NHL Rumor Mill – October 9, 2018

by | Oct 9, 2018 | Rumors | 73 comments

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


TORONTO SUN: Lance Hornby reports Kasperi Kapanen’s play could make the Toronto Maple Leafs miss William Nylander less. He cites Kapanen looked good playing alongside Auston Matthews and Patrick Marleau during Sunday’s wild 7-6 win over the Chicago Blackhawks. Hornby doesn’t expect the Leafs offensive surge in their first three games to spur Nylander to return but it also won’t force management into hurrying to close the $2 million gap between the two sides.

Kasperi Kapanen could bring some intrigue to the Toronto Maple Leafs’ contract standoff with William Nylander. (Photo via NHL Images)

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Some observers have suggested the Leafs are wasting Kapanen’s speed and skills on the checking lines. If he takes full advantage of his current situation and plays well as a top-six forward, maybe Leafs management reconsiders Nylander’s future in Toronto. If they’re committed to getting Nylander under contract, perhaps Kapanen becomes a trade chip to land a decent defenseman. 


THE ATHLETIC: During a recent mailbag segment, Sean Shapiro was asked about the chances of the Dallas Stars trading right wing Brett Ritchie and what he might fetch for a return. He doesn’t see them moving Ritchie at this point and doubts he’d bring back much as the centerpiece of a deal. “The more likely situation includes Ritchie being part of a larger package for a top-six forward, perhaps at the trade deadline.”

A reader asked if the recent addition of defenseman Connor Carrick might make Julius Honka more expendable. Shapiro believes it does but also thinks “the Stars wouldn’t have had much of a problem trading him for the right piece even if they hadn’t picked up Carrick.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ritchie showed some promise as a scorer with a 16-goal performance in 2016-17 but regressed last season. The 6-foot-3, 217-pounder has good size and power-forward potential but now appears to be more of an agitator. I agree with Shapiro that he won’t fetch much of a return.

Honka, a first-round pick (14th overall) in the 2014 draft, has struggled to crack the Stars roster. He’s been a healthy scratch thus far this season and doesn’t appear to have much of a future in Dallas. Honka possesses good offensive skills but his defensive play still leaves something to be desired. Perhaps a club looking for more offense from the blueline might be willing to take a chance on him. 



  1. If Honka cant crack a mediocre defense in Dallas, what team would actually be interested in him? Benning and the Canucks come to mind as they love taking in revitalization projects, but is there reasonably anyone else? Even the Canucks are long shots considering the bad blood between the two clubs’ ownerships. Honka is still 22, and has some potential but most first round picks who dont see NHL action in the first four years never amount to being more than a depth defenseman.

    • If the pens get hit with some d injuries I bet they turn him into at least a solid bottom pair

      • Interesting that the addition of Carrick might send a prospect out the door in Dallas. Carrick didn’t crack the worst defence in the league, according to some Leafs fans, so what does that say about Dallas?

      • Leaf fan
        Carrick didn’t have a chance to crack the lineup , babs was never going to give him a spot . Have you seen the leafs d through first 3 ? You don’t think carrick is an upgrade over ozighanov marincin Hainsey or zaitsev ?
        Dallas has given up 1 goal in 2 games and carrick has 3 points and plus 3 .
        Toronto has given up 13 goals , and every d man not named Reilly or gardiner = 1 pt -9 combined .
        It’s a little early to really say much but the early signs point to Toronto making a mistake and Dallas capitalizing for a 7th rounder

      • Agreed Craig. Hainsey is what he is but this Ozhiganov (spelling?) guy is an absolute train wreck. Here’s hoping its just early jitters for him – but he is just terrible so far

      • Has zaitsev been any better ? Yes he gets ice time , someone has to play and the 5/6 pair isn’t an option for babs outside the o zone .

    • Detroit is in desperate need of young talent and a D man …they have serious multiple injuries on the back end and need some youth and a puck mover …this would be a good pick up for them at a minimal cost to take a flyer on Honka …he is an RFA so they have his rights and control him, it would not cost much to sign him for a few years as well to add depth ,he may be a good fit there as they are in need. …Dallas would be wise to get Heiskanen into the fold at this point as well….he is a replacement.

      • Zaitsev is gosh AWFUL!!!!

        I will give Ozhiganov a pass for the first few games but Gardiner should know better by now ..but doesnt !

        Gardiner Vaitsev is the worst D pairing in the league …the giveaways Ive seen bot them do over 3 games is BUSH league at best ! Just horrendous ….and its just so wrong that what they are doing is stuff you learn early in a hockey career Junior stuff…especially Gardiner he has made some unreal giveaways in his own end the past 3 games that are UNREAL in his own end with only him and one other opposition player and a give away resulted …wow ! !

