NHL Rumor Mill – May 3, 2019

by | May 3, 2019 | Rumors | 72 comments

A roundup of recent Toronto Maple Leafs speculation in today’s NHL rumor mill. 

THE ATHLETIC: Jonas Siegel lists re-signing Mitch Marner to be the Toronto Maple Leafs top priority this summer. The 21-year-old right wing is a restricted free agent and due for a substantial raise. However, the Leafs have limited salary-cap space and that will affect how much the Leafs can pay him. It’s possible he could sign an offer sheet after July 1 if he hasn’t re-signed with the Leafs by then. 

Can the Maple Leafs convince Patrick Marleau to waive his no-movement clause this summer? (Photo via NHL Images)

Siegel also believes the Leafs must upgrade their blueline. He wondered if center Nazem Kadri becomes trade bait to land a defenseman or if general manager Kyle Dubas can re-sign unrestricted free agent Jake Gardiner. He also feels they should attempt to shed the burdensome contracts of Patrick Marleau and Nikita Zaitsev.  

James Mirtle considers Connor Brown and Nikita Zaitsev as the players most likely to be traded by the Toronto Maple Leafs this summer. He noted the Edmonton Oilers are among the teams interested in Brown, who carries an annual average value of $2.1 million. Zaitsev’s contract is awful ($4.5-million annually through 2023-24) but there are teams badly in need of a right-shot defenseman.

Regarding Mitch Marner’s upcoming contract negotiations, Mirtle acknowledges they could be difficult. He doesn’t rule out a trade or an offer sheet if a new contract isn’t hammered out by July 1. 

Mirtle also believes the Leafs have big decisions to make with left wing Patrick Marleau and center Nazem Kadri. Marleau’s no-movement clause, $6.25-million cap hit and declining production affects his trade value.

Kadri’s playoff suspension may have helped him stay with the Leafs, as they struggled without him in the lineup against the Boston Bruins in the opening round. Replacing him will be difficult. 

He also believes unrestricted free agents Jake Gardiner, Ron Hainsey, and Tyler Ennis will likely depart this summer. 

SPORTSNET: Luke Fox recently looked at several ways for the Leafs to free up salary-cap space this summer. One way is letting their UFAs walk. Another is trading a roster player signed through next season like William Nylander, Marleau, Kadri, Brown or Zaitsev.

They could bridge offer Andreas Johnsson and Kasperi Kapanen, or they could trade or allow one of them to be signed away via offer sheet. Another is attempting to package the rights of permanently sidelined winger Nathan Horton ($5.3 million AAV) with a draft pick or prospect to a team in need of reaching the salary-cap minimum.

TSN: Earlier this week, Darren Dreger reported Leafs defenseman Igor Ozhiganov could return to the KHL after one season in the NHL.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As noted here and elsewhere earlier this week, the Marner negotiations will determine what happens with the rest of the Leafs roster. As per Cap Friendly, the Leafs have over $74.2 million tied up in 17 players for 2019-20. Assuming Marner accepts a hometown discount (and there’s no indication he will), his new contract will push the Leafs over next season’s projected $83 million salary cap.

Dubas has to shed salary-cap space to accommodate Marner’s new contract and create room to re-sign Kapanen and Johnsson and re-sign or replace Gardiner and Hainsey. Bundling Horton’s rights with a draft pick or prospect is a possibility but there’s not a lot of budget teams in dire need of reaching the cap minimum.

Moving Marleau and Zaitsev are other obvious options but easier said than done. At this stage in his career, Marleau might not be keen to move his family again other than perhaps back to California. I’ve seen it suggested he would waive his clause to return to San Jose but I doubt he fits into the Sharks plans now. The lengthy of Zaitsev’s contract could be a deal breaker unless Dubas includes a helluva sweetener.

Despite his playoff suspensions, Kadri would be an attractive trade chip. If Dubas were to move him, however, I don’t think it’ll be as a salary dump. He’ll want something significant, like a top-four right-shot defenseman, in return.

We all know Dubas supposedly promised Nylander he wouldn’t trade him as long as he was the general manager. I feel he was sincere but he might have to face breaking that promise for the greater good. 

