NHL Rumor Mill – November 20, 2019
The latest on the Leafs, Flames, and Sabres in today’s NHL rumor mill.
COACHING CHANGE OR TRADE FOR THE LEAFS AND FLAMES?
TSN: Bob McKenzie doesn’t believe the struggling Calgary Flames are considering replacing Bill Peters as head coach. He reports general manager Brad Treliving is trying to shake things up with a trade but there’s nothing imminent on that front.
Darren Dreger said there’s ongoing speculation over the availability of certain players like Mark Jankowski, Oliver Kylington and Michael Frolik. He also suggests the possibility of moving defenseman Travis Hamonic as the trade deadline creeps closer, though they could also retain him if they’re a playoff club by that point. Hamonic is slated to become an unrestricted free agent next summer.
The Leafs ongoing struggles raised questions about coach Mike Babcock’s future in Toronto. McKenzie doesn’t believe the Toronto Maple Leafs are predisposed to a coaching change in-season. However, the Leafs can’t afford many more games like their 6-1 loss on Saturday to Pittsburgh.
THE ATHLETIC: James Mirtle wonders what the Leafs will do with Tyson Barrie as his poor start continues to worsen. The defenseman’s recent play and tiny salary ($2.75 million) makes it hard for the cap-strapped Leafs to get a decent return. Mirtle suggests a deal for Colin Miller, who seems to have fallen out of favor with the Buffalo Sabres. He also proposed a deal with another club that retains salary to get the contracts to match, pointing out the Leafs showed off-season interest in Flames rearguard TJ Brodie.
ESPN.COM: Emily Kaplan thinks the Leafs should address their backup goalie issues by trying to acquire Casey DeSmith or Tristan Jarry from the Pittsburgh Penguins. Greg Wyshynski suggests they should go further by flipping Barrie and a sweetener to the Penguins for fellow UFA defenseman Justin Schultz.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: A coaching change appears more likely in Toronto than Calgary. With the Leafs winless in six, Babcock’s future remains a hot topic. We’re also hearing more trade rumblings regarding the Flames than the Leafs, though that doesn’t mean the latter isn’t exploring the market.
Cap Friendly indicates the Flames and Leafs have limited salary-cap space. If they’re going to deal with each other, it’ll likely have to be dollar-for-dollar. Given Brodie’s recent medical scare, I don’t think he’s going anywhere for the time being. The Leafs can’t afford to take on Schultz’s $5.5 million cap hit unless the Penguins absorb a big chunk of it, which they’re unlikely to do.
The Sabres have more cap space (over $2 million) and could pick up a bit of Miller’s $3.75-milllion cap hit to get Barrie in return. But as we’ll see, they’re not in the market for a defenseman.
SABRES SEEK A FORWARD
WGR 550: Paul Hamilton reports Buffalo Sabres GM Jason Botterill acknowledged he’s actively seeking a forward to improve his struggling club. He also admitted the difficulty in a salary-cap world of swinging a major deal in November.
That doesn’t mean Botterill will shop a defenseman. He wants to ensure he’s got sufficient blueline depth in case injuries strike. However, they already have nine blueliners on their roster and three NHL-ready rearguards (Lawrence Pilut, Will Borgen and Casey Nelson) in the minors.
Sidelined defenseman Zach Bogosian is close to returning to the roster. That means any trades the Sabres make could be dollar-in, dollar-out.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Botterill might be reluctant to move a defenseman but I don’t see how he can address his need for a scoring forward without parting with a blueliner. He’s got several potential trade chips on his blueline in Miller, Rasmus Ristolainen, and Marco Scandella.