NHL Rumor Mill – March 19, 2019

by | Mar 19, 2019 | Rumors | 36 comments

Check out the latest Buffalo Sabres and New York Rangers speculation in today’s NHL rumor mill. 


THE BUFFALO NEWS: In his latest mailbag segment, Lance Lysowski was asked if Buffalo Sabres winger (and pending free agent) Jeff Skinner will return next season. He believes Skinner will re-sign, pointing out his comments about how much he likes his teammates and the roster’s potential. Lysowski also notes Buffalo’s proximity to Skinner’s home in the Greater Toronto Area. 

Will the Buffalo Sabres re-sign Jeff Skinner? (Photo via NHL Images)

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Skinner will be an expensive re-signing but I don’t believe the Sabres will risk losing him for nothing to free agency only a year after stealing him away from the Carolina Hurricanes. He has terrific offensive chemistry with Jack Eichel and they don’t want to lose that. 

Recent speculation suggests the Skinner camp will seek a long-term deal worth over $9 million per season while the Sabres might prefer something in the $8-million range. I believe they’ll get a deal hammered out for around $9 million per. 

Lysowski also expects the Sabres’ goalie tandem of Carter Hutton and Linus Ullmark will return next season, suggesting the club might bring in a new goaltending coach. Winger Jason Pominville would love to return but Lysowski doubts that happens, pointing out the Sabres need bigger forwards who can score. 

Regarding their restricted free agents, Lysowski doubts Zemgus Girgensons and Johan Larsson will be back. Defensemen Rasmus Ristolainen, Marco Scandella, and Matt Hunwick are under contract next season, he speculates one of them might get traded this summer, though he’s not convinced they’ll move Ristolainen. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Pominville’s second tour with the Sabres as a player is drawing to a close. He’s 36-year-old and this could be his last NHL campaign. Girgensons and Larsson could be traded or their rights might not be qualified, allowing them to become UFAs on July 1. Unless Ristolainen wants out, I don’t think they intend to trade him.  

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): If the Sabres re-sign Skinner at $8 million per season and depending on which RFAs they re-sign, Ryan Stimson noted they’ll have nearly $45 million in salary-cap space for 2020-21. However, they’ll need to keep sufficient cap space for Sam Reinhart and Brandon Montour, who’ll become restricted free agents with arbitration rights next summer, as well as for Rasmus Dahlin when he comes off his entry-level deal in 2021. He speculates they won’t throw a lot of money around this summer, though they might pursue someone like Matt Duchene or Jordan Eberle via free agency. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I expect Skinner will cost around $9 million per season, but that’ll still leave the Sabres with a lot of cap space for 2020-21, depending upon who else they sign this summer. They currently have over $55.7 million invested in 17 players. Assuming it costs a combined $12 million to re-sign Skinner and RFAs Linus Ullmark, Evan Rodrigues, and Jake McCabe, they’ll have over $67 million tied up in 21 players, leaving enough to try to bring in a decent UFA addition or two, depending on whether ownership is willing to spend to the cap. 


NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks reports Rangers winger Chris Kreider suffered a hamstring injury on Feb. 24, which accounts for his recent offensive struggles. He also points out Kreider, who’s eligible next summer to become an unrestricted free agent, is either a couple of months away from a lucrative contract extension or a trade. 

Brooks speculates a conservative estimate for Kreider’s next contract could be six years at $6.5 million per season. If traded, Brooks believes the return would be for a package of draft picks and prospects or young NHL-ready players. He doesn’t see Kreider returning to the Rangers this fall without a new contract. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Agreed. The Rangers can’t let Kreider’s situation drag on into next season and become an unwelcome distraction. If management feels the winger doesn’t fit into their plans, they should shop him by the NHL Draft weekend in late-June. 


  1. I’m a Sabres fan and I’m sick of wasting first round draft picks on busts, unless Buffalo gets a 1-2 overall they usually draft a bust, instead of drafting guys and waiting 4 years to see if they are good let’s just offer sheet Marner, offer him more money than McDavid. Leafs are not our friends and offersheets are part of game who cares if Toronto cries and gets upset? It might make hockey more interesting like back in old days when you had rivalries where blood was spilled. Even if they give up 4 first round picks that still leaves two this year and we can trade players to get back first round picks such as Ristolainen. Risto minus is so low each year he would have made a perfect Washington capital back in 1974-75.

    • Marner would have to accept the offer sheet. Just don’t see that happening so he can become a Sabre.

      • What would you know fyodor… you be dead 138 years now!

      • perhaps Matt is a medium, and Dostoevsky speaks to him from the other side…

      • maybe Dostoevsky faked his death and has been living in Tonawanda this whole time, working at Gambino Ford….

