NHL Rumor Mill – August 21, 2018

by | Aug 21, 2018 | Rumors | 58 comments

Latest on the Rangers and Maple Leafs in your NHL rumor mill.


NBC SPORTS: Adam Gretz speculates the New York Rangers could once again be active in the trade market. Citing their ongoing rebuild and the possibility they could miss the playoffs again, he feels it’s possible the major roster shakeup will continue this season. He suggests winger Mats Zuccarello, center Kevin Hayes and forwards Ryan Spooner and Vladislav Namestnikov could be players worth watching this season.

Could the New York Rangers shop Mats Zuccarello this season? (Photo via NHL Images)

Zuccarello and Hayes are slated to become unrestricted free agents next July. Spooner and Namestnikov are both under two-year deals each worth $4 million annually.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: After Hayes and the Rangers agreed to a one-year contract this summer, his departure by next July seems a certainty. GM Jeff Gorton appears reluctant to make a long-term investment in Hayes.

Zuccarello turns 31 next month and while he’s averaged 49-or-more points in each of the last five seasons he probably doesn’t have a lengthy future with the Rangers. Both could be useful trade chips for the Blueshirts before the trade deadline.

Spooner and Namestnikov may be considered stopgap players but strong performances on their part could make them worth retaining. 


THE ATHLETIC: James Mirtle believes the Toronto Maple Leafs may have kicked tires on possible trade or free-agent options to improve their defense. However, he feels they may well end up sticking with what they currently have, including perhaps promoting from their AHL farm club. Given their weakness at right defense, however, Mirtle doesn’t rule out the possibility of Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas swinging a deal before the February trade deadline to address this issue.

Mirtle also reported goaltender Calvin Pickard could be the starter for the Leafs’ AHL farm team this season. However, he is being offered around the league by the Leafs. Pickard played for the Toronto Marlies during their 2018 Calder Cup championship run.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The defense options are slim in the free-agent market while the asking price for a top-four right-side defenseman is likely one of the Leafs’ promising young forwards. Given their scoring punch and the wealth of youthful talent on the roster, Dubas can afford to be patient here. He’ll assess his blueline through training camp, preseason and perhaps during the season.

If there’s no notable improvement on right D, Dubas will have to address it by the deadline. They simply cannot go into the playoffs with a blueline corps playing like they did a year ago and expect a lengthy playoff run.

As for Pickard, I can see teams in need of goaltending depth keeping an eye on him. Wouldn’t surprise me if he’s dealt before the start of the regular season. 



  1. I seriously doubt Zucharello finishes season with Rangers. Surprised he’s still here. Hayes? I still think there’s a chance he gets extension before next summer. Really going to be a season where Rangers try and figure out what they have with kids. Hayes has a pretty good relationship with new coach and has expressed his desire to stay in NY. Only way I’m trading him is if it’s part of a deal for a Trouba or Panarin. I wonder if they’re selling again at deadline, would they look to maybe move Shattenkirk. Has modified ntc.

    • Moving Shatty after he took a below market deal would be a terrible optic for future free agents considering signing with NYR. I think they keep him even if they might prefer to move him.

  2. Strike up the “Tanev to Toronto” rumours lol.

    • Toronto doesnt want to give up the assets needed to make that deal.

      • As a Leaf fan I have no issue giving up assets for the right dman, Tanev is not that guy.

  3. Pickard didn’t backstop the Marlies. It was Sparks.

    • The devil is in the details I think. The article simply stated that ‘Pickard played for the Toronto Marlies during their 2018 Calder Cup championship run’ – and he did play, just not a lot 🙂

      • He changed it after I made my comment.

      • My apologies for not thanking you for pointing it out. Appreciate it.

  4. That should be Petry for Kapanen (thanks, autocorrect)

  5. If the Rangers are rebuilding, why isn’t Lundqvist going? The Rangers would likely have to eat some of his salary, but he seems like he could fetch a return and go to a team with a chance of winning a cup.

    • JD Big

      Hank still owed $19M and cap 3 years at $8.5M

      …. what teams are you thinking would be a good fit? And what is expected return at say50% retention … receiving team pays $9.5M for 3 years service with Cap hit annually of $4.25M?

