NHL Rumor Mill – October 23, 2018

by | Oct 23, 2018 | Rumors | 45 comments

Updates on William Nylander plus a look ahead at four pending restricted free agents who could also prove difficult to sign in your NHL rumor mill.

TSN: Bob McKenzie noted the appearance of Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas at Sunday’s game between the Calgary Flames and New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden created a buzz on social media, with some speculating Dubas was there scouting players for a possible trade. McKenzie, however, pointed out that player agent Lewis Gross, who represents Leafs restricted free agent William Nylander, also lives in Manhattan. He also noted Dubas ” likes to go to hockey games.”

Toronto Maple Leafs GM Kyle Dubas’ recent trip to New York sparked speculation he’s scouting for trade partners. (Photo via NHL Images)

Pierre LeBrun also noted Gross, who represents Flames winger Johnny Gaudreau, also attended the game. Darren Dreger said Dubas and Gross spoke together before the game. The Leafs and Nylander’s representatives are reportedly trying to find a way to end their ongoing contract impasse.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As always, there’s a simple explanation for why the general manager of one team attends a game involving two other clubs. It’s also worth noting the Leafs play the Flames next Monday so perhaps Dubas was doing some scouting before that contest. 

NICHOLS ON HOCKEY: Dreger also appeared yesterday on Toronto’s TSN 1050 discussing Dubas’ appearance at the Flames-Rangers game. He also speculated the Leafs GM was there on a scouting trip, though he doesn’t know if he was watching the Rangers, who’ve been scouting the Leafs. Dreger thinks “general speculation” suggests the Leafs could be looking at a Rangers defenseman.

While Dreger’s uncertain if there’s anyone in that group to help the Leafs, he feels the retooling Rangers are willing to consider just about anything. He noted the Leafs kicked the tires last season on a Blueshirts rearguard (he didn’t know if it was Ryan McDonagh, who was eventually shipped to Tampa Bay) but the Rangers were interested in Leafs forward Kasperi Kapanen. Dreger also believes the Rangers want to move a couple of centers. “Mats Zuccarello, Kevin Hayes is another one the New York Rangers would be willing to part with.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Plenty of speculation suggesting the Leafs could trade Nylander for a defenseman if unable to re-sign him prior to the Dec. 1 deadline.  If they’re interested in a right-side defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk might fit that need but I think they would have more interest in Brady Skjei, even though he skates on the left side. However, I don’t see the Rangers parting with him.

SPORTSNET: Chris Johnston joined Hockey Central at Noon yesterday and was asked which general managers he thinks are calling Dubas about Nylander. He thinks Don Waddell of the Carolina Hurricanes could be one as the Hurricanes have a number of defenseman that could interest the Leafs if they decide to trade Nylander. Johnston also speculated the Rangers and Nashville Predators could be possibilities. The show’s host also mentioned Peter Chiarelli of the Edmonton Oilers could be interested.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Hurricanes and Leafs have been linked for weeks in the rumor mill. Dubas reportedly called Waddell in the summer to inquire about Justin Faulk’s availability but it was said to be a brief discussion and Nylander wasn’t mentioned. Still, there’s no certainty a trade of Nylander for Faulk or one of the other Hurricanes’ top-four blueliners takes place. The Hurricanes are off to a good start and Waddell might prefer staying patient with his roster for now.

I don’t think there’s a fit with the Rangers unless they’re willing to part with Skjei and that doesn’t seem likely. Some pundits like linking Nylander to the Predators because of their blueline depth but it appears Preds GM David Poile wants to keep that group intact for a run at the Stanley Cup this spring. If he feels the need to add depth on the wing he might find more affordable short-term options later in the season. As for the Oilers, unless they’re willing to part with Darnell Nurse I don’t see Nylander heading to Edmonton.  

TORONTO SUN: Michael Traikos suggests Nylander’s contract standoff “could be a warning sign to a number of teams, who have a star young player in the final year of his contract.”  He suggests Colorado Avalanche winger Mikko Rantanen, Tampa Bay Lightning center Braydon Point, Toronto Maple Leafs forward Mitch Marner and Vancouver Canucks winger Brock Boeser could be difficult to re-sign. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Much will depend upon those players’ performances, how much salary-cap space each club has and other notable players those teams must re-sign.

