NHL Rumor Mill – November 30, 2018
Latest on William Nylander, Mitch Marner, Scott Darling, and more in your NHL rumor mill.
NYLANDER AND MARNER
TSN: With the 5 pm ET deadline on Dec. 1 for signing restricted free agent William Nylander fast approaching, Pierre LeBrun reports the Toronto Maple Leafs have sent feelers to teams with interest in the young winger to determine how serious they are in acquiring him. This doesn’t mean a trade is coming, as the Leafs still hope to re-sign Nylander. LeBrun believes this is the Leafs “Plan B”. He also suggests this impasse could carry on toward the Feb. 25 trade deadline or the offseason.
Bob McKenzie said the trade market for Nylander’s been shrinking because of the high cap hit for this season if he signs before the deadline. “So if Nylander gets a contract in the high-sixes from the Leafs with an AAV (average annual value) of $6.8 or $6.9 million. The first-year cap hit is going to be up around $9.5 million. The Leafs love that because a high cap hit doesn’t hurt them and then you get lower cap hits in the remaining years. For teams like the Los Angeles Kings, Anaheim Ducks and Minnesota Wild that have interest in Nylander, they can’t afford a $9.5 million cap hit this year.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Leafs want to cover all the bases here. They don’t want to find out after the fact that a team was willing to pitch an irresistible offer for Nylander if they’d only asked. Contract negotiations are expected to go down to the wire.
Teams with available cap space, like the Carolina Hurricanes, could remain interested in Nylander and they’re said to be monitoring this situation. Whether they’ll make a significant pitch for him remains to be seen.
Speaking of the Leafs, LeBrun reports Mitch Marner’s representatives are considering the merits of pursuing a four- or five-year contract instead of seeking the league maximum. He speculates it could cost between $9-$10 million per season to re-sign Marner, based on the season he’s having. A four-year deal would bring Marner up to his eligibility for unrestricted free agency.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Leafs and Marner won’t open contract talks until season’s end. Management probably prefers locking up Marner for seven or eight years. If he keeps producing at his current rate over a four-year deal, it could cost considerably more to keep him off the UFA market.
DARLING AND THE HURRICANES
THE HOCKEY NEWS: Jared Clinton noted the Carolina Hurricanes placing goaltender Scott Darling on waivers yesterday. If he clears at noon ET today, he could be demoted to their AHL affiliate as his $4.15-million annual average value makes it unlikely he’ll be claimed by another club.
However, Clinton wonders if a rival club might flip “a low-level asset or two” for Darling, provided the Hurricanes agree to pick up part of his cap hit. He points out the Philadelphia Flyers, Florida Panthers, and St. Louis Blues are desperate for help between the pipes.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Anything’s possible, but I’ll be surprised if any of those clubs take a chance on Darling. He’s been a significant disappointment during his tenure as the Hurricanes’ starting goaltender.
THE ATHLETIC: Sara Civian recently listed defenseman Brett Pesce as the Hurricanes’ most likely player to move if they make a pitch for Toronto’s William Nylander. “It just makes the most sense when you think about it — a 24-year-old, solid defenseman on a six-year, $4.025 million deal. The Canes are one of the only teams in the NHL with the luxury to give something like that up to a team that’s desperate for some top-six defense.” Other possible trade candidates include defenseman Haydn Fleury and forward Valentin Zykov.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Pesce could also be a trade chip if the Hurricanes pass on Nylander and look elsewhere for scoring help. Fleury is currently on IR but when healthy could be packaged in a larger deal. Zykov made be tradeable but his struggles to stick in the NHL full time hurt his trade value.
LATEST ON THE PENGUINS
NICHOLS ON HOCKEY: cites Darren Dreger’s appearance yesterday on Montreal’s TSN 690 discussing the state of the Pittsburgh Penguins’ goaltending. With Matt Murray struggling when healthy this season and the inexperience of Casey DeSmith and Tristan Jarry, Dreger noted there have been quiet mutterings suggesting the Penguins could make Murray a trade commodity down the road when he’s healthy.
Dreger also pointed out how much the Pens are missing sidelined defenseman Justin Schultz. “I wouldn’t be surprised to see Rutherford and the Penguins try and acquire some form of puck-moving defenseman in the future, but it’s difficult to do.”
PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE: Jason Mackey reports it’s extremely unlikely the Penguins will seek outside help to address their goalie issues. While they’re by no means happy with the current state of their goaltending, “there’s little they can do when you look at acquiring cost, the team’s salary-cap situation and the quality of netminders available.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: In other words, they’re not making a pitch for Scott Darling.