If Dubas can’t free up sufficient salary, he won’t be able to adequately replace Gardiner or re-sign Hainsey if he’s willing to accept a pay cut. He’ll also risk losing Kapanen or Johnsson to an offer sheet or being forced to trade one of them.

No wonder there’s some suggestion Marner could be traded or allowed to be signed away via offer sheet this summer. Dubas will do all he can to get Marner to stay and I believe they’ll get a deal done. But if they don’t, we can’t dismiss the possibility of Dubas looking to move him before July 1.

Dubas could re-sign Marner to a hometown discount, shed salary by shipping out Horton, Marleau, and Zaitsev, retain Kadri and Nylander, re-sign Kapanen and Johnsson, find suitable replacements for Hainsey and Gardiner and still manage to land a top-four right-shot rearguard. Given his cap constraints, however, I doubt he’ll be able to pull it off. 


  1. “Dubas could re-sign Marner to a hometown discount, shed salary by shipping out Horton, Marleau, and Zaitsev, retain Kadri and Nylander, re-sign Kapanen and Johnsson, find suitable replacements for Hainsey and Gardiner and still manage to land a top-four right-shot rearguard. Given his cap constraints, however, I doubt he’ll be able to pull it off. ”

    Yes I know I have the blue and white goggles on but I can see this happening and bringing up 2-3 young players from the Marlies.

    Though I do see one of kappy or Andreas being moved one way or another.

    • Sounds simple when seen written down in black and white, doesn’t it?

      • Why doesn’t TO just skip all that and kidnap the Cup itself? It would be much easier…

    • johnsson probably getting traded—he turned deal down–goes to arbitration—marleau is locked in ==waste of a spot—3 or 4 players coming up next year—kadri—-=1 more suspension he’s a big problem–should just trade and refresh suspension schedule with new player—nylander should go but unless we get top 2 d —he stays—brown should go to edmonton with mcdavid–they played together before

  2. ? 4 Anybody. Can The Salary Cap Be Exceeded By 10% Before July 01?

    • salary can be exceeded by 10% in the offseason but teams have to be compliant on opening day. In the Leafs case they need to be compliant on day 1, only after the season starts can Horton be placed on LTIR.
      There is a chance that Kapanen and/or johnsson remain unsigned by opening day but are signed once Horton has been placed on LTIR.

  3. Could be wrong but I don’t see Marner accepting a hometown discount at all. Doesn’t have to either and I can see him signing an offer sheet if push comes to shove

    • It won’t take any pushes or shoves. He will just have to sort through the 5 offers he gets and pick one.

      What’s the over/under on offers for Marner anyway?

      They could package Marleau and Nylander for little in return back, and it would be solved… But then Dumbass’s word would be worthless.

      • Dubas. Sorry, that was auto correct, but I do like where the computer was going…

      • I just assumed that was intentional….

      • I just heard from the computer- “Don’t blame Me!”

    • I wonder how much Ennis would cost because I can’t see Marner agreeing to any Leafs offer. He wants to be the highest paid winger (even more than Kuznetsov).

  4. No way Marner stays with the Leafs. $30 million + in 3 forwards about 40% of the total cap…..can’t see it especially when they need a top end D too. Sign & trade maybe…..or now for picks best I see Dubas doing.

    • With the money he’ll be getting a sign-and-trade is virtually a non-starter. I mean, why would any team interested in him, even at the cap hit he’ll be earning, wait until then and then have to give up assets which would almost assuredly include one or two 1st round picks and a key roster player in an exchange for someone they could get through an offer sheet – even if that meant 4 1st rounders?

      • Maybe because said team doesnt have 4 1st round picks left.

      • You’d have to work that out and then try and figure if said team a) had the cap space or b) is a destination that appeals to Marner … murkier and murkier … but it’s nice to have hope.

      • I agree, cause any team that signs him will likely be giving up late round picks…

    • If Marner is going elsewhere. Hopefully it wil be a sign and trade to Nashville for Subban+.