      • Heiskanen is paired with Methot and has played two games. Honka will most likely be packaged for some depth on the second line. Carrick has also looked real good in Dallas.

      • With 4 rookies on D, Detroit isn’t going to trade for more young D unless they have a huge upside. Yes they are in rebuild mode, but how many middle of the line up quality defencemen do you think they need? And what do you think they have to send back that any team would be interested in?

  2. Is Kapanen as good as Nylander? No.

    Is he a good player who can capably fill Nylander’s function on the Matthews line for a fraction of the cap hit? Yes.

    Would Kapanen fetch a top D man in trade? No.

    Would Nylander fetch a top D man in trade? No, but it would only be a good second piece away.

    Keeping Nylander only to waste Kapanen in a bottom six role, wreck your cap situation and leave you with a subpar defense makes zero sense. None.


    I don’t like Mike Sullivan scapegoating Olli Maatta. For whatever reason, the coaching staff shook up the sensible pairs they used most of the preseason…

    Dumo-Letang JJ-Schultz Maatta-Oleksiak

    …in order to play Jack Johnson on the right with Maatta. JJ is a left D, period. That pair predictably failed. They should give Olli a chance with the proper pairings.

    Having said that…Jusso Rikola is intriguing. If he proves to be the real deal, trading Olli becomes a legit option (and would clear the money needed for Jake Guentzel’s next deal).

  3. Leafs should definitely keep Kapinen —- great speed; working well where placed at very reasonable Cap hit, and definitely won’t demand next July; what WW is demanding now

    • Do you spell EVERY players name wrongs on purpose every day? You’re not even close most of the time.

      • Give it a rest already.
        He’s on his phone.
        We know who he means most of the time.
        Some of those names are tricky to remember, plus auto correct is often working agaisnt us.

      • Sunqwist? Are you f’ing kidding me? It’s not the worst thing to anglicize other languages names but when the F does Q and W go together ever?!?! Sorry it annoys the hell out of me that he spells just about every European name completely wrong but he keeps doing it over and over. And I am typing on my phone right GD now and not having any issues.

    • I agree Pengy …

      I think dollar for dollar Kappy can be as good as Nylander…for less..especially when playing with Matthews …

      Kappy plays a more well rounded game in the corners and is a bigger body and uses it where Nylander disappears for games Kappy at half or a quarter of the price for the next 5 years or less is a great substitute and keeps the money in line !!
      Kappy with Matthews can hit 20 goals no issues there ..Kappy is a blend of Hyman and Nylnader as a player… its a good fit…and replacement !

      Nylander is a NORTH & SOUTH player only.

      • Yes as you and MG have pointed out … keeping Kapanen with Mathews is a much better use of his talent ; is much cheaper in long run (than WW) and opens an opportunity for a trade of WW for a better D upgrade than if Leafs extend WW and trade Kapanen for a D.

        It’s just going to be tough on the trade front in the next few weeks.

  4. Nylander’s only sin is looking out for himself, yet is getting all sorts of shade thrown his way for it. I understand it’s frustrating for fans to not have a full lineup with him out, and the rumors he wants a large signing bonus to offset the games he missed does not help, but it’s a little premature to start trading the kid for pieces just yet. 2 year bridge deal will help push it back a couple years at least, and then his value should be improved and can maybe fetch a top pairing D in a trade.

    • Looking out for himself sure, but also over-valuing himself at this point. He has had a nice start to his career for sure, but he is not yet a $8 Million + player at this point, on a long-term contract…I think he has more to prove before that is reasonable.

      I agree that a bridge (around 6 Mil per) is the right approach for both player and team.

      • I can’t wait to see what Nylander does in the way of production on a team that doesn’t have a Matthews at Center for him to play with …when that happens you will see him for what he is worth and that’s a $6.5 million dollar player… AT BEST!!

        I don’t see a Nylander being a Rob Brown to a Mario Lemieux !

        I see Nylander as an Eberle at best…if that !

    • WW’s camp wont talk bridge deal, and he wont come off 8 mill per year on a long term deal

      • I know, and I think that is unreasonable on the part of Nylander…because he is over-valuing himself.

      • I’ve heard from every corner or leaf nation including most on this site saying dubas holds ALL the leverage.. shouldn’t he be deciding the term of his offer ?? Hasn’t the attitude been take it or sit at home ? We have discussed Willie being traded , but dubas says he hasn’t .

      • To be fair Leafs management also said they don’t want to talk bridge deal.

