NHL Rumor Mill – January 16, 2020

by | Jan 16, 2020 | Rumors | 43 comments

Suggested defense targets for the Leafs, possible destinations for former Vegas coach Gerard Gallant, updates on the Sabres, and much more today’s NHL rumor mill.


SPORTSNET: Sonny Sachdeva compiled a list of seven potential trade targets for the Toronto Maple Leafs to bolster their injury-depleted defense corps. They include T.J. Brodie or Travis Hamonic of the Calgary Flames, Brenden Dillon of the San Jose Sharks, Alec Martinez of the Los Angeles Kings, Nikita Zadorov or Ian Cole of the Colorado Avalanche, and Zach Bogosian of the Buffalo Sabres.

Could Alec Martinez be a trade target for the Toronto Maple Leafs? (Photo via NHL Images)

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Brodie, Hamonic, Dillon, and Martinez would be the best bests. Brodie and Hamonic were rumored to be available earlier this season, recent speculation linked Dillon to the Leafs, while the Kings are reportedly willing to entertain offers for Martinez. I’m not convinced the Avs intend to shake up their blueline, while the oft-injured Bogosian would be too risky.

The Flames could seek a skilled, affordable forward like Kaspari Kapanen or Andreas Johnsson for Brodie or Hamonic. That could also be the rebuilding Kings’ asking price for Martinez. I believe Dillon could be had for a draft pick and a prospect.


THE HOCKEY NEWS: Jared Clinton lists the Calgary Flames, Chicago Blackhawks, Dallas Stars, Detroit Red Wings, New Jersey Devils, and the Seattle expansion franchise as potential destinations for former Vegas Golden Knights head coach Gerard Gallant, who was fired yesterday along with long-time assistant coach Mike Kelly.

SPORTSNET: Rory Boylen includes the Colorado Avalanche, Minnesota Wild, San Jose Sharks, and Winnipeg Jets among his list of possible suitors.

THE DETROIT NEWS: Ted Kulfan wonders if Gallant will be reunited with former Red Wings teammate and long-time friend Steve Yzerman in Detroit.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A well-respected “players’ coach” who won the Jack Adams Award guiding the then-expansion Golden Knights to the 2018 Stanley Cup Final, Gallant won’t be unemployed for long. The Wings seem like the best fit, as Yzerman could prefer bringing in his own man after inheriting coach Jeff Blashill. With the Wings’ rebuild stalled, a shakeup behind the bench could be necessary.

The Wild could be ready for a coaching change if they miss the playoffs. The Devils have shown some improvement under interim bench boss Alain Nasreddine, but probably not enough to ensure he keeps the job. I wouldn’t be surprised if Seattle general manager Ron Francis checks to see if Gallant would like to coach another expansion franchise.

Most of the other candidates will be determined by how those clubs finish this season. I don’t think the Avs will part ways with Jared Bednar, who’s done a fine job helping to mold that club into a perennial playoff club. The Flames could stick with interim coach Geoff Ward. Paul Maurice deserves credit for juggling the Jets’ depleted blueline, though a strong performance by goalie Connor Hellebuyck is the biggest factor there. The Blackhawks could stay the course with Jeremy Colliton if they reach the postseason. The Stars are doing well under Rick Bowness so there’s no certainty he’ll be replaced this summer.


WGR 550: In a recent interview, Buffalo Sabres GM Jason Botterill said he wants to make trades that will add to his roster. He denied that he’s waiting for the trade deadline to make moves. “We’re open to trying to find something that can certainly add to our group, but it hasn’t materialized. We’ll continue to look at it, and there’s no use to saying that we’re close on a trade or this and that. Until it actually happens and we announce something, it’s just talk.”

THE BUFFALO NEWS: In a recent mailbag segment, Lance Lysowski said the Sabres are stuck salary-cap wise for this season. However, they’ll have $33 million in projected salary-cap space next season and would be best served waiting until the summer to make significant trades. Lysowski also said Botterill currently refuses to trade defensemen Rasmus Ristolainen and Brandon Montour.

THE ATHLETIC: Joe Yerdon recently explored the limited trade scenarios for Sabres defenseman Zach Bogosian. One would be a money-in, money-out deal, or attempting to swap him for another club’s unhappy player. Otherwise, the Sabres could be faced with either a mutual contract termination or he finishes the season in Buffalo and departs in the summer as a free agent.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Sabres have featured prominently for months in the rumor mill. They’ve already made a couple of deals, shipping Marco Scandella to Montreal for a draft pick and flipping that pick to Calgary for Michael Frolik. However, they’ve yet to make the big move that brings them a much-need scorer.