      • So, let me get this straight – Toronto will likely try and get him signed for around $9 mil and, if Buffalo offers him in excess of $12 Mil (more than McDavid), he’d turn down $3 mil per for the glory of playing in Toronto?? If he did that his sanity would be called into question. And his agent would likely disown him.

      • George, doubt the agent would dump him because he was only making $900K/Yr off the player instead of $1.2M, or whatever percentage they make. Toronto will pay him more than $9M obviously and while we constantly hear about the tax advantage of playing in certain states there is also a financial advantage to getting paid in USD while living in Canada, especially if predictions are right and the Canadian dollar goes as low as $0.61 which is the prediction i read yesterday. Probably won’t go that low, but if it did that’s a huge amount of money pocketed by a guy getting paid in USD.

      • George seriously? Take off your hater glasses which make you sound petty… a lot of players would rather play for a team trending upward like the Leafs than one spinning it’s wheels like the Sabers or a team that is languishing at the bottom of the standings like the Sens.

        In having talking to pros, I can tell you winning matters and the money is a bonus.

      • Also from what I read in my magical google machine the top marginal federal tax rate in the US is 37% and NY is just under 9%. top rate in Canada is 33% and provincial rate in Ontario is just over 13%, so roughtly the same tax hit in new york state and ontario but added Canadian income from being paid in USD. I don’t know much about this stuff, don’t even do my own taxes but unless i copmletely misunderstand the entire thing from that point of view there is value to playing in Toronto over Buffalo. Also I’ve never bought into players letting this stuff impact their decisions much, i don’t think it really happens but it’s an argument made here often for what it’s worth.

      • Oh, hey, there’s Ron Moore – the expert – wondered where you’ve been. I figured a dig at the Leafs would draw out the thin-skinned and there you are. Gee, tell us plebes how many “pros” you’ve sat down with and discussed contracts and preferences.

        Whenever we’re in slow days in these threads one sure way to always generate responses is ANY criticism aimed at the Leafs, especially if and when they are experiencing difficulty. And any such comment is always tagged as being a “hater.” Was Babcock a “hater” yesterday when he took a thinly-disguised backhand swipe at Dubas with his observation about having a lack of depth?

        Taxes be damned, when you’re talking a differential of in excess of $3 mil a year for the length of the contract that’s one helluva chunk of money to leave on the table. The NHLPA would have terminal apoplexy.

        As for the Senators wallowing in last place – what’s your point? We weren’t talking about that pathetic organization (about which I have been extremely critical leading up to the Stone, Duchene and Dzingel trades, but I guess you missed those while you were away discussing contracts with the pros.


      • Matthews, Tavares, Nylander all could have lived quite comfortably and set their families up for generations at half the salary they signed for, yet they negotiated for more. Because they did, the Leafs will have to trade or let talented players walk in free agency. The same could certainly be said about Toews and Kane in Chicago, and dozens of other players around the league.
        The idea that winning is what really matters and the money is a nice bonus is a cute platitude but I ain’t buying it. This will be no different for Marner who is potentially worth more than any of the above-mentioned highly-compensated individuals. I’m not saying the Leafs don’t manage to bring him back, but it won’t be at some drastic hometown discount.

      • Aww. Cut cute Ronny a break. I think his post was adorable. If he was here I’d pinch his cheeks.

      • the part i find confusing is that Toronto will only offer $9M, where are you pulling that from? i don’t think anybody expects a contract at $9m, I think an offer sheet from Buff would be a smaller gap than $3M, Tor would match if Marner even signed it. There are multiple factors yes and nobody knows what he would do. He grew up a Toronto fan, at the moemnt $9M USD = ~$12M CDN, taxes roughly the same plus if he grew up a Tor fan he likely isn’t itching to be a Sabre, but who knows. And George, not reacting to your comment but not surprised to get reactions when you post your comment in a deliberately offensive fashion like you did, there is a term for people who post intentionally offensive comments to provoke a reaction and I’ve not known you to really troll before, not sure why you would want to but that’s your right if youw ant to be like that, and an;anyone can do the same. Personally if i were given the choice of front-row centre ice tickets to see Ott play Buff, or a free unnecessary root canal I’d have to sit down and think it over.

      • I don’t know why you think the Cdn vs the US dollar matters.
        over half these players live in the states, and in Buf your not that far from home. when you cross the boarder back into Canada bang you have your US dollars in Cnd funds. This is a none issue for any player.

      • TB, I wasn’t trying to be”offensive”although I truly could not possibly care less that Marner’s a “hometown boy” and “grew up a Leafs fan.” What does that have to do with the price of bread? Hell, if every player in the league who grew up a Leaf fan and lived somewhere in the GTA made it to the Leafs they’d have a roster and depth pool of 286!

