NHL Rumor Mill – February 28, 2019

by | Feb 28, 2019 | Rumors | 28 comments

Were the Oilers close to a deal that would’ve sent Adam Larsson to the Leafs? Get the details, plus Jake Gardiner’s future in Toronto and an update on a failed trade involving Jason Zucker in today’s NHL rumor mill. 


EDMONTON JOURNAL: David Staples cited a report from Boston sports commentator Jimmy Murphy citing sources claiming the Oilers and Toronto Maple Leafs discussed a large deal that would’ve seen Oilers defenseman Adam Larsson shipped to the Leafs in exchange for right wing Connor Brown. Murphy said there was “a lot of moving pieces” to this deal which was probably why it didn’t go down, suggesting the two sides might revisit it in the offseason. However, Staples cites Oilers radio analyst Bob Stauffer claiming Larsson’s name was never mentioned in any trade discussions by the Oilers. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Stauffer is well-connected with the Oilers so I take him at his word. Besides, this deal wouldn’t have made any sense for the Oilers. If they’re going to trade away one of their few decent blueliners in Larsson they’d better get more back than Brown, who is not the top-six right wing they desperately need.

This is likely Jake Gardiner’s final season with the Toronto Maple Leafs (Photo via NHL Images)


TORONTO SUN: Steve Simmons believes this is defenseman Jake Gardiner’s last season as a Leaf. An unrestricted free agent this summer, Gardiner would love to stay in Toronto but he’ll likely get over $6 million per season on the open market. That’s more than the Leafs can afford, especially with youngsters Mitch Marner, Kasperi Kapanen, and Andreas Johnsson to re-sign this summer.  Unless Leafs GM Kyle Dubas can find a way to shed aging winger Patrick Marleau’s $6-million cap hit for 2019-20, Gardiner will depart via free agency on July 1. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Leafs have over $72 million invested in 15 players for 2019-20. Yes, they’ll free up an additional $5.3 million by placing Nathan Horton on long-term injured reserve at the start of next season, but that still won’t leave enough to re-sign Marner (who’ll likely get at least $10 million annually), Kapanen, and Johnsson (who could cost at least a combined $7 million, probably more). That won’t leave enough to re-sign Gardiner and fill their remaining roster spots.

If Dubas can actually find a way to shed Marleau’s contract he should be awarded GM of the Year on the spot. Marleau is on a plus-35 contract. If he retires his cap hit still counts against the Leafs’ payroll. He also carries a full no-movement clause. Good luck!


THE ATHLETIC: Michael Russo provided more details on the trade that would’ve sent Minnesota Wild winger Jason Zucker to the Calgary Flames on deadline day. Sources claim the Flames would’ve sent winger Michael Frolik and a draft pick to the Wild. Frolik has a partial no-trade clause but Russo confirmed the Wild weren’t on “No” list. Zucker’s contract (signed through 2022-23 with a $5.5-million annual average value) may have created an issue for Calgary to take him on. He said Zucker was never officially traded as no trade call was made and no e-mail sent to the league’s Central Registry. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I don’t think we’ve heard the last of this. As I noted yesterday, Zucker’s partial no-trade clause kicks in on July 1, giving the Wild enough time in late-June to perhaps revisit this deal with the Flames. Failing that, they can explore other trade options without his consent.


  1. Conner Brown might not be a top six forward on the deep leafs, but would be the 4 best forward on the Oilers. Larrson might not even top 4 dman on the leafs.
    So oilers need talent around McDavid they should be looking at the top teams bottom six forwards and target them, as that is all they have the assets to be able to make a trade for. They don’t have the cap space also to go big game, need to focus on under utilized talent but the trick for the Oilers is to be smart about. Spooner dumb, Gagne smart!

    • Good morning

      @ PENGY ….

      I agree on TB wins the cup …they have everything ..the best goalie the best points producer and player in the league right now …they youth ..veteran leadership …they have size on the D side ..speed up the wings …and all that combined experience with most of this core over the past 4 years …..they look unstoppable !