  5. Or maybe they want to beat out the offer sheet rush.

    • In that scenario the Leafs would have had to sign him first – and can you see Marner and his agent – if they truly want to be a part of the “home-town team” signing anything that allows him to be dealt? As I say, it’s nice to have hope.

  6. If Marleau can’t be traded either one of Johnsson or Kapanen will either be traded or be lost to an offer sheet. I suspect both will be asking, at the minimum, $4 + million per.
    Even if the Leafs sign Marner to a $10+ M per, something big will have to give, there is no way they can manage effectively with having close to $40 M tied up in 4 players. Nylander for starters will be the first casualty, & longer term either Matthews or Marner will have to be moved.
    Matthews could bring the biggest return; a good young centre, a top 3 D man, a solid prospect & one or so draft picks.

  7. So if Toronto had to choose between Marner an Matthews, which would you keep? I think the real solution is send Matthews to Arizona for picks, prospects, and a Dman.

    • Maybe in year 3 o 4 of the contract not now…..who do they have now that would be traded for Matthews….their captain will soon have a no-trade…..where is the possible value …Is there a credible trade you could propose?

      I think Nylander goes….it would not upset me too much if it is Marner in an equal value trade of more than one part….meaning the other team gets the best item in the trade….but the Leafs get equal value….

      Would be surprised if Marner is offer sheeted….not if Kapenen or Johnsson are…..I think they match Marner and/or Kapenen…..I would be looking for a way to get fair value for Johnsson regardless of current cap issues….

      • OBD, hòw do Leafs get equal value on Marner? Not happening.

      • Marner for Chabot? But like you say – not happening so why speculate?

  8. i think that the rest of the GM’s in the league are just waiting to fleece Toronto. They are in deep cap hell. The Maple Leafs may have the most money in hockey but their cap is the same as everyone else’s. Everyone saw this coming. Dubas was a fool for not trading Nylander for a D-man and picks when he had the chance.

    • Lou was the fool. He should have signed Matthews 2yrs ago, Marner last year, staggering the contracts.

      • Maybe Lou could read the writing on the wall and knew that Dubas – who’s a helluva lot younger – appealed more to Shanahan – would be taking over, so he set the wheels in motion for a future mess. Gotta love conspiracy theories!

      • In fairness to Lou, he did not know that Tavares would be available let alone sign in TO. At the time it was difficult to see that Marleau would be a cap issue, and the team needed a respected veteran. 1 year too many, but if he didn’t offer he didn’t get him.

  9. I’m not a Leafs fan but I LOVE Marner. Incredible player.

    However, he’s not worth four first-rounders, IMO.

    In fact, I’d say virtually no player is. Even if you got McDavid for four first rounders, that deprives you of much of your ability to surround the superstar with affordable, young, high-end talent for almost half a decade. In the cap era, that’s a killer.

    For that reason, I see sign & trade as more likely than an offer sheet (though I think Dubas finds a way to sign Marner, personally)

    • Not at all. those 4 picks are late in the round and with a guy like Marner or McJesus, it is a lot easier to attract free agent talent. Unless of course you have to live in Northern Alberta…

      • Four first rounders is a high price but not one that cant be worked around
        Years ago Glen Wesley garnered 3 first rounders (if memory serves)
        Giving up the first rounders puts a bit more pressure on finding a later gem

  10. It was a good thing The Leafs signed JT. Who knew they would be in cap hell a year later and still need a D-man. LOL

  11. Toronto has the potential to ice a team in October that won’t be as good as the one that just got eliminated.
    Realize the leaf’s went out in the first round but Nylander, Johnsson and Kapanen didn’t have a good series, with one goal each. Wil it effect their trade value? of the 3 probably affects Nylander most as this is back to back poor performance in the playoff and a terrible regular season, his value might not be as high as it was last off season.

    • Add to that the fact that Nylander’s salary is probably about double what the other two will be looking to sign for…

    • Caper, wild card might be better.

  12. When Tavares signed at the beginning of the season so many Leafs fans bet that TO would win the Cup they became the favourites via betting odds.

