NHL Rumor Mill – June 10, 2019

by | Jun 10, 2019 | Rumors | 65 comments

Updates on the Maple Leafs, Hurricanes, and Blackhawks in today’s NHL rumor mill. 


TORONTO SUN: Steve Simmons points out how much Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas has on his plate. He’s trying to re-sign restricted free agent winger Mitch Marner before the end of the month. He must also try to free up sufficient salary-cap room to re-sign Andreas Johnsson and possibly Kasperi Kapanen.

Dubas has to come up with enough money to upgrade the defense or re-sign Jake Gardiner. Simmons said the pending unrestricted free agent defenseman would prefer staying in Toronto. 

Are the Toronto Maple Leafs shopping Connor Brown? (Photo via NHL Images)

Simmons reports a “bevy of sources” claim the Leafs have been active “talking trade” with other teams about “Kapanen, Patrick Marleau and possibly Connor Brown.” Simmons has heard conflicting reports on Brown. Some sources say the Leafs would like to trade the 25-year-old winger while some claim otherwise. He also wonders where William Nylander fits into all this. 

Regarding Marleau putting his house up for sale, Simmons said that decision was made months ago. He said Marleau was selling whether he stayed in Toronto next season or not. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Simmons is correct when he calls this summer the biggest test of Dubas’ young career as an NHL GM. As per Cap Friendly, the Leafs have over $74 million tied up in 17 players. Marner is due for a big raise and could seek over $10 million annually. Johnsson and Kapanen could get affordable short-term bridge deals but each could ask for around $4 million annually. Gardiner could seek $6 million annually. Dubas must shed salary to free up room to address these issues.

Haven’t heard much about Brown in the Leafs recent rumor chatter. He has a year remaining on his contract with a $2.1 million cap hit. He’s due to become a restricted free agent with arbitration rights next July. 

Surprised Simmons didn’t mention anything about Nikita Zaitsev. The blueliner recently requested a trade and Dubas said he’ll try to accommodate him. He’s been linked to the Vancouver Canucks though that might not advance beyond the tire-kicking stage. Zaitsev carries an annual average value of $4.5 million through 2023-24. The length of his contract, not the cap hit, could be a sticking point.

Some Leafs fans believe Dubas should trade Nylander ($6.96-million AAV). He told Nylander last December that as long as he was around the winger wasn’t going anywhere. It wouldn’t be the first time a GM had to break a promise to a player. Will Dubas go that far? We’ll find out soon enough. 


THE ATHLETIC: Pierre LeBrun reported the Carolina Hurricanes have reached out to Justin Faulk’s camp to see if he’s willing to sign a contract extension this summer. The 27-year-old defenseman is a year away from UFA eligibility. LeBrun speculates Faulk could have some interest. Depending on the offseason market, LeBrun feels the Hurricanes could keep their top right-shot blueliners (Faulk, Dougie Hamilton, and Brett Pesce). 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: For over two years, the Hurricanes were expected to move a defenseman for a forward. Faulk, Hamilton, and Pesce frequently surfaced in this season’s rumor mill. Given the Canes’ improvement this season, they might not tinker with their blueline. Perhaps they’ll use their cap room (over $28 million) to bring in someone via free agency. They could also target a cap-strapped club with depth in scoring forwards looking to shed salary. 


THE ATHLETIC: Scott Powers reports the Chicago Blackhawks recently expressed interest in Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Ryan Murray. It doesn’t appear a deal will get done but Powers doesn’t rule out the possibility that changes in the coming weeks.

Murray, 26, is a restricted free agent with arbitration rights who’s a year away from UFA eligibility. Injuries are an issue. An upper-body injury limited him to 56 games this season and sidelined him from the postseason. Powers believes the asking price could be draft picks. 


  1. Not sure why he promised a guy he’d keep him after he held out. Nylander would be first to go in my book.

    • The exchange was reported this way by Mark Master of TSN:

      “In his first session with the Toronto media since signing a new contract, William Nylander revealed that general manager Kyle Dubas pledged to him on multiple occasions that as long as he’s running the Maple Leafs, the Swede won’t be traded.