      But you have to play the game s…LOL


      If Leafs would have gotten Larson ..I would have thrown up …this would have been so typical of the Leafs of old … this would have been the most disappointing thing they would have done since the Burke Nonis ERA !

      They have way better cheaper options that are just as good such as Holl, Rosen ,Borgman ,Loverde knocking at the door ,NO NEED FOR AN OVER RATED $4.5 million dollar D man when you have 2 all ready in Zaitsev and Gardiner !

      Just crazy that this was even on the radar…

      If this happened you would have heard booos at Scotia bank Place I guarantee that !

      Let Jake & Hainsey go ..and resign Kappy and Mango …with that money and insert Holl next year to keep cap down ..and look at a younger cheaper option than Gardiner and get rid of Zaitsev…PLEASE!!!

      Iam really worried about some of the players that have been on Dubas radar of late …Iam really worried he is looking at moving out the wrong players and bringing in the wrong players !


      many of you know my position on the Oilers if you have read my posts over the past 5 months and lately the past 2 months …I dont see any other way to improve around McDavid and do it through 2 lines other than maxamizing the potential of Draisitil deal …this is the ONLY way you can bring in multiple players that would help right away …they are 5 years in with McDavid ..and Draistil and its not working with them BOTH …so it has to be this way …you need legit NHL players back in ANY deal that the Oilers are going to do ..this is no longer a build through the draft scenario and they have NO CHOICE IN MY MIND!

      BTW …They also need a #1 Goalie ….Stolarz is not a long term NHL goalie ! a back up AT BEST and may be no better than a Sparks if that !

      Cheers 🙂

    • Um Larson would be tied with Muzzin for second best on the Leafs. He’s not know for his offence but neither is Brian Dumoulin and I would call him the Pens second best dman. Larson and Dumoulin are actually very similar players, the kind of player every team needs one of to win a cup.

      • Dee, fairly certain Larson would not be tied with Muzzin as number 2 D on the Leafs, he would be number 2 D on the Leafs outright – no disrespect to Muzzin.

      • Ok Deeee

        You can take him on your team …
        but no thanks here !

        Larson is a dime a dozen 3 – 4 d man pairing player …and we have one of those in Zaitsev and as you say in Muzzin this is not the calibre player that the Leafs need in any capacity to fill out a bottom pairing ..
        I respectfully disagree….he in no way is a game changer or gives ANY team a benefit of his experience that almost any long time journey man can fill for half the price !

        I will have you know Iam a Pitt fan as well… and follow very closely there also.

        Cheers 🙂

      • I’d take him on the pens. He would be a solid middle pair guy with Schultz. He would definitely be a strong upgrade to the leaves middle pair.

  2. Holy Cow Batman

    Tbay— how can they not get to SC???

    10-0 in last 10

    Record 49-11-4 on pace for 63-14-5…. 131 points

    Record against the 8 Eastern teams currently vying to be in playoffs (including Clb who is just below WC spot)….14-3.

    Of a total of 34 available game points… opponents got 7. Tbay outscored them 62-37….NOTE: HAVE NOT AS YET PLAYED WASH

    Bos has 3 more games (including tonight) ; played only one game against TBay and lost in reg 3-2

    Leafs are 1-1 (2 more games remaining) outscored by Tbay 6-5

    Habs (1 more game remaining) are 0-3; outscored 13-6

    NYI (no games remaining) are 1-2; one of the losses in OT; but actually outscored TBay 6-5!

    Pens 1-2 (no more games) even in scoring 11-11

    Clb (no more games) 0-3; outscored 17-3

    Car (1 more game to play) 0-2; outscored 8-3

    Of the possible 1st round match-ups (Clb, Car, Mon, Pens); Pens most dangerous (1-2; goals even at 11)

    Massive odds IMO that TBay gets to the SC

    Now against West favs:

    Vs both Cgy and SJS they are 1-1; home team winning all games; most recent games were at home and beat both teams 6-3

    Against VGK (1-1)— both teams won at home 3-2

    Vs Winn (0-1) lost in Winn 5-4; to play at home 5/3/19

    Vs Nsh: lost both (note in both games they were playing w/o key injured players) 4-1 in Nsh; 3-2 at home

    I still think they win the cup but there is a chance that one of the Western teams could knock them out… chance!