        The media speculation is all about the apparent gap of $1.5M-$2M between the two sides, but I think it’s as much about term as anything.

        The value that is reasonable to ask for changes quite a bit depending on the length of the deal. Typically, it seems that every additional year of UFA stats you buy gets you an extra 0.5% of the current cap.

        So if the Leafs are offering say $6.4M on a 6 year deal, but Willy wants $8M on an 8 year deal, they aren’t so much just far apart on price, but on term. I think Leafs management understands where they are, and understands what players are valued at, so if they are dead set on a deal that starts with a $6M, they know they aren’t getting 8 years. Also, Nylander knows if he wants a deal over $7, he needs to try and get an 8 year deal, so I think that is a big part of the separation still.

        It will be interesting to see how it gets settled, but personally I think the separation in initial offers is almost meaningless, the problem is the place both sides would be willing to settle seems to be on different terms.

        I get the Leafs side, as they need to make this deal work sensibly, but I get that Nylander is in the unfortunate position of going first, and I don’t think he wants a 6x$6.4M deal only to turn around and see big double digits for Matthews, and over $8M for Marner a year later.

    • I agree that they should do a bridge contract. Maybe do a 2 year for 11mil. The first year 4.5 and the second for 6.5 that way he will get qualified for at least 6.5 on the next year. Just a thought as it would work in favor for both in the long run.

  5. Send Honka to Ottawa. We’ll give you Ceci a first rounder, and a second.

    (probably not far from the truth)

    • Aww give it a bloody rest

      • Cheeky bugger ..you

      • bollocks

        sorry for the foul language Lyle

  6. If I was to choose between keeping Nylander or Kapanen, I would keep Kapanen.
    He wouldn’t get as many points as Nylander, but he is a solid two way player & an excellent penalty killer.
    I would always pick a solid two way player over a one dimensional player.

    • The Hawks should unload Patty Kane ASAP! sorry, couldn’t resist.

      Either way, I’d hapily trade Nylander for defensive help. Kapanen + D-man > Nylander

      • @ TAZ

        Speaking of UNLOADING …

        is it time for the Pens to unload Malkin and if so who takes on a ( million dollar player…Pens need a serious
        ( RETOOL ) for the future …how do they do this and keep Malkin at almost $10 million Letang at $7 and Kessel at $6 plus for the next 4 years all aging players whop will be in serious decline over the next year or so…they look like they need a serious injections !

      • The Penguins don’t need to make that move right now. They are still within their cup window and I think will be for the next 3-4 years after which we will see the dominoes fall. I see no chance of any of Crosby, Malkin and Letang moving. In my opinion there is no chance Kessel moves either but reports earlier this year speak to the contrary.

      • Kal El & Taz

        I agree really no chance that Malkin or Crosby move. Slim but faint chance on Letang.

        I’ve spewed off many times about the diminishing returns I expect from Kessel

        I still feel that if they had traded him in early July the return would have been maximized.

        I hope I’m wrong , but if I’m right …. his value will be substantially less next July than what it was worth 3 months ago.

        Regardless … he’s more likely to stay than be moved and IMO will cost Pens to expose (in expansion draft) another player they’d like to keep; as Kessel must be protected (he’s not waiving his NMC)

        SC window still open but holy cow batman was the D ever poor in both games so far. Murray also looked shaky (I expect that will change though).

      • Yeah the Penguins have top to bottom the best, most complete roster of Crosby and Malkin’s career but they should panic and sell off a top 5 centre in the league because they lost one game? Are you nuts? Let’s see where they are come March before they make stupid moves that will get them nowhere. They have enough FA turnover next summer to be able to pay their FA of the hour Guentzel. Jordy Bellerive, Teddy Blueger, Calen Addison, and Filip Hallander are cheap and more than adequate replacements.

      • The Penguins are still a top 5 team in the league, it’s premature to even mention retool.

  7. About a year ago people were saying trade Marner for a defenseman and keep Nylander as the latter was seen as more of a long term impact player. Marner was relegated to the fourth line playing with Matt Martin for a while.

    The Leafs bottomed out for years to get the calibre of player (offensively anyway) of Nylander. Why would anyone with any hockey management sense give him away for a mid grade or upper grade defenseman? Ask Edmonton if they would trade back Adam Larsson for Taylor Hall.

    No offense to Kapanen but his potential is unknown. Nobody would trade Nylander for Kapanen.

    The Leafs are not that desperate to add a defenseman to give away a major asset like that if they can get that defenseman in other ways?