As per Cap Friendly, the Avalanche have over $46 million invested in 12 players and I don’t think they’ll have any qualms paying Rantanen a big raise, especially if he finishes among this season’s top-10 scorers. Where it could get sticky is if he seeks considerably more than Nathan MacKinnon’s team-leading $6.3-million annual average value.

The Lightning and Point recently agreed to put off contract talks until season’s end. With over $67 million tied up in 14 players and with Yanni Gourde due for a raise next summer and goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy the following year, the Bolts could face shedding some salary or letting Gourde walk as a UFA in July.

It’s going to cost the Leafs a fortune to re-sign Marner and Auston Matthews, perhaps as much as $20 million combined if Matthews gets $12 million and Marner $8 million. That’s a conservative estimate on my part. They could seek more than that. Assuming they manage to get those two plus Nylander re-signed for under $25 million, that will push their projected cap payroll for 2019-20 to nearly $75 million invested in 14 players, leaving little room to re-sign Kasperi Kapanen and re-sign or replace defensemen Ron Hainsey and Jake Gardiner.

The Canucks have over $47 million committed to 12 players. If Boeser hits 30-or-more goals this season he could seek over $7 million per season. They might push for just over $6 million per season. 



  1. Aside from moves to counter serious injuries, or in situations such as that facing Dubas with Nylander, as a general rule NHL teams off to great, good or even “decent” starts seldom make significant trades at this early juncture, likely because a GM is reluctant to screw up team chemistry if a proposed trade involves a player who’s been part of their starting roster.

    Those struggling out of the gate, however, are likely not concerned with that aspect and can either fire the coach or pull the trigger on a trade, both with the intent to shake things up.

    Even there, though, not even 10 games into the season for most is still a bit early to panic, so I’d be surprised if anything of that nature transpires before mid to late November. And as several have already pointed out, there are damned few teams willing to risk dissension by bringing in a Nylander if it’s going to cost them $8 mil, putting him ahead of some of their current “stars.”

    Depending upon their own expectations at the start, maybe one of these teams off to so-so starts will be ready to shake it up if they’re still spinning their wheels by mid- to late November: NYR, NYI, Arizona, L.A., St. Louis, Dallas, Detroit, Florida

  2. Not worried about the lightning cap. Losing coburn girardi and replacing them with Foote and another cheap young option sheds about 4-5 mil. Stralman may be resigned but I doubt it’s a huge raise. Callahan is off books by the time Vasilevskiy is due.
    I could see them trying to move a johnson or Killorn. They are in a very solvable 🧢 situation

    • Unless Karlsson intends to sign there as a UFA next year at what he thinks he deserves and instantly becomes the highest-paid player on the team. That could cause a ripple effect up and down the line-up.

      • By the way, should that happen, Ottawa gets an additional 1st from SJ.

      • I assume no stralman if karlson signs there and yes, it would cost one of their middle six guys as well… like a pilat or miller. but they have the depth to absorb that hit.

      • Sens only get the first if he’s on an eastern conference roster during this season, meaning traded before the deadline or draft (I think it still counts as the previous years roster).
        Speaking of the Sens, I’m liking how the team is playing though! And the SJ trio are looking better than their traded partners so that’s fun for us haha

        But even if Karlsson intends to sign there, does BrisBois want to bring him in? I wouldn’t. They have a good thing going and like Chrisms said they have manageable money after those 3 defenseman’s contracts expire. The following year, once Vasilevski’s and Sergachev’s contract come up, then they will have to make some moves. Gourde might be a preemptive casualty this year or you try and move Johnson and sign Gourde for less than him.

        Tampa is certainly flirting with the cap but they are not in trouble yet.

      • Thanks for clarifying that cmac. Small chance of that happening.

  3. And, obviously, you can add to that list of teams any who are currently doing well but suddenly start to slide as November wears on – and there are several real possibilities there including Ottawa, Vancouver, Montreal, Edmonton, Chicago and Philadelphia. Bottom line: it’s just too early for trades of any significance.

