NHL Rumor Mill – January 6, 2020

by | Jan 6, 2020 | Rumors | 57 comments

The latest on the Leafs and Blackhawks, plus an update on Chris Kreider in today’s NHL rumor mill.


TORONTO STAR: In a recent mailbag segment, Kevin McGran was asked if he sees a scenario whereby the Toronto Maple Leafs make a move before the trade deadline for a backup goaltender or a stay-at-home defenseman. Given the Leafs’ limited salary-cap space, McGran believes any trade will have to be dollar-for-dollar.

TORONTO SUN: Michael Traikos speculates the Leafs’ recent call-up of Mason Marchment might suggest they’ll look for toughness before the trade deadline. However, there’s an argument to be made for the Leafs to build on their strength by adding another skilled player. Traikos acknowledges the Leafs aren’t built for grinding opponents down physically, but it can do so with offense.

THE ATHLETIC: Jonas Siegel believes the emergence of winger Pierre Engvall provides an option for Leafs management to move another forward for help on the blueline. Perhaps Andreas Johnsson, Kaspari Kapanen or someone else gets moved before the trade deadline or in the off-season. Engvall’s a restricted free agent after this season. Siegel suggests the Leafs re-sign him to a two- to a four-year deal that trades a lower salary-cap hit for extra security.

Could the Toronto Maple Leafs shop a forward like Kasperi Kapanen for defensive help? (Photo via NHL Images)

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Conventional wisdom suggests the Leafs won’t get far in playoff hockey where the game tends to be more physical than during the regular season. That certainly proved the case in their last two postseason appearances.

While there can be a debate over skill versus toughness, I believe the Leafs’ biggest need remains a reliable backup for starter Frederik Andersen. If he struggles or becomes sidelined over the remainder of the season or in the playoffs, the Leafs are screwed. Given their limited salary-cap space, addressing that need or others means dollar-in, dollar-out, and that could mean giving up a good, affordable forward like Johnsson or Kapanen.


THE ATHLETIC: In a recent mailbag segment, Mark Lazerus was asked if the Chicago Blackhawks might weaponize their newfound available cap space to acquire an asset. He thinks it would be poetic for the Blackhawks, who spent years shedding players due to limited cap space, to take advantage of a desperate club’s salary-cap constraints and take on some bad money for a sweetener or two.

It remains to be seen if Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman stands pat at this year’s deadline or attempt to bolster his roster for a run at the playoffs. Much will depend upon what unfolds over the next several weeks. They’ll also face decisions over pending UFAs like Corey Crawford and Erik Gustafsson. Crawford’s modified no-trade clause would limit efforts to move him.

Lazerus doesn’t see the Blackhawks trading defenseman Connor Murphy. Andrew Shaw’s recent concussion injury takes him off the trade table. Lazerus acknowledged recent reports indicating interest from rival clubs in winger Brandon Saad, but he believes it would take a significant offer to move him.

Scott Powers reports a league source claims the Blackhawks have attempted to shore up their defensive depth since the start of the season. Those efforts have been unsuccessful because rival clubs want prospects the Hawks aren’t willing to give up. Their newfound salary-cap space makes it possible to add a blueliner, but it’s complicated because they’ll only want to take on a rental player.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: With defensemen Brent Seabrook and Calvin de Haan out for the season, the Blackhawks have an additional $10 million to work with if they want to add a player. The problem, however, is they have limited tradeable assets and don’t want to move their few promising prospects.

The Hawks would have better luck as sellers if they decide to move Crawford or Gustafsson. If they fail to gain ground in the standings over the next month, they could attempt to use their available cap space to take on another club’s toxic salary for this season if they can also get a quality draft pick or prospect as part of the return.


NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks believes Chris Kreider’s limited no-trade clause likely means he won’t be accepting a trade to a Canadian team. Brooks believes that’s why the Montreal Canadiens decided to sign winger Ilya Kovalchuk.


  1. Conventional wisdom suggests the Leafs won’t get far in playoff hockey where the game tends to be more physical than during the regular season. Lyle , I agree. Recent playoff history the Leafs lose to the Bruins.

