NHL Rumor Mill – April 18, 2019

by | Apr 18, 2019 | Rumors | 55 comments

More fallout from the Penguins’ first-round elimination and the latest Nazem Kadri speculation in today’s NHL rumor mill. 


THE ATHLETIC: Rob Rossi wonders if Phil Kessel’s played his final game for the Pittsburgh Penguins. He cites multiple sources claiming the Penguins explored trading the right winger last summer, indicating Kessel was “agreeable” to playing for the Arizona Coyotes. He has a good relationship with Coyotes coach Rick Tocchet, who was an assistant coach with the Penguins during their championships in 2016 and 2017. 

Rossi also cited a Penguins source claiming Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin are the club’s only untouchables and it’s very unlikely they’ll part ways with winger Jake Guentzel and goaltender Matt Murray. 

Should the Pittsburgh Penguins consider trading Kris Letang this summer? (Photo via NHL Images)

PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE: Joe Starkey believes significant changes could be coming for the Penguins this summer. He believes they must find a way to move plodding defenseman Jack Johnson, who’s got four years remaining on his contract. Starkey also suggests they consider moving veterans like Kessel, defenseman Kris Letang and forward Patric Hornqvist. He points out the Penguins won a Cup without Letang when he was sidelined for the entire 2017 playoffs. 

Jason Mackey considers Kessel, defenseman Olli Maatta, center Matt Cullen, and left wing Garrett Wilson as the most likely to be on the move this summer. Hornqvist, Nick Bjugstad, and Erik Gudbranson fall into the “potentially on the move” category. Letang’s playoff performance raises questions but his injury history makes a trade difficult. He doubts the Penguins can find a taker for Johnson. 

TRIBLIVE.COM: Kevin Gorman considers Letang part of the Penguins untouchables with Crosby and Malkin and doesn’t believe the veteran blueliner should be made the scapegoat for the club’s early playoff exit. He suggests Justin Schultz could be a prime trade candidate because he has only a year remaining on his contract, though he acknowledged Maatta, Johnson or Gudbranson could be shopped in a cost-cutting deal.

While Kessel’s production makes him a valuable trade commodity, Gorman also believes his offense helps the Penguins. He doesn’t think Kessel should be dealt just for the sake of doing so. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: With over $79 million invested in 18 players for 2019-20, the Penguins have little choice but to shed salary this summer if they intend on getting younger and faster for next season. If Kessel is willing to accept a trade to the Coyotes, who have depth in promising and affordable young talent, they should seriously consider it. They’ll miss his offense in the short term but it’ll be worth it if he fetches a return that helps the Penguins now and in the future. 

Letang’s injury history, age (31) and his annual average value ($7.25 million through 2021-22) could be a tough sell. Those factors also apply to Hornqvist, who’s carrying a $5.3 million annual cap hit through 2022-23. Johnson carries an affordable cap hit ($3.25 million) but I doubt the Penguins can find any takers for him at this stage in his career.

If it appears Schultz could be too expensive to re-sign, perhaps he’ll be shopped this summer. He has a 10-team no-trade list. Maatta appears a more likely trade candidate as it seems head coach Mike Sullivan lacks confidence in him.

Cullen is 42 and will likely retire. Having acquired Bjugstad in February, I don’t think GM Jim Rutherford intends to move him. Gudbranson’s physical play could ensure he gets another season in Pittsburgh. 


THE ATHLETIC: Pierre LeBrun recently reported questions about Nazem Kadri’s future with the Toronto Maple Leafs were being asked before his series-long suspension for cross-checking Bruins winger Jake DeBrusk. With the Leafs facing a salary-cap crunch this summer and with Mitch Marner to receive a significant raise, LeBrun said the possibility of moving Kadri as a cost-cutting measure was a possibility before his recent act of recklessness.

Kadri’s second playoff suspension in as many years could force Leafs management to ask themselves if they can trust having him in the lineup beyond this season. He has three years remaining on his contract with an affordable $4.5-million cap hit and a 10-team no-trade list.

LeBrun believes there would be a market for a two-way center like Kadri with a cap-friendly contract. While his suspension history might scare off some GMs, others could consider the edge he brings to his game to be a valuable component. 

THE HOCKEY NEWS: If the Leafs can win their current series with the Bruins without Kadri in the lineup, Matt Larkin suggests they consider trading him this summer for a defenseman. He notes the Leafs still need a “right-shot, two-way, top-four presence”, suggesting they’d have to send salary out to bring in a “Brett Pesce-type” blueliner. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Leafs have over $75 million invested in 19 players for 2019-20. Forwards Marner, Kasperi Kapanen, and Andreas Johnsson are restricted free agents while defensemen Jake Gardiner and Ron Hainsey are unrestricted free agents.