  4. Edmonton can’t take on any salary addition so not sure why Nylander is even mentioned as a possible destination. Unless Lucic is moved of course.
    Shattenkirk may be of interest but I don’t think he is the style of rearguard the Leafs would covet but who knows. Maybe he becomes a Gardiner replacement who eventually moves on.

    Agree with George nothing going to happen until mid November of any significance.

  5. George…I like your list of the slow starters…as a Leaf fan that type of list or the other teams with strong defenses seem the logic start point for Nylander trade..I know that was not what you writing about

    When other writers including Lyle suggest Faulk or Shattenkirk as part of an exchange one is left to wonder whether the sub-conscious motivation is wishing the Leafs harm..or is it just needing to write something as that is their job…. because as an idea it is very bad…the Leafs have too much Faulk, Shattenkirk, Gardiner, Dermott, Marincin characteristics in their line up

    If the point of a trade is to improve a team…I agree with defense….I do not agree with Faulk Shattenkirk or anyone like them ….

    Better to keep Nylander and try to 7 -6 everyone and hope we don’t drive Anderson bonkers or back to Denmark

    • Interestingly, both NY City teams have contract situations coming up – either re-signing their RFAs or UFAs – which, by bringing in Nylander for a D, would not (or at least should not) have any noses out of joint if he suddenly became the highest-paid on the roster (in terms of cap hit). On the Rangers, only Lundqvist would be making more at $8.5, with Zibanejad costing $5,350,000 to 2021-22. The problem there is, Toronto doesn’t need a Shattenkirk – but if Brady Skjei is involved (and many would balk at that, especially some of the fan base) that could go down fast. Their UFAs next spring are Hayes, Zucarello, McLeod and McQuaid with a couple of those maybe gone at the trade deadline and two more who won’t exactly be breaking the bank. Same with their list of RFAs – Lettieri, Buchnevich, Plonk, Deangelo and Claesson.

      Then you have the Islanders and Lou Lamoriello who’s only RFA to deal with is Beauvillier, with UFAs Eberle ($6 mil), Nelson ($4.250), Lee ($3.750) and Filpulla ($2.750) all likely seeking raises (if they are kept) which, based on their production, would see only Lee getting a substantial raise. Would Lou be willing to give up one of his more prominent solid D-men in order to improve his offense?

    • George, fully agreed, there is not going to be a Faulk or Shattenkirk deal of any kind coming to Toronto. If the Leafs are forced to deal Nylander, quite frankly they can wait until the right materializes. Why wouldn’t they.

      Further comment – the Leafs will not be dealing Nylander and quite frankly will make all three work within their cap. How do I know this, cause common sense and a common goal to win for a long time will set in.

      I’m of the opinion that the Leafs are fine waiting a bit longer to sign Nylander as this will greatly benefit them cap wise in year 2 onward. Marner, being a Toronto boy, I don’t see as a big challenge to sign. Matthews, IMO – wants to play no where but with a team with a great young core setup to compete favorably to win for a long time.

      • Well, where we differ Trekie is, I don’t see Nylander and his agent blinking at this stage. If money or staying sharp – are concerns, he can easily achieve one and recoup the other, based on last seasoin’s salary, by signing for a year with a KHL team.

        As for Marner, “being a Toronto boy” has no bearing at all when it comes to a couple of million if that is the difference between what he’s seeking and what the Leafs are offering.

  6. Well Dubas in New York eith Gross recently and it’s being reported that Nylander was not practicing with his team in Europe this morning maybe this is finally coming to an end…one way or another mercifully

  7. But interesting that all these reports of GMs saying that the player is not worth what he is asking…turns out maybe there is a reason and some other motivation there considering they got young players of thier own who are looking at some pretty big raises…could it be that Everytime a reporter is talking to these un-named execs they are just trying to to keep their own affairs in order when it comes to comparables? No GM is going to be jumping around saying what a bargain thus inflating everyone else’s value that they might have coming up for a contract

  8. Dubas was probably looking at Mcquaid.
    He needs a defensive presence to compliment his offensively minded Dmen.

    • That’s a good call actually. McQuaid’s defense, grit and playoff experience would be a great addition to TOR…and wouldn’t cost a whole lot.