    The problem they have on defense is threefold:

    1- forwards need to come back and play a man (re: taught in pee wee hockey, and implemented in local road hockey leagues)

    2- Zaitsev is useless and overpaid at 4.5 million per. Get rid of him. He is a liability out there.

    3- Hainsey is 38 turning 52 next week. He looks lost out there. That’s 7.5 million freed up right there. Trade for mid level defensemen that can do something productive even if that includes taking a man during game situations, or bring in Borgman and get someone off waivers who can do what Hainsey or Zaitsev can do.

    • The plan would be Kapanen plus a defenseman for Nylander and that equation may work out – but I do see you parallel in Lucic + Larsson for Hall and you make a good point.
      The problem is how do you just ‘get rid’ of 4.5M signed for another 5/6 years? No one is taking that contract, not with what Zaitsev has displayed thus far. The real issue is that the Gardiner + Zaitsev pairing is way less than the sum of its parts. It’s early in the season so Babs needs to play around with the D-pairings.

    • Frank

      You are bang on re forwards coming back…. absolutely

      However that helps out only so much. The collective Leafs D , IMO, is just not good enough.

      Counting on current young Leafs D and baby Leafs D , to develop into a cup contending D core …. is a huge leap of faith IMO.

      Leafs are offensively loaded and I see no issues whatsoever in regular season; playoffs is another story.

      To be cup contenders the need to upgrade the D.

      Yes Zaitz is brutal … I can’t think of anybody willing to take him off Leafs hands.

      I hope I’m wrong (and will greatly look forward to being wrong)

      • Some team would IF the Leafs held back at least half of his cap hit for the duration.

      • George

        That’s true but Leafs won’t be doing any take backs anymore … they’ll be too tight to the cap starting next year

  8. I get that it might not be the strongest D but Anderssen and Sparks haven’t been much help, the team is in the middle of the pack as far as shots against at around 30 shots a game awful tough for D too look good when your starter has an .898 sv% and the back up let’s 6 in in his first start with D may look a little better if they could get a save every once in a while its 3 games in, not to say the D is good or great but I’m not sure it’s as bad as some think

    • Kinda reminds me of when Tortorella – then in Tampa – responding to the question as to what the club needs to get turned around, wryly said “a save would be nice”

    • For a team with such an awful D there are less shots against than Washington Nashville Boston LA Winnipeg and Tampa… Maybe there is a little more to the inflated goals against than the D

      • You’re remark the other day with let’s just wait and see where things settle before we start going on about how good or bad things appear is what Im thinking one of the smarter comments I’ve seen on here in a while George

      • You do know they played the habs sens and hawks ? All projected to miss the playoffs , first two in the Hughes sweepstakes . And the leafs d was exposed heavily

      • Your right it’s early but the start has to be troubling

      • Yep. Oct-Nov hockey is notorious for anxious fans to go off the deep-end, either about inflated goal-assist production or perceived defense-goaltending holes, just as April-May baseball always has many thinking they have the next Lou Gehrig in their line-up – until the pitchers start throwing more curves and sliders

      • Everyone is learning new players and systems.
        It’ll all sort out by 10-12 games in I’d dare say.

      • Its not about the number of shots but the number of giveaways. The D is also getting beat up in the board battles. Early trends are worrying to say the least but let’s give it 15 games before hitting the ‘worried’ button.

      • I would agree. That right side is still pretty much a train wreck as a whole, Hainsey looks gassed immediately, but it’s 3 games, two of which they got pretty awful goaltending.

        They have the luxury of time to evaluate right now, and not jumping to do things just for the sake of doing them is likely a good place to start until we get to at least game 10 or so.

        The amount of reaction to everything the Leafs do, from fans and people who hate them, is just overwhelming.

        In the same breath you will hear Nylander is crazy for having an opening asking price of $8M, but then wondering if Marner will get $10M, despite the fact that Marner has a whopping 8 extra points over the last 2 years. Last year it was trade Marner for D, then it was back to trade willy for D, now there is trade him for whatever.

        Problem is, what young top pairing D are available?

        There are very few teams deep enough on D, that they have a RHD they are willing to trade, that is good enough to justify moving Nylander for.

        Most teams who are in a position where they might consider moving a D, want another one back as it is, so while it’s a nice thought to just trade Nylander for a young RHD that is of equal value, you can’t magically make one available.

      • That defense is awful not much more can be said, the number of high quality chances they give up is unreal! I’ve never seen a team run around in their own end as much as the leafs do, and it isn’t going to improve everyone thought it would improve last yr and nothing happened. None of the leafs d can play defense it’s pretty easy to see, and to blame the goalies is just stupid

      • So did striker change his name back to sticky? That would make so much sense.