    • Pengy TB is NOT winning the cup. They will not get by Washington.

      • And neither beat SJ in seven game series.

      • Hi Caper and dpb

        I guess we agree to disagree

        IMO, only chance they don’t win the cup is a loss to SJ or Winn (I think Nsh gets beat by Winn)

        I’m not a betting man; never have been.

        However, if I were; I would bet a bundle on TBay getting to SCF

        Don’t even see Wsh even being their opponent in the ECF

        I guess we will all see as this unfolds

        Our three predictions are now in print— let the best predictor win


    • Pengy…i think the Penguins best match up if they make it will be a # 2 # 3 seed metro with the Islanders… Washington will catch them and hopefully we can pull in to third or second in the metro.

      Or a wild card match up with the islanders they taking the metro..

      i don’t fear tampa like everyone else does we do pretty well against them…the worst match up for the Penguins would be Boston.

      we can beat Columbus we can beat Washington should of last year inuries etc..we can hang with Toronto! Boston is the team that is hard for us and they added Coyle and Johannson.

      off season

      Kessel 31 $6.8 until 2022 for Zucker 27. $5.5 until 2022
      who adds?

      • Last 3 years Zucker 143 points, Kessel 226 points. Yeah no thank you!

  3. Much discussions on the radio, print and tweeter universe that JT is playing his first game against his former Islanders.
    What amuses me is the amount of talk for leaf fans and Media about the kind of reception the Islander fans should give JT. They should give him a standing ovation and cheer him loudly, he gave it all for the Islanders while he was there. They should not boo him or turn their backs on him. He fulfill his contract and exercise hi right to leave. All this from Toronto fans and the talking heads.
    The Islander fans will decide what kind of reception he gets. Yes JT exercise his right to leave. However you don’t get to tell the fans how they feel. Some feel betrayed, while other strongly feel he screwed over the Islanders because he knew all along he wasn’t resigning with the Islanders and led the team to believe he might and the Islanders could’ve have received assets by trading him at the deadline.
    The good news it will be over tonight and Toronto fans and media can move to more important things then concerning themselves how another fan base cheers for an ex player.

  4. Re Leafs and off season, and next year

    Firstly, see my previous post. To me, very strong odds that they are out first round against Bruins; so let’s look at July and next year.

    The Math is very very simple; after signing Marner and accounting for Horton on the LTIR; they will have 10 Fwds ; 5 D (Reilly, Muzzin, Ziatz, Dermott and Holl); and one goalie; and only about $6.5 M to fill out the roster (3 more F, 3 more D; plus a back-up);

    Included in that 7 slots to fill are RFAs Kappy, Johnnson, Petan, and Ozh (unless moving on from him and then need a new D anway)

    It Just can’t be done as is.

    If they can’t/won’t move WW and Marleau…. They will lose at least one of Kappy or Johnsson AND their D is worse next year than this year…. So absolutely NO chance, under that scenario; to get to get out of first round, let alone to ECF or even SC in June of ‘20

    Now, if they can move Marleau; AND trade WW (*see notes below) for a top 4 D…. they will have close to $15M to sign Kappy, Johnsson, Petan. After they are signed (say very liberally combined $9M); GMKD would have almost $6M left to sign 2 depth forwards, 2 depth D and a back up;more than enough for that.

