Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – September 1, 2019

by | Sep 1, 2019 | Rumors | 49 comments

Updates on Jake Gardiner and Rasmus Ristolainen plus the latest Stars speculation in the Sunday NHL rumor roundup.


SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman recently weighed in on the status of Jake Gardiner, who remains unsigned with training camp less than two weeks away. While Friedman believes there’s mutual interest between Gardiner and the Toronto Maple Leafs, he wonders how the 29-year-old defenseman could increase his value by rejoining the Leafs in a potential third-pairing role.

Is returning to the Maple Leafs still an option for Jake Gardiner? (Photo via NHL Images)

If returning to the Leafs isn’t an option, Friedman said he’s heard the Montreal Canadiens, Arizona Coyotes, and Winnipeg Jets have been linked to Gardiner. The Buffalo Sabres could be another if they trade away Rasmus Ristolainen. So could the Carolina Hurricanes, depending on what they do.

Luke Fox also believes Montreal could be a destination for Gardiner, as well as the Detroit Red Wings and New Jersey Devils. He also noted Friedman naming the Jets as a possible destination.

Fox also wondered why it’s taking so long for Gardiner to land a new contract. Dominic Moore suggests part of it could be because NHL general managers could be letting the dust settle after a busy period from June into early July before determining their next moves.

TORONTO STAR: In a recent mailbag segment, Kevin McGran speculated Gardiner could return to the Leafs if Mitch Marner agreed to a short-term deal worth around $9 million per season. The defenseman would also have to agree to an affordable salary.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Most speculation this summer suggested Gardiner could have a verbal agreement with a team that’s waiting to make another move before officially signing him. When asked by pundits about his status, Gardiner has politely declined to elaborate, providing fodder for the “handshake agreement” theory.

Given the difficulty the Leafs seem to be facing getting Marner under contract, it appears unlikely they’ll bring back Gardiner. Still, general manager Kyle Dubas has proven capable of juggling his salary-cap space this summer so we probably shouldn’t fully dismiss that notion.

If Trevor van Riemsdyk takes longer to recover from shoulder surgery, perhaps the Hurricanes might consider Gardiner as a short-term replacement. However, they’ll likely give Haydn Fleury, Jake Bean or Gustav Forsling an opportunity.

The Canadiens and Jets could certainly use Gardiner. So could the Wings but GM Steve Yzerman could be willing to give his younger blueliners more playing time this season. If the Sabres trade Ristolainen it’s believed they’ll want a top-six forward in return. That probably won’t leave much cap room for Gardiner.


THE BUFFALO NEWS: During a recent mailbag segment, Lance Lysowski was asked why the Buffalo Sabres haven’t yet traded defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen. One reason could be the unusually large number of restricted free agent stars still unsigned by several teams. That includes the Jets, who seem an ideal fit for a Ristolainen deal.

Lysowski also feels Ristolainen didn’t do the Sabres any favors by publicly voicing his frustrations, hurting the club’s leverage in the trade market. He points out they’re not going to move the blueliner unless they get “a high-upside, 24-year-old right-shot defenseman with a reasonable contract.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Timing is also another factor. Teams usually don’t swing trades involving a significant player during the off-season’s dog days. But with the calendar flipped to September and training camps opening next week, activity could pick up in the trade market. That would improve the Sabres chances of landing a decent return for Ristolainen.


THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Matthew DeFranks recently observed the Stars are expected to put Martin Hanzal on long-term injury reserve when the season opens. The 32-year-old center has been hampered by a chronic back injury and carries a $4.75-million salary-cap hit.

Placing Hanzal on LTIR could allow the Stars to acquire a pending UFA player carrying an annual salary-cap hit between $4 and $5 million. Options could include Calgary defenseman T.J. Brodie, New York Rangers’ winger Chris Kreider, and Los Angeles’ Tyler Toffoli.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly indicates the Stars have around $970k in salary-cap space for the upcoming season with RFA blueliner Julius Honka to re-sign. It’s expected he’ll be traded or assigned to the minors if he accepts his qualifying offer.

Putting Hanzal on LTIR will give them some flexibility if they feel the need to bolster their roster via trade this season. It remains to be seen if they’ll go after someone like Brodie, Kreider or Toffoli but it could be worth keeping an eye on the Stars.


  1. The Stars could also have Stephen John’s $2,350,000 cap hit available if he’s unable to come back from lingering concussion problems.

