NHL Rumor Mill – September 3, 2019
The latest on Justin Williams, updates on Mitch Marner and Jake Gardiner, and more in today’s NHL rumor mill.
COULD WILLIAMS RETURN LATER THIS SEASON?
THE ATHLETIC: Sara Civian reports Justin Williams decision to step away from the game isn’t a retirement announcement. He didn’t want his indecision to become a distraction for the Carolina Hurricanes heading into training camp.
She cites several sources suggesting the now-former Hurricanes captain could return later in the season, pointing out Mike Fisher did the same midway through 2017-18.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Civian also points out Hurricanes general manager Don Waddell prepared for this possibility with the acquisitions of Erik Haula and Ryan Dzingel. Williams’ absence also creates opportunities for Martin Necas and Brock McGinn.
LATEST ON MARNER AND GARDINER
TORONTO SUN: Steve Simmons reported hearing the Maple Leafs could have signed Mitch Marner a year ago to an eight-year contract worth $8 million per year. At the time, however, they thought it was too much.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hindsight is 20/20. Had the Leafs signed Marner to that contract a year ago they would’ve been pilloried in some quarters for paying too much. His 94-point performance last season, however, would’ve changed that tune. Instead, they now locked in an apparent standoff with the Marner camp and it will cost much more to get him signed.
TORONTO STAR: Mark Zwolinski believes the Leafs would “almost certainly” have to dump a defenseman if they somehow bring back Jake Gardiner on a one-year contract. He notes the Leafs acquired Tyson Barrie, Cody Ceci, Ben Harpur, and Jordan Schmaltz this summer. “One of those newcomers might have to go if the Leafs need to get creative with their cap space,” said Zwolinski.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Barrie’s now their new top-pairing right-side rearguard and Ceciis slated to fill the same role on the second pairing. They’re not going anywhere. Cap Friendly indicates Harpur ($725K) and Schmaltz ($700K) earn considerably less than what it could cost to sign Gardiner.
Depending on Marner’s new contract, it seems unlikely the Leafs can bring back Gardiner. But as I’ve said before, Leafs GM Kyle Dubas has found ways to get creative with his limited cap space this summer. He could have another trick up his sleeve for Gardiner. Stay tuned.
Hearing #GoHabsGo are interested in acquiring #Stars RFA D Julius Honka. Dallas has just $970,000 to sign him. Obviously would prefer to move someone else and keep Honka but if not, may need to move him.
— Jimmy Murphy (@MurphysLaw74) September 1, 2019