      • Umm not sure but really can’t see a McQuaid for Nylander swap working 32 year old slow D that plays at best as a 4th d for 16 mins a night…there would need to be something else in it. I understand the thought process of the big defensive D man but let’s not get to carried away. The Leafs game is to move the puck quickly up the ice it’s fine that McQuaid checks a couple of the boxes when it comes to needs but no matter how big and strong he is it’s not going to help if they are hemmed in with a slow footed D. Who can’t break a cycle McQuaid is another Polak maybe slightly younger but the idea is to not play in their own end and to be able to go forward make a good first pass and skate.. not sure McQuaid fits that

      • I don’t think Nylander was mentioned at all in that thread…I was thinking more like a 3rd round draft pick for McQuaid.

      • McQuaid was Torey Krug’s defense partner for roughly 250 games, during which Krug averaged over 50 points per season.

        McQuaid is not the offensive breakout type of defenseman. The point is that TOR already has too many of that type and need more stay at home defensemen to balance out.

    • I wondered that too

    • Wonder how accurate reports of him wanting 8 mil are. Seems very steep… as a Ranger fan, I’d have no problem trading Skjei, If Nylander would take a bridge deal for 3 years in the 5-6 mil range. I think he’d have a better chance of cashing in down the road with NY as they’ll be in a far better situation cap wise than Toronto.

      • My curiosity is at its peak. If they trade Skjei or Nylander how does this help this young team, and more importantly who is getting that 1st pairing role? Staal? Smith?

        I do see how Nylander fits in to a rebuilding Ranger team, but not at that cost. Zero chance he takes a 3 year bridge deal, and not likely he’s looking for 5-6 per. If he takes a bridge deal, it would be a 2 year deal.

        If he would take a bridge deal at that cost, he would have been in the Leafs lineup a couple of weeks ago.

        As I said a couple of days ago to someone else here, why not chase after Panarin next year, save assets, and accumulate (more than likely) another high first rounder and sell off other assets at the deadline.

        +Nylander , -Skjei does not make this team any better today. It makes them even worse imo.

  9. See that’s kinda the issue they need a good one if they are making a deal seems like every time this defensive D man is mentioned it’s followed by a castoff coming back just because a guy is big and strong it doesn’t necessarily mean he’s any better at these things than what the Leafs have already. That’s not saying much I know but why give up an asset for a marginal upgrade of Zaitsev who actually hasn’t really looked bad infact recently has been pretty solid?

    • McQuaid does actually make some sense for the Leafs. He a 4/5/6 D depending on the quality of the D-core.
      Bruins needed to make room as the young RD guys like Carlo and McAvoy who earned more minutes, and then picked up Moore as a UFA on a reasonable deal who shored up the left side.
      Leafs need a LD. He can play primarily in the bottom pair and proven he can move up when required. Or even part of a rotation.
      Helps on the PK, brings leadership and toughness.
      No he is not a great puck mover, but doesn’t just throw it away either. Plays a smart, simple reliable game.
      To your points Shticky, I think he is better than Polak but I am a biased Bruins fan, I don’t think the Leafs want to give the assets to get a good one. The vultures are circling on Nylander and they won’t get fair value with the contract situation, so not a great time to pull that move.
      If they do get the deal they want for Nylander either the contract or a trade, McQuaid is a easily moved asset at the TDL, or great for depth. Seems low risk to me depending on the ask.

      • To your point Ray I think Mcquaid is better than Polak but is the same type of player a at best 4,5 or 6 D. If the Leafs are looking to up grade I believe it wouldn’t make sense to waiste any asset unless it is a visible up grade to the top 4 on the right side either by knocking Hainsey down a notch or a guy to replace Zaitsev who could possibly move up in a pinch on the right side. Not sure playing McQiaid more than 15-18 minutes does that.

      • Since the Rangers acquired McQuaid I have thought of him making his way to Toronto eventually.

        A crazy thought of Lias Andersson+McQuaid for Nylander/Kadri….or something like that. Kadri’s cap hit going to hurt next season with the young gun new contracts.