The fact Botterill cannot find a suitable deal suggests rival clubs are attempting to exploit the Sabres’ desperate plight this season. It could also indicate there’s no interest in the players Botterill is shopping.


SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reported there’s been at least one legitimate offer for New Jersey Devils defenseman Sami Vatanen, with more expected to come. Devils captain Andy Greene said he hasn’t discussed his future with management. Winger Wayne Simmonds would prefer to stay with the Devils. The trio is due to become unrestricted free agents in July.

Friedman also wonders what the Devils will do with veterans who have term remaining on their contracts, such as Kyle Palmieri and Blake Coleman. He always assumes New York Islanders GM Lou Lamoriello wants Travis Zajac.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I expect Vatanen will be moved before the trade deadline. There could be a market for Greene or Simmonds, but I wouldn’t be surprised if both are still with the Devils after the 3 pm ET deadline on Feb. 24. Palmieri has come up a lot in recent rumors, most of which link him to the Boston Bruins.

Friedman expects the Golden Knights will continue their search for a defenseman.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: They’ve been linked to the Devils’ Sami Vatanen. They could also kick the tires on Los Angeles Kings blueliner Alec Martinez. Given their limited cap space, it’ll have to be a dollar-for-dollar deal or they’ll have to make a salary-dumping move to clear sufficient cap room.

Friedman also repeated his previous report suggesting San Jose Sharks GM Doug Wilson isn’t interested in blowing up his roster core. Friedman expects interest in defenseman Brenden Dillon and winger Melker Karlsson, and wonders if there’s a market for goalie Aaron Dell. He also anticipates Wilson will be aggressive this summer.

He also said the Anaheim Ducks are willing to use their cap space to help a cap-strapped rival, provided they’re willing to part with young assets.


  1. With TML injuries on their DCore would Bogo make sense? by the tiem the other guys like Reilly heal, Bogo will be injured again and go back on LTIR to offset cap space lol.

    As far as Gallant, my vote is DET.

    • IHC: Interesting idea on Bogo but I think TML will pass on that for all the reasons you cited but I agree that Gallant and Detroit might just be a fit and maybe happen sooner, rather than later

  2. If the Sabres GM makes another trade like ROR trade in done, taking back all that dead weight in cap hit was nonsense, Berglund and Svobokta what was he thinking! Sabres have three young cheaply signed D men in AHL that can play now, trade Any D in NHL that’s not Dahlin or Jokiharju… Risto, McCabe, Miller, Montour should be avail if a quality forward is out there and I’m not talking about average guys like Toffoli or Kreider who will get paid Obscene amounts of money in the off-season. Scout AHL, look for guys who need a chance. Picking up these slow average overpriced players is worthless.

    • My list for the Bruins hasn’t changed….. Palmieri & Ross The Boss ……waiting Sweeney & Neely

    • Matt, I don’t see Risto or Montour going anywhere.I agree on Joker and Dahlin. McCabe and Miller are expendable. Bogo will be a trade deadline deal with the Sabres holding salary.

      I’m still convinced Botterill was told to trade ROR at all costs before that 7.5 mil bonus was to be due. I think he is taking the heat for the Pegulas to be honest. You know how Kimmy doesn’t like a bad light shined on the team and that interview ROR did sealed it.

      Botterill won’t do a big deal till the summer when he has all that cap space open, something like 33 mil.. Another wasted year of Eichel.

  3. I think TML , barring a trade too good to pass up on, will just plug n play the year out. Both Brodie and Hamoniic are UFA’s so giving up KK for what amounts to a rental makes no sense vs the cost certainty that KK gives them.

    Martinez has another year left on his contract and that might be worth looking into as it would reunite Muzzin and Martinez if a deal could be done

    • Brenden Dillon would be nice big cheap do it Kyle

  4. Travis Zajac would be a decent option for the Isles as a 3rd line center although 5M+ hit for one more year may be a bit steep for a soon to be 35 year old especially when already paying guys such as Komarov and Ladd,

    • i hope NJ cleans house and that locker room

      Zajac is a good guy but has been part of their leadership that has taken them nowhere. I’d keep him as the 2 or 3 c for the remainder of his contract (1yr) for the sole purpose of his face off and defensive play.
      Everyone else needs to go
      I hope they wise up and do not resign Greene and especially Simmonds.
      Vatanen is worth talking to and see where his head is at $$ wise. NJ needs to use its space to clean up the roster.

