NHL Rumor Mill – September 3, 2019

by | Sep 3, 2019 | Rumors | 49 comments

The latest on Justin Williams, updates on Mitch Marner and Jake Gardiner, and more in today’s NHL rumor mill. 


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. 

It’s possible Justin Williams could return to the Carolina Hurricanes later this season (Photo via NHL Images).

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. 


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.



  1. I just can’t see Gardner on the Leafs this year

    Only 3 ways it happens (one I’m in favour of):

    1) MM moved ….. I’m totally against it

    2) WW moved (for early mid 20’s D trending towards top 3D or top 4D) at fair sized net cap space gain….. I’m very in favour of this move

    3) Multiple players not named MM or WW moved to create cap space ….. too much uncertainty …. I’m not in favour of this

    I don’t think 1 or 2 is going to happen; option 3 just too uncertain and risky

    Result IMHO; Gardner lands on another team

    • Who is WW lol

      • Pengy’s nickname for William Nylander is “Wee Willie”. Though if Nylander has a strong bounce-back performance this season, Pengy could come to regret that nickname.

      • Then it’ll become “Wheeee Willie”

      • Or “Wicked Willie”…;)

      • The WW …. Wee Willy or Wee William Nylander was coined by Joe Bowen (Leafs play by play announcer)

        Lyle, I will be very happy if he plays at the $7M level ; very!

        I’m just skeptical

        Either way ; I’ll probably still call him Wee Willy as I am used to it; and as I’m a single finger typed on iPhone ; will continue with the lazy “ WW” moniker

      • “single finger typed” should have been “single finger typer”

      • George and Lyle. Boom. Actually chuckled st those

      • Or he might just be wandering willie

      • If he takes a lot of slashing penalties he could be whackin willie.

      • Careful there Chrisms …

      • Nylander is soft as mink fur

    • Pengy…I’m not sure why he is so hell bent on going back to the leafs…….

      He would have signed by now…. he is holding out hope i guess…why go where they don’t want you..

      black n gold

      • Hi BlackNGold

        I’m not totally convinced that Gardner himself has his radar solely locked in on the Leafs

        I think the Media has blown this up and stoked the fires so to speak

        I think of course that anyone would like to return to a team where they’ve played for a while; especially a team on the rise and with Cup aspirations not to far in the distance

        His Agent I’m sure has counselled him on the low probability of returning as a Leaf and I’m sure he has had talks with other teams

        He won’t accept a 1 year league min Sal …. nor should he

        Leafs don’t have much more than that to throw at him

        There is interest out there for him and they would definitely benefit from having him.

        He will for sure get more $’s and more term elsewhere

    • If tml moves WW for a top 3 or 4 D, what do they need the gardner for?

      • Exactly! That would render him absolutely useless as an 8-10 minute D

    • Hymen to oilers for 3rd and 5th. Moore takes his spot 3rd line checker.
      Ceci to anyone with a mid round pick or 2 even retain 1 m.

      Sign gardiner 1 yr 6 m

      Easy. Done .better defence. Wash at lw. No cap increase

      • So why is Maple Leafs Sports & Entertainment wasting so much money on Dubas if an armchair GM can do that? Easily?

  2. If Toronto doesn’t sign Gardner who’s going to scoop pucks out of back of net? Jake wants to be a Leaf not sure why fans can’t stand him and boo him half the game but he wants to be a Leaf. He will sign a cap friendly contract for next to nothing and next year when Muzzin ,Ceci, and Barrie leave he will get paid. Yes Jake is that dumb and I know he could get injured but he doesn’t believe he will.

    • How can you call someone dumb without even meeting them? I think that’s dumb!