    • He was just cleared to play

      • So was MacArthur a couple years back … briefly. Their injuries are eerily similar. One hit – like MacArthur took in an intra-squad game – and he’s maybe out again. I truly hope the kid has put it all in the past.

  2. The Stars are my sleeper pick to come out of the West this season.
    Nil has done an admirable job in Big D.

    • indeed re: Nill and Dallas. Pavelski is going to rub off nicely on Seguin. Heiskanen, Hintz and Dickinson will contribute even more this season and also thinking Benn will have a bounce back year. The Corey Perry gamble could pay off if he stays healthy.

    • Maybe this year’s St. Louis Blues – with a much bigger offensive bang than they’ve had in recent seasons.

    • Shortly after getting Pavelski, Sekera, and Perry tsn, espn were calling Dallas favorites in the west.

      What am I missing here? They signed a 35 yo free agent who will start heavy decline (I’d imagine) and 2 players on the wrong side of 30, that were bought out of their contracts from their former teams.

      • nyr4life ….they are deeper than last years team , the team that lost to the Blues in game 7 double OT. They have several good young players ready to play a bigger role this year.

      • As long as the wheels don’t fall off as they did for the Sens the year after losing in double-OT to the eventual Cup winners, Pittsburgh – they too had a slew of young kids joining vets.

  3. Why would Gardiner go back to Leafs in a 3rd pairing role? Should he sign 3rd pairing salary? Hilarious. He was booed in Toronto. Could you imagine having a crap game & listening to that rain down on you. JG to Leafs aint happening folks.

    • Well Vincois, all the reporting is that he does want to return.
      I don’t think it will happen either, but that is because the math doesn’t work. At least right now it doesn’t, but that could change.

  4. And The Bishop…Monty Python reference
    Bogosian not one full season in a 10 year span . Missed 233 man games and Hunwick gone for the season impacted their depth and that is why they added Miller and others. Not stock piling -replenishing. Unless they get a defence back as a part I would not be trading Ristolainen . Dahlin could experience the sophomore step back. Risto is gone long term but I am not thinking this year even.

  5. I just don’t see how Gardner can fit in the Leafs Cap/long term plan

    The only way (other than multiple moves…. which has extreme risk and uncertainty) is trading MM

    If they are trading MM …. for sure at least a top 4D (now or trending to) is coming back

    If Dubas does as I want … move WW… again the aforementioned D is coming back

    Gardner under those situations drops to 3rd pairing ; and how much can he expect to get paid as 3rd pairing Dman?

    Habs posters here… am I not right in assuming that Alzner gets buried again?

    If so …. Gardner signing with Habs makes way more sense to me than Gardner signing back with Leafs

    Also ….. Jets lose 3 D in off season …. they need to address this….. Gardner would be a good fit

    Gardner back as a Leaf?????

    Confused Pengy

    • If I were Bill Guerin I would be all over this and try everything I could to land Marner

      to TML: Spurgeon & Rask and 2nd rd pick

      to MIN: Marner

      they have the cap room and need to get significantly younger upfront.

      during the expansion they can give a 1st to Seattle to take Parise.

      this would (if true) give a league minimum salary room for TML to sign Gardiner to that 1 yr

      • Youre suggesting Marner for a good, but not great, D-man who can be a UFA next summer (the Leafs are chock full of that now), a vastly underachieving forward and a pick that has a one in four chance of turning into more than a fringe player. If Dubas does that, Leafs nation will be calling for his head.

      • Minny has no one Leafs need. I want to trade Marner but not for this. Leafs are in drivers seat, don’t give him away! Go to oilers, get Nurse

      • Fair enough Howard

        Minny needs to really think of ways to get younger upfront and get some scoring. Leveraging their D was a way I thought may work.

      • Anyone truly believe Holland will give up a premier D just coming into his own costing $3.2 mil this year for a hold-out RFA reportedly seeking in excess of $10 mil to add to a $12.5, $8.5, $6 and $5.70 mil group of F, giving him 5 F making $43,250,000 off the cap??

    • Yes, Alzner will be buried in Laval. He’ll be buried so deep he’ll think he’s in Mont Tremblant.
      This speculation, as well as the speculation based on Juliens recent comments, is serving as a big tease for us Habs fans that something will happen. But I think it’s more likely to be a trade for forward depth from a cap-strapped team than signing Gardiner.

