NHL Rumor Mill – October 17, 2018
Updates on the Leafs, Hurricanes, Bruins, Ducks, and Senators in your NHL rumor mill.
HIGHLIGHTS FROM LATEST “INSIDER TRADING”
TSN: While the Toronto Maple Leafs insist they’re not shopping restricted free agent William Nylander, Pierre LeBrun reports teams are keeping track of the contract impasse. He speculates the Leafs might change their minds if this standoff drags into November and the Dec. 1 deadline to sign Nylander approaches.
LeBrun suggests the Carolina Hurricanes could be a team worth watching because of their prior interest in Nylander and their defensive depth. LeBrun believes Hurricanes blueliner Brett Pesce would be of interest to the Leafs, as he’s a top-four defenseman on a six-year contract with a cap-friendly contract worth over $4 million annually.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Hurricanes could be reluctant to part with Pesce, preferring instead to offer up Justin Faulk, who’s been linked to the Leafs for some time in the rumor mill. LeBrun recently reported Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas contacted the Hurricanes this summer about Faulk but it was a brief conversation and Nylander wasn’t brought up.
Darren Dreger addressed Toronto Maple Leafs winger Kasperi Kapanen’s strong start to this season skating alongside Auston Matthews and the possible effect upon his next contract. Kapanen is in the final year of his entry-level deal and Dreger speculates he could be looking at $5-million per season if he reaches 40, 50 or 60 points this season. It could mean the Leafs face shedding someone in a cost-cutting move.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: That move doesn’t have to happen this season but it certainly must take place next summer. Cap Friendly indicates the Leafs currently have over $49 million invested in 11 players for 2019-20, with forwards Kapanen, Matthews, William Nylander, and Mitch Marner to re-sign, as well as defensemen Ron Hainsey and Jake Gardiner to re-sign or replace.
By my conservative estimates, Matthews could get around $12 million per season, Marner at least $8 million, and Nylander between $4 million to $8 million depending on the length of the deal and how much the Leafs are willing to pay. If Kapanen becomes a $5 million per season player, the Leafs simply won’t have enough cap-payroll space to fill out the remainder of their roster. Matthews and Marner won’t be going anywhere, meaning the choice could come down to Nylander or Kapanen.
Dreger also reports the Boston Bruins could be in the market for an experienced forward, preferably a center, and might dangle one of their young players as trade bait. He said Anders Bjork and Danton Heinen are “potentially out there”. Dreger added he’s not saying those players are being shopped “but maybe there’s a team that has experienced forwards that they want to swap out with a younger more inexpensive player.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Heinen showed promise in his debut last season with 47 points but he’s scoreless through four games this season and was a healthy scratch against the Red Wings last Saturday. Bjork has two points in four games and seems to be regaining his form after being sidelined by shoulder surgery last February. The Bruins aren’t under any pressure to make a move right now and will likely remain patient but could keep an eye on the trade market in the coming weeks.
Bob McKenzie reports Ottawa Senators GM Pierre Dorion and agent Pat Brisson met yesterday. “The obvious point of discussion there was preliminary talks about Matt Duchene’s future.” He’s an unrestricted free agent next summer and can sign an extension at any time.
McKenzie reports the chilly contract standoff between the Anaheim Ducks and restricted free agent Nick Ritchie shows signs of thawing. It’s expected the young forward could get a three-year deal in the coming days, provided there are no further hiccups in negotiations.