    • Don’t forget that Toronto was up 3-2 in the 2019 series with Boston and had Game 6 at home. There’s not a big gap between the teams.
      Lyle is right, though, when he says that Frederick Andersen means everything to the Leafs’ hopes.
      Stay healthy, Freddie!

      • Who are the big boys with toughness in the east. It seems to me toronto wont have to do much to get “tough” and match some of the better teams in the east. Time will tell but i think they may be better than most think come playoff time.

        Star players who also have a degree of toughness are not common to find skme suggest. Teams dont trade then. Toronto will need to draft one.

  2. Toronto overpaid for the BIG 3 because of the market the only way to keep them because of the taxes in Canada. They wont go far again in the playoffs they lack depth. I wish Toronto would beat the Bruins the last 3 years but the Bruins have depth and that was the difference along with puck luck but even if Toronto did win one of the series they would have lost the next round

    • “Toronto overpaid for the BIG 3 because of the market the only way to keep them because of the taxes in Canada.”

      Toronto overpaid because Matthews and Marner were never going to take a discount to play for Mike Babcock.

      • Toronto overpaid because Matthews and Marner were never going to take a discount to play. Note sentence ends there.

        Why under any circumstances would they take a discount? The Leafs have tons of money and there would have been a number of teams who would have gladly paid big bucks to have Matthews or Marner. The only thing that would have been different is that few teams would have tied up that much money on the two together. They have Chicago’s example of what happens to your team when you overpay a few players.

      • The issue with Matthews and Marner isn’t that another team would pay them. The only way that happens is the offer sheet, and we saw how that worked for MTL. Carolina matched it instantly. The only way the Leafs don’t match is that you overpay by so much they don’t. How is that a good strategy?
        It is that Dubas didn’t use the leverage he had, which was let them sit and wait them out. Perhaps he didn’t want to do that as he was afraid of getting off to a bad start. Until a player sits out an entire season and walks from millions of $, I will believe the leverage is with the team for players coming out of entry level deals.
        At least that is how I see it.

      • “Why under any circumstances would they take a discount?”

        The same reason any player takes a discount: because they want to win.

      • Well said, Garth.

  3. Hi Leo and SK

    I have no pressing issues and concerns for the Leafs as I am with you in the belief that regardless of moves this year; they are not going deep.

    I maintain my belief that their true window is ‘21-‘24 where they have a fair shot at a cup (outside chance at 2!!!) … but an off season roster shift must happen …. they cannot succeed with 1/2 the Cap tied up in 4 forwards ; in addition to the fact that they only have two D signed beyond this year (only 1 is a top 4) and the Leafs mix needs a reliable back up and must add at least some grit.

    I still firmly believe that their most Valuable trade chip is WW , AFTER his SB is paid on 1/7/20…. if he maintains production; he can bring in a young (early mid 20’s) top 3D with term and at a lesser Cap



    • What about the talk around Dubas and Keefe wanting to reunite with their Soo Greyhound buddy Darnell Nurse? As an Oiler fan i’d hate to see Nurse traded out of Edmonton. Speed, toughness,skill and grit is hard to come by in the NHL but if the return is too good to pass up….

  4. Lyle , do you have any idea how Detroit or Ottawa will do in the playoffs.
    Asking for a friend

    • I’m not Lyle, but I’d guess they’ll both be no shows.

    • I can’t speak to the Sens, but Detroit will be undefeated in the playoffs.

  5. Series loss is a series loss and I get it- but reality is they lost in game seven not a 4 game sweep. Bruins went to the final. If the Leafs had won the game would we be calling the Bruins slow and underskilled? Leafs are good enough to win some rounds as constructed, that being said, another stay at home defenseman would help as would a backup goalie- but if it isn’t a quality backup, then stay with what you have. As for depth- I am assuming you are referring just to D because forward wise they just keep turning out kids from the farm that come in and play effectively. The forward group is extremely deep.

  6. If SJ were smart they would start rebuilding now. Sell off any top paring D that get you a return, and top 6 forwards as well.

    The team is hot garbage. The last two years I watched nearly every game. This year I’ve watched 4. If there aren’t efforts to move the team in the right direction I won’t be alone in abandoning ship. Too many years of almost.

