 on any given night. I saw an article stating Toronto was looking into the European free trade market. So far that has done little to solve the problem; exhibit B Nikita Zaitsev! Toronto needs to trade for a D man. They abandoned the Shanaplan to sign Marleau, which I was against and am glad to say I was wrong, so they should be more willing to do it to get defensive help. I for one hope they don’t go after Voynov. His presence there would only bring negative media attention, deservedly so, and who is to say he still has his game left after years in the KHL? Another option is to be done with Polak and Hainsey and let the young AHL guys they have come up and get some playing time. It’s simple, they will not be contenders until they do!

      • Gardiner had 52 points tied with Rielly his plus minus was better and he blocked more shots. Morgan also had more power play time and way more power play points. Jakes game 7 wasn’t great but Boston might have had something to do with that. Lots of blame to go around sounds to me Jake is being the escape goat and Mathews Nylander and Morgan are being given a free pass.

  8. With the flyers holding two first rounders, UFA status of Wayne Simmons approaching, and potentially 20 to 25 mill of cap space. Hextall will no doubt be active.
    The need for a solid defenceman scoring winger and a number three center. I can see the Flyers moving up to a top 4 pick in order to get one of the 3 highly touted wingers. Brady Tchachuk is a prototypical Flyer.

    • would love to see the Flyers bring back JVR.

  9. well leafs fans… what do you think you get for gardiner selling low on him? lets compare him to schultz… a third round pick work for you leafs fans?

    • Yup

    • Good point, Chrisms. Someone should ask Mike Babcock about Gardiner because he’s the one who keeps putting the guy out there. I’m still willing to accept Babcock’s judgment – Gardiner will be an important part of next year’s team. I really like the idea of signing a guy like DeHaan. There are prospects with the Marlies worth considering as well.

  10. Well it’s now 53 years since the NYRs have had a top 3 pick! Boy does this draft system suck!

    • Not picking high in the draft means you are doing well Nyr4life. The Rangers are an odd example of both systems as buying your way to a Cup only produced one; 1994! Why Lundqvist refused to be traded is beyond me! If what was reported on TSN was true.

      • How many have philly bought or drafted to lately.

    • Don’t you guys usually trade away first round picks for 38 year old guys? Tampa

  11. Remember 1994?




    With a team full past Oiler greats, Leetch, Zubov, and a goalie like Richter staying under the cap would be a chore.

    Now before I criticize the Rangers spending freely on a team did even less for the Leafs; 0 Cups!

    I am not typically a Bettman fan, and personally he reminds of the Count on Sesame Street, but the draft lottery and the cap system keeps parity in the League.

    • Ny probably gave up more talent leading up to 94 than they bought. Amonte, Weight, Vanbiesbrook.etc. not to mention the numerous picks before and after that run.

    • Remember 1967? I’d name the roster but no one would remember half of those guys. They were a good bunch for old farts.

    • That was when NY could buy a cup, no cap back then, I remember all those seasons with 70 million payrolls and no playoffs, signing guys like Holik and Lindros, Poor Gretzky wasted the last 3 years of his career not in playoffs but playing on a team with highest payroll in league.

      Hey, maybe you guys will sign Kovalchuk lol

  12. Gardiner is good in the role he plays. He would be a first pair or at worst a #3 dman on most of the teams in the NHL. If they trade him it will be for a good right hander because that is what the Leafs need and then Dermott moves up. Personally I would like to see them keep Reilly, Gardner and Dermott on the left side then keep Zaitsev and Carrick on the right but use assets and draft picks to get someone like Manson, Ristolenin, or Dumba to play with Reilly. That leaves Hainsey as the #7 or injury fill in. As for #8 do not sit a young guy but maybe a veteran at the end of his career. I would say Pollak who I like but Babcock would play him over Carrick. If Liljgren makes the team then Carrick moves down. the defense would then be:
    Gardner- Zaitsev
    Dermott- Liljgren
    Hainsey- Carrick

    Not bad once they get some more experience.

    • Again. Mans a low value after these playoffs. He is a number 4 on a cup team. A number three on a playoff hopefull. What do you expect to get for him in trade? He isn’t valueless but his value in trade is far less than his value in keeping him and hoping he gets better. Unless the guy is moved for a fringe piece to clear room for a Carlson or something then moving him makes no sense

      • That’s the whole point of moving him to me going forward . Can’t afford to keep him long term, sign Mathews Marner nylander Kapanen replace the out going ufa and upgrade the d . Reilly I assume to most leaf fans stays over gardiner , zaitsev is untradable , borderline unplayable in a top 4 role with Fred behind him but gardiner has value and the cap space and assets returned could pave the way or be a part of acquiring the d man who can defend and play big minutes then sorely need . I don’t see another way with Jake that involves keeping the guys I mentioned above which I would think is of greater importance

      • Without * Fred behind him , having a vezina type year under the heaviest siege and of good quality in the nhl