Assuming the salary cap reaches $83 million as projected and all-but-retired winger Nathan Horton ($5.3 million) is placed on long-term injury reserve at the start of next season, the Leafs will only have around $13 million to re-sign those forwards and re-sign or replace those blueliners. The cost of re-signing Marner alone could exceed $10 million. 

The Leafs have no choice but to shed salary. Kadri’s latest antics could grease the skids for his departure this summer, especially if the Leafs play well without him. 


  1. Kadri, Nylander and Kappy can pack their bags.

    • Not sure about Kadri- he’s the only one who can bring sand paper and it’s needed. Nylander does not impress me. Between the holdout and the high pay he does not deliver- he’s completely on the periphery, afraid to get in the dirty areas; his shot was awful last night

    • Leafs fans have short fuses. I sincerely doubt anyone – even the most diehard among LeafsNation – thought they were going to knock Boston out in 4 or 5 games.

      I take it you believe Kadri, Nylander and Kapanen are detriments to the team and so need to go. OK, fair enough, but if you’re right it’s reasonable to think you have to also believe that other teams see the same faults, so what do you realistically expect to get back for them who can step into the line-up and fill those roles next year?

      • George, not all Leafs fans do, I explained a couple of days ago that Kadri isn’t the sort of player you trade, definitely not one you just give away.
        Nylander has been a disappointment, I’ve been on the trade him bandwagon since last summer and this series (with the exception of game 3) hasn’t given me pause for thought.
        Not sure why we are trading Kapanen unless he has contract demands that are unrealistic. Can slide up and down the line up, kills penalties and plays on the PP.
        My wish list for Leafs to trade is headed by Nylander followed by the pipedream of dumping Marleau. Nothing but respect for Marleau but his one year of service carries too high an opportunity cost.
        Lots of calls to trade Zaitsev but they aren’t any replacements as yet, specially with losing Hainsey and Gardiner in the next couple of months.

      • @George O: Nylander may get traded after July 01 after that bonus pays out but the thing I wonder is whether or not Babcock has a future with the Buds IF the Leafs lose again in the first round.
        It seems Dubas and Babs have two different viewpoints about things and how things should be at any one given time. I don’t know..what do you think?

      • George:There are so many Leaf fans…almost all of whom ( including me) who wear their hearts of their sleeves waiting for Godot….

        So yes some fans thought they would knock the Bruins out in 5 ( not me )…I was relieved when the won the second game as the final series result would at least be respectful, no matter what happened next.

        As to who should go and who should stay…my opinion is some forward of value needs to go to bring some defense man of equal value. I have never thought they could win as currently constructed. They are getting better, but to turn MLK ‘s phrase…..they cannot yet even see the promised land…..never mind actually getting there…

        My guess on who goes out ..based solely on the construction of the contract with a nearly 7 million dollar bonus paid this July….which the next team will not have to pay is William Nylander…which team….I still think the Huricanes ….which D man….I am not sure

      • Taz, Joey and OldBlueDog – my original question to Gary McCollom was solely to elicit some sort of rationale for getting rid of Nylander, Kadri and Kapanen. In no way do I think any of them are so detrimental to the Leafs right now that they have one foot out the door as he seems to suggest. I was just curious, if he strongly feels that he’s right in those cases, what he would expect to get back in order to fill the voids left by each.

        Right now I’d take any one or all three in Ottawa but I know that’s a pipe-dream.

      • And joey, re your question on Babcock … that’s a hard one to try and form an opinion. Yeah, if they go out in round 1 again there will be cries for Babcock’s head. But he has to play the hand he’s dealt by his GM and if a lot of fans see their overall defensive game as the root cause of their back-to-back round 1 eliminations, it was Dubas who assembled the D corps – not Babcock, and he could – rightfully – think it’s unreasonable to expect him to make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear. May it’s Dubas who would need to go to appease some of the fan base if they lose out again.

        Having said that, I’m not so sure that they won’t win this time out. Yeah, it’s now a best of three with Boston having home ice – but they’ve already won their once so it’s not impossible. BUT, that one win in Boston has to come tomorrow night with a supreme all-round effort because, if it goes 7 again, that becomes a tall order to win THAT one in Boston.

        I’m gonna go out on a limb here and say Toronto wins tomorrow and then ends it in 6 back in Toronto. Just a gut feeling from watching the series so far.

      • ” … already won their first game there …”

      • To be fair George not so.much detriments just too many of the same type of player…if I could bring a Boone Jenner and Josh Anderson type to our top 2 lines I’b very happy.

        In any event this ream does not have the right mix of players yet for 4 rounds of playoffs.

    • I totally agree those 3 are goners

      • Despite his MIA in the playoffs again, Kadri is a legit NHL centre on a reasonable contract and Toronto has little depth at the position. I think he stays and a winger – not Nylander because he can play centre – will be moved for a defence man in the off season (which hopefully isn’t any time soon).