        I was reacting to Rasputin’s – or whatever Russian name he chose – conjecture that Marner would turn down an offer sheet offering a salary greater than that of McDavid. Since that is $12.5 mil, and I don’t see how Dubas can fit Marner in for anything more than around $9 mil without completely screwing up his cap a la Edmonton without losing one or two other key elements.

        You say Dubas would match if such an offer came through. Well, since Rasputin said “more than McDavid”, and not wanting to go overboard, I’ll put it down to $12,501,000. Added to those of Matthews, Tavares, Nylander, Kadri, Marleau, Rielly, Zaitsev and Andersen, that’s $67,652,266 for 9 players, leaving (if it goes to $83 mil), 15,652,634 to sign 14 players – or an average of #1,118,045 each. And that’s not counting what it’s going to cost to sign Kapanen and Johnsson.

        As for my comment, if some found that “offensive” maybe some of us – just maybe – are tired of hearing so-and-so is a life-long Leafs fan and would remain there out of some sort of misguided devotion to the team and city leaving millions of dollars on the table.

      • George I guess time will tell. I would be shocked if he signs an offer sheet, they will get him in under the cap and if it means trading Kadri or Nylander Plus pieces they will. In the era of the salary cap no player of his calibre has ever moved via an offer sheet. as for players not taking a discount to sign with their hometown team I’m not saying he will, but there was a pretty big name player that did just that to sign in Toronto last year after years of listening to people say how that would never happen. Before that it was listening to everyone saying that Babcock would never come to Toronto, it is a team now that people want to be a part of. I’m not saying he will take less money, I have no idea what he will do but I am sure he will be there next year. Also George, for the glory of playing in Toronto? I don’t believe for a second you didn’t phrase that in a way to get an angry reaction from somebody.

      • You fellas managed to get 25 posts out of an offer sheet conversation that isn’t realistically going to happen. So well done on a slow day.
        I just can’t see Buf offer sheeting Marner. If they do I am sure the Leafs would respond in kind to Dahlen a couple years from now. Could another team? Maybe, believe it when I see it.
        I think the Sabres will be a great place to play in a couple seasons from a competitive perspective.
        Of course the CDN $ vs US$ exchange matters if it is about money.
        So do taxes, all factors matter when it comes to money, but money isn’t all that matters to everybody but don’t insult their intelligence with a low ball offer. You gotta be reasonable and negotiate in good faith.
        I don’t think George was intentionally trolling. Not how I read it.

      • Correct me if I’m wrong, Aren’t all players paid in US dollars? If that’s the case, why would players care about the exchange rate?

      • I’m offering 13.5 million with the maximum amount of cash up front, so much money he can buy a private Yacht. Buffalo’s owner offered Parise and Suter more money than Minnesota, this owner has the cash to burn. It’s like when the Kings owner bought Gretzky, why settle for average, make a splash plus you are hurting Leafs.

    • Comment
      The rules for compensatory first-round draft picks require:

      1. The picks must be a team’s own, original draft picks.
      2. When having to give up multiple first round picks teams get an extra year, but they are the next draft picks available when the offer sheet is submitted so no picking and choosing.

      I don’t know if the no.1 the Sabres gave up for Montour was their own, but as I interpret those rules, an offer sheet to Marner would cost them their no. 1 pick for the next four drafts, no matter how many first rounders they have this year. If it so happens that, without those picks, the Sabres are unable to assemble a cap-compliant supporting cast for Marner that makes them a playoff team. the signing would be a catastrophic failure. Maybe, it would be wise to see if Botterill can draft better than the Sabres’ former GMs.

    • There is no way in heck that Marner signs for only 9 million, not a chance, he will sign for at least what Matthews signed for because Marner’s Daddy thinks he’s special, his Dad even talked in paper about him being captain. Plenty of other top guys to offer sheet, Sabres owner has no care about money so if they want a guy they will make the offer. Sign offer sheet to really hurt Leafs cap, make them pay an extra few million. This is a battle why play fair?

  2. Have to agree with George O on this one. I’d be shocked if Marner and his Dad turned down an extra US$3M/year on a contract offer from any other team. My guess is it would be a 5 year deal at least, which is US$15M+.

    • I just wonder where this $3M difference comes from? The only source I know of signing Marner for $9M is George, and unless he has sat down with more pros than Ron I’m not taking that as gospel.

      • The $3M/year was hypothetical if you read the comments. “Toronto will likely try and get him signed for around $9 mil and, if Buffalo offers him in excess of $12 Mil (more than McDavid), he’d turn down $3 mil per for the glory of playing in Toronto??”

        Notice the “Toronto will likely …” and “if Buffalo …”. I don’t view that as trolling myself, just stating what should be fact. Not many people would take $3M+ a year less to do the same job.

      • If you read further down he said that he had only made that comment in the way he did to get an angry response from those thin skinned Toronto fans, that is trolling, not that it matters. And it is a slow day and it is difficult to be a fan of a team like Ottawa that is a budget team that can’t spend anywhere near the cap.