      “I don’t know why that’s a surprise,” Dubas said. “I’ve been on the record as saying that … it’s our intention to have him here as long as we’re here. He’s an excellent young player. I don’t think we want to get in the business of not having excellent young players so that’s how we feel about it.”

      Those assurances were important for the 22-year-old during a stressful process, which was only resolved minutes before Saturday’s deadline. ”

      If and when Dubas does break his pledge I can’t wait to hear how he then spins that, going from “It’s our intention to have him here as long as we’re here … excellent young player …” to one of he had to go to free up cap space … which would be an admission that he wasn’t thinking ahead … not a good thing for a GM.

      • So, what if the player requests a trade? Is this a one-way street?

      • Ahh – now THAT is a horse of an entirely different colour. In that event, all bets are off re Nylander. Have you heard rumblings to the effect that he might ask to be dealt?

      • Basically Nylander has an unwritten NTC. Can be traded as long as he’s ok with it

    • He didn’t hold out.

      He didn’t have a contract.

      BIG difference.

      It’s not Nylanders fault that Dubas didn’t get his own affairs in order before throwing the money at Tavares, much like it’s not Marners fault for wanting to get paid now.

      If Marner doesn’t have a contract in October, is he holding out?

      • Why do some keep insisting on citing distinctions without a difference? No matter what you choose to call it, the result is still the same as long as one side holds firm.

      • Semantics…

      • Yep. Anyway, as Merriam-Webster defines it, a hold-out is to “refuse to go along with others in a concerted action or to come to an agreement.” Seems to me that defines Nylander’s position perfectly. As Marner said after the signing “he got what he wanted and that’s exactly what he deserved.”

      • Ok, so by your argument if someone loses their job or they quit it’s semantics because the end result is still the same? The guy didn’t have a contract to play hockey. Plain and simple. The Leafs wanted him to take less to do so. BOTH sides held firm. Don’t think that the timeline was coincidence either, Dubas was able to save on the AAV of that contract by signing him when he did (with the exception of the first year). You can’t seriously hang this all on the player when the arrogance of the team is just as guilty.

      • So, how would you phrase what Nylander was doing until he got what he thought he was worth? To me, he was holding out until that transpired.

        Your comparison holds no water – Nylander didn’t quit his job, nor was he fired. Under the terms of the RFA agreement, holding out for what he wanted was his ONLY option.

  2. So they are desperately trying to unload Marleau. Trying to trade Zaitsev. Cant afford Kapanen and Jonsson , need to move Kadri and need a D badly. All this can be avoided. Trade Marner- and everything is addressed and then some.
    They are better team with Marner, of course, but I would rather have Kapanen, Jonsson, Kadri and a top D with cap relief over Marner.

    • Re Nylander asking for a trade, no, George, I was posing a hypothetical scenario. Thing is, players like Zaitsev and Marleau request trades and no problem – the club tries to accomodate them. If it’s a two-way street between team and player, why wouldn’t Dubas be able, without criticism, to go to Nylander and talk to him about other clubs asking about Nylander’s availability? Or, for that matter, about the team’s need for a top four defence man and the possibility that Nylander would be the player the other team wants in return?
      I just don’t see, in the course of NHL seasons and change, that Dubas needs to be held to his original statement. If he’s honest about the situation, he and Nylander should be able to work things out.
      Chances are pretty good that, somewhere in the future, things will change to the point where one of these conversations will take place.

      • With zaitsev it sounds like he wants to be traded but Marleau it sounds like it was a more mutual agreement between the team and him. It sounds like they had a talk after being knocked out by Boston

    • The whole issue isn’t so much about Dubas being held to his word BCLeaffan as it is why did he make such a promise in the first place? I totally agree with what you say – i.e., it has to be a two-way street – at ALL times. The ones I love are those who, with NT/NM clauses demand to be traded – and then still have the ability to say no if a trade doesn’t meet with THEIR approval (Dany Heatly as a classic example – I’m sure there have been others along the same lines).

      • Agree completely, George, that’s why No Trade or No Movement clauses don’t make a lot of sense in this cap-driven world. Player movement this summer should give us a good idea of how things are these days.

      • Unfortunately for Dubas if and when he does break his word and deal Nylander any similar pledges he might make from now on will be viewed by players and their agents as empty rhetoric -although, having said that, I think he’s smart enough to never paint himself in that kind of corner again. Everyone is entitled to the odd mistake – just learn from it.