      IF a overwhelming offer comes for Palmieri then do it and build more. Don’t take a low ball offer.

      That Schneider contract is the tough one bc it does not allow them to bid for Holtby or other options.

      perhaps Fitzgerald remains GM and hires Hextal as assistant?

      • Devils still a mystery. Off season moves looked solid. D looked deep… top 9 forwards with speed and decent hands up and down….
        no chemistry

        trade most of the vets and give Nico the C?

      • Agreed DS….thought some wild card contention from the summer roster.

        ..and actually I would not give Nico the C yet.

        I’d look to find a vet that has had success in the league on the team level. Someone who has playoff experience and had success there also. That would be my Captain; and I do not mean PK lol.

        Team is starving for fresh leadership that has had some success. Definitely need new experienced and successful voices in that room.

        Nico can have the A for a little longer. No need to rush the kid and make him a token C.

      • @Ihate
        My point with Nico getting the C is a restart for the team. Its gonna be nico+hughes for a long time. the current leadership even with this new streak and life did not cut it.

  5. In this market you really need to give up talent to get talent… I’m tired of KKap’s name being thrown around constantly. Yes WW is probably a better hockey player at the end of the day, but he’s signed for more than 2x the $ and almost 2x the term…in my very “arm chair” GM world they aren’t that far apart to justify those numbers. WW should be a 60ish pt player (30/30) ideally and KKaps on the same line is probably a 40-50pt player. Assuming that WW playing at his current level brings you a top 4 (potentially top 2) d-man that is going to shut down your opponents and bring 25-30pts themselves why hasn’t this trade happened yet?

    • Leafs Medic: I hear ya and I agree but opinions seem to vary about whether or not WW can be traded B4 July 01 because of a signing bonus due to be paid out.

      George O did a detailed search on whether or not a player with a signing bonus due July 01 can be traded ahead of July 01 along with the cash equivalent of that signing bonus to another team and it appeared to read “: nope”

      Now if somebody has a link to the contrary to answer that very question, by all means share with us all but to date, that’s one of the reasons WW is still a Maple Leaf

      • Last season, with the contract negotiations and missing all of training cam, was an aberration for Nylander following 2 solid seasons of 20g/60-opdd pts. With 20g 21a 41 pts so far this year, and 35 games to go, he’s on pace for a 35g 37a 72-pt season.

        Yeah, he should return the kind of D-man cited by LeafsMedic IF Dubas could find a team that a) sees a Nylander-type player as a basic need on their roster, b) has and is prepared to relinquish the kind of D-man he describes, and c) can accommodate the almost $7 mil cap hit either through their available cap space, or having sent back a D-man with an almost identical cap hit – or a combination of both.

        Sounds simple in discussion sites such as this one – but reality is far different. F such as Nylander, while valuable to any team, are nowhere near as valuable as a solid Top 4 D-man who is also potentially a Top 2, with a manageable contract and term.

        That team would also need to be one with significant D depth otherwise they’d just be robbing Peter to pay Paul, so to speak, by solving one need by creating another.

      • LeafsMedic and Joey


        The WW return in top 2 D or 3D(young/mid 20’s with term) plus maybe a pick or prospect ; AND extra space VS maybe (big maybe) loss of 10 goals/year by playing Kappy in his (WW’s) place …. no brainer

        Re when WW can be traded ….. anytime prior to TDL or after season ends…. the SB has no play in when he can be traded other than the SB is paid by whichever team owns him on 1/7/20. Just like with Marleau …. traded pre SB …. Canes bit the bullet on paying the SB

        Best time to trade him (WW) IMHO is after SB is paid…. then remaining cash next year is inly $2.5 M and only approx $5.0 M cash AAV for balance of contract …. highest return then

        Again , I believe the Leafs window starts next year; so rash moves for rentals now; should be avoided

        GO LEAFS GO

  6. I think the Leafs need to stay away from most of these mentioned options. Bobo is not just injury prone but also not very good when healthy. The deal that makes sense for Leafs is not a band-aid but a longer term deal that brings in quality..I still think Ducks as a partner make sense. Maybe Martinez reunited with Muzz makes sense too but how good is Alec M? The Gallant firing makes little sense to me especially in favor of DeBoer. Vegas is over-rated, in my view and they are playing about where they should be talent-wise.

  7. What about TML trading Kappanen or Johnsson to Buf for Kapanen or Montour? I hvent done the dollars on this, but it would solve problems in both clubs IMO.

