NHL Rumor Mill – January 17, 2020

by | Jan 17, 2020 | Rumors | 30 comments

Are the Oilers eying one of the Leafs’ affordable young forwards? Are the Flames interested in Kings’ winger Tyler Toffoli? Could Wild defenseman Matt Dumba become trade bait? Check out the latest in today’s NHL rumor mill.


TSN: Darren Dreger believes the Edmonton Oilers will keep a close eye on what happens with the Toronto Maple Leafs. He notes there’s speculation surrounding Leafs forwards Kasperi Kapanen, Andreas Johnsson and maybe Alex Kerfoot.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Oilers seek secondary scoring depth. It’s assumed the Leafs would have to move one of those young forwards to bring in a skilled top-four defenseman, something I don’t believe the Oilers have enough to spare right now. The Leafs might part with Kapanen, Johnsson, or Kerfoot for someone like Darnell Nurse, but I don’t see the Oilers agreeing to that. 

Could Minnesota Wild defenseman Matt Dumba be moved before the trade deadline? (Photo via NHL Images)

Dreger also said he’s been told Minnesota Wild general manager Bill Guerin is open for business. Part of the trade bait could include defenseman Matt Dumba.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Athletic’s Michael Russo also believes Guerin is open for business. He thinks rival GMs are wondering if players like Dumba or Jason Zucker are available. Russo also believes blueliner Jonas Brodin could be getting some interest from the Leafs, Colorado Avalanche, Carolina Hurricanes, and Vegas Golden Knights.

Dumba would draw plenty of interest in the trade market, but it would be a mistake to move him. He’s a 25-year-old defenseman with the talent to become the linchpin of their blueline for years. Perhaps he’ll benefit from a coaching change instead of a trade.

Pierre LeBrun reports the Calgary Flames are hoping to add a top-six forward with a right-hand shot before the Feb. 24 trade deadline. He believes they have interest in Los Angeles Kings winger Tyler Toffoli, among others.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Toffoli would fit the bill for the Flames. I expect the Kings will want at least a decent draft pick and a quality prospect or young NHL-ready player in return.

Bob McKenzie reports the Chicago Blackhawks are facing a big decision between goaltenders Corey Crawford and Robin Lehner. Both will become unrestricted free agents in July. Lehner indicated he won’t take a hometown discount and wants a lucrative long-term deal. Crawford, meanwhile, indicated he has no intention of being anyone’s backup. McKenzie wonders if GM Stan Bowman will trade one of them and which one he’ll sign.

Pierre LeBrun believes the Carolina Hurricanes could be interested in Lehner if he hits the open market in July.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Crawford was a key reason behind the Blackhawks last two Stanley Cup championships, but he’s now 35 and being outplayed by the 28-year-old Lehner, who was a Vezina Trophy finalist last season. While Bowman could still have loyalty toward Crawford, re-signing Lehner is the right move.


NBC SPORTS PHILADEPHIA/THE ATHLETIC: Jordan Hall and Charlie O’Connor reports the Flyers’ limited salary-cap space will make it difficult for GM Chuck Fletcher to become a buyer leading up to the trade deadline. The Flyers need at least another top-nine forward, preferably a center, but Cap Friendly indicates they only have around $580K in deadline cap room. Unless they can ship out a higher-price veteran, or convince a rival club to absorb half of an incoming player’s salary-cap hit, they could be forced to acquire a lower-salaried depth player or look to within their system.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Several Flyers fans in recent days asked me if I think their club will make a big move by the deadline. Unless GM Chuck Fletcher can get creative or swings a dollar-in, dollar-out deal that improves his roster, I think his hands are tied by the salary cap for this season.


  1. Hey Lyle.
    Hopefully this isn’t off topic but has there been any word on the status of Dustin Byfuglien? I don’t live in the Peg so I haven’t heard anything lately. I thought it was reported months ago that January might be a return date?

    • Recent reports indicate he hasn’t yet reached the point in his rehab from ankle surgery where he can resume skating. No word yet as to when that will be.