    • You would let loose the best play maker on the team wow keep the top 3 forwards your goalie and best d man work from that point leafs clearly need some size to deal with Boston like teams to win

  3. “He told Nylander last December that as long as he was around the winger wasn’t going anywhere.”

    No he didn’t.

    • See the excerpt above Garth … then write to Mark Masters and tell him he was wrong.

      You can split hairs, but to me ““I’ve been on the record as saying that … it’s our intention to have him here as long as we’re here. He’s an excellent young player. I don’t think we want to get in the business of not having excellent young players so that’s how we feel about it” is the same thing as saying ““He told Nylander last December that as long as he was around the winger wasn’t going anywhere.”

      Yet another distinction without a difference.

      • Exactly Lyle. Even somewhat more telling is the text further down in that article where it says “A group of Leafs players visited with Nylander on Sunday night welcoming him back to town.

        “When I saw him I did the ‘Make it Rain’ dance,” Mitch Marner said with a grin, “just gave him a hug and said, ‘Congrats on the new contract’ … It’s great for him. I mean, he got what he wanted and that’s exactly what he deserved.”

        Looking at it now, that has to send cold shivers up and down Dubas’ spine. We will soon begin to see if the figure-filbert analytic GM is the way of the future with when and how he digs his way out of this mess.

      • “I don’t think we want to get in the business of not having excellent young players so that’s how we feel about it“
        Does this quote still apply? Then assume that they keep Marner, Kapanen, etc. move Zaitsev, Marleau…. let Gardner walk

      • I think everyone including Nylander would assume that promise would only remain if he (Nylander) lived up to his end of the bargain.

        Dubas said he (nylander) is an elite player. That is the basis for never going to trade him.

        If Nylander contiues not to live up to his contract I do t think anyone will be holding Dubas to his word

  4. The fact that Dubas made that promise tells you that he is not the right guy to run the Leafs……..and if trading Marner is the solution, then Dubas won’t do that unless he is a man of steel: the flak would be heavy (unless he gets a return that is beyond criticism, such as Seth Jones or Darnell Nurse plus others from Oilers). The reason to trade Nylander postdates his signing-his performance in the short playoff is enough to make a GM re-think any promises!

    • Is it also enough for other GMs to re-think a quality return for Nylander?

      • @doubleminor ..So true…”Nylander was terrible, overpaid” lets trade him for a top 4 defenseman, lol What quality GM (even if he wanted to trade him) trades a player at his lowest value.

        I guess we will see what the Leaf braintrust (not just Dubas) really thinks of Marner’s value..as is usually case Toronto is the place of the highest highs or lowest lows.. your either hockey Jesus or unworthy of being an AHL player…

      • “Toronto is the place of the highest highs or lowest lows.. your either hockey Jesus or unworthy of being an AHL player…”

        That certainly seems to be the case if and when a player – even one previously placed on a pedestal as the next thing to a Saint – suddenly shows the slightest inclination that his being in Toronto isn’t the be all and end all to life. Watch the vitriol if Marner and his agent show no inclination to sign a Dubas offer and it drags on the same way Nylander’s did last season.

      • George O- yep. I don’t think this ends well, I like how Dubas functions and he doesn’t seem swayed by media-at all…if Bill Watters was the GM- Nylander would have been dealt for Ryan Reaves and Marner paid 15 mill and made captain, Dubas walks to the beat of his own drum…
        This is why there has been so much play in the media by the Marner camp, they are frustrated..will be very curious to see what happens.
        For the record love Marner just don’t think he is in the same vicinity as Matthews..

  5. The Leafs are faced with paying $40 + million for 4 of their players, which is ridiculous. Something will have to give. They can’t keep all 4 & stay competitive over the long haul, something will have to give.
    Of these 4 it will either Marner or Nylander that will be moved. Bye bye Nylander.

    • The thing is, Greg, a Nylander move would be all about cap space – freeing up barely enough to sign Marner never mind Kapanen and Johnsson and plugging in a Top 4 D – and with his mediocre play since returning, what comes back isn’t going to be greatly significant, especially as rival GMs are aware of the rock and a hard place in which Dubas finds himself.