    Now thanks to Dubas’s botching of Nylander’s contract and the ripple effects it will produce the Leafs continue to be the epicenter of chaos. The more it changes in Toronto, the more it stays the same.

  13. I see Tampa finishing first again and Boston and Toronto 2-3 in any order. They will play first round again next year. Leafs have to figure out how to beat Boston in a 7 game series. Leafs can have all the skilled young forwards they want but if they do not improve their defense winning isn’t happening. I would move two forwards for two defensive D man who are big and strong like Manson. If I’m Boston on opening night I have a rookie line like Studnicka Bjork and Zachary which injects some speed into the lineup. If playoff format doesn’t change this rivalry could last for years pretty even teams.

    • The Leafs finished just 4 points ahead of Montreal and 14 in front of Florida – if they get appreciably weaker by failing to address their D and back-up goaltending, both those teams could move past them – especially if Florida signs Panarin and/or Bobrovsky.

      • Florida just got a Stanley Cup coach & this year that is a checkmate-

  14. Haven’t seen an offer sheet in 22 years…and you guys think Marner is going to get 5 this off-season? Doesn’t matter. Leafs WILL match, even if it means shipping out a guy or 2 to do it.Marner wants to be a Leaf. Dubas wants Marner to be a Leaf.Marner WILL be a Leaf next season.Any speculation that says otherwise is just wishful thinking.

    • You’ve likely just set yourself up for some egg face-washing.

    • Ryan O’Reilly (The Avs matched the Calgary offersheet), Dustin Penner (Oilers made it and I think Penner signed it and the Ducks let him walk), Shea Weber (Nash matched Phillys offersheet)….

    • Well if there was ever a time when a team was susceptible to an offer sheet it is TO. I still won’t believe it will, until it does.

    • Finally somebody who has some sense!

  15. Dubas could be breaking his ‘word’ moving Nylander and selling for pennies on the dollar to a GM that knows the cap hell the Leafs are about to be in.

    Unless somehow they figure out a way to pay Marner less for the first year of the contract(balance marleau…) and overpay him the 2nd….

    Unless Marleau develops a skin condition he is a Leaf next season

    • ds

      Ask Hossa to give Marleau a big bear hug; or let Marleau play with Hossa’s gloves

      • Pengy…………Seems like a lot of people are down on Rutherford.. (personally he has made more good moves than bad ones) Seems like Anti Neimi and jack Johnson were awful…Brassard was a terrific move but for whatever reason he hasn’t worked out and not working out in Colorado either. all gm’s make mistakes Rutherford at least goes for it…

        i like Mccann 22 Bjugstad 26 I like Pettersson and Grudbrasson (Ok bottom pair)

        Ken Holland long time GM Detroit seems like he is shifting positions now that Yzerman has returned home to Detroit…What about Ken Holland new Gm of the penguins…????

    • ds, cap hits are calculated based on the average value of the contract to avoid such maneuvering.

  16. For Leafs: Plan A:

    Work towards cup in next 2-5 years…, to do….

    No to Gardner
    Unless Hainsey at $2M or less … no

    Move Marleau (costs an asset or 2)

    Move Horton (costs assets)

    Move WW for top 4 D

    Move Zaitz

    Keep Kadri

    Above moves will upgrade D and leave about $27M to

    Sign MM
    Sign Kappy
    Sign Johnnsson

    Sign UFA top 4 D

    With enough left over to complete 23 Man Roster:

    6th and 7th D
    13th/14th Fwds

    Plan B (can’t move Marleau)…. delays cup window by a year at least

    Move WW FOR TOP 4D; Move Horton; sign MM and Kappy; DON’T re-sign Gardner or Hainsey; trade Johnson ; Trade Zaitz…. left with about $5.5M to sign 3 bottom D and 3 bottom Fwds… team weaker than this year… pray to make ‘20 playoffs

    Big moves in summer of ‘20 when Marleau gone and Cap up … need at least one top 4 UFA D

    Plan C …. Golf ☹️

    Above craziness due mostly to two things ….

    1) Marleau’s 3rd year in the contract …. should have given him the $17.5 M for 2 years, no 3rd year at just $1M (585K take home) but $6.25 M Cap

    2) Nutty capitulation by GMKD on signing the WW contract…. ouch!