  2. I love watching Babcock when he meets the press well I thought we had good energy couple of turnovers played the right way. What he is saying is I had the boys ready they messed up not me.

    • When was the last time Babcock won anything Non Olympic?

      • Ron, the Stanley Cup in 2008.
        You can Google it.

      • Thanks Ray, too lazy to do it myself, lol.

      • Randy Carlyle won a cup the year before. Where’s he now?

      • I guess the obvious fact George is that one is Randy Carlyle and the other guy is Mike Babcock….google those two names then ask yourself what’s the point to your comment other than sounding stupid?

      • Got your miserable cap on today Ronnie? Jaysus you are dense.

  3. I don’t think there is any team that wouldn’t take Kadri. I for one would love to have him in a Bruins Jersey. With 3yrs remaining at $4.5m per season he is great value. If i’m Toronto him not trading him, were do you find that value?
    I know he isn’t being traded inside the Division so maybe a team like Edmonton for Larsson if they’re going to move him.

    • Interesting thought about Edmonton Caper. That would allow them to move RNH for a more offensive RD man.
      I think it is a downgrade from RNH, but they desperately need a right shot offensive PP guy on the blue line.
      Larsson for Kadri & RNH for Barrie?
      Assuming you can resign Barrie at a number that isn’t ridiculous.

    • Kadri could replace Kesler…. Philly would love him…..

      • Philly would not, I repeat would not love or like or tolerate a P.O.S. like Nazem Kadri.

        No thanks, pass.

      • Personal bias much Ron?
        I can guarantee if a 2nd line caliber like Kadri hits the market at 4.5M there would be a long list of suitors

      • Ummm…. kadri is the poster child for philly hockey. I mean this is a town that loves one of the biggest turds in hockey history… Bobby Clarke

      • Some cold war era Bobby from the Soviet Union for those that are too young to have been around for it.
        The most dramatic hockey series in history.
        Broke the ankle of CCCP’s best player, Kharlamov.
        Looks a little like on purpose.


      • LOL. Are we ever in agreement on that one Chrisms! Booby Clarke is the picture you see in an illustrated dictionary when you look up turd.

      • Bobby Clarke? 2 time Stanley Cup champion? 3 time MVP? Team Canada 72 and 76? Selke winning Hall of Famer? Captain of the only team to beat the Russians in the 76 Super Series? That Robert Earle Clarke?

        Yah, hes exactly the same kind of pos as Nazem Kadri.

      • Good examples of how a pos like Clarke who reveled in cheap shots like Only kadri can is celebrated by the Philadelphia fans. So by that logic all kadri has to do is be better at hockey than others and his head hunting is a ok?

      • Clarkie did what needed to be done. It’s how the game was played back then.

        You canadiens are all pissed cause your PM is a PSY… that, and the Salvation Army could kick your asses…

        Some hot chocolate girls?

      • Wow, Danny another tough internet guy talkin’ sh**.
        After Mommy makes you dinner, put on your hat, boots, over sized belt buckle, six shooter and head down town and pretend to be a cowboy.
        My guess is you have laced them up or got into it on the ice, let alone rode a horse or tended to cattle.
        Guys who talk like you have no clue.

      • I should say never laced them up.
        What really pisses me off is that I know you are trolling us and I still respond.

      • Big hat no cattle.

      • Booby Clarke on Roger Neilson “The Neilson situation – Roger got cancer – that wasn’t out fault,” we didn’t tell him to go get cancer. It’s too bad that he did. We feel sorry for him, but then he went goofy on us.”


        Booby Clarke, the brilliant GM – “the Philadelphia Flyers are pleased to select … err (turning to his entourage on the stage) what’s his name again” – in reference to Claude Giroux.

    • Trading Kadri would be stupid. At a cap hit of $4,500,000 he is a bargain! His numbers were down a bit this season, but he’s a two time 30 goal scorer with some grit.
      They have to trade Nylander! There are enough similar players like him on the roster. Pay him his signing bonus on July 1st and trade him for a d-man.
      Bridge Kapanen and Johnsson.

      • The Leafs are not getting a top four defenceman for Nylander unless he’s expensive and older-and they can’t afford expensive. Marner is getting Matthews money and term. Dubas has misplayed the very good hand he was dealt. I’m not sure Leaf fans should trust him to make the type of trades that are now necessary.

      • Strider, yes they will get a top 4 defender for Nylander.
        When you say top 4 D man you are including the best 124 D men in the NHL. Pretty sure they could find a trade partner from that list.

      • Yeah. Nylander would bring a “top 4”. That’s without a scientific doubt.

      • I’d give them Cody Ceci for him!

  4. With the Flames in the position they are in, and Gaudreau with another playoff disappearing act, could there be a deal between Calgary and Pittsburgh?
    Kessel plus what for Gaudreau?
    One would think that Crosby could get the best out of Gaudreau, and help him show what needs to be done to be successful in the playoffs.