    • Botterill should call up Dubas and chuckle while saying “Want to reunite JT & Okposo? they did well on Long Island”

      then offer

      Okposo & Risto

      for Kapanen, Johansson & Ceci

      then keep chuckling

      • I think they`d both be laughing after that phone call and Okposo would still be playing for Buffalo after the call

  8. The Leafs have structural problems with their D. Much more fundamental than issues relating to injuries to Muzzin or Reilly, and whether they make this year’s play off. These fundamental D issues are the ones that need to be addressed, I think.

    Until you fix those you are not going anywhere so management should not involve themselves with temporary injury related trades route unless the other teams are interested in AJ or less. The other assets ( Kapenan and up) should be saved for a good D asset only.

    M prediction is that it will be NYlander after his July 1 bonus is paid. For whom I don’t know. This will also be the date of free agency and the Leafs may be able to sign someone of quality which would also change the calculations.

    But in the short term no panic stuff IMO.

    • OBD: Ya exactly. I think TML will just plug n play the year out as per their D situation and then address things during the summer.

      • Yes please (and thanks)

        Best to: Tweak now w/o giving up futures; IF absolutely necessary

        Then bigger; prudent; long term moves in summer


        GO LEAFS GO

    • OBD, there are the 11 D-men among what The Hockey News cites as the Top 30 UFAs that might be available later this year, showing their age and current cap hit

      Pietrangelo – 29 – $6.5
      Krug – 28 – $5,250,000
      Barrie – 26 – $2,750,000
      Muzzin – 30 – $4 mil
      Vatanen – 28 – $4,875,000
      Shattenkirk – 30 – $1,750,000
      Brodie – 29 – $4.650,000
      Schultz – 29 – $5.5
      Gudas – 29 – $2,345,000
      Tanev – 30 – $4,450,000
      Chara – 42 – $2.4

      Some may well re-sign with their current teams but at this stage who does that is wide open to speculation.

      I keep hearing in here that, with their cap projection heading into next season, the Leafs “can’t afford” to re-up Muzzin and Barrie (and probably don’t want any part of Ceci never mind affording him) so that begs the question, which among that list of the “best” UFA D available could they hope to bring in at a cap hit they could accommodate who would be seen as improvements over Muzzin and Barrie?

      • George, I see TML attempting to resign Muzzin and possibly consider trading for Martinez from LA.

        I see TML walking away from both Barrie and Ceci; at season’s end

        As a UFA, Radko Gudas has appeal IMO but I’m sure he will likely resign in Washington

      • Bruins won’t move Krug now cause they need him for his offense & PP game….depends on how McAvoy plays ROS whether they resign him at 7+ tough spot for Bruins cause Krug isn’t very good on the D

      • Joey, I’m sure they walk away from Barrie and Ceci, but neither is factored into their cap situation for next season, nor is Muzzin for that matter.

        According to CapFriendly they have $69,271,866 committed to 13 players leaving $12,228,134 to sign 10. IF the cap goes to $84 mil that will up to $14,578,134.

        Might sound like plenty, but they have6 RFAs to re-sign – or replace (Engvall, Brooks, Timashov, Gauthier, Dermott, Mikheyev) who, collectively, currently costs them as ELCs a total of $4,841,944 off the cap. Some will get bigger raises than others, of course, but let’s say the total increase is marginal and amounts to just $6mil.

        Using the projected cap, that leaves them $8,578,134 to sign 4. At this stage of his career, Muzzin will certainly see a decent raise from his current $4 mil. Again, let’s say “marginal” and figure $5.5 . Now they’re down to $3 mil and change to sign 3. Martinez – assuming L.A. is prepared to give up one of just 2 veteran D they have – has another year to go at $4 mil. Not enough left to accommodate him and two more roster spots. And we’re not even talking about a replacement for Hutchinson, another UFA who won’t be back. He costs just $700,000 now. What will his replacement cost?

        If they deal Nylander for a “Top 4” D-man capable of becoming a Top 2, it isn’t going to be anyone with that ability and be cost-controlled for a while. It would be someone making close to what Nylander is costing now, so very little – if anything – gained there.

        I’m not trying to be controversial here – just looking at the numbers and trying to see how they fit in any new components.

    • TML want Staal & Gorgi for Kapa & Hutch?

      • Even if NY ate half of Staals contract Dumbas wouldn`t take Staal. He doesn`t fit Toronto`s idea of a defenceman. He`s not 5-9 and he can`t skate. I`ll bet if you mentioned Fox`s name Dumbas would sit up and listen. I don`t think that Toronto is going to trade for anybody. They believe that their offence is going to overpower everybody. Keefe has said he`d like to add another skilled forward.