      • I agree Howard. Ottawa is another in that category with plenty of cap space and, given their prospects for this season, under no great pressure to give up anything tangible to a cap-strapped team for a good, solid F in the $3-4 mil range with some term left. The closer we get to training camp the more the GMs of those cap-strapped teams will begin to sweat.

      • Howard, remember the cap space that the Habs will save when Alzner is sent down is not dollar for dollar. Someone else on this site broke it down and the $ saved will not create a whole lot more than the $4 million they have.

        Adding a depth forward won’t help the Habs much. They need an impact player, be in forward or D.

      • LJ, it was Howard who pointed that out 2 days ago, saying “Buried salary provides cap relief of up to $1,075,000 per contract. They’ll be burying Alzner, Weise and Peca. That’ll take them up to about $7m. in space. Enough to add a useful player.”

      • Howard and George, thanks for the update on the cap saving issue.

    • for WPG

      ya they definitely need to get that backend filled out

      could go Ehlers for Risto

      or go bigger

      to BUFF: Laine

      to WPG: Risto, Mittelstadt & 2 1sts

      Buff can always trade some assets to clear more room to sign Laine

      WPG can always trade some 1sts to deepen their backend
      and gives them room to sign Connor.

      Re MTL: yes Alzner will be buried although if MTL retains 50% I would trade Smith for him since his salary would be less. MTL has cap room to do that. NY does not have any room to retain. MTL gets an extra yr back in cap room hence the 50% retained.

      Problem for problem.

      • So basically 4-1st round picks for a guy that put up 50 points last year?


        Ristolainen put up 43 last year alone.

        Not a chance in hell Laine would get anywhere near that return. But if some GM looking to be unemployed or retire soon and offers that insane package for Laine…., Winnipeg should jump on it.

      • @nyr

        i understand it sounds huge but

        Laine is a pure goal scorer
        Buff NEEDS more than the Eichel line
        You compare points only but
        Laine has put up 36g, 44g, 30g in his last 3 years.

        Let’s say only 1 st rd pick in addition.

        Casey put up 12 goals his 1st season in the league while Laine put up 36.

        Ya just don’t find that natural scoring quite often.

        Risto had over 30 assist each of the last 3 years but what that stat does not tell you if it was primary or secondary assists.

        Goal scoring is purely primary. Ultimate value of why guys play or not.

        Risto is solid he falls down the depth chart and publicly called to be moved. Weakens the value and locker room drama can get sticky with players not wanting to be there. i.e. O’Reilly

        Risto, Mittelstadt & a 1st is worth giving up to get Laine and for WPG is helps fill out their roster.

        we disagree but I am sure if that option is on the table many people would sincerely consider it.

      • LJ, I’m the one that broke it down previously. The Habs will save about $1,050,000 each by burying Weise, Alzner and Peca. That’ll create room to add someone. I agree they could use an impact forward, but none are available at this point. I’d like to see them add a third line center (Nick Bjugstad?) to allow Domi to shift to wing and Kotkaniemi to get top 6 minutes; also to take some pressure off Poehling. The impact forwards will eventually have to come from within.

      • I don’t think any gm would sincerely consider this trade or anything remotely close to it. There hasn’t been a trade that looks like this in probably 2 decades. I can’t recall one in the cap era.

        Laine is a goal scorer, but a pretty one dimensional guy. Who showed long strings of inconsistencies last year. He also plays more minutes, and has significantly better line mates than Mittelstadt.

        If we’re going to go down the road of secondary assists for Ristolainen, we need to do the same for Laine , and tack on empty net goals as well.

        There isn’t a gm out there that would even consider this trade, unless like I said above…. he’s looking to end his gm career.

      • They should trade Casey Middlefat now, I’m not a fan of guys who are out of shape. Dahlin his roommate says he’s always eating chip and salsa plus hot wings. I would trade him and Risto plus a first round pick for Connor

      • George, I messaged you at the posting of two days ago (Friday) re the correct dollar info on the Habs’ Cap, after I got off my flight (the Azores).

        I’m sure you missed it as I posted it 24 hours late.

        Please go back and take a look, I don’t have the energy to do it again.