    AND the team would be better than this year and can get to ECF

    *Re WW: pay him his SB on 1/7; and then he is only owed $700K next year and actually CASH AAV for 5 years of <$5M… Cap of $7 M…. great trading chip to get a top 4D (in the Cap range of $5.0M back). Note: top 4 D for Leafs means that he only needs to be better than Zaitz—- that is not asking much at all

    Just sayin’

    Go Leafs Go

    • @ Pengy & Murph

      I think and say that the Leafs will retain both Kappy and Mango ( Johnson ) next year on a bridge deal.

      They both know that Marleau will be gone after next year ..Gardiner Hainsey as well next year …and there will be some cap that opens up long term in a year from now as a cycle of 2 season goes buy where as the cap goes up …

      also and including Seattle and a TV deal and expansion into Europe …this will raise the cap a good sum over this year and then next to allow them to negotiate after a bridge deal and will have more room to keep these guys longer term!

      In looking long term and doing some math and anticipating cap growth it can be done with the UFAs leaving this year and next…if they both take a bridge deal !

  5. Unfortunately I think that in order for Dubas to make the money work next year, Gardner, Brown, Kadri and one of either Johnnson or Kapanen is gone next year. Much as I like Kapanen, there is additional depth on the right side in Moore and Bracco. If they keep Kapanen, and lose Johnsson, I could see Nylander moving to 3C. If they keep Johansson and lose Kapanen, I see Marleau moving to 3C. The only way I see them keeping both is short term low dollar bridge deals. Marleau, his cap money or anything else is not going anywhere. Marchment can move up on LW.

    • offer sheets could be coming in the off season for Kapanen and Johnsson.

      • Bring it, I’ll take the picks. Also, who the f cares how the isles fans will receive JT. Hes gone, get over it.

      • The guy is this there for a paycheque, he never won anything with the islanders and won’t with the leafs!

  6. Hi BlackNGold

    Pens in a tight race

    Best slot for them to finish I believe; is 1st WC spot (if NYI finishes 1st in Div)… that is IMO, easiest match up for a win; and then once they have a won a round… they start getting in full swing.

    They still need to make the playoffs and it is very tight; and definitely do not want to finish in last WC spot…I just canNOT in any scenario; see them winning a first round match-up against Bolts

    Next 5 games critical (at Buff, at Mon, home to FLA, home to CBJ, then IN Columbus)

    Win 4 of 5 (including the Mon and Clb games) in reg… start pressing your playoff jersey

    Lose 4 of 5 in reg…. get the golf clubs out

    Highly likely it is somewhere between those two extremes.

    They need to win against Mon and at the very least get more game points than CBJ in their match-ups

    My gut feeling… win in Buff; then IF Letang and Dumo back for Mon…. win in Mon; win in FLA.

    It still comes down to the CBJ games and by that time the new recruits will have had time to get their chemistry going; so it will be a tough match-up

    Re: Kessel move… to me he has to move in the summer for sure.

    Pens canNOT, IMO afford to wait until summer of ’20 to move him (IMO his value will be much much much less and he has a NMC/NTC) and under no circumstances can they afford for him to be on the roster in June of ’21; at almost 34, winding down his career and IMO not performing well then; AND taking up one of the mandatory “protected” positions in the Seattle entry draft.

    Who he is traded for… up in the air… I’m not a huge Zucker fan as many are; but that trade, at that time; would be close to fair. I’m not sure if PK has Minn on his list and/or if Minn interested in the trade.

    Have to head to meetings now


    • Pengy & DEE…My other off season move involving kessel if not Zucker and Minnesota then:

      To Anaheim:

      Phil Kessel 31, $6.8 million until 2022

      Josh Manson 27 $4.5 until 2022

      Anaheim is desperate for a sniper….

      • The Penguins have like 8 dmen under contract for next year. 8 mill for Jackass Johnson and Rocks for brains Gudbranson alone. 8 mill for Dumoulin and Maatta, almost 14 mill for Letang and Shultz. They really can’t take on another dman with that kind of salary regardless of what goes out. And they still have Petterson in the mix. I just don’t see that as a fit. They will re-sign only RFAs and any UFA is a goner. And they still won’t get under the cap with Guentzels new deal. Probably one of Bjugstad or Hornqvist is a goner for pucks maybe a Rust too.

