Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – November 17, 2019
The Leafs’ losing skid is stoking speculation about a trade or a coaching change. Check out the latest in the Sunday NHL rumor roundup.
SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman suggests anything is possible regarding a coaching change for the Toronto Maple Leafs, who are winless in their last five games. Chris Johnston believes the Leafs are worried about the process more than just the losses, noting how they’ve fallen early in the games. “Everything has to be considered,” said Johnston. “There’s a lot riding on this season for the entire Leafs organization.”
In a later segment, Brian Burke believes the clock is ticking on Leafs coach Mike Babcock. He points out they’ve replaced the two assistant coaches and it hasn’t helped. They’ve got the guy they want sitting in the wings, referring to Marlies coach Sheldon Keefe.
Regarding the Leafs backup goaltending, Johnston believes they want to see more than just one game from call-up Kasimir Kaskisuo. If they decide to look outside the organization, Johnston suggests keeping an eye on Pittsburgh’s Tristan Jarry.
The Penguins have two very good goalies in Jarry and Casey DeSmith behind starter Matt Murray. Johnston feels the Pens could move one of them if the right offer came along. Jarry is 24, off to a great start to this season, and is affordable for a cap-strapped team like the Leafs.
Friedman also said there’s been lots of recent chatter over Tyson Barrie. The defenseman hasn’t asked for a trade but so far things haven’t worked with the Leafs.
Barrie’s in his contract year and the Leafs have received calls about his availability. So far, they’ve rejected the idea and don’t want to trade him. The Leafs are carrying just $2.75 million of his $5.5 million salary-cap hit. Friedman says we’ll see what happens over the next month but there’s a recognition this situation cannot continue for Barrie.
Blame Babcock and Dubas, but where are the so-called leaders on this team??? Everyone wearing a letter — and/or is making the lion’s share of the cap, because they wanted to be paid like stars — deserves even more blame.
— Michael Traikos (@Michael_Traikos) November 17, 2019
If I’m Dubas, I wouldn’t fire Babcock. After what the GM went through each of the past two summers, I wouldn’t let the players off that easily. No way. This is their mess to clean. — Michael Traikos (@Michael_Traikos) November 17, 2019
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Things are getting ugly for the Leafs right now. While all the fingers are pointing at Dubas for his off-season moves and Babcock over his handling of the roster, Traikos makes a fair point about the team leaders. Making a coaching change will help but it could also give those players the feeling that they’re untouchable.
It safe to say captain John Tavares and alternates Auston Matthews, Morgan Rielly, and the sidelined Mitch Marner aren’t going anywhere. The next logical step could be replacing Babcock with Sheldon Keefe.
The Leafs need better goaltending depth behind Frederik Andersen and an upgrade on defense. Landing Jarry would certainly help between the pipes, but Penguins GM Jim Rutherford isn’t in any hurry to swing a deal right now. When he does, he could seek a quality roster player in return.
Barrie hasn’t worked out as hoped. A mobile defenseman who’s tallied 49-or-more points in four of the last five seasons, he’s got just six points in 22 games with the Leafs. Another month like that and he’ll be on the trade block, perhaps for a more defensive-minded blueliner.