      • Maybe Calgary after Smith’s contract expires at the end of the year?

    • They apparently asked Lundqvist if he wanted to be traded & he said no. I don’t see them eating salary to move Lundqvist, he will mentor the transition to a younger goalie. Georgiev for now but Shesterkin is NYR’s future #1.

      I don’t think NYR is going to be as bad as many people think. For me they are a bubble team, the biggest concern being the D.

      I assume Zuccarello will be moved at the trade deadline whether NYR is in the hunt or not much like StL has done the last 2 seasons with Shattenkirk & Stastny. I’m not sure why Hayes wasn’t signed longer term. I assume if he isn’t extended just after January 1st he will be moving as well although I would prefer he stay & sign for at least 5 years at or near 5.5.

    • It’s all kinda pointless to discuss. He carries a full nmc, and was asked last year if he wanted to move on and refused. For one reason or another he wants to stay in NY. He likes that life.

      His contract is not hurting them now, nor will it in expansion. Why not have him and Allaire mentor his successor? They are in a very nice position moving forward. The contracts of Staal, Smith, and Lundqvist aren’t hurting anyone.

      • I agree fully.

        Not directed at you just on topic.

        I like NYR’s top 3 lines & they will be shuffled constantly but Buchenvich won’t be getting punished constantly by Quinn & Vesey will see a far greater role. Vigneault doesn’t have much tolerance for youthful mistakes, happy to see him sent packing. Quinn will let the kids play.

        Kreider, Zibanejad, Buchnevich.
        Vesey, Hayes, Spooner.
        Namestnikov, Andersson, Zuccarello.
        Chytil, ?, Fast.

  6. Again

    I truly believe that Leafs have absolutely no chance of SC without addressing their D issues

    Unless there is a huge surprise acquisition of an EK or EK type level of D this season….which is almost impossible… then SC is a definite no go fir Leafs for June of ’19.

    Leafs wil be gangbusters in reg season and compete at least for Div champs if not for Conf champs

    Playoffs are a completely different story … LEAFS as at now … not built for deep playoff run let alone winning ECF or SC.

    Serious acquisition in D is necessary and imminent but does not have to (and likely will not) happen immediately

    I agree … Dubas …. get your full training camp assessment done first

    Best trade chip option , IMO , for an impact top 2D…. is Wee Willy(WW)

    I know I’m in the minority wrt thinking about moving WW… but I would keep Marner over WW and definitely NOT trade AM ( unless it is an offer that no one could refuse).., that leaves basically only WW as trade bait enough to bring back the required impactful top 2D

    • I disagree Tor can compete for a cup with the D they have assuming they add another veteran shutdown Dman in the #5 slot & I think Tor will do so before the season starts even if just signing a UFA Dman like Enstrom, Bieksa, Emelin or Sbisa to play with Dermott on the 3rd pairing.

      Tor will wait to see what is going to play out with Trouba next summer before expending a really solid asset to acquire a replacement for Hainsey now.

      Zaitsev will be better, Reilly will be better, Dermott will help & the solid 4 lines Tor roles will play a solid puck possession game which is a great defensive strategy.

      They are out kicking tires on Dman now but the cost is prohibitive today. Improvement is coming from within. Next summer the bid hard for Trouba if & when that market opens.

      • Hi Striker

        I agree they can wait and could make moves to bolster D as you’ve suggested.

        Reilly should rebound I agree. I will admit I’ve never been a Zeitz fan and especially not for the contract he was offered … possible improvement there

        Yes definite possibility re other depth maturity/improvement

        However , this old fart sticks to his guns in stating …. No Leaf SC unless they truly bolster their D …. top 2D needed…. will love to eat crow if proven wrong …. please Leafs…. prove me wrong

        Dubas is best to wait and see …. concur

        If (huge if) TBay does get EK … Dubas’ hand is then forced

        Outside of huge injuries … TBay with EK then has 4 horseman on D (3 Swedes and Mac)…. would be on the ice for 50 minutes of every game

        Long shot as I’ve stated… but still a possibility

        IMO …. it’s the Callahan issue that really is holding up that trade

        It is seeming to me now, more and more likely that TBay rides season as is and picks up EK for free (LOL— no assets out) in July… it seems this is EKs preferred destination

      • Pit’s D when Letang was injured had some similarities. Winning the cup in the hardest playoff format in pro sports is no easy feat. To win the cup so much has to fall almost perfectly it is coming down to just Tor’s D not being good enough.

