Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – November 18, 2018
Latest on the Leafs, Rangers, Penguins, Senators, and Canadiens in your Sunday NHL rumor roundup.
LATEST ON THE NYLANDER IMPASSE
SPORTSNET: Chris Johnston provides an update on the contract standoff between the Toronto Maple Leafs and restricted free agent winger William Nylander. Though the Dec. 1 deadline to get him under contract is less than two weeks away, Johnston said the Leafs are comfortable letting the winger sit out the season if a deal cannot be reached or if a suitable trade offer doesn’t present itself by then.
Nick Kypreos reports there are teams that aren’t discouraged by the high asking price set by the Nylander camp. At one point it was believed they sought $8 million per season but some clubs feel that could come down to closer to $7 million.
NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks reports the Rangers are among the clubs interested in Nylander though they’re not considered among the front-runners. He dismissed speculation suggesting they’re out of the running because they won’t include defenseman Brady Skjei in the package, noting the Leafs prefer a right-handed blueliner over a lefty like Skjei. If he was to be the primary part of the deal, Brooks believes that move would be made quickly, especially given Skjei’s struggles this season.
Brooks also wondered if the Leafs could be further enticed by adding winger Chris Kreider to the deal. Kreider will be eligible for unrestricted free agent status in 2020. Brooks speculates he could be shopped at the February trade deadline or the draft if the Rangers aren’t comfortable with the cost of re-signing him.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Considering how well the Leafs are playing without Nylander and with Auston Matthews sidelined, it’s understandable why they could be willing to let Nylander sit out the season. Of course, if a club makes a substantial offer for the young winger before Dec. 1, Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas could jump on it. For now, however, I expect the Leafs and the Nylander camp will use the next couple of weeks trying to hash out a contract. The pressure could be building on Nylander more than the Leafs now.
As for Brooks’ suggestion of Kreider and Skjei for Nylander, I don’t think that’s going to happen. After all, the Rangers supposedly aren’t among the front-runners, and if Skjei isn’t the type of defenseman the Leafs want, then there’s no point discussing this further. I don’t see Kreider for Nylander straight up taking place.
There could be teams willing to pay what Nylander wants salary-wise, but are they willing to meet the Leafs’ asking price in the trade market? That could be a more difficult question to answer.
SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports Pittsburgh Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford might not be done dealing as he tries to shake up his struggling roster. Last week, Rutherford shipped left wing Carl Hagelin to the Los Angeles Kings for winger Tanner Pearson. Young forward Daniel Sprong could be one of the players the Pens GM is willing to move.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Friedman isn’t the only one who thinks Rutherford could make another move. TSN’s Bob McKenzie also believes Rutherford isn’t done seeking a trade that can reverse his club’s fortunes. While he expects the Penguins GM could get creative and aggressive he doesn’t see him moving any of his core players. That means someone like Sprong, Bryan Rust or maybe even Jake Guentzel could be on the move soon.
SPORTSNET: Nick Kypreos reports significant contract talks between the Ottawa Senators and pending unrestricted free agent forward Mark Stone haven’t started yet. There’s a feeling the Senators hoped to readdress it in mid-December. The earliest Stone can be re-signed is after January 1. Kypreos notes Stone and fellow UFA Matt Duchene will want significant signing bonuses.
Chris Johnston reports there were more contract conversations between Duchene’s agent and the Senators. That could indicate Duchene could be sticking around.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Both will be expensive to retain. Stone will likely cost over $7.5 million per season to re-sign. Duchene’s off to the best start of his career and could look for over $8 million per. While it’s not a certainty either guy gets shopped at the trade deadline, I’m not sure if the Senators can afford to keep both of them. Cap space isn’t the issue but it’s widely known the Senators are having money troubles. Owner Eugene Melnyk could be unwilling or unable to invest the big bucks to keep those two in Ottawa.
CANADIENS SHOPPING A DEFENSEMAN?
SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports the Montreal Canadiens could be looking at moving a defenseman via trade with sidelined blueliner Shea Weber expected to return to the lineup soon.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin would probably love to move Karl Alzner and his $4.625-million annual cap hit through 2021-22. Alzner’s been a healthy scratch for most of this season as his slow-footed defensive style doesn’t suit the Habs fast-paced game. However, I doubt he’ll find any takers for the veteran blueliner.