NHL Rumor Mill – July 19, 2019
The latest on Mitch Marner, the Rangers are in salary-cap hell and an update on Joe Thornton in today’s NHL rumor mill.
LATEST ON MARNER’S CONTRACT STATUS
TORONTO SUN: Lance Hornby reports Maple Leafs winger Mitch Marner attempted to avoid discussing his contract status during his All-Star Invitational charity event yesterday. He’s hopeful of having a new contract in place before training camp opens in September, adding he’d be reluctant to attend camp without one because of the injury risk. Marner also said he’s left it up to his agent and Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas to sort things out.
THE SCORE: Josh Wegman reports the Leafs will have around $9 million in salary-cap space once permanently-sidelined winger Nathan Horton is placed on long-term injury reserve. That number will rise as some players are assigned to the minors.
TORONTO STAR: Dave Feschuk believes the Leafs want to avoid Marner’s negotiations dragging into the regular season as William Nylander’s did last fall. Signing him during the season “can have the effect of ballooning a first-year cap hit, which can complicate Toronto’s already headache-inducing financial puzzle.”
If Marner seeks an annual average value comparable to Auston Matthews and John Tavares (around $11 million), the Leafs would need to shed some salary. Feschuk speculates one way would be trading someone like Nylander, Kasperi Kapanen, or Andreas Johnsson.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Marner’s not the only noteworthy restricted free agent still unsigned. Tampa Bay’s Brayden Point, Colorado’s Mikko Rantanen, Winnipeg’s Patrik Laine and Kyle Connor, Calgary’s Matthew Tkachuk, Vancouver’s Brock Boeser, and Boston’s Charlie McAvoy and Brandon Carlo have yet to re-up with their respective clubs. But because Marner plays for the Leafs, his situation garners most of the headlines.
The two sides have nearly two months to hammer out an agreement before training camp opens on Sept. 13. The longer he goes unsigned, of course, the more speculation there will be about his future in Toronto.
The threat of an offer sheet hangs in the air, with the New York Islanders and Columbus Blue Jackets among the teams said to have considered pitching one to the Marner camp. If there’s no deal in place by mid-September, perhaps his camp accepts an offer sheet in hopes of ending the deadlock.
Marner’s a Toronto boy and undoubtedly wants to stay put. But he and his representatives want to ensure he gets what they consider fair compensation. Leafs management wants to re-sign him but their limited salary-cap space complicates those efforts.
If they agree to sign him for around $11 million per season they’ll have to move someone to clear sufficient room. Placing Horton on LTIR and sending a couple of players to the minors might not be enough to re-sign Marner and leave sufficient wiggle room to other roster moves during the season.
RANGERS IN “SALARY-CAP HELL”
NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks reports the Rangers still lack sufficient salary-cap space to re-sign restricted free agents Jacob Trouba, Pavel Buchnevich, Brendan Lemieux, and Anthony DeAngelo. After a whirlwind of activity that saw the additions of Trouba, Artemi Panarin, and Kaapo Kakko, the Rangers have been quiet since early-July.
Brooks said the Rangers discovered there’s no market for defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk unless they take back an onerous contract in return. There’s also no interest in blueliner Brendan Smith and haven’t found a club willing to take Vladislav Namestnikov’s $4 million salary-cap hit.
He also reports the Rangers still haven’t engaged in contract extension talks with Chris Kreider and there’s no indication they will trade him. They could trade Buchnevich but Brooks believes they’ll want him to play alongside Panarin.
The Rangers could go the buyout route with Shattenkirk and Smith but probably wish to avoid the added dead-cap space. The way Shattenkirk’s contract is structured, they won’t get much cap relief in 2020-21. They could trade Kreider but his 11-team no-trade list could complicate things. He suggests perhaps trading Shattenkirk to the Los Angeles Kings for Dustin Brown and buying out the latter, as they would receive more savings from that than they would from a Shattenkirk buyout.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Rangers appear to be in “salary-cap hell”, but it might not be as serious as it appears at first glance. Management didn’t just blindly pursue Panarin and acquire Trouba. I believe there’s a game plan here, one that will become clearer once Trouba is re-signed.
With Trouba’s July 25th arbitration hearing approaching, the two sides are reportedly engaged in working out a new contract before then. After he’s under contract, I expect we won’t have to wait for long to see how they’ll free up sufficient cap space to re-sign the others. That could involve trading Kreider. It could mean going the buyout route with Shattenkirk and/or Smith, or maybe they’ll find a creative way to move one of their contracts without taking back too much salary in return.
As for Brooks’ proposed Shattenkirk-for-Brown swap, that depends not just on the Kings being amenable to that move. If the Rangers are on his seven-team “no-trade” list, I don’t see him waiving it to go to a team that will buy him out.
Peter DeBoer says he has no doubt UFA Joe Thornton will be back with Sharks next season. Knew that when he saw Jumbo working out only a few days after elimination. “I’m just looking forward to working with him again.”
— luke fox (@lukefoxjukebox) July 18, 2019