    • Ceci will scoop out a lot more than gardiner would

  3. You have to think something is going to have to happen soon with regard to Julius Honka, an unsigned RFA with Dallas. Taken in the 1st round in 2014 (14th overall), the bit-on-the-slight side RD (5′ 11″ 180 lbs) has played just 87 NHL games (2g 11a 13 pts and a career – including AHL), he looks to be 8th on the Dallas depth chart back of Lindell, Klingberg, Oleksiak, Polak, Sekera, Hieskanen and Fedun and, coming off an ELC of $863,333, should be looking at something no higher than $1.2 mil, But Dallas only has $970,001 in cap space – although if Hanzal goes on the LTIR as us being suggested, that would give Dallas his $4,750,000 cap hit to play with.

    According to Hockey News, Honka is “an impressive skater and offensive defenseman, he moves the puck very well and has the ability to put up good point totals at all levels. Is an asset on the power play, due to sound hockey sense and a good point shot. Will need to add significant strength, since he doesn’t own ideal size for a National Hockey League defenseman. Also needs to continue to work on his play without the puck, especially his defensive-zone coverage.”

    With Thomas Harley (remember when Dallas drafted him as Harley Thomas??) A LHD and Joseph Ceccono (RHD) also in the pipeline, you might think Honka will soon be dealt to a team needing help on the right side. Are the Habs that team?

  4. Not sure where, but, Gardiner not going to be a ML. It is dumb to think otherwise.

    • Best bets for where Gardiner might wind up – probably short-term and less than what he thought he’d get when entering UFA status

      Edm – $2,433,001 in cap space and with Joel Pertsson given more time in the AHL, another $1 mil added to that (would he require waivers though?)

      Wpg – $16,150,836 in cap space and, yes, they’d haver to have settled the Connor/Laine contracts, but they only show 19 at the MLL and their D has been badley depleted from last year – could add another $1 mil wirth the demotion of Beaulieu

      Mtl – $4,044,524 in cap space with another $3.2 mil with the demotions of Alzner, Peca and Weiss – so plenty of roster room and cash

      Ana – $8,500,242 in cap space – just 6 D sown on 23-man roster – Fowler, Lindholm, Manson, Holzer, Del Zotto and Guhle – plus it would be a return “home” of sorts for Gardiner

      CBJ – $15,765,9018 in cap space – just 21 shown on MLR with Werenski still to sign – they have Jones, Murray, Savard Nutivaara, Harrington – either Kukan or Clendening could be re-assigned to make room

      Col – $15,615,239 in cap space – Rantanen will take up the bulk of that but with Cole not die back until late Dec and Johnson maybe being ready for the opener following shoulder surgery, there is a need to a D-man to join Zadorov, Barbeiro, Connauton, Makar, Graves and Girard

      • George, NJ could be a good landing spot. Andy Greene turning 37 in October, is in last year of contract. A few other guys ufa after season. They have cap room

      • I will predict Kings or Ducks.

      • I thought about NJ too Slick62, but after looking at a complement of Subban, Greene, Vatanen, Severson, Butcher, Carrick & Mueller, where would Gardiner fit? Certainly not in the Top 4.

      • Kings are too deep into the early stages of a re-build to have any interest in Gardiner and the feeling is probably mutual. Even Anaheim, who I only list because he was there at one time, might be looking at a different approach after dropping out last season as they, too, begin the purging of their aging core.

      • Gardner to Detroit? Maybe they where waiting on Kromwell decision.

      • That’s another possibility for sure. Yzerman currently has $4,270,457 in cap space – no RFAs to sign and the LTIRs of Zetterberg ($6,083,000( & Franzen ($3,954,545) to draw upon as needed. With Green, DeKeyser, Ericsson, Daley, Nemeth and Bowey as the other 6, they could make room by demoting Hronek for more AHL seasoning.

        Good spotting Slick62

      • George O….Funny i asked you this same question 3 weeks ago and you said i can’t even dignify this with an answer..mmhhhhh

        I see….:) LOL

        Black N Gold

      • I don’t recall using that terminology regarding WHERE he could end up. The only question I can recall directed at me re Gardiner was centered around how serious his back issues were and, since I had been roasted by some dweeb for saying, simply, that no one knows for certain if his issues are chronic or not – or words to that effect – but the mere fact that “back issues” have been linked to his name might well be turning off some prospective teams IF he and his agent are still seeking a long-term deal anywhere near what he earned last season. And I still believe that to be true. otherwise something would have transpired by now.

