NHL Rumor Mill – October 5, 2018
Updates on the Leafs and Blue Jackets in your NHL rumor mill.
MATTHEWS AND NYLANDER
TSN: Toronto Maple Leafs president Brendan Shanahan recently suggested that his star players should do what they can to remain within his club’s salary system, but Pierre LeBrun believes franchise player Auston Matthews could get an annual average value of $12.5-million on his next contract. Matthews will become a restricted free agent next summer. While that’s comparable to Edmonton’s Connor McDavid’s salary, LeBrun points out it’ll actually be a lesser percentage of the Leafs cap hit (15.2 percent) than McDavid’s was at the time of his signing (16.6 percent).
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Whatever Matthews gets is going to be well over $11 million annually. Even if he leaves a little money on the table his new contract is still going to be very expensive.
Darren Dreger points out Mitch Marner and William Nylander will seek their share of the pie. Like Matthews, Marner will be a restricted free agent next summer.
Meanwhile, Nylander and the Leafs remain deadlocked. Dreger said it’s believed the Nylander camp isn’t willing to come down from his asking price of $8 million-plus per season. He also noted teams have called the Leafs to inquire about his availability. General manager Kyle Dubas insists Nylander won’t be traded but Dreger wonders if he might reconsider if this standoff drags on into early-November.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: In a recent interview with Swedish news outlet Aftonbladet, Nylander said he’d love to be playing with the Leafs right now and wants to stay in Toronto but he’s thinking about his long-term future. He also said he hasn’t spoken with the Leafs, leaving negotiations up to his agent.
While Nylander’s stance is costing him money, The Athletic’s Tyler Dellow suggests leverage could be shifting toward the young forward. He points out Nylander’s value to the Leafs in their Stanley Cup quest this season. If Nylander isn’t re-signed before Dec. 1 and becomes ineligible for this season, the Leafs face having to re-sign him, Matthews and Marner in the same summer.
It’s understandable that Nylander doesn’t want to take, say, $6 million annually for six- or seven-years only to see Marner land much more next summer. However, the argument can be made that Marner is more valuable to the Leafs and deserving of more money.
It’s rumored Nylander’s agent seeks a deal similar to that of Edmonton Oilers forward Leon Draisaitl (eight years, $68 million) but Draisaitl’s put up better offensive numbers over the last two years. It can also be argued the Oilers were guilty of overpaying him after his 16-point performance in the 2017 playoffs. The Leafs are understandably reluctant to emulate that example with Nylander.
UPDATE ON PANARIN
Pierre LeBrun reports Columbus Blue Jackets winger Artemi Panarin has no intention of signing a contract with anyone this season. ” In other words, if and when he gets traded, he will be traded as a rental which will greatly diminish the return for him.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: That won’t stop Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen from trying to re-sign Panarin. If the winger stands firm, Kekalainen will have to consider his options. Panarin is invaluable to the Blue Jackets’ playoff hopes but Kekalainen could field trade offers if the Jackets fall out of postseason contention before the Feb. 25, 2019 trade deadline.