NHL Rumor Mill – August 10, 2019

by | Aug 10, 2019 | Rumors | 34 comments

Update on the best available unrestricted free agents in today’s NHL rumor mill.

THE SCORE: recently updated their list of the top available NHL unrestricted free agents by position.

Jake Gardiner remains the best player available in this summer’s NHL UFA market (Photo via NHL Images).

Thomas Vanek, Patrick Marleau, and Pat Maroon top their list of left-wingers. Joe Thornton, Derick Brassard, Brian Boyle, and Riley Sheahan are their notable centers. The noteworthy right-wingers include Justin Williams and Jason Pominville.

Jake Gardiner, Niklas Kronwall, Ben Hutton, and Dion Phaneuf remain among the available defensemen while Cam Ward is the noteworthy goaltender.

NHL.COM: lists Williams, Marleau, and Thornton as the best available forwards, Gardiner, Hutton, Kronwall, and Phaneuf as the top defensemen, and Ward the best available goaltender.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Nothing’s changed with this listing since late July. Kevin Shattenkirk was briefly on this list following his buyout by the New York Rangers but was quickly signed by the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Gardiner is still the best player on the open market. There’s some speculation suggesting he could return to the Toronto Maple Leafs. Some think he’s got a “handshake agreement” with a team that’s waiting to clear sufficient salary-cap to fit him in. Considering how slow things are right now, we probably won’t find out where Gardiner lands until training camps open next month.

The Hurricanes are still awaiting word whether Williams intends to return for another season or retire. He’s not expected to consider playing with another NHL club this season.

It’s assumed Thornton and Marleau will sign with the San Jose Sharks. With over $4.6 million in salary-cap space and all their other roster players under contract, the Sharks can afford to sign the duo to affordable one-year, bonus-laden contracts.

There’s talk the Edmonton Oilers could have interest in Brassard as a checking-line center. It’s rumored his representatives seek $4-million per season. At this stage, he’ll be lucky to get half that salary on a one-year deal.

Maroon recently said he hasn’t ruled out a return with the St. Louis Blues. Earlier this summer, it was reported he sought a two-year deal but the Blues are only interested in offering a one-year contract.

The Detroit Red Wings are reportedly willing to bring back Kronwall for one more season. That’ll depend upon whether the oft-injured blueliner feels he’s healthy enough for one last NHL campaign.

Some of the players on this list could end up accepting professional tryout offers when training camps open. We’ve already seen a trickle of those signings coming in. The most notable include the Toronto Maple Leafs signing former Philadelphia Flyers Michal Neuvirth and Matt Read to PTOs.


  1. Lyle, no doubt one reason why there are still some enticing UFAs floating about is that, here it is August 10 and still 36 RFAs awating contracts. Which of these do you see as more apt to drag on into training camp and even the opening of the season before signing and which ones could possibly be traded?

    Winnipeg – Connor, Laine & Comrie;
    Minnesota – Eriksson Ek, Fiala & Belpedio;
    NYI – Dal Colle, Beauvillier & Ho-Sang;
    Calgary – Tkachuk & Mangiapane;
    Boston – Carlo & McAvoy;
    Tampa Bay – Point & Erne;
    Philadelphia – Provorov & Konecny;
    Vancouver – Goldobin & Boeser;
    NYR – DeAngelo & Lemieux;
    Carolina – Maenalanen & McKeown;
    Toronto – Marner
    Pittsburgh – Pettersson
    Dallas – Honka;
    Vegas – Schuldt;
    St Louis – Barbashev
    Florida – Malgin;
    Edmonton – Puljujarvi;
    Chicago – Perlini;
    L.A. – Kempe;
    New Jersey – Zacha;
    Ottawa – White;
    Columbus – Werenski;
    Colorado – Rantanen;

    • And by the way, from your experience is 36 at this stage high or about average?

    • Hard to say right now. Maybe Marner, though the Leafs appear to have set the table to free up sufficient cap space to re-sign him.

      Most of these tend to get sorted out within days of the start of training camp. I don’t think anyone wants to repeat last season’s Nylander situation.

      • i think there’s a handshake agreement, but they won’t make the deal official until the first day of the season. That is when they can put Horton and Clarkson on LTIR, to clear up the necessary space for Marner’s new deal.

        if other RFAs are waiting for Marner, then lots of these guys won’t be signing until after the season starts.

        I think Boeser, with the family issues he is dealing with, will get wrapped up by the start of camp.
        Point passed up big $$$ from Montreal because he wanted to stay with TB, so I see him resigning when camp opens as well.