        This D could play well enough but everything else needs to work as well, limited injuries especially to key players, you need well above average goaltending bordering on exceptional, everyone needs to play at their regular season levels or better & a player not expected to be a major factor needs to play way above their regular season performance scoring timely important goals, your face off proficiency especially in PP & PK deployments needs to be above average.

        It just isn’t coming down to Tor’s D. Just getting past Bos or TB to get to the conf final is a huge obstacle & for me there is no shame in simply playing great but losing to a better team.

      • Thought I read somewhere Trouba doesn’t want to stay in Canada. Would think he has no interest in signing in Toronto. Has just as good a chance winning with Jets and Leafs will have same cap dilemma that might be driving Trouba out of Winn. I think either he stays put or signs with whoever he wants in 2 years

      • I agree with you. I just have this weird feeling he ends up in Det by the start of the 2020-21 season.

        That said if I’m any team I’m waiting to bid on Trouba next summer. I’m not moving out assets today that may be needed then unless a similar Dman is coming back.

    • nylander is core player for 10 yrs and a number 3 d man is ridiculous

    • The leafs need Nylander to not play soft as a mink coat in the playoffs, he was terrible!

  7. Going for the biggest fish in the market may not be Torontos best option. They really only need another solid 2nd pairing. I agree that it is kind of a faux pas to trade a player that has just signed in Shattenkirk, however, if I were the player and they were sending me to a cup contender I would be willing to go. I also wonder if Lundqvist just doesnt want to go anywhere. It may be a Sedins in Vancouver situation where they flat out said they dont want to be traded anywhere at anytime. It was a little frustrating to see that half assed rebuild, but they earned their right to play out their careers in Vancouver and I’m glad they weren’t forced out even if they could have accelerated that rebuild being traded in more ways than one. Main point Im trying to make is King Henry has earned his right to stay in New York if he wants to, and it would be an even bigger faux pas to trade him against his wishes than it would be to trade Shattenkirk

    • agree. Look at the mileage TB got out of a “washed up” Griardi last year. A role player who fits the role he is asked to play ina cap friendly way, and is a good fit with the group, often means quite a lot. When Girardi was signed the Tampa fans were 80-20 against, by season’s they 80% approved. Yes, he could have been better, as could most of the league, but he did yeoman’s work at a fair price eating minutes that had to be eaten. A fit like that would make Toronto that much more formidable, and they can certainly run you out of the building on any given night now. I theink teams looking to beat the Leafs are looking to expose the bottom D pairings, and a modest upgrade might make that tougher.

      • I think NYR made a huge mistake buying out Girardi & signing Smith especially looking at the monies in that exchange.

        I liked the Girardi signing in TB. No reason Girardi can’t still play 2nd pairing minutes in a shutdown role just like he did in TB last season logging the 4th highest TOI/GP at D in TB, killing penalties, hitting people & blocking shots. He finished 20th in the NHL in blocked shots at D, he tied for 33rd in hits. Teams need players to play that role & he plays it well.

      • That Girardi buy out + Smith signing will always a remain a modern day unsolved mystery

      • Richard

        Leafs are going to do major damage in reg season. No doubt in my mind.

        I’m sticking with my gut that says minor D adjustments outside of top 2D improvements will not be enough to get them to SCF let alone win it

        Let’s see what KD does after training camp evaluation and/or at trade deadline

        Leaf’s future is bright no matter what … but IMO to get that long awaited cup … they need to make a substantive strengthening move or moves on D

        …. LEAFS …. please prove me wrong …. I’d be honoured and ecstatic to be proved wrong on this

      • Richard

        Leafs are going to do major damage in reg season. No doubt in my mind.