    • I don’t know if the return for Nylander would be as good as hoped or expected. Bad season (may be because of missing training camp), bad play-offs and most important reason imo is that Dubas maneuvered the Leafs in cap hell (and everybody knows it). But trading him is still their best option.
      Paying the signing bonus on July 1st and get the best possible return (picks, prospects or a d-man).

      A big mistake was signing Matthews to $11.634.000 five year deal. Why 5 years? Not much term, but a lot of money.
      May be it is time to find out what the return for him would be….
      The Leafs have a first line center (Tavares) and a good second line center at a low cap hit (Kadri) who scored 30 goals two times in row in that role.
      I’d rather have Marner + plus the return for Matthews than lose Marner… Start bashing 🙂

      • Hi Juss76

        After paying WW his signing bonus ; receiving team only pays $700 K next year and averages <$5 per year over 5

        $700 K is just marginally over League min ($650K) ….

        And WW has potential …. being in the glass bowl here in T.O. …. receiving team has very good shot of f getting him to produce at his potential …. all for $700 K ; and that team has the ability to move him if things don’t work out …. for those reasons … I truly believe he can garner a top 4 D in trade (Note : to be top 4D on Leafs …. needs only to be better than Zaitsev !)

        There will be teams willing to move a young top 4D for him

        Re: AM contract …. after Dubas capitulated on the WW contract; the negotiating power shifted in favour of the Mathew’s camp … Dubas should have made WW sit…. he didn’t …. so now Mathew’s can walk as UFA in July 1st, 24 in his prime (he’ll only be 26)

        Marleau contract is on Lou…. bad bad bad Lou!!!

        Trading the Marleau contract is not hard …. it’s getting him to waive …. that’s the issue

        Receiving team at Max (if he doesn’t retire) $1M

        Receiving team (that must have Cap space) basically buying assets that Leafs give up from trade ; for $0 (retires) to $1M (plays all 82 games …. not likely)

        Receiving team could in fact trade him at deadline and retain 50% and receiving team (likely SJ so he can retire there) only pays about $175 K AND proportional Cap hit at TDL (maybe $1M)

        I know George hates the idea …. but if Marleau waves …. golden opportunity to get assets for basically free (Marleau then more than likely to retire)


    • Pengy, there’s always that other ray of hope for Dubas and the Leafs … and that’s IF the NHL abandons the cap and throws things wide or, failing that, increase it to $125 million … of course, if your uncle had different equipment … 🙂

      • At the rate the Cap is “expected to go up” once the new TV contract is awarded … it won’t be that far down the road when Cap is $125M

        Regardless of Cap in future …. “Dey is in one hell if a pickle “ now


  17. Above I was asked how do you get fair value on Marner. I am not sure you do. But I subscribe to Burke’s theory that you should have a balance of your Cap money distributed following a formula that will let you win.

    Not only will the Leafs have 37 to 39 million dollars invested in 4 players ( Matthews, Tavarres, Marner, Nylander) they are all forwards. And none them is a play off style hitter.

    So the question is can you win with this structure. And if you can’t win why does it matter if you get full value for Marner or not…..you are not going to win anyway.

    And my preferred route is not trading Marner but both Nylander and Johnsson. However, I think what has made Nylander safe, is not Dubas’s promise if it was made, but that you have to hope he has a bounce back year and then trade him.

    Fair value for Marner….not sure …some ideas…

    Doughty at 8 million and LA first draft choice

    Hampus Lindholm and a good ANA forward and a 1 st

    Monahan, a first and Hannafin

    I don’t know some of the other teams ( friends tell me I don’t know the Leafs either or hockey at all)….There is an invite for some reactions.

    Just don’t think you win with 3 forwards at roughly 11 million and of the Leaf three biggies , I would trade Marner first.

    • I’d give you Ghost and Gudas for Marner

    • Bluedog,

      See my trade proposal down a few posts.
      It does not include Marner but a realistic proposal unlike your wild proposals.