      • Ya Shticky, I get what your saying. I would rather have McQuaid than Hainsey but agree he isn’t the typical #4 d-man on a good team.
        Having said that there are not many teams that can match the Leafs up front, especially with Nylander in the fold. (I think he signs a bridge in the next 2-3 weeks).
        That would be the trade off if you invest that much $$ in your forward group, there won’t be much left for the D long term.
        Most Leaf fans on here suggest moving Nylander for that D to even it out a bit.
        Not sure who the affordable top 4 RD is that is available right now. They seem to be an expensive commodity these days. A Carlo type would be perfect IMO. Big, skates well, in his 3rd season. Not much offence but brings what the Leafs need and would be a reasonable cost. But that trade ain’t happening!

    • A big part (not all of it but) of the Leafs issue is the team D and forwards picking up men in the D zone and generally just being out worked instead of blowing the zone everytime Gardiner touches the puck look at the number of goals coming from opposing D men pinching and plays from the point it’s the gaps and coverage that kills them and starts the fire drill that is the Leafs D zone

      • Babcock will fix that.

      • i agree as well the whole team, except my fav player gauthier, are on the wrong side of the puck (meaning thinking offense 1st). This partly is babcocks/dubas decision and has been a trend since pat quin. Pat burns fixed the same shinny hockey instantly, by saying no more cross ice passes…

  10. Of note or Not. Dubas was at the Fylers / Avalanche game last night.

    • i dont think the avs need to do much tinkering right now but who knows….

  11. ALERT!

    Dubas at my Daughters spelling bee yesterday…

    let the rumors swirl!

    • I’ll bet your daughter would have spelled that “daughter’s spelling bee” 🙂

      • Actually she just turned one.

        She can make the animal noises 🐮 and 🐑 and 🐝 though!

    • How’s her defensive zone coverage? And can Nylander spell?????
      Could be the start of a bigger trade

      • Probably better than Gardiners.

  12. I don’t get how everyone just follows the masses here. Some super knowledgeable hockey mind must tell us other why other teams are all so willing to trade a core player? Let’s look at Tampa or even heck, let’s look at Chicago and see who they dumped when they were forced to and who they kept. The bottom line is the 4 or 5 guys that make up your core are your star players, everyone else is expendable even if they are really good players. It’s so much easier finding replacement players, either through your minor system or a trade…shed salary players either let them walk via FA or trade for picks (and cap space). Your replacement players might only be a spot gap until your younger (and cheaper) better player is ready for full time duty. No team is gonna trade a Jew for some rocks, sorry. All the know it all’s ought to know that and the only way someone like that does get moved would be more likely a breakdown between both parties and they agree to part ways or there i should no offer that seriously makes your team better…ie your star player getting traded is gonna no doubt make you team better and people on hockey sites will proclaim you a winner of that deal which we know doesn’t happen all that much.
    Bottom line is this, no team will consider trading a star when they are so much harder to replace than a support player no matter how good he is. The Leafs are in no way in need to trade Nylander when there are so many other likely players that you can trade or let walk to find cap space which I think they should have approximately $35M if you include Horton’s IR cap relief. Trading a star away is just poor and lazy management but makes great headlines even if it’s not (which it’s clearly) the case with the Nylander situation.

    • Jem I think he means jem

      • I was thinking jewel…either way I am sure he didn’t mean Jew.

    • Wow that’s wild… sorry it’s supposed to say, no one is going to trade a gem. Gotta love auto correct.

  13. at the $ Nylander is looking for I can only see 2 teams who have cap space and where if he inks a deal @ 8mil per year he won’t put the dressing room on tilt , Carolina and NYI.
    Carolina needs to resign Aho and Teravainen next year and paying Nylander as much as he is asking for could make negotiating tough if they were planning on offering them less $. Islanders have close to 32 million in space next year with 15 players signed. They have 3 UFA’s in Eberle, Lee and Nelson who may very well be dealt prior to the deadline….question is who would be coming back the other way to the Leafs?

    • As I said above earlier, maybe Lou parts with one of his better D-men for that deal.