      Then there’s that lingering doubt that his problems might have all been related to having missed training camp and a good chunk of the early season (that has happened repeatedly throughout NHL history) and how he might develop in another setting. Then watch the howls should that happen!

      The vision of Tyler Bozak, a very good face-off C, being one win away from the Cup with 5 goals and 8 assists so far after leaving as a UFA can’t be helping the caution.

  6. I don’t see the leafs cap situation as dire as the media suggests. If they trade Marleau and Zaitsev they will have over $24 million in cap room after getting relief from Horton on Sept 1. That is enough to sign all the players at the salaries mentioned above (Marner – $10M, Johnsson and Kapaned at $4M each, and Gardiner at $6M). If they can’t trade Marleau and Zaitsev then their problems begin. Am I missing something?

    • That would be a roster of 19 players. They would only have around a million dollars left to sign 3 or 4 players.

      • Rob – doesnt that sound like a much easier problem to solve that what the media suggests?

      • Not really, for several reasons.

        First, the league minimum for next season is $700k so the math doesn’t really add up there.

        Marleau hasn’t been traded yet, and must waive his NTC to be traded which is not a given. These numbers also assume he is traded without TOR holding any salary.

        Zaitsev’s contract is hardly a bargain. It may be difficult to trade that without holding salary as well.

    • And that “if they trade Marleau and Zaitsev …” is one helluva big IF.

      First of all, Marleau, a fading 39 y/o F whose cap hit is $6,250,000 isn’t going to agree to go anywhere in the east (even assuming there’s a team there that would take him), and out west the options are quite limited as well as any of the destinations he might find suitable either have cap issues of their own or are in re-build mode with no room for an old veteran.

      Then there’s Zaitsev, admittedly an OK D-man in the 5/6 range on most other teams but who is overpaid at $4.5 mil for another 5 years. And let’s say he does go, now they need to find replacements for his minutes as well as those of other veterans like Gardiner and Hainsy but without paying out anything more than minimal salaries. And if anyone thinks there would be a noticeable improvement by adding 3 Marlies … well, good lick with that.

    • Hey J bird, your assuming the Leafs don’t hold salary or take any back when dealing Zaitsev and Marleau. I’m not sure either has any positive trade value at this point based on their contracts.

      Doesn’t the Horton relief come after the season starts and they have to be cap compliant before?

      No guarantee that Marner accepts 10 or Gardner accepts 6.

  7. Has David Backes played his last game in a Boston uniform? After being a healthy scratch the last two games and his replacement (Karson Kuhlman) scoring a goal last night, I’ll be surprised if he is back in for game 7.
    With 2yrs and $6m per season left on his contract he won’t be easily moved. He is owed $4m in salary per season and has a $3m signing bonus for the 2019 season. Maybe after the signing bonus, when he’ll only be owed $4m per. Still a $2m average is to much at this point for Backes.

    • As a bruins fan I was shocked that Backes was the scratch last night, but after watching the game Kuhlman utalized he speed and had an impact out there.

      With the bonus it is pretty hard to buy Backes out IMO, as he’ll still count a fair bit against the cap. Your better off trading him and retaining some salary, and who knows how likely that is.

      Also what are they going to do with the defense? They have a ton of numbers at that position with guys to sign.

  8. I’m a bit surprised that Gardner reportedly would prefer to stay in Toronto. He’s been the whipping boy of the fans for a while. I don’t see this getting any better if he’s given a contract anywhere near market value for an offensive D man. Fans will howl when he makes inevitable mistakes in his own zone and point to more well rounded, more rugged, or different D men making the same or less.

    If I was Gardner I’d want to find a place where there was a D partner that could compliment my strengths and a system that helped me thrive. Not sure that’s TO.

    • Gardiner may want to stay in Toronto but I don’t see that happening before July 1 and then he will have offers from multiple teams that will likely be too good to turn down.
      I still think Montreal is a good fit for Gardiner.

      • Besides, StyxCanada, Gardiner has been around long enough to know when to be “diplomatic” when asked a direct question from the media abut his preferences – saying something Jeremy Roenik-like “hell, I can’t wait to get out of this fish-bowl” wouldn’t make many friends among LeafsNation and send out little alarm bells to any team that might be interested in making him an offer. I’m NOT saying that his response was or was not truthful – just that it’s always wisest to avoid friction.