    They need young assets. No player on their current roster is worth building a team around.

    What’s Jones worth as a backup? or Jumbo. Or Burns?

  7. The biggest reason why the Leafs list to the Bruins in the 2019 playoff series was the Bruins were 7/16 on the PP at a 48% clip which a lot of those goals were scored at key times of the games … 5 on 5 play it was a very even series and the Leafs might have had a advantage …..

    • Joe, yep.

  8. A loss is a loss excuses are excuses Leafs have probably the best offense in the league maybe Washington can be in conversation. Toronto also has the worst collection of defensive defenseman in the league. Toronto also is very soft and when going gets tuff they don’t show up. They need to swallow some pride with their big 4 move one maybe two a build something great. They won’t because who knows what was promised and ego is a big thing.

    • Obe, when you said the going gets tough, didn’t you mean when the referees put their whistles away?
      Don’t forget how well Raask played last year, not just against Toronto but all through the playoffs.
      Goaltending is everything, just ask the Blues.

      • The narrative that the B’s pushed the Leafs around is false IMO. The B’s are no longer the big bad bruins. Chara doesn’t smoke guys anymore because when he does he generally takes a penalty. His shoulder is the same height as most players heads.
        Did the intensity and physical play increase in the playoffs, yes of course, but it wasn’t a one way street. You can look up the hit stats if you question it. TOR out hit BOS.
        The only team that won series and out hit their opponents was St Louis in last years playoffs. And as we know, won the cup. Every other team that out hit their opponent, lost the series. So is just about being physical? Worked for STL and nobody else.
        The B’s played better D and had better goal tending, but to Joe’s point, the biggest factor was special teams in Bostons’s victory.
        If I am the Leafs I keep riding this streak, continue to work on the D side and avoiding mistakes. This is what the Leafs are, go with it and we will see if it works come playoff time.

      • I agree with Ray, plus who’s to say that if the Leafs get past Boston, they don’t go on a run and win a cup or two?
        Anything can happen once you punch your ticket to the playoffs.
        Luck factors into a fair smattering of the outcomes.

      • Never once said Bruins pushed anyone around they are also to small in my opinion but being small and soft is to different things. Rask definitely was the difference but my opinion has nothing to do with Boston and all to do with Toronto. Leafs need to spread the wealth around between forwards defense and goaltending. Not fair to keep blaming the defense and do zip about it also watched Sandin during world juniors same issue good offense but looked like a pylon on OT goal.

      • Fair points Obe, but not sure what the Leafs can do, this season anyway, other than trade one of the big 4, which it seems like they don’t want to do.
        Babcock believed they needed to improve defensively to win in the playoffs, and they eventually tuned him out.
        It’s the roster they have so might as well play to their strengths is what I am saving.
        I am skeptical it will work as well, but not sure what choice they have with their roster and cap situation. You never know, it might just work.

  9. Once again, Larry Brooks is begging for attention. The Habs signing Kovy has nothing to do with Kreider.
    It is certainly reasonable to expect that Kreider would only accept a trade to a US based team. And he’d certainly want to go to a Cup contender, which the Habs certainly are not right now. Even aside from that, the Habs were not going to be serious players for Kreider.
    Firstly, the Rangers are in no hurry to trade him. They will wait at least till mid-February and will trade him only if they have no reasonable chance at the playoffs and don’t feel they can re-sign him. Whereas the Habs needed help now before it’s really too late.
    Secondly, Kreider will not come cheap. The Rangers will want at least a first round pick and a good prospect or young NHLer. It is likely that, at best, the Habs will be struggling to get into the playoffs by the deadline. Bergevin will not want to give up top futures in such a circumstance.

    • If Buff wants to play any team would want him. I suspect there are very few places he would go (Wpg, Minny and Chicago come to mind).

      I have suggested it before, have no idea if players would waive NMC’s but think Buff for Toews could make sense for Wpg&Chicago. Chicago benefits from relief to long term cap complications and improves D, Wpg gets #2C and resolves one of the issues on the team.

      If Buff and Wpg can work it out his return to Jets would resolve the d issue for now and trade talk is not necessary.

