Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – December 9, 2018
Are the Leafs pursuing Alex Pietrangelo? Could Auston Matthews be targeted for an offer sheet? Get the latest in your Sunday NHL rumor roundup.
LEAFS INTERESTED IN PIETRANGELO?
SPORTSNET: Nick Kypreos reports the struggling St. Louis Blues could face some difficult decisions regarding some of their core players. He notes defenseman Alex Pietrangelo has a year remaining on his contract ($6.5 million) and is eligible to become an unrestricted free agent in 2020. Despite a poor start to this season and a hand injury, he’s still highly regarded around the league as an elite defenseman.
Kypreos doesn’t think Blues general manager Doug Armstrong is shopping Pietrangelo but teams are making inquiries. He believes the Toronto Maple Leafs are one of them, suggesting perhaps the Leafs should try to see if they can get the Blues “to possibly bite on (Nikita) Zaitsev’s contract – which is owed another five years at $4.5 million.” Kypreos suggests if they can exchange right-shot defensemen, perhaps a package can be put together for Pietrangelo involving ” a draft pick, a prospect, and then the likes of a young, fast player for St. Louis in the likes of (Kasperi) Kapanen or (Andreas) Johnsson.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Pietrangelo isn’t the only Blues defenseman garnering interest around the league, as the Ottawa Sun’s Bruce Garrioch reports teams are calling about Colton Parayko, who’s signed through 2021-22 at an annual cap hit of $5.5 million. Armstrong is probably willing to consider all options but I don’t see him biting on Zaitsev as part of a return from the Leafs for Pietrangelo. If he did, that package also better contain Kapanen and either a top draft pick or top prospect.
COULD MATTHEWS RECEIVE AN OFFER SHEET?
SPORTSNET: Chris Johnston reports there’s a “widespread feeling within the industry” that Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews could become the rare player to be targeted by an offer sheet next summer. Matthews is in the final season of his entry-level contract and becomes a restricted free agent in July. Johnston reports there’s been no contract discussions of late between the Leafs and the Matthews camp. He feels the Leafs will have to decide one way or the other how this plays out.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Two things to remember here. First. Matthews must be willing to sign an offer from another club. Just because he will be eligible next July to receive an offer sheet doesn’t mean he’ll be receptive. If he isn’t, an offer sheet is no threat to the Leafs.
Second, assuming a cap of $83 million for 2019-20, the Leafs could have over $26 million in cap space. That gives them more than enough room to match what would be a league-maximum $16.6 million per season offer. Whoever makes that offer will have to hope the Leafs burn up a good chunk of that cap space before re-signing Matthews.
Granted, matching an offer sheet for Matthews could make it difficult for the Leafs to re-sign Mitch Marner and address their other free agents. Still, if the scenario presents itself, they’ll match a Matthews offer sheet and worry about the other free agents later.
UPDATE ON DUCHENE
SPORTSNET: Nick Kypreos believes the Ottawa Senators will approach center Matt Duchene for a decision regarding his future plans. He’s slated to become an unrestricted free agent at season’s end. Kypreos said there was a feeling a few weeks ago that the two sides might be moving closer toward a contract extension but no numbers were exchanged. If he doesn’t intend to re-sign, Kypreos feels the Senators will need all the time they can to trade him before the February 25, 2019, deadline.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: There at least appears a willingness on Duchene’s part to consider staying in Ottawa. The Senators will have to compensate him well to make it happen, perhaps a seven- or eight-year deal worth over $8 million per season. It could come down to erratic team owner Eugene Melnyk’s willingness to pay that much (or more) to keep him.
SEVERAL TEAMS BUSY SHOPPING AROUND
SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports there are some teams looking and some teams looking to add in the NHL trade market. Among them include the Los Angeles Kings, Philadelphia Flyers, Minnesota Wild, Boston Bruins, Pittsburgh Penguins, Florida Panthers, St. Louis Blues, and Chicago Blackhawks.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Friedman didn’t get into specifics other than to say those clubs had different reasons to be in the trade market. In my opinion, the Kings, Wild, Bruins and Penguins are still looking for offense while the Flyers, Blues and Panthers seek goaltending help. The Blues could also be looking for a defenseman, as could the Blackhawks.
HIGHLIGHTS FROM “GARRIOCH SUNDAY”
OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch reports the Philadelphia Flyers have limited options to address their goaltending. He noted Columbus Blue Jackets netminder Sergei Bobrovsky has surfaced in the rumor mill. “It would be hard to believe the Jackets would trade him to a conference rival, but if the Jackets have no chance to sign him, then who knows?”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Anything’s possible, but with the Blue Jackets jockeying with the Washington Capitals for first in the Metropolitan Division, I don’t see Bobrovsky going anywhere unless they tumble out of playoff contention by the trade deadline.
Los Angeles Kings GM Rob Blake is believed working the phones looking for a deal before the Dec. 19 holiday trade freeze. He’s not happy with a lot of underachievers on his roster and nobody would be surprised if more changes are coming after moving Tanner Pearson to Pittsburgh last month. They’re getting lots of inquiries about forward Tyler Toffoli.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Toffoli, 26, is a skilled two-way forward who’s exceeded 20 goals and 40 points three times in the previous four seasons, though his production is off that pace (five goals, 13 points in 31 games) this season. Still, if the Kings are looking to move him there would be considerable interest in his services. That being said, I don’t see Blake moving Toffoli unless he’s looking at doing a major roster rebuild.
The Chicago Blackhawks are reportedly shopping blueliners Jan Rutta and Brandon Manning but the changes might not stop there. There’s talk center Artem Asimov is being discussed. He’s signed through 2020-21 with an annual average value of $4.5 million.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Anisimov had a modified no-trade clause listing 10 teams he can be traded to. The Blackhawks might prefer waiting until next summer to move him, as his clause expires at season’s end.
The Pittsburgh Penguins are playing better of late but GM Jim Rutherford is still believed shopping around for help.
Florida Panthers GM Dale Tallon wouldn’t mind adding another defenseman as his club attempts to remain in the playoff chase.