      Only a fool would trade a top line center a #3 defenseman and a 1st round pick for a small but talented winger

  18. Leafs should trade Mathews to New Jersey for first over all and Damon Severson. They can draft Hugh’s sign Marner and in a couple years when all these young guns mature and with Tavares still producing compete for Lord Stanley.

    • Except Shero is not in idiot.

      • Not sure George ,Hugh’s is pretty slight I don’t see him as good ever as Mathews. Nico weighs a buck seventy five and Hugh’s not that much they need a bigger center. New Jersey would need to add and Leafs need a D man

      • George you would not trade Hughes and Severson for Mathews give your head a shake , haters hate and you certainly showed with that comment your lack of knowledge.

      • Well, if that’s such a fantastic deal for NJ and you’re all such devoted Leafs fans, why in Hell would Dubas go down that road? And if it’s related to “cap relief” why in Hell would Shero put himself in that same pickle? When you work out a “knowledgeable” response, get back to me. And please don’t come back with the hoary old “good deal for both teams” crapola.

        And while you’re at it, explain to me why being critical of the Leafs is being a “hater” when the Leafs are part of the daily subject. Are only devoted Leafs fans allowed to take part in your warped little world? And before you throw the Senators back at me, no one has been more critical of some of their moves – or non-moves – over the past two years.

  19. I have a win win for the Flames and Leafs
    Monahan and Rasmus Anderson for Matthews

    Monahan is a top line center making 6.35 million for 4 more years. Anderson is projecting to be a top 2 defenseman and still has a year left on his entry level deal.

    This would be predicated upon the Flames making a trade with the Devils trading Gaudreau and Neal for Hall.

    NJ has to take Neal in the deal for cap reasons.
    The flames would still have to shed some Salary but could ice a first line of;

    The leafs solve their cap issue and still have a top line centerman on the second line plus they get a top pair defenseman on his entry level deal.

    Pretty wild but it could happen

    • Dubas would never go down that road GEORGE ! Neither Mathews Marner Tavares Nylander will be traded. Sorry folks he will continue to build the team . P.S. Rookie GMs if JT was a free agent you all would have run and offered him a contract . Signing him was like free money. Stay tuned and watch how Leaf Nation will rule the NHL .

      • Still looking out my window for flying pigs … nope. But continue with your wishful-thinking … it’s amusing.

  20. Interesting mess Dubas finds himself in: Johnsson has turned down 2 Offers 2 Date; Trade him and let some other team deal with him. Nylander: Trade him:
    Talented But Not Worth The Wank:

    Kadri: Anger Mgt might do some good. Marleau: Past his prime:Ducks or The Golden Knights might work out but can’t see Sharks or Kings in the mix.
    Brings Me To Matthews Over Marner. Consensus says Keep The Centre And Dump The Winger But Marner Is One Exceptional Winger: Matthews has injury history while Marner is on the rise. Dump the coach instead?

  21. Well NYR should call TML and offer the following

    to TML: Shattenkirk & Vesey
    to NYR: Marleau & Kapanen

    TML gets to swap cap space for a positional need if they do not want to spend extra for resigning Gardiner & Hainsey. He can slot right side up and down the pairings….maybe even find his form again next to Reilly.

    NYR gets a solid mentor for guys like Chytil, Howden, Kakko, Strome, Buch, Kravtsov, Lemieux, etc…

    He can play 2nd line LW with Chytil as center or 3rd line LW with Howden as his center. Lots he can teach this young bunch.

    NY is a fun place to be….and the pressure will be off him.

  22. Dubas will move Horton’s cap hit, sign Marner for 10.5 then start with a line up as follows:



    Sparks(for now)

    Zaitsev, Brown and Johnsson are the players to be moved. Could see a couple going for Larsson, Pesce or Hamilton but don’t rule out re-signing Gardner and using the leftovers for prospects or picks. This creates a cost effective lineup with room to trade Nylander later if need be. It is a more traditional top six/bottom six line up.

  23. @Tugboat: Marchment?How did TML acquire him and at what cost; I mean as per your trade analysis ?

    • Mason Marchment? Bit of a Long shot brother