Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – October 21, 2018
Latest on William Nylander, Artemi Panarin and the LA Kings coaching in your Sunday NHL rumor roundup.
SPORTSNET (via KUKLA’S KORNER): Chris Johnston reports Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas journeyed to Switzerland last week to meet with the representatives for restricted free agent William Nylander to clear the air and express the Leafs’ desire to re-sign him. It’s believed the two sides are looking at a short-term deal. If that can’t be hammered out, Johnston suggests a trade is possible though they’re not at that point yet.
Nick Kypreos wonders how willing Nylander is to put this season on the line. He wouldn’t be surprised if we hear of Nylander’s reps opening negotiations with KHL teams to recoup his lost money.
OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch believes it’s anyone’s guess how the Toronto Maple Leafs contract standoff with restricted free agent William Nylander will end. It’s unlikely he’ll receive an offer sheet. The Leafs have until Dec. 1 to sign him or he becomes ineligible for the remainder of the NHL season. If Nylander remains unsigned a month from now, perhaps the Leafs use him as a bargaining chip to acquire a defenseman.
Garrioch said he’s been told “by a couple of league executives the Carolina Hurricanes are open for business.” He believes Hurricanes general manager Don Waddell is willing to add, noting there’s no shortage of talk linking the Hurricanes to the Leafs and Nylander.
TORONTO STAR: Kevin McGran reports some rival executives believe the Leafs’ strong start to this season is shrinking Nylander’s bargaining power. Two of them feel Nylander isn’t worth the $8 million per season he’s reportedly seeking, saying there’s no NHL team willing to pay the 22-year-old that much.
There’s also no offer sheet coming from a rival club, as no one wants to tangle with the wealthy Leafs for fear of offer-sheet retaliation. McGran also noted there’s concern in the Nylander camp that he’ll be the first player moved in a cost-cutting deal in order to re-sign stars such as Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Johnston acknowledged everyone seems to be repeating themselves on this story. The only real change we’ve seen is Dubas flying over to meet with the Nylander camp and talk that the two sides could be moving away from negotiating a long-term deal toward a more affordable short-term deal. Still, the two sides remain far apart when it comes to the money.
Nylander reportedly seeks something around $8.5 million annually, while the Leafs prefer something between $6 million to $6.5 million on a long-term deal. There’s talk the Leafs could offer up something close to $4 million annually on a three- or four-year deal while the Nylander camp prefers something around $5 million per. Until there’s serious movement toward narrowing the gap, this standoff could drag on into November.
As for the Hurricanes, they’re constantly linked to the Leafs because they have plenty of quality right-shot defensemen, something the Leafs need on the right side of their blueline. Sure, the Hurricanes could use someone like Nylander and I wouldn’t be surprised if GM Waddell is keeping an eye on that situation. But with the Canes offer to a better-than-expected start, Waddell’s probably in no hurry to swing a deal right now.
OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch touched on the Columbus Blue Jackets’ dilemma regarding pending unrestricted free agents Sergei Bobrovsky and Artemi Panarin. There’s no indication the pair will re-sign with the club. The Jackets don’t want to risk losing either player for nothing next summer to free agency, but Garrioch thinks it’s unlikely they’ll trade them for futures while the club is in playoff contention. Getting players back for them before the trade deadline will be difficult because they’ll be viewed as playoff rentals.
BOSTON GLOBE: Kevin Paul Dupont wonders if the Boston Bruins will take a run at Panarin, noting they have “abundant player equity” in the form of “young roster players and/or prospects” to tempt the Blue Jackets. He speculates the Jackets could target “the likes of Charlie McAvoy, Brandon Carlo, and Jake DeBrusk”, along with perhaps Danton Heinen and Anders Bjork and prospects Trent Frederic and Urho Vaakanainen. While players such as McAvoy and Debrusk are among those Bruins general manager Don Sweeney is most reluctant to part with, Dupont feels a McAvoy-DeBrusk package for “a generational talent” like Panarin is worth it.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Speaking of unchanged situations, there’s really nothing new going on with Bobrovsky and Panarin. We likely won’t get a clearer picture on their futures with the Jackets until February. Maybe the Bruins will be among their suitors but they could be forced to give up at least one of those good young players Dupont mentioned in his column.
As I’ve repeatedly noted, if the Jackets are out of contention by then, one or both players will likely hit the trade block. If they’re still in the thick of the playoff hunt, they’ll likely retain Bobrovsky and Panarin and take their chances.
COULD THERE BE A COACHING CHANGE FOR THE KINGS?
LOS ANGELES TIMES: In the wake of the Los Angeles Kings’ fourth straight defeat, Helene Elliott observed second-year head coach John Stevens seems to be losing his influence over the players. “It’s probably too early for a coaching change, at least until Dustin Brown comes off long-term injured reserve next week and the team is relatively whole, but the relationship between John Stevens and his players might be fraying.”
NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks suggests former New York Rangers bench boss Alain Vigneault could be a good choice to replace Stevens, pointing out Vigneault worked well with a veteran-laded Rangers club in the past.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Elliott places the blame for the Kings’ struggles squarely at the feet of management, noting they put their faith in an aging core while neglecting to draft and develop secondary talent that could eventually become major contributors and leaders. If the Kings fail to improve soon, I wouldn’t be surprised if Vigneault replaced Stevens.