      • Hi BlackNGold and Deee

        Tight Cap times next year for Pens for sure but not as bad as I had thought

        Per Cap friendly; Currently under contract for next year 17 players (9F, 6 D, 2G) for $79M

        Moving just one of Gudbranson OR Maata; extending the 2 F and 2 D RFA’s for a total of $5M and with Cap
        Proposed to go up to $85…. leaves GMJR $5M to sign 2depth D (to replace Ruhweedel and say Gudbranson) and 2 Depth F (to replace Cullen and Wilson)

        So doable and keeps about the same team quality wise (albeit 1 year older for Kessel and Horny … who will decline due to age the most IMO )

        Although we all agree the JJ experiment was a mistake (unless he continues to have games like he did against CBJ…. uhhhh not likely)… they just won’t move him

        Gudbranson (unless he turns things around ) will cost assets to move…. so it’s likely Maata

        Whatever they get for Maata ; take that plus Phil and get a mid 20’s RW that is projected to get in the high 60’s in points and comes in at a cost equal to or less than Phil

        IMO ; if Phil stays he’ll get , at best, next year 70-75 points

        So bringing in a younger player that gets in the high sixties …. costs the team at worst a handful of points… and Phill will, IMO , decline further the year after; plus mid 20’s guy should be on rise

        Deee, I know you disagree with me on what Phil will produce next year; but I’m pretty strong in my mind on this and basing it on actually watching him play over 600 games…. he is on the decline IMO

        I will just give you an example of a not implausibly fair trade with a team that has in the past been on Kessel’s trade list:

        Flip either Gudbranson OR Maata AND Phil to STL for Teresenko

        StL takes back 10% … so that Cap wise Phil and Tersenko are equal

        Gudbranson OR Maata replace JBo are are cheaper, younger

        Phil using my analysis above ; will produce just a handful more than Tersenko next year

        StL …. balancing getting a D 10 years younger (if Maata) but a F 4 years older producing more; should be happy

        Pens fit all under cap; and have not faltered more than a handful of points at Fwd and have a bigger winger still on the rise for points

        I just used him as an example… and only chose StL because it’s one of the two teams that have often been on Phil’s trade list (Chi the other …. being only a couple of hours from his hometown; being the other)

        There are options out there…. as long as more “JJ” type acquisitions don’t happen

        No idea if Phil would agree to go to Buffalo … Phil and Gudbranson for Rheinhart and Chi Chi’s little bother Evan (Rodrigues) And if so… Pens save in Cap hit

        It’s all workable …. moves to be made …. yep…. panickville re Cap next year…. nope

  7. Dee…i’m thinking they will move Olli Matta for sure and 1 or two others especially if they go after Josh Manson. I know they want to resign Pettersson and i think if they get Manson they will move J.J too for next to nothing.

    Imagine Dumolin Letang

    Manson Schultz

    Gridbrason Pettersson/Rikola/Prow/Weidman

    nice top 4..

  8. Dee. moving Kessels $6.8 for a $5.5 or $4.5 in return saves a couple million then Moving Matta’s $4.083 million and move J.J whats he making $3.75???? will all add up

    • BlackNGold

      See my thoughts above … things can be done

      • Interesting Pengy..i don’t think St. Louis is getting rid of Tarasenko now….

        Phil might go to Buffalo with Boterelli

        Phil’s best spot for the team to trade him is Minnesota for Zucker or Zucker Plus..or Anaheim for Manson or Lindholm..

        not sure his trade list?

        Did Weidman play versus Columbus I didn’t see him in the highlights…and where is Prow they called up Trottman????

  9. Who knows what the deal would could have been. Gardiner and Brown for Larsson . Who is a right shot and can log some defensive minutes.

    If it was Zucker for Frolik and a pick not sure why that would have been a slam dunk. Probably got jammed with Dorion and Stone