    • The rumours here in Winnipeg are kind of fun. Anything from substance abuse rehab to him not wanting to play to prevent his wife from getting any of his newly earned money as a divorce is rumoured to be coming. None of this has any substance behind it. I just thought you’d all enjoy hearing the wonderful rumour speculations floating around the Peg.

      But over all. I have to say the Jets have been doing a great job keeping this whole thing under wraps. After all it could just be a guy wiling to let 14 million dollars go the way side and retire. Odd that is.

  2. Note to Toronto: The Jackets have 7 starter worthy d-men on their roster and 2 or 3 more at AHL Cleveland. You should give Jarmo a call. Columbus might even be able to help with your back up goalie problem.

  3. If I am the Isles I am keeping a close eye on Lehner. The only reason Varly was given a ridiculous 4 year deal coming off of a poor season was to attract Sorokin to the team next season. There is a lot of speculation he may want to be traded or re-sign in the KHL. If either occur IMO Varly is a downgrade to Lehner. I would look to move Varly even if it requires eating some salary, re-signing Lehner (fan favorite and younger) and re-sign Greiss as the backup.

    • If Lehner isn’t taking a discount to stay in Chicago then it’s pretty likely he’d make NYI vastly overpay for his services.

  4. Flames can’t trade for Toffolli, when they re-sign him he will be asking for more than all the guys on the team, more than Monaghan and Johnny hockey, who wants to pay a guy on downside of his career that much?

    • What makes you think he’ll be asking for THAT kind of money? He and his agent may ask it … but I sincerely doubt they’ll get it. Anywhere.

      The guy turns 28 in April and his high-water mark was 4 years ago when he potted 31 goals. Since then he’s had seasons of 16, 24, 13 and this year is on pace for 20. His cap hit is $4.6 mil.

      With those kinds of average numbers there’s no way he will exceed Tkachuk’s $7 mil, Gaudreau’s $6,750,000 or Monahan’s $6,375,000.

      On the other hand, he’s certainly worth more than Backlund ($5,350,000) and Lucic ($5,250,000)

    • Yea enough with the broken record posts, you say this every day.

      I guarantee Toffolis next contract is a show me,1-2 year deal worth around the same money he’s getting now, slightly higher maybe.

  5. If wild trade Dumba they better be picking up some high end talented forward in return. Dumba can score 10-14 goals a year and he will get better.

  6. Why would any team trade a top four defenceman for secondary scoring ? Good defenceman are too hard to come by …. Unless a team is trying to dump salary (Suban) or they have an expiring contract I don’t see it happening for the Leafs.

    • Exactly.

    • The past few years there`s been about 120 players that score 20 or more goals in a season. Every year guaranteed there are at least 134 top 4 defencemen in the NHL. So how is so much harder to find defencemen than scorers, especially guys who can consistently score 20+. It sure seems if you look at those stats it`s harder to find them goal scorers than defencemen and while yes playing on a team that pushes offence first does help some players hit the 20 mark. But a great goalie helps some guys be top 4 defencemen too side of the argument.

    • Surprising Minnesota would entertain the idea of trading dumba…

  7. I don’t think top 4 D go for secondary scoring….

    But I think it might be interesting in July if Nylander has 30 + goal year what type of top 4 D man would be available…I think it would be a 1 or 2 D man….

    If Nylander is 30 goals and 70 points….does he get Drumba ….who would add??…or something similar involving Colombus or Carolina

    • 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.

      • Brodin for Nylander? He is probably a 2/3D but is on top of his game, only costs you $4m this year and next year saving you almost 3m/yr and Brodin has a great outlet pass to get it up to the rest of the scorers on your team. Seems like a perfect match for both teams. Toronto gets probably the best & cheapest Dman available helping the cap space & the team this year in exchange for a high end RW score which the Wild desperately need.