    • I know Gardiner has said he loves the leafs and it’s been covered he wants to stay. Maybe his thought is stick around for one more season. He is sometimes painful to watch but would be a positive on the blue line even if it’s on the third line. Sacrificing one season at a lesser amount but having a chance to win a cup in toronto would be worth it

    • Marner and hymen for dumba and Zucker. Ceci dumped with a couple late round picks ( leafs have tons I.i. 4th, 6th, 7th) sign Gardiner 1 year 5.5m . Same cap hit that fits under cap if mmr signed for 10.5 m. Easy. Done

      • Only if Guerin’s middle name is “Dumb” – nice to dream though.

  6. Pengy & Ray – any time Gardiner mentioned a possible return to the Leafs it was in response to a media question along those lines. The guy was just following the politically-correct path, not wanting to burn any bridges, however remote. He knows – as should any media type with an ounce of brains – that that just does not add up given the cap restraints already faced by Dubas – not unless, as you point out Pengy, there is a bigger trade in the offing and even then, if someone like Nylander was dealt, you just know some sort of D-man has to be in the return. I say “someone like”: because that is just not going to happen until and unless Nylander shows a return to his early form over an entire season. And in that event, why would Dubas then trade him?

    Gardiner and his agent entered this year’s UFA market likely looking at a long-term deal at a significant raise over his previous salary, and then got caught up in the whirlwind of other early roster moves around the league, and now find themselves almost hat-in-hand looking for a team that a) has the cap space AND need for his services and b) isn’t scared off by the lingering ? regarding his back issues. They may well be nothing significant – but with more and more GMs beginning to keep a closer eye on being burdened with albatross contracts, young D prospects all across the league r eady to take that next step up, along with a looming expansion draft, he’s just become the odd man out and will have to swallow his expectations and be happy with a short-term deal at a lot lower salary than he initially thought he could get.

    • George:
      Several teams, notably the Canadiens, Islanders, and Devils, are said to have been willing to offer-sheet Marner, and the Leafs would evidently have matched any offer. But how much more than 4 consecutive number 1 picks would the Leafs find acceptable in a trade? How much more than that would a team be willing to give? Would you reject out-of-hand the notion that Gardiner believes there’s a deal to be made that will minimize the loss of Marner this season, increase the Leafs’ prospects for future seasons and expansion, and allow the Leafs enough cap room to bring him back and retain Nylander? I’m looking for certification that I’m sane.

      • OK, first of all WHO said that the Habs, Isles and NJ were willing to offer sheet Marner, and where did they get their info. Certainly not from Bergevin, Lamoriello or Shero, at least two of whom are notoriously tight-lipped GMs who keep things very close to the vest. And whatever they were thinking, if they did share those thoughts with anybody, the last one they’d tell was Gardiner. So where would HE get that idea?

        Forget that notion. Whatever Gardiner and his agent thought they could get as a UFA when the process started is long gone. Now he’s reduced to hoping against hope that there’s some team that has an actual need for a D-man of his type who will come calling with at least a 3-year offer and a salary close to what he earned in Toronto last season.

        But of the 31 teams, several are still trying to come to terms with expensive key RFAs, none of whom are apt to get offer sheets due to limited cap space by almost all 31 (some of whom are now over the cap):

        Toronto (Marner – and now close to $3 mil OVER the cap), Washington (no RFAs but $1,364,294 over the cap), Buffalo (no RFAs but $1,059,524 over the cap), Pittsburgh (Pettersson and $157,500 over the cap; NYR ($1,010,201 in cap space with RFAs DeAngelo & Lemieux); Boston ($7,294,167 in cap space but with RFAs Carlo & McAvoy); Calgary ($7,756,625 in cap space with RFAs Tkachuk & Mangiapane; St Louis ($1,970,406 in cap space – RFA Barbashev;

        Add that to these teams which have limited cap space and would therefore need to make another move to bring in Gardiner:

        Edmonton ($2,433,001 in cap space); Chicago ($3,336,539 in cap space with RFA Perlini to sign);
        Tampa Bay – $8,476,669 in cap space but need to sign RFA Point; Philadelphia – $13,417,421 in cap space with RFAs Provorov & Konecny still to sign;
        Winnipeg – $17,592,503 in cap space but needing to sign RFAs Comrie, Connor, Laine; Arizona ($178,099 in cap space); Florida ($781,331 in cap space); Vegas ($1,025,001 in cap space); Nashville ($1,334,524 in cap space); Carolina ($2,495,209 in cap space – re-signing Justin Williams probably); Dallas ($970,001 in cap space – RFA Honka to sign); San Jose ($4,682,583 in cap space – no RFAs – but could still sign Thornton and/or Marleau);