        I wouldn’t be surprised if neither Laine nor Conner sign before the season starts, and the Jets will be in BIG trouble. I can see them not even making the playoffs, after all the dmen they lost this offseason, and having two of their top young forwards starting the season late. Look how average Nylander played for the Leafs after starting the season so late.

    • George,

      Id guess that Laine and Marner take the longest to get settled. Id have Pujujlovi up there but I have him filed under the nobody cares/please go away column.

      • LOL. That seems to be the case. Yakopov 02! I thought Laine as well. And I’m beginning to think White in Ottawa is one of those (and there could be quite a few more among those RFAs) wanting shorter-term deals in order to reach UFA status faster.

  2. Comrie is a low priority contract for the Jets, he will be with the Moose, maybe 2nd call-up.

    • Comrie isn’t waiver exempt, no rush to sign him and when they do will he clear waivers.

      • If they think highly enough of him they might be forced to go down the Sparks road. And how did that turn out?

  3. I think there is a role for the Board in the decision regarding Marner.

    I watched a “who would you rather have” episode including Hayes, O Dog, Noodles , Siegel & Ray Ferrero. It was amazing the number of players they would rather have ( regardless of contract) than Marner. These included Point, Rantanen, Draistel, and many, many others. It was surprising as it was regardless of contract.

    My opinion is against paying Marner more than 9 million. But I am just one Leaf fan. I think a whole raft of 6 million players will do very well with Tavares on the Leafs. Not as well as Marner but better than fans would guess.

    The role here for the Board and its Chairman to define what they will or not accept in terms of process. If this situation even gets close to the Nylander situation last year the Board should shut it down regardless of the consequences before the season starts.

    It would not bother me to see him traded even for lesser assets with reasonable contracts. It would not bother me much more to make him sit out the year. But I am biased and think Marner is overrated and his statistics inflated by who he plays with.

    Ferrro said more or less when preferring another player…” I am little guy and I just can’t past the size thing.”

    Marner will still be 5 ft 9 ” eight years from now. He will just be older, more tired and probably have a number of injuries on his body.

    • old blue dog you might be bang on in your view of size – in the past when I attempted to equate playoff disappearances with size (in general terms) I got roasted (by one dearly departed poster in particular) … but it hasn’t changed my opinion (look at Calgary as a classic example – Johnny Hockey became Johnny Ping-Pong Ball.

      This article supports your view


      • I know another winger who is 5’9″ and has no issues in the playoffs (83pts in 108gms). He has a vicious tongue though…

      • LOL. That’s why I said “in general terms.” Marchand is no ordinary smurf. An exception to the rule that ANY honest fan would want on their team.

      • This article is written by a moron. Ignore it.

    • I think Marner will be more like Martin St.Louis in regards to size and playoffs.

      But he is still not worth anything close to what he is supposedly demanding and I would be quite content to go the route you are suggesting if we have to.

    • Your reasoning has convinced me, but it’s made me curious as well. When all the offer sheet talk was bandied about, would the Leafs have served themselves best by subtlety encouraging teams to talk to Marner? Acquiring future picks might be a way of defraying present cap problems, and by avoiding a trade, the Leafs would reduce the possibility of their losing a quality player in the upcoming expansion draft. It sure beats fuming while he sits.

    • How is Marner overrated?
      Leads team in points
      Makes everyone he plays with better (JT)
      Plays both ends
      Plays PK
      Plays PP
      Has been injury free unlike Austin Mattews 60 game max

      Should trade Mattews and or Melander as they seem to be overrated and over payed

    • Once again, written by the same moron. Please stop reading this guy.

      • Because you say so? Who are you?

  4. Zacha is interesting. I bet he is reasonably available.

    • Zacha plus to TML for Nylander is what Shero should try for.

      Put him on the 2nd line along with Hughes. Behind Hall & Hischier will lend significant depth for NJ forward lines.

      Green off the books at season end will give enough cap room to sign Hall.

  5. OBD , I think you’re right. I would see what I could get for him. Tavares , Matthews, Reilly and Dermott are the big dogs, just fill in around them. Nylander, Kapanen Johnson and Kerfot are good signings
    Barrie and Muzzin will help. Could probably get more help on defense by trading Marner.
    I’m sure they are exploring all their options.
    In SHANAPLAN we trust.
    Have done an excellent job so far

  6. Maroon brings a lot of intangibles to the Blues, but if he is back someone has to go. I am hoping that Barbashev is not lost to the KHL or elsewhere for the year (ie. Sobotka 2.0). He really contributed to 4th line success last year.

  7. I’m siding here with Mike P here

    Whether or not there is a “handshake” deal ; I think they are prob close enough that each side knows pretty well where it will end up. Marner IMO signed after season opens … the LTIRs go on ; signed day 2 of season?

    I get the rationale for multiple lesser assets for same Cap hit.