  9. If the Leafs would like Gunnerson back on a sign-and-trade, him may be available. Him and Sanford for Kappenan.

    • Toronto should never have traded Gunnerson in the first place but now he`s way too fragile and they would have no need for another 4th liner in Sanford. Why sign and trade

      • Right, Gunner has two years, not one I thought.

  10. @ Pengy: Thanks for the SB clarification: Ya I think WW, if he gets traded at all, will occur after July 01.

    ? then is who sees Nylander as one of the answers to their scoring problems who is willing to trade for salary and term while giving up enough assets to satisfy TML?

    • Hi Joey

      I don’t see a trade-fit partner specifically now ; but post season ; there should be a few teams with the reverse make up of leafs (Leafs : loaded on the scoring front; shy on D strength/depth; shy on Cap room)

      There will be long-term adjustments by several teams post-season after evaluating how they did in-year and in play-offs if they make it

      I can tell you for sure that it won’t be Bolts trading for WW😁

  11. Another Toronto D man thought that keeps coming to me….hold 50% on Barrie and trade him for futures….how about Barrie at 50% for puljarvi or for a late 1 st…….Leafs are not winning with this guy at the wheel….at team that needs points from the D and feel they need to do something this year….may think he is needed

    • At the trade deadline, what’s left of Barrie’s $2,750,000 cap hit will be negligible making 50% of that amount to nothing. Nor can I see Holland giving up the right to Puljujarvi for a perceived sieve who’s not helping the Leafs win now. Why would Holland want him n his D? And, sorry to say, OBD, Barrie is not bring back a 1st – late or otherwise.

      • If Barrie is part of a bigger trade such as Barrie and Kappy I can see Holland being interested. That fills 2 needs for Edmonton. Edmonton gives Larsson and Pulijujarvi, helps both teams money is close

    • Hi OBD

      No more can be retained on him …. 50 % (which he’s at) is the max…. unfortunately can’t retain 50 % (of the 50 %); otherwise there is anotherCBA loophole for successive trades at 50% parsing out Cap to several teams again benefiting cash richCap poor teams

      He has value to Leafs for sure at current Cap hit

      Trading him now won’t IMHO fill the same need with same and/or less Cap

      Leafs are not a contender until starting next year so tweak trades are the most that should be done this year unless it is a younger player with term coming back (available for cup contending years)

    • Well, you have to think then, that in the back of his head, and if Muzzin agrees to his top offer, that Dubas has already decided on moving a roster player with term and a cap hit of at least $2.5 mil, likely at the draft or early summer, to free up some space. Someone like Johnsson, Kapanen or Kerfoot as suggested in the article. There’s no other way they can do it short of going with 21 instead of 23 signed … and that’s a dangerous road.

  12. Toronto seems to be dealing with their salary cap pretty well.
    They have been competitive even with lots of injuries to key personnel.
    I’m sure people are surprised with the way Toronto’s prospects seem to be able to come up and play effectively.
    They have developed well , 12 players have come through the Marlies. They are a very young team.
    But maybe they should give up and trade them all for draft picks.

  13. 2021 Leafs D will likely be

    Reilly + Muzzin
    Dermott + Hill
    Sandin + Lillegren(?)

    I don’t see Kerfoot remaining in Toronto. Kappy and Jonsson have both had some time/success playing with Matthews line … Kerfoot hasn’t had that opportunity really, which to me says they see him as the player that’s more expendable.
    Kappy is developing into a good all around player, and like I said above, WW’s contract doesn’t make sense in relation to KKap’s and even if they bring in a 5-6m D-man the combo of KKap and that D-man would be better for the Leafs

  14. OBD, as I said yesterday, I like Nylander. A lot. And if they do trade him next summer for a D-man and he does finish the season with 30+ goals, you have to think the return would need to be a Top 2. But here’s where it gets tricky since any team ready to relinquish a Top 2 D-man with term, likely costing around the same as Nylander off the cap, it would need to be a team with significant D depth, otherwise they’d just be robbing Peter to pay Paul, in a manner of speaking by satisfying one need but creating another. That really narrows the field.

    Nor does that sort of trade, while solidifying the Leafs’ D situation, free up any cap space for them – or at least not much. One thing is certain, it won’t be a young bona-fide Top 2 still under term and costing a lot less than Nylander’s almost $7 mil cap hit. Just can’t see ANY team giving up that kind of gem.