        I’m sticking with my gut that says minor D adjustments outside of top 2D improvements will not be enough to get them to SCF let alone win it

        Let’s see what KD does after training camp evaluation and/or at trade deadline

        Leaf’s future is bright no matter what … but IMO to get that long awaited cup … they need to make a substantive strengthening move or moves on D

        …. LEAFS …. please prove me wrong …. I’d be honoured and ecstatic to be proved wrong on this

      • Smith was an energetic force in the two Ranger playoff series. He looked like 2x the player Girardi was in the same series. No idea what happened to him after that-playing for the contract?
        He was -11 in 11 AHL games last year.

      • Striker, I don’t know what you see in Girardi. Too slow… Rangers made right move, and I’ll bet this is Staals last season in NY as well.

      • I see a player that can play 17 to 18 mins a game killing penalties, hitting & blocking shots playing against another teams 2 nd or 3rd lines ar ES.

        Paying Girardi’s buyout & siging Smith to replace him was a huge mistake. They should have just kept Girardi for at least 1 more year ideally 2 & never signed Smith. Then bought Girardi out with 1 year remaining.

        His hits & blocked shots are solid again top 20 for blocked shots & 33rd for hits by Dman & he’s still a reliable penalty killer. Why don’t you like those #’s?

      • Striker, we’ve had this argument before. Stop conflating Smith signing with Girardi buyout. They were looking to overhaul defense. I still believe if Gorton knew he’d get Shattenkirk, he wouldn’t have signed Smith. He had a good playoff and Gorton didn’t want him hitting FA market. Either way, they weren’t keeping Girardi. They don’t have cap issues, so I don’t know why you keep reliving this. Smith has put in work this summer, let’s see how this year pans out. Maybe he bounces back and they look to move him at deadline too.

      • I think the 2 are interrelated & Gorton made a serious mistake on both.

        You have your opinion I have mine.

    • I don’t think the Canucks were ready to retire I think they were pretty much forced out my management, part of the reason Trevor pulled the plug. I would have liked 1 more year of the Sedin’s in lesser roles, playing 3rd line minutes & 2nd line PP time as opposed to signing Beagle, Roussel & Schaller.

      I’m curious to see how many people show up for games in Vancouver this year. I gave up my season tickets 2 years ago but many are still buying their’s & just not attending games with any regularity.

      • Sedins for Canucks. Arghhhhh. Not enough tea this morning.

      • Striker

        We knew you meant the Twins … go out and get your Tim’s XL double double 🙂

      • Striker,

        We knew you meant the Twins … go out and get your Tim’s XL double double 🙂

      • I’ve had 2 now but usually, need 3 to get this old brain working & out of it’s CBD fog. Ha-ha! Or is that a THC fog its all very confusing.

      • Striker,

        Two and you sometimes have 3!?!

        One is my limit … caffeine really hits me

        If I had 2 pre noon I’d begin to stutter

        3 and I’d power read the telephone book

        … regardless of “zip” injections …. the grey cells in this noggin peaked pre fatherhood … and my four are in their mid 20’s …. LOL

      • The Canucks will be bad this year but they have one of, if not the best, prospect groups in the NHL. Once the older, average, players get pushed out they are going to be fun to watch. The 2019 draft is going to be one of the deepest drafts in a long time. There are almost 2 rounds worth of good potential players. The Canucks can pick up 2 more future stars(potentially). They have been drafting pretty well the last few years.

      • I just wish they had gone full-scale rebuild & not kept straddling the fence.

    • Lundqvist has stayed he doesn’t want to go anywhere. Rangers are all he knows. He’s competitive. Doesn’t assume like everyone else that they aren’t going to play to win. I agree optics are bad on trading Shattenkirk, but I think anything’s possible at deadline. Everyone assumes he could’ve got a better deal somewhere else but who knows what other offers where out there. He wanted to play for his hometown team. His choice to sign and not get full ntc! Last year was a bust. Let’s see what happens this season.

      • It’s known he got a much better offer from Tampa than NY prior to being traded from St. Louis

    • Lundqvist has a full ntc!!! He’s not going anywhere against his wishes. Like someone already said, they don’t need to move him.