    I still believe that Leafs (for a chance at a cup) must address D long term

    As at now only 1 D ( Morgan) signed past this season. I believe at least 1 of Muzzin or Barrie is gone

    I deplored the capitulation of GMKD on the WW contract … he should have sat the year …. sitting him and I truly believe Mathews doesn’t get $11.6M and Marner therefore doesn’t push for the same

    I still think what’s best for Leafs , now and in long run … trade WW for up and coming mid 20’s D that is projected (2-3 years) to be top 3 D…. that saves Cap now and gives flex and sets Leafs up for a chance at a couple of cups ‘21-‘25… they have no shot IMHO for Cup in ‘20

    If there is consideration for one of Leafs high end players for multiple lesser (currently) players for same Cap… then the only player that I would consider (not saying should; but only one I’d consider) would be Mathews…. he’d bring back a mix that just might overall fit in to put leafs in SCF in a couple of years

    I’m not convinced AM stays a Leaf a single day past 1/7/24 (Desert bound IMHO)

    For the sake of argument ; if Leafs were to move AM now …. for the same Cap plus space they should get a mid 20’s top 2D; a good early mid 20’s 3C ; and a younger forward prospect (that is projected [2-3 years] to be top 6 winger); possibly another asset

    …. with that and extra freed up Cap; Barrie can be extended… in 2 years Leafs have above listed top 2 D and Morgan; plus Barrie plus another top 4 (Leafs then have Cap to sign)

    JT -1C

    The better of Kerfoot and the acquired C (AM trade listed above) ; at 2C

    Visa Versa for 3 C

    Again , I’m not suggesting this be done; only that this is a better alternative to trading MM; mostly for 2 reasons (1) better long term return and (2) my strong belief that AM is only a Leaf for 5 more years regardless ; but MM has the more likely intent/desire to extend after next contract

    Go Leafs Go

    • Does WW stand for wonderful William
      He isn’t going anywhere, within 3 years people will be saying. Dubas is a genius, how did he ever get Wonderful William so cheap
      They sure aren’t going to move Matthews right now. Maybe in 4 years and after a couple of cups.
      Pengy , concentrate on trying to move Jumpin Jack.

      • Hi Vinnie

        I keep dreaming about moving JJ 😤😩😫

        RE: WW (as Joe Bowen calls him “ Wee Willy”) I’m nowhere near as pro on him as you are

        He did much much better at the world’s and his value on July 2nd (with only $700 K more due in 19/20 and < $5M per year Cash AAV left on contract) was at a peak tradeable value …. he IMO then could have been traded for up and coming (projected in 2 years) top 4D with a great deal of Cap to spare

        Marner has shown in every sense and at all points on the ice; that he is a far superior player than WW

        This is not saying WW won’t improve or that there is no chance that MM’s play ebbs; what I’m saying is that based on play so far and extrapolating ; it is a much better bet to keep MM even at the substantially higher cap; and trade WW (for a young D)

        I’m just a die-hard fan hoping for a Leafs (52 years and counting ) or Pens cup in next couple of years; and unless changes are made (you know who) Pens are out of SC consideration; so my hopes lie with Leaf’s somewhere ‘21-‘25


  8. Thank you George for the article. I just read. I am 5 ft 7″ guy who started playing hockey in 1958. I am still playing. Anyone who thinks size is not important, hasn’t played enough hockey against bigger men.

    As to the St Louis reference in the article. I like St Louis $ in the play off pool as I had 5 players last the who 4 series. They were not a fast team, nor a scoring team and the goal tending was good not spectacular. They did not knock people around at the blue line nor around the crease. But:

    They were big, well organized , patient off the puck and could smother the other team before they built up a head of steam.

    Can anyone realistically see Marner’s talent down the St Louis D ?

  9. With all theses RFA still unsigned and most of the teams capped out, Holland May not be done yet. The Oilers don’t have much cap space but we possibly could see a deal where we Holland ships out 2 mill and brings back 4 or a 4 for 6 deal. Not everyone has cap. There’s only so many teams with space. The amount without space to sign RFAs, out number teams with space. Somethings got to break. I think under the current system and teams willingness to give top dollar to fill their needs, this is the new norm. Eventually most everyone will be capped out. As of right now the Oilers cap situation really doesn’t look that bad after this year. To think what would Leon get right now if he was RFA ? Hellva lot more than 8.5 with Wingers making 11.6 that haven’t done what Leo has.

  10. Bad writing/editing above. The one sentence should have said.

    ” I liked St Louis in my play off pool and I had 5 players still playing after 4 series.”

  11. Lightning should consider signing Maroon.

    • Or Edmonton if he can be had for cheap on a one year deal.