NHL Rumor Mill – June 1, 2019
Leafs and Kings reportedly discussed a possible Patrick Marleau trade. The Jets have spoken to several clubs about moving Jacob Trouba. Details and more in today’s NHL rumor mill.
LATEST ON THE LEAFS
TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports the Toronto Maple Leafs and Los Angeles Kings have held discussions about a possible trade involving Leafs winger Patrick Marleau. He has a year remaining on his contract with a salary-cap hit of $6.25 million. He also has a no-movement clause but could waive it to join the Kings. However, the Leafs will have to take back a contract with term to help ease the Kings’ salary-cap concerns. While a deal isn’t close, LeBrun said discussions could continue.
LeBrun’s colleague Bob McKenzie said Leafs forwards Kasperi Kapanen, Nazem Kadri, and Connor Brown are also generating interest. He also indicated John Tavares, Auston Matthews, Morgan Rielly and Mitch Marner (provided he re-signs) are the Leafs’ untouchables. William Nylander and Frederik Andersen fall under the “highly not likely to be traded” category. “Anything and everything outside of (the) untouchables will be considered,” McKenzie said.
TORONTO STAR: Damien Cox acknowledges moving Leafs defenseman Nikita Zaitsev won’t be easy. The blueliner recently requested a trade but his style of play and contract (five years remaining at $4.5 million per season) could make him a tough sell. However, there are clubs also facing complex issues this off-season (Columbus, Winnipeg, San Jose) that some could become viable trading partners.
Cox notes the Oilers need blueline help, the Senators need skilled bodies, while the Rangers could get ambitious this summer. He also wondered if Zaitsev could be packaged with Marleau to clear the latter’s salary from the Leafs’ books. Cox also points out Zaitsev’s departure will leave the Leafs in need of depth on defense.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: With just over $8.7 million in cap space (assuming an $83-million cap for next season) and Marner to re-sign, the Leafs must shed salary without gutting too much depth. Moving Marleau and Zaitsev would free up nearly $11 million, along with the additional $5.3 million for putting permanently-sidelined Nathan Horton on long-term injury reserve.
Some observers wonder why the rebuilding Kings would want the 39-year-old Marleau when they should be getting younger. However, there could be a method to this madness. Remember, the Kings agreed to part with Jake Muzzin in January because the Leafs gave up Carl Grundstrom and a first-round pick. Grundstrom, 21, showed some promise with the Kings, netting five goals and six points in 15 games. They could seek another of the Leafs’ promising youngsters as part of a deal for Marleau.
There could be a market for Zaitsev but the length of his contract could be a deal breaker. As with Marleau, perhaps the Leafs will have to include a sweetener to make the deal palatable.
Assuming they can pull this off, the Leafs will have enough room to re-sign Marner to a whopping big raise. They could also have enough to get fellow RFAs Kapanen and Andreas Johnsson re-signed to affordable bridge deals. However, they must shed more salary to find replacements for Zaitsev and the recently-departed Igor Ozhiganov and to re-sign or replace Jake Gardiner and Ron Hainsey.
JETS SHOPPING TROUBA?
THE SCORE: Josh Wegman cites TSN’s Frank Seravalli reporting the Winnipeg Jets have held trade talks with several teams regarding Jacob Trouba. The 25-year-old defenseman is a restricted free agent with arbitration rights who’s a year away from unrestricted free agent status. Seravalli’s colleague Darren Dreger claims there’s significant interest in Trouba, who’s coming off a career-high 50-point campaign.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: This isn’t surprising. Trouba and the Jets (hey, sounds like a song title!) have a contentious contract negotiation history. With the Jets having to re-sign wingers Patrick Laine and Kyle Connor, they probably can’t afford to sign Trouba to an expensive long-term deal.
Trouba should fetch a solid return. He’s been linked to the Buffalo Sabres, Detroit Red Wings, Florida Panthers, and New York Rangers. I won’t be shocked if he is traded during the NHL Draft weekend later this month.