NHL Rumor Mill (Part One) – June 21, 2019
Latest on the Leafs plus updates on Kris Letang, Max Pacioretty, Tyson Barrie, and more in Part One of today’s NHL rumor mill.
RECENT MAPLE LEAFS SPECULATION
SPORTSNET: Chris Johnston reports Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas said there’s no guarantee his club would match an offer sheet for Mitch Marner. The 22-year-old winger will become a restricted free agent on July 1. Dubas said it would depend upon the amount of the offer and the compensation for the Leafs. The same applies to RFA wingers Kasperi Kapanen and Andreas Johnsson.
TORONTO SUN: Terry Koshan reports Marner’s agent Darren Ferris doesn’t anticipate difficult contract negotiations with Dubas. It’s believed Ferris seeks a deal comparable to Auston Matthew’s five-year contract, which has an annual average value of $11.634 million. The Leafs have limited salary-cap space to re-sign Marner, Kapanen, and Johnsson.
Koshan reports it’s possible defenseman Nikita Zaitsev could be traded. However, an NHL source said nobody’s going to do them a favor. Zaitsev has five years left on his contract with an annual salary-cap hit of $4.5 million.
TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports the Leafs would have moved wingers Connor Brown and Kasperi Kapanen to the Carolina Hurricanes for defenseman Brett Pesce. The Hurricanes, however, intend to retain Pesce. They’re also trying to sign defenseman Justin Faulk to a contract extension. Faulk’s slated to become an unrestricted free agent next summer. If that doesn’t happen they could try to trade him. The Hurricanes are in the market for a top-six forward.
Darren Dreger reports team sources said the Leafs are willing to listen to offers for Kapanen and center Nazem Kadri. They’d want a defenseman for Kapanen or a center for Kadri. Dreger believes there’s no question Brown is in play. The Leafs are still shopping defenseman Nikita Zaitsev but it feels “less likely” he’s a top priority for other clubs.
Bob McKenzie reports it will be complicated for the Leafs to move aging winger Patrick Marleau. If he wants to return to the San Jose Sharks, it would take a third team acquiring Marleau. They would have to buy out the remaining year ($6.25 million annual average value) of his contract, and sign him to an affordable deal the Sharks could agree to take on. McKenzie notes the Arizona Coyotes have been rumored in the middle of this. However, it’s uncertain what they would want in return and how it would affect the Leafs payroll.
TORONTO STAR: Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas suggested there’s a strong chance Marleau could return with the Leafs next season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Lots of interest in what the Leafs will do heading into the draft weekend. Cap Friendly indicates the Leafs have over $74 million invested in 17 players for next season. They must shed salary if they intend to re-sign Marner, Kapanen, and Johnsson. Their limited cap space makes Marner, Kapanen, or Johnsson prime offer-sheet targets.
Moving Marleau and/or Zaitsev in cost-cutting deals could be easier said than done. It could involve including draft picks, prospects, or a young roster player in the deals. It also appears Dubas is trying to bolster his blueline with Kapanen and Brown as potential bargaining chips. Their names popped up frequently in recent Leafs trade chatter.
PENGUINS LISTENING ON LETANG
THE SCORE: Sean O’Leary cites The Athletic’s Rob Rossi reporting the Pittsburgh Penguins are listening to offers for Kris Letang. The 32-year-old defenseman is signed through 2021-22 with an AAV of $7.25 million. The Penguins’ asking price is a package containing “impact player on a controllable contract and/or a projected future salary-cap hit that was reasonable.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Just because Penguins GM Jim Rutherford is willing to entertain offers doesn’t mean he’s moving Letang for sure. He’s not about to give the veteran blueliner away. If no one meets that price, Rutherford will retain Letang and consider other options.
COULD VEGAS SHOP PACIORETTY OR STASTNY?
LE JOURNAL DE MONTREAL: cites Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston speculating the Vegas Golden Knights could shop Max Pacioretty or Paul Stastny. The Golden Knights are already maxed out against next season’s salary cap, which could come in lower than the projected $83 million. Johnston said his “gut feeling” is Pacioretty or Stastny could be moved in a cost-cutting deal. The Golden Knights acquired Pacioretty last September in a trade with the Montreal Canadiens and signed Stastny via free agency last summer.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Remember, Johnston isn’t saying this is going to happen. He’s merely speculating that they could consider moving Pacioretty or Stastny.
I think the cap-strapped Golden Knights are considering all their cost-cutting options. Writing for The Athletic, Pierre LeBrun said the Golden Knights are still talking to teams about Colin Miller. The 26-year-old defenseman has three years left on his contract with an annual salary-cap hit of $3.875 million.
LATEST AVALANCHE SPECULATION
TSN’s Darren Dreger took to Twitter early this morning regarding possible moves by the Colorado Avalanche. “The Tyson Barrie trade consideration seems to have amplified since earlier in the day. Also some rumblings about Avs forward Carl Soderberg.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The notion of moving Barrie has raised mixed reactions among Avalanche fans. With Barrie a year away from UFA status and promising youngster Cale Makar in the fold, some feel he should be swapped for a scoring forward. Others, however, believe it would hurt their depth on defense and their offense from the blueline. No harm in listening to offers but remains to be seen if the right offer can be made to pry Barrie away from the Avs.
Kypreos – “The starting price for Jake Gardiner is $50M over 7 years. I think Jim [Benning] is going to seriously consider it.” pic.twitter.com/2KegCN6YsV
— Sportsnet 650 (@Sportsnet650) June 19, 2019