NHL Rumor Mill – September 5, 2019
The latest on the Leafs, Sharks, Lightning, and Penguins in today’s NHL rumor mill.
UPDATES ON MARNER AND GARDINER
TORONTO SUN: Lance Hornby reports Maple Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas said there’s a plan to re-sign Mitch Marner without resorting to long-term injury reserve on Oct. 2 to free up salary-cap space. He claimed there were “a number of ways,” and aso said they don’t want to wait until the start of the season to get the winger signed.
“Without getting into the minutiae of it, say tomorrow or before camp there’s a breakthrough, there will be no delay in getting Mitch in here.”
Dubas also isn’t ruling out bringing back Jake Gardiner. Until the unrestricted free agent defenseman signs elsewhere, “the door will never be closed here.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s too bad Dubas wouldn’t elaborate on how he could get Marner signed without waiting for the start of the season. We’ve learned teams can still use LTIR during the off-season though the savings aren’t as great as during the season. Maybe it’s a combination of that plus a trade and/or demotions. We’ll know for sure if Marner and the Leafs reach an agreement at some point this month.
NO SHARKS REUNION FOR MARLEAU
NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: cites The Athletic’s Kevin Kurz reporting San Jose Sharks GM Doug Wilson confirmed he won’t bring back Patrick Marleau. The 39-year-old winger was bought out of his contract in June following a trade by the Maple Leafs to the Carolina Hurricanes, sparking speculation he could rejoin the Sharks. Wilson praised the veteran winger, who spent all but two seasons with the Sharks, but indicated the club wants to give more playing time to their younger players.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Marleau moved his family back to San Jose earlier this year. He must decide if he’ll continue his playing career elsewhere or retire. Speculation linked him to the Arizona Coyotes and Edmonton Oilers.
LATEST ON THE LIGHTNING
THE ATHLETIC: In a recent mailbag segment, Joe Smith said Tampa Bay Lightning GM Julien BriseBois has maintained his confidence in getting Brayden Point re-signed before training camp opens. Smith, however, noted that it’s starting to get down to crunch time. He wondered if the RFA center will accept an affordable bridge deal as several of his teammates did and cash in on a lucrative long-term deal down with the Lightning down the road.
Smith also dismissed a recent rumor claiming the two sides were closing in on an eight-year deal with an annual average value of $8 million. He wondered if Point would accept a three-year deal worth around $7.1 million per season.
Asked about speculation claiming the Lightning had expressed interest in Edmonton Oilers winger Jesse Puljujarvi, Smith said the sources he spoke with claimed it was news to them. He doesn’t rule out the Bolts looking into it but doesn’t think anything’s imminent. He also noted they’re still trying to trade goaltender Louis Domingue.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Lightning have a recent history of convincing their best RFA players to accept less than market value on short-term deals and rewarding them with lucrative long-term extensions if they play up to expectations. I expect they’ll have the same success with Point. With over $8.4 million in salary-cap space, they can afford to give him a healthy raise and still leave room for other moves later in the season.
NO COST-CUTTING TRADE FOR THE PENGUINS?
THE ATHLETIC: Josh Yohe reports Pittsburgh Penguins GM Jim Rutherford claims he doesn’t have to make a trade to free up salary-cap room to re-sign RFA defenseman Marcus Pettersson. “You can’t make a trade when you can’t find anyone to trade with,” Rutherford said. “Just the way it is.”
Yohe notes the Penguins are on the verge of exceeding the $81.5 million cap. Rutherford would prefer a long-term contract for Pettersson but an affordable bridge deal might alleviate their cap issues. Forwards Bryan Rust and Nick Bjugstad were the subjects of trade speculation but Rutherford wants to keep them.
Yohe speculates the Penguins could demote goalie Casey DeSmith ($1.25 million) or Tristan Jarry ($675K) and perhaps defenseman Zach Trotman ($700K), who’s on a two-way contract.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: One can dismiss the trade option as rival clubs could become more receptive to trades as training camp progresses.