        That’s 20 of the 31 teams highly unlikely to sign Gardiner let alone offer-sheet Marner

        That leaves these 11 who, while not about to offer-sheet Marner, COULD bring in Gardiner at the right deal for them IF any have a specific need for what he brings to the table:

        Detroit ($4,270,457 in cap space); NYI ($4,653,334 in cap space); L.A. ($8,740,606 in cap space – RFA Kempe to sign); Anaheim ($8,500,242 in cap space);
        Minnesota ($7,958,911 in cap space – RFA Fiala to sign); New Jersey ($8,711,667 in cap space – RFA Zacha to sign); Ottawa ($10,890,001 in cap space – – already have Zaitsev and Hainsy); Columbus – $15,765,918 in cap space – RFA Werenski to sign);
        Colorado – $15,615,239 in cap space – RFA Rantanen to sign;

        Montreal ($4,044,524 in cap space – with $1,075,000 of each of Alzner’s. Peca’s and Weiss’ contracts buried in Laval again – that’s the best and likely only spot for Gardiner);

    • Hi George

      I truly believe that if Dubas did make a call and if there was a team with (1) space ; (2) need of top 6 winger; (3) already at 8 or more NHL D…. that a trade is there that WW (even now) would bring back an early/mid 20’s D that is either now or trending to top 3D/4D

      The reason is (1) he is extremely cost effective now …. league min for 19/20; only costs < $5M annually in cash for balance of contract ; and (2) dies have the potential to get to a $7M annual value ; and (3) most recent performance (note away from Leaftown) at *worlds was very good

      Yes I realize that worlds are not NHL and less hitting; but he did perform very well

      I would peg his value based JUST on last season at say $4M per

      So team gets $4M player (with $7M potential) for $700 K

      To me that’s worth an up and coming mid 20’s Dman

      Let me put it another way … Buff paid Guhle and a 1st for Montour

      To me WW at $700 K this year is worth way more than 1st + Guhle…. so his value should be enough to get a Montour type

      I would love to see

      WW for Pullock it

      WW for Sanheim


  7. Is Dion Phaneuf career over?

    • Rumor is he is going back to TML with Gardiner…. lol

    • Most likely. He’s slower than Alzner (although he’d probably come in a lot cheaper IF he really wants to play again).

  8. Laine is a puzzle: will he grow and develop or is he really as slow and defensively poor as seemed at times: no doubt he can score but the league might have him figured out. Jets interested in Marner? If so, I would ask for Kyle Connor. Laine for Marner? Doubtful

    • As with Holland almost assuredly saying no to a Marner for Nurse proposal, so too – for the same cap reasons – would Cheveldayov reject an unsigned RFA seeking in excess of $10 mil for one of his own likely demanding a lot less than that. I get that that was meant to show what Marner might fetch – but no GM is going to trade one pig-in-a-poke for another.

      • Hey Ken Holland, dont listen to George, move the money or whatever it is u have to do to get Marner for Nurse 7 days a week, sincerely, Connor McDavid, every GM in the NHL and ANYBODY who has ever watched an NHL hockey game ever lol seriously George? Wow

      • Noun [ C usually pl ] US /ˈɪn·trɪ·kə·si/
        a detail that is part of something complicated:
        No one could understand all the intricacies of the deal.

      • Move the money where and who do they move to accommodate a F seeking in excess of $10 mil? You clearly think it’s doable for Holland, so enlighten us with some names they might move and where, exactly, they might move them. Not just some pie-in-the-sky trade of the type Leafs fans love to toss around. Get real

  9. What does it have to do with me being a fan of Toronto? Edmonton will be getting the better end of the deal, when that happens the general manager of the team that cant believe his luck in getting a deal like that rubs his hands together in disbelief and makes it happen, but George it will never happen because it was stupid of you to say that Edmonton wouldn’t do it and Toronto wouldn’t do it anyway,I don’t have to come up with a scenario just don’t say anything stupid like that anymore that’s all

    • Noun [ C usually pl ] US /ˈɪn·trɪ·kə·si/
      a detail that is part of something complicated:
      No one could understand all the intricacies of the deal.

      • I’m score