      • @Schmidty you have to be a Minny fan or a used car salesman with that pitch. Brodin is a steady 2nd pairing defenceman but he`s a lefty and Nylander`s worth more than a guy that Minny was trying to unload a while back his stock hasn`t improved that much. Nylander or Nylander+ Toronto is looking for a RHD so unless Minny is talking Dumba there`s no match there

    • With Hamilton down, I don’t Carolina giving a D away. If anything, they’re now looking to add 1. Probably a 2nd pairing RD.

  8. Let’s suppose a situation in which both Blackhawks goalies refuse to sign because each feels that he can get more money on the open market, and neither wants to be the other’s backup. In this hypothetical situation, the expansion draft is set to be held after the current season. Expansion draft rules require every team to expose a goalie, but they also require that exposed players be under contract. The Blackhawks would have no goalie under contract. What would be the outcome? Could one goalie re-sign with the Blackhawks after the draft?

    Is it possible that the Penguins, with two goalies who will be RFAs next season, could be in such a situation before the actual expansion draft occurs?

    • The expansion draft is after next season in 2021.

      • Edit: I see you said hypothetical situation. My bad. In regards to your question, I was wondering the same thing. Buffalo has Hutton whose contract expires after next season and Ullmark who needs to be resigned after this season. From NHL.COM it says an RFA can be made available as long as they have signed a QO.
        “One goalie who is under contract in 2021-22 or will be a restricted free agent at the end of his current contract immediately prior to 2021-22. If a team elects to make a restricted free agent goalie available to meet this requirement, that goalie must have received his qualifying offer prior to the submission of the team’s protected list.”

      • Edit: I see you said hypothetical, my bad. A team can expose an RFA as long as he received his qualifying offer.

      • A variable that I didn’t consider is that RFAs not signed by December can’t play for the remainder of the season. I suppose that means, in my hypothetical situation, that at least one of a team’s 2 RFA goalies in 2020-2021 would likely be re-signed or traded before the draft, and the other exposed.

  9. If Dumba’s available, 30 teams would be interested. That said, as a Habs fan, I wonder about this scenario:

    – They trade Petry for futures
    – They trade futures for Dumba

    While they’d certainly have to give up more for Dumba than they receive for Petry, it may not be an incredible amount more (an additional 2nd & B-prospect?), and Montreal has lots of prospects & picks to spare.

    It quickly replaces an important top 4D for the Habs while receiving someone more age appropriate for the team’s timeline

  10. Funny thing about the Wild is it seems most of management/ownership are in some kind of fantasy land where they think they’re a good hockey team. Not the reality of age/horrific contracts/stagnant play.

    I’d start the rebuild. Trade everything of value for picks. See if you can find any takers for some of those bad contracts. Tear it down.

    • I agree with the teardown, but Dumba is only 25, a good rebuild takes 3-4 years so he would still be in his prime then. But I would trade anything over the age of 27/28

      • Oh yeah … there is simply NO situation in which you trade away Dumba. If it’s a re-build, you start with him as the cornerstone … if it’s tinkering to try and get a bubble team into the party, he’s not the one you trade away for patchwork fixes.

        I see a tear-down in the cards – unless the fans are happy with the current approach. Koivu and his $5.5 mil cap hit is done at the end of this season. He turns 37 in March. No room for sentimentality. Don’t waste the roster spot. If he wants to continue playing let it be somewhere else.

        Staal turns 36 next Oct and is signed through that season – deal him if possible

        Zuccarello, unfortunately, is an albatross contract in waiting at $6 mil per to 2023-34 when he approaches 36 y/o – Sutter is another at an even worse $7,538,461 to 2024-35 when he’s approaching 39

        Spurgeon ups to $7,525,000 per next season through to 2025-26 when he turn 36 – can that small body take the pounding til then?

      • hated the Spurgeon deal. was hoping when Ehlers was available to trade Spurgeon and Fiala to WPG for Pionk & Ehlers when Biff Buff was out.

  11. I think it becoming obvious of late with the long term injuries but you can not have enough D depth. You should never trade one lightly especially if you have cup aspirations