  5. Boston and MacAvoy are hoping to have a deal done by September the 9th. We will see.

  6. Kronwall just retired

    There are likely a few more coming in the next 2-3 weeks

    Less than 30 spots league wide left ; 25+ RFAs….. and at least 10 UFAs that are 34 and older;

    The League is getting younger … more retirements coming IMO

    • Pengy, got a feeling he’ll soon be joined by Boyle, Pominville, Marleau, Girardi, Phaneuf and McQuaid. And, in all likelihood a bit later, Justin Williams.

      • Hi George

        Fully agree on most of your list of upcoming retires but do not think McQ will be one of them …. 32 and still a solid bottom pairing guy that can in times of need do 2nd pairing

        I’d love Pens to nix JJ and sign McQ

        Aside from moving him; they could waive JJ and use the buried cap on McQ

        The only other one that I have trepidations on calling an early retirement on is Boyle

        1 yr @ $1 M and he’d be a great veteran add to a few teams

        We’ll see how these next couple of weeks play out

      • Methot retirement will be announced at some point too..unfortunately due to injury (unless it was already)

        I like the Hainsey signing for what it is “a playing coach” on defense. I’d love to see Methot signed as an associate coach – to teach Ottawa’s young defense.

        Too bad the relationship with Luke Richardson has been forever soured by ownership.

      • Haven’t heard that Methot is officially retired – but that announcement can’t be far away. He would be a good add to the Belleville staff Dark G.

        Unfortunately, that ownership has soured several key individuals along the way, including Alfredsson, but again unfortunately, I don’t see any changes imminent on that front.

      • George O..its OK bro..age might be setting in…no worries..LOL

        ill refrain from asking the godfather of this site any further questions….. my bad !!!

  7. Gardiner – It is my interpretation that both Kadri and Gardiner are gone because of their contributions to the past two years first round disappointments and to an equal degree because of the cap situation. Therefore I do not see Gardiner re-signing with the Leafs.

  8. Dubas has to be more than a little embarrassed that 8×8 Marner story has come out. Talk about missing the bus!

    • As Lyle intimated, hindsight is 10 cents a pound – even for renowned number-crunching figure-filberts. File it under woulda – coulda-shoulda.

      • Bazinga

    • I hope Marner signs some silly deal for 11.35 million just slightly more than Matthew’s and he then has a terrible season, I hope Leafs fans boo him until his Daddy asks team to trade him.

      • Don’t think you need to be looking forward to that. Because whatever he signs for – IF he signs – he will almost probably again lead the team in scoring.

  9. hearing some chirps that rants is closing in on 7yr at $9mil with avs…just bought condo in dtown denver

    • That would be huge for Sakic, leaving him with just over $6.5 mil in cap space, and with Cole on LTIR until late Dec at the earliest, and questions still surrounding
      Johnson’s availability after shoulder surgery, bringing in someone like Gardiner short-term on a “show-me” deal (i/e/. that you’re capable of a full season without a recurrence of the back problems) wouldn’t be a bad idea.

  10. Nylander has a great year? I am almost certain that won’t happen and if it does, it will be statistical only-he will not actually improve the team except his own stats.

    Gardiner wold be nuts to go back to Leafs and they don’t need him…also, trade MM for whatever good D can be had..I would love to get Nurse form Oilers.

  11. Pengy….At this point i would love to nix J.J and sign Santa Claus to play defense.. lol

    I’m sure Rutherford will do something with him but he sure is taking his time.

    McQuaid would be a nice minimum add on defense. We have enough bottom pairing guys we need a guy to play with Schultz ON THE SECOND PAIRING..

    Marco Scandella 29, $4.0 million, smooth skater, physical, makes a nice outlet pass out of the d zone left handed shot.

    Brian Rust 27 $3.5 million to buffalo we have enough forward depth