NHL Rumor Mill – December 21, 2018
Latest on Patrick Marleau, Jake Gardiner, Vladimir Tarasenko, Brayden Schenn, and more in today’s NHL rumor mill.
MARLEAU AND GARDINER
TORONTO SUN: Steve Simmons considers Patrick Marleau’s contract “a boondoggle” for the Toronto Maple Leafs. Marleau’s $6.25-million annual average value could contribute to a salary-cap crunch for the Leafs as they attempt to re-sign young superstars Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner.
Simmons recommends management ask Marleau to waive his no-movement after this season. He points out $17.5 million of the winger’s bonus-laden $18.75-million contract will be paid out by July 1. “With only $1.25 million left on the deal, he’d be a bargain for teams that don’t spend to the cap,” writes Simmons.
THE ATHLETIC: Jonas Siegel recently noted the Leafs path to re-sign pending unrestricted free agent defenseman Jake Gardiner is increasingly narrow. In addition to re-signing Matthews and Marner, they’ll also have to re-sign restricted free agents Kaspari Kapanen and Andreas Johnsson and re-sign or replace others, such as pending UFA Ron Hainsey. Even if Gardiner were to agree to less than market value, they might have to trade another player, “probably Nikita Zaitsev and/or Connor Brown.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Leafs management faces a delicate balancing act trying to re-sign their key players. Matthews and Marner could cost at least $20 million, pushing the Leafs’ cap payroll for 2019-20 to over $76 million. Yes, they’ll get some cap relief with Nathan Horton on permanent long-term injured reserve, but they’ll still be hard-pressed to come up with sufficient space for Gardiner, Kapanen, Johnsson, and other moves. A cost-cutting trade or two could be necessary.
Simmons suggests trading Marleau would free up sufficient cap space to re-sign Gardiner. A team looking to reach the cap floor next season could be interested in taking on the final year of his contract, but would Marleau be willing to accept that deal? Maybe if the Leafs win the Cup this season, but that’s only speculation on my part. He could be insistent on playing out that final year in Toronto.
Simmons also suggests another way could be trading someone like Kapanen but insisting that Zaitsev is part of the deal. While that’s possible, clubs with interest in Kapanen might balk at Zaitsev’s $4.5-million annual cap hit through 2023-24, which also includes a modified no-trade clause that kicks in next July.
HIGHLIGHTS FROM FRIEDMAN’S LATEST “31 THOUGHTS”.
SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports it sounds like the Carolina Hurricanes have been debating St. Louis Blues winger Vladimir Tarasenko. He wonders if the Blues would want promising Hurricanes center Martin Necas.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: If the Blues are entertaining offers for Tarasenko, a top prospect such as Necas would have to be part of the package. It’s also worth wondering if the Hurricanes would be willing to part with him. They need a scoring forward and have depth in good young defencemen to draw upon as trade bait to address that need, but they could be squeezed to include a promising youngster or a first-round pick in the deal.
Speaking of the Blues, Friedman notes Brayden Schenn played three seasons for Vegas Golden Knights assistant general manager Kelly McCrimmon in the WHL.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Friedman notes some of the Golden Knights rivals are wondering if they might have some interest in Schenn. With the Blues apparently willing to field offers for some of their veterans, it wouldn’t be surprising if Schenn might become a trade chip.
If the Washington Capitals decide to trade winger Andre Burakovsky, Friedman said they’re not interested in futures unless they can be used to add a player who can help them right away. Trading him for a return that doesn’t help them win the Stanley Cup this season doesn’t appeal to them.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Vancouver Canucks were reportedly among the teams “kicking tires” on Burakovsky. I don’t doubt there’s interest in the 23-year-old, who still has plenty of time to reach his full potential, but it appears the Capitals aren’t in a rush to move him.
Friedman also wonders what the Canucks will do with veteran defensemen Alex Edler and Chris Tanev. Edler is an unrestricted free agent this summer and Tanev has a year remaining on his contract.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Have to wonder if they’ll attempt to move either guy near the trade deadline. They’re not a playoff contender and I don’t think these two fit into the club’s long-term plans. Edler will have to agree to waive his no-trade clause.