    • Thanks, Slick! I’ll post this up tomorrow. Cheers!

      • No problem. I got a good laugh. Asking why it wasn’t in morning coffee I did tongue in cheek. Even as a lifelong Ranger fan, I don’t find Avery very relevant!

  9. Nylander – Dubas didn’t trade him in the season that he signed. After he gets his cash bonus on July 1, I say all bets are off.

    Steve Simmons – Pretty much just repeating what he hears from Dreger and MacKenzie. Does he actually interview players or management any more?

    • Dubas: ” … it’s our intention to have him here as long as we’re here. ..”

      Is he – and whoever “we” are – leaving the team?

      • Of course, if D. J. Smith was one of the “we” that might well be Dubas’ out now that’s Smith is in Ottawa 🙂

  10. Seems to be alot of hope here for Toronto failure, and Dubas as well. Personally I think Shanahan has done a great job of turning this franchise around. 3 years ago they didn’t have much talent and still had big contracts. Now they have talent. They need to better their defense. No other team was built in three years. You might get the odd team that has a lucky year and then falls back. Example, Dorion’s 2017 Senators. This year might be tough for the leafs. But they have a good foundation now. Thanks to the Shanaplan

    • Do you really think they have a good foundation? In 3 years they’re already losing players because of bad cap management, their defence is bad and after this year their 3rd and 4th liners will be mediocre at best! IMO any team that has 4 forwards making 40 million dollars is not in a good place, they might be a playoff team but not a contender

      • Will Toronto be a contender if they beat Boston?

      • No, you need defence to win a cup and the majority of the forwards can’t be soft. Do you honestly think they’re contenders and don’t say any playoff team is a contender, yes 8 seeds have won the cup those teams were built for the playoffs the leafs are not

  11. Lol Vinnie they finished near the bottom every year They won a lottery one year and picked near the top every other year. You well maybe not you but anybody could have picked those players. Takes real GM and President to stay on top year after year not just once in 30 years. You are a Leaf fan knew it.

    • Ya I kinda thought that too obe he’s a leaf fan! Lol

      • Yes I cheer for the leafs too . Actually love the game of hockey. Boston fan as well. This site is filled with haters and jealousy and not real hockey fans. You talk on here because nobody will talk to you in person. Such a lonely life. Oh well its all you have. lol

      • Good try though vinnie lol you might have better luck on hockeybuzz

      • Ok , I’ll try hockey buzz if it don’t work out ,I’ll be back.

      • Vinnie…. pack a lunch

  12. Carolina does not have to look outside the organization for help on offense.

    That being said I do see them moving a defenseman this off season but for a different reason. Faulk and Van Reimsdyk have one year left on their contracts and Hamilton has two seasons remaining. Fleury is a RFA and no longer exempt from waivers. Trevor Carrick, also an RFA, would probably never get through waivers as he has in the past. Jake Bean is NHL ready but is waiver exempt. They also have Roland McKeown who has not looked out of place in his brief NHL call ups.

    I think the combination of expiring contracts and defensive depth in the organization will cause Carolina Carolina to trade a defenseman. Pesce and Slavin will not be traded. Carolina’s contract discussions with Justin Faulk will determine which defensemen gets traded.

    • I agree, I think they’re more likely to trade one of their d prospects, a couple yrs away but teas must start looking at the expansion draft for Seattle

    • Faulk and TVR to TML for Kadri & 1st & prospect?

      • Kadri would be a good fit with Carolina.

  13. Simmons is one of the worst out there, he has more personal conflicts with the Leafs than any other so called reporter out there with any other team.

  14. I don’t see Backes being moved it would be a tuff trade at this stage in his career. He won’t play game seven but was an important part in this years season and playoffs. He has a ton of character and is important in the dressing room.

  15. Nylander gets a big sig ing bonus this year. Teams wont take him on until that is paid. After which more than half his ckntracts total earnings will be paid out. Making it a nice pick up for teams who watch the actual dollars more than the cap hit.

    Nylander wont go anywhere until his bonus is paid this year. After that if he co tinues not tk live up to the contràct he will be an easy move.