  8. Not sure Toronto is going to tear up anything I’m sure they will be an explosive team but tear up the regular season. Leafs have plenty of competition and no team is going to roll over just because some young guns come to town. Anderson was a big reason they won a lot of games and injuries often happen to smallish players. Toronto will be in the mix but so will 8 or 9 other teams in the East. Hold onto your hats should be an exciting race.

    • Obe

      I don’t think by any stretch they are running away with Div and/or conference.

      I think they will have quite a few games where they run amok and have some lopsided play to their advantage.

      I think they are built to compete in the reg season for top dog in Atlantic (not saying they’ll win but they’ll have a shot at it) and outside (if all pistons are truly firing and there are some downturns from other top dog candidates) chance at winning east in reg season … long shot …. but not impossible

      What I was trying to stress was the difference in types of games in reg. season vs. Playoffs.

      Leafs, IMO, are built now with a great probability of high success in regular season but much much much lower probability of getting through 3 rounds and onto SCF

      Again in my (not greatly shared I might add … LOL) opinion, the Leafs solution to the 50+ years SC drought lies with improving bluline with an addition of a true top 2D

      You can see from the threads above … I’m almost entirely alone on this belief … but after 50 plus years of waiting , I’m begging the Leafs to prove me wrong …. I’d be the happiest guy in the world to be proved so wrong on this 🙂

      • Pengy, there are those who will tell you that the Leafs D “will get better” – seems to me that with Gardiner (heading into his 8th season), Rielly (his 6th) and Hainsey (his 16th) it’s pretty much a case of what you’ve seen you can expect to get. On what basis would anyone think any of those 3 are going to improve defensively? Maybe guys like Zaitsez, Carrick and Dermott will see their games improve. But to this point that’s what it is – maybe. Anyone who tried to say they will improve for sure is engaging in sophistry.

    • I tend to agree Obe. There are some heavier teams I suspect the Leafs will struggle with. They’ve added depth at centre and lost some on the wings. I have to wonder if Anderson will look like Talbot this year. He was worked very hard last season and performed at a high level. Talbot did that for one year in Edmonton and then regressed.

  9. That’s an interesting insight into the Linden departure in Vancouver Striker. That thought never crossed my mind, but makes a lot of sense. I disagree a little bit with you however, and I feel the Sedins needed to retire for the betterment of the club. It’s in their best interest to be bad, and the Sedins although long in the tooth made them a better club, and they’re too proud to tank a team for better chances of a pick. I would have liked to see them traded two years ago with retained salary together to a playoff contender so they could have a couple more shots at the Cup. It perhaps does not mean as much to Europeans as to us Canadians, so my priorities may not align with theirs. Just one fans biased opinion.

    • The twins moving was never going to happen. Pointless to even go there.

  10. gardiner + 1st for trouba?

    • Trouba is over rated! The guy thinks he’s worth 8 million per year. By next year he will think he’s worth 10 million for his 20 points. If you’re going to spend 8 million on a D man get one that is a two way guy who can consistently score 40-50 points

  11. Dubas might want a RHD & it’s obviously a big need. Offering nothing won’t get anything done.
    A goalie prospect hardly. Kicking tires every GM does that & nothing new.

  12. @assbackwards I’d take that deal if I was Chevy

  13. Should the Minnesota Wild begin a re-tool or rebuild if they are out of playoff contention by Christmas? If they look like they could sneak in and be knocked out by Winnipeg or Nashville..

    Some writers (one on THN that I read today) believe so. Personally, I have never found anything about the Wild to be very interesting, and the core leadership group of Suter, Parise and Koivu are not suited to lead a team to glory and are all aging.

    The idea that the introduction of a new core of younger talent should be pursued makes sense to me too. Matt Dumba, Mikael Granlund, Jordan Greenway, Joel Eriksson-Ek and Luke kunin are all young players they could re-tool around.

    Jared Spurgeon would be an ideal trade target for the Maple Leafs. If they are forced to move Nylander, Spurgeon and then some could go the other way. Otherwise, the Leafs 2019 1st round pick and a prospect could be enticing for the Wild.

  14. Toronto has Tampa and Boston again to deal with and if they stay healthy there is no way the Leafs can play with them. From goal to D to forward,s they don’t compete. In my opinion Boston and Tampa are still the alpha dogs and Toronto still has a few steps to take.