      • No I did NOT say any such thing. What I said was an honest observation i.e., “Whenever we’re in slow days in these threads one sure way to always generate responses is ANY criticism aimed at the Leafs, especially if and when they are experiencing difficulty.”

        I didn’t say I did it deliberately to get that reaction – just that such comments always seems to draw that reaction from the thin-skinned who only want to hear WHAT they want to hear as opposed to “should hear.”

      • As for Ottawa not being able to spend anywhere near the cap – again, so what? Not every team in the NHL is in a city with a metro population in excess of 5 million and more money than Brinks. It is what it is. Maybe they should shave off all those franchises who don’t spend to the cap (you think Ottawa is the only one?). How many teams would be left?

        This is just another “we’re the biggest so therefore it follows that we must be the best” attitude.

        As for the $9 mil, as I’ve already pointed out, that’s just logic comparing the relative attractiveness of a C vis-a-vis a winger and that anything remotely close to what Matthews got (or in excess thereof) puts them in cap hell. You don’t think Dubas is going to go as low as he possibly can on Marner at the initial negotiations? It may and probably creep up if it gets as acrimonious as that of Nylander, but in that event good like trying to find 14 competitive players for what’s left over.

      • “good luck” not “good like”

  3. Re MM offer sheet from Buff….

    I’d be foolish (again LOL) to think that there will be no offer sheets on MM (if not signed by Jul 1st)… there will be

    It is in MM’s and his Agent’s best interest to let that play out. I’m not saying he’d sign one…. I’d think not at this point in time; but at least the Agent can waive offer sheets in GMKD’s face to drive up the price of the eventual contract with Leafs

    I agree, if he’s offered $12M …. he’d be nuts not to sign that if Leafs only offer $9 M….he’s not getting that offer though

    I expect if it does get to Jul 1st…. offer sheets (have to be for 7 years) will come loaded with signing bonuses (SBs) and be in the range of $77M – $84M ($11 M – $12M AAV)

    Why that high …. if another GM is in fact putting in an offer sheet; it won’t be for “Ships ‘n Giggles” …. it will be a serious offer with fair expectation of acceptance ….. he’s going to be in the $80M range (*see below) for 8 years as an offer from Leafs ; so offer sheets have to be higher AAV

    If a team can afford the $’s…. 4 first rounders are worth it (if you are getting Marner your team is hoping for late playoff pushes for those upcoming years so it’s 4 late rounders (speculative players coming to you in future drafts) vs a player in his prime now and for a contract for the balance of his prime ) already producing very very well

    *My rationale on $80 M range for Leaf offer:

    I don’t think there is anybody here that can argue against MM value lying between that of WW ($7M AAV) and AM ($11.6 M AAV)

    WW’s starts this year … so relative to cap; and taking into account Cap increase …. call that AAV ; had it started in ‘19-‘20…. $7.4M ( 6 year)

    On top of that; since I believe there will be offer sheets …. Leafs will need to (not want to but need to) offer 7 or 8 years to MM

    Since that is buying into UFA…. the comparable $7.4 M ( see above for WW) has to bump into the high $8’s if 8 year term

    My argument ….. MM is waaaay better at all aspects of the game than WW; but AM is a powerful proven goal scoring 1C…. so worth more than MM

    I believe MM’s AAV value is much closer to AM’s ($11.6 M) than comparable WW contract (7 or 8 years if started in 19/20 would equate to high $8’s)….. so for all of the above reasons …. an $80M (8 year) loaded with SBs has to be very close to the final settlement from Leafs …. and therefore offer sheets have to be better (higher than $10 M AAV) than that

    …. again just my point of view 😀

    • Ooooops

      “4 late rounders ” should read as “ 4 late FIRST rounders “


  4. Marner spent his entire childhood dreaming of being a Leaf.0% chance he signs an offer sheet, especially to go to a franchise that has never amounted to anything. Keep dreaming.

    • Never say never.

  5. If the Sabres offersheet Marner $12M, he signs and the Leafs don’t match he would be the highest paid player on the Sabres. $2M more than Eichel…. $3M more than Skinner (if he re-signs @$9M)… 3 players for $31M plus the $6 for Okposo… that would mean the same cap hell the Leafs have to deal now… But hey the Sabres have their own Nylander to trade for capspace 😀

    • Got to learn how to draft like Tampa bay. Three rookies playing significant minutes. Strong prospects in AHL. Point making $500k; ain’t going nowhere in July. Kucherov signed long term for +- 75% of McDavid salary. Kuch isn’t from Toronto though.

  6. If Marner signs a $12 million offer….I would sign Skinner at ( million) and take the 4 firsts…..

  7. at 9 million for Skinner & take the 4 firsts