    • And everyone questioned why the Ducks traded Anderson away for Gibson.

      • Danny – “Marner has a whopping 8 extra points over (Nylander) the last 2 years” – exactly what I’ve been trying to get across for 3 days now. Why, indeed, would he and his agent settle now for $6 or $6.5 for any length of time, and then watch as Marner gets $8 next summer. Never mind “grit” (or truculence) – the bottom line is how much have you produced in terms of point production, and they are a dime apart.

  9. Yes Craig I realize who they played and that they won 2 outta 3 and if they won all 3 scoring 13 goals and had even mediocre goaltending the story would have been look at them blowing everyone out let’s plan a parade… I doubt the Leafs are going to continue scoring at this pace the same as I doubt they are going to allow goals at this pace so let’s maybe pump the breaks on trading Nylander for a guy to replace a 4th 5th or 6th D it’s a long season and people scrambling calling for trades less than a week in to the season seems excessive.

    • Shticky you can’t tell me that you’re satisfied with the leafs defense! If the leafs want a dman that will improve their team they must trade a Nylander type cause they have no defensive dman coming up

  10. Side note – I think most Sabre fans will be cheering for Robin Lehner, unless he’s playing BUF. Just didn’t work out, but just might work with Islanduhs.

    Only bad thing was Bonehead Murray giving up a #1 for him in the first place.

    • Hey 4th, I think the Lehner story has the potential to be a real positive one. Given the profound struggles he was apparently having with mental health and related substance abuse issues it would be nice to see him turn things around.

      From his statements it sounds like he’s getting support now that he’s gone public. Not dissing Buffalo in any way as I suspect they didn’t know his situation given that he hadn’t shared it with anyone before this season.

      • styx here is Lehner’s comments from his story

        “During this whole process our GM in Buffalo was so incredibly supportive. We met when I came back and had a great and productive discussion. Jason and the Sabres organization had decided to move on from me as their goalie and, in the end, my family and I thought a restart would be the best thing. I still wanted to stay if they wanted me. But deep inside I knew changing scenery would be the best thing for my recovery. Now what to do. My relationship with Jason didn’t end in that meeting. He contacted me during the summer a few times to check in on me. His check-ins still continue today, despite me not being on his team.”

      • Hey Len!!

        Thanks for sharing that, I hadn’t seen it and it speaks volumes about the class of the Sabres (positively of course).

      • Pretty first-class on Botteril’s part

    • ” … giving up a #1 for him in the first place …” – which turned out to be Colin White

      • sure did – leave it to Bonehead Murray!

    • Sabres fans can cheer for Lehner all they want, Lehner has been pretty good but Carter Hutton has been much better. I never thought it possible but I have been watching and very much enjoying Sabres hockey this year. There is a lot to look forward too with this club. And my boy Connor Sheary looks great with Reinhart and Jack Eichel. Eichel looks very impressive so far this year.

  11. So 11 goals in 2 games followed by injury. As a pens fan I can’t not root for Murray but this doesn’t look good. It’s early but he has something to prove after last year. And he’s working towards proving the wrong things.

    • Just sets the table for Jarry and DeSmith to write their own stories. I love Matty and he has accomplished an incredible amount for the franchise but he also can’t seem to escape the clutches of the injury bug. It’s time for the Penguins to prove that a club that is 3 goalies and 8 dmen deep along with the best forward group in the league can accomplish great things.

  12. I seem to recall hearing somewhere that D men needed at least 400 games to fully develop. The same is apparently, according to some, also true for big bodied forwards like Ritchie 🙂

    Gardner kinda is what he is at this point and that’s a more offensive D man. That type of player is great as long as you’ve got a very solid stay at home guy to balance him. You also need a system that supports a player like that. I’m not sure the Leafs have either of those things in place atm.

    • Karlsson was so much more effective overall when he had someone like Methot beside him (and occasionally Phaneuf). That type of offense-first D needs a strong defensive-minded partner. There’s simply no one like that on the Leafs OR in their system. Can they afford to wait to either develop one or find one coming on the UFA market next year? Trading for one is going to cost some of that offense.

      • Letang plays better when he has Dumoulin to cover for him, Subban plays better when he has Ekholm to cover for him. It’s nothing new.

      • That wasn’t my point wise-ass … it was simply that the Leafs don’t have one to play alongside Gardiner and aren’t likely to get one until they cough up some of that young offense.

  13. Styx and George great observation!..you need a defensive/stay at home if you will type defencman with these offensive style den. .if not they get exposed! and correct George . .the leafs do not have a dman in that category!