    • The Penguins have a Gaudreau, his name is Jake Guentzel, they don’t need another one.

      The Penguins do need to unload at least one contract at about 4 million or more. They do have some guys on elcs that they can sprinkle into the lineup next year. Maatta is an obvious choice because he doesn’t quite suit the system they play. Letang, Shultz, and Goody down the right side is fine. Dumo, Petterson are fine as well. Johnson has to go but Boone wants him and Rutherford is too arrogant to admit how wrong he was about him, even though he did admit Hunwick was a disaster the year before. I’m ok with dumping Hornqvist, he’s as one dimensional as they come. Forwards im keeping are the obvious Crosby, Malkin, Guentzel, JMac, Bjugstad, ZAR, Rust, Kessel, Blueger, Simon. And I would give Bellerive, Angello, Pavlechev, Hallander, Bjorkqvist, and Addison every chance to grab a roster spot out of training camp because of cap restrictions.

      • No one not Boone, what a bizarre autocorrection.

      • Dee..spot on i agree with who your keeping…maybe move simon as part of a package to land a top 4 dman say cam Fowler .. kessel simon for Fowler

  5. So….trade Kadri, one of their only players with a little edge to their game and replace him with who? Trading your bargain deal players doesn’t help your salary cap situation. Nylander needs to go but after the season he’s been having his value would be next to nothing

    • I’m not so sure. Yeah, he’s having a rough time since rejoining the team – but league history is full of guys who had off-seasons after missing all of training camp and a good chunk of the early months. It seems they play the whole year trying to catch up.

      I’d take him in Ottawa in a heartbeat if all it cost them was a 2nd round pick and a prospect (to meet your “next to nothing” value.

  6. @Lyle or anybody who knows this:
    Could the Pens loan JJ to a european club????
    If not the Pens have to trade or buy out Jack Johnson this summer.
    And if Sullivan has lost confidence in Maata and not in JJ, they should fire him. I don’t think they would have beaten the Isles with JJ in the press box, but they looked much better with him sitting in game 1.
    If Kessel fetches a good return they should trade him. Malkin had very disappointing play-offs. Did he play hurt? May be they should even consider trading him….. (start bashing 😀 …)
    Hornqvist is untradeable (salary, age, injury history, ntc).
    They have to keep Schultz! They can still trade him at the deadline if they’re not contending for the play-offs.
    It’s time for Cullen to retire. Imo he should have done it last summer. acquired
    I would keep McCann, Bjugstad and Gudbranson (he played surprisingly solid and is a physical presence the Pens lack).

    • Even after Jj rough start gmjr stared he was happy with him. Look at realistic changes first.

      • Wasn’t that last year when GMJR said he was happy with JJ? I hope that changed. Best option is to buy him out.

      • No. He defended Jj halfway thru the season when he was playing his worst. Of course after that he had a decent second half. Then an atrocious post season… but so did almost the whole team

    • Absolute easiest option for JJ is to buy him out

      Mario can certainly afford the dough … the investment in the buyout will have a massive return

      If bought out… his cap hit next year is only $270 K..,, that’s nothing… fantastic!!!!

      The following 2 years… $1.27M … when Cap >$90M…. ok!!

      4th year is peak at $2M (Cap prob near $100 M then); then only $1M thereafter

      No one is taking him even at 50 %…., BUY HIM OUT

      Kessel now on decline …. yep should be moved

      • Pengy, Chrism did not like the idea, but how about

        To MTL: Kessel

        To Pitts: McCarron plus 1st rd pick

        Pitts get a good 1st rd pic and a former 1st rd pick who is young and VERY cost effective.

        MTL gets added scoring depth incase Drouin does not rebound next year.

    • JUSS76..wow i agree 100% with your penguins off season analysis.. kessel trade if there is a good return… i would move Matta and johnson. I would quickly sign center Tyler Ennis 29 slick fast playmaker of Toronto…he is carl hagelin 2.0 but a way bett er scorer..12 goals in 46 games playing4th li e in Toronto..only makes $650,000…probably get him $1.5 per crosby malkin McCann Ennis your 4 centers..bjugstad is a win..ger with that shot

  7. @ George O: Oh I agree that Babs can only play what’s been given to him by Dubas and Dubas does have to realize that the AHL is not the NHL,
    If the Leafs win the series, then its the first step in the right direction; flawed D-Core and all. But if they don’t, while some responsibility will be on Dubas and the players, some of it has to fall on Babcock and his ways. Just saying

  8. Kadri, Nylander, Zaitsev, top prospect and 1st rd pick to LA for Carter & Doughty?

    what else does TML have to add?

    LA just got younger

  9. Trouba thinks he’s worth 8 million but in playoffs once again a no show, 1 assist in 5 games.