    • Obe, Sandin is 19. It takes 400 games in the NHL to judge a defence man, doesn’t it?
      Heard that somewhere.

      • I’m still waiting for Lucic’s “bounce-back” year and for Lazar to make Ottawa rue the day they dealt him to Calgary.

      • You may be right but I believe you are who you are your either a big strong stay at home D man or your not Sandin is not. You don’t need a team of offensive players you need a mix , all Leafs need to do is mix it up.

  10. Random thoughts

    TSN saved Canada bacon yesterday, should’ve been a 2 minute minor that would’ve put Russia on a 5 on 3 pp.

    One strategy i mentioned to my wife was every time Canada flips a Russian player stick it went flying in the air and Canada would be short handed low and behold Russian on the power play and a player touches Canada stick and it goes flying 10 feet in the air; Russia pp over. Good game enjoyed it and was very happy for that kid who had limited ice time and scored a beauty for the Gold winning goal.

    For me nothing has changed in Toronto other then the coach, they didn’t just become a good team, they been a good team for awhile previous two season finished with 100 and 105 pts.

    If the standing could hold it would be a very interesting first round Toronto vs Tampa

    NHL.com early favorites for MVP McKinnon, McDavid and Eichel… hum maybe some bias here but only 1 first place vote for David Pasternak 1st in goals, fourth in points and a better +/- then the other 3

    I don’t like how Bruce Cassidy is handling Jake Debrusk, sat him because he didn’t block a shot, people say it worked because Debrusk scored two goals. Not really, he tipped a shot and the second should have not gone in but his game didn’t change.
    The Debrusk gave Edmonton the first goal and sat him again and now he is calling him out in the news scrum; clearly your way of communicating isn’t effective, try a new way of delivering your message. Can’t play effective if it’s in your head i might be benched. I coach need to learn what motivates the player and not i’m going to do this if you don’t attitude.

    Winnipeg has the offense but they really need help on D. Josh Morrisey is a good defenseman but he can’t be the leading man he needs to play s supporting role. Maybe they can figure out this Byfuglien mess. Is there a deal they can move him to Boston and the Bruins can move out Krug oh that would be a big improvement on the Bruins d and bring the toughness we all want.

    • Caper, agreed they have been a good team for a few years. What has changed now is more than just the coach, it’s the systems they play under this coach. They are no longer playing a rigid positional game. More importantly, they are no longer cycling the puck behind the other teams line. A system Babcock was adamant about. I don’t believe they have cycled the puck behind the goal line once under keefe. They are not built to cycle the puck. What they do now is cycle around the perimeter which allows alot of movement and creates space and tries to break down the opposition. These systems are still a work in progress as the execution has to be very strong or odd man rushes occur the other way. They are getting better at these systems as reflected by far fewer odd man rushes against the last little while and are positioning themselves to no longer be just a good team.

    • Speaking of TSN, Steve Simmons had a good quip yesterday – “I could listen to Gord Miller and Ray Ferraro do the weather forecast, and be a happy guy.” Agreed.
      They are the best imo.

      • Yep BCLeafFan. TSN was and still is better at doing hockey broadcasts than Sportsnet.

      • They’re my favorite play by play and color combo, by far.

    • Agree Caper, I though it should have been a delay of game penalty. Ref was in a tough spot as the rule states that i the puck hits anything “above” the ice surface it is not a penalty. There are times when a portion of the TSN camera rotates slightly over the ice surface.
      This was not one of them and the view from the TSN camera made it obvious, but the refs didn’t have access to it.
      And yes, Akil Thomas’s goal was a beauty, at a huge time. Couldn’t wipe the smile off that kids face after the game.

  11. I don’t see why people are panicking over Hutchinson. He’s won 3 of the 4 games he’s played where the team in front of him WASN’T trying to get a coach fired…….

    • Good point!

  12. Not that I want to get rid of Gorgi but with Hank still locked up for another season perhaps a trade for a forward asset makes sense?

    Cucumber makes a great point bout Mutch playing well the last 4 games. If Andersson gets hurt , then what? Why not be preemptive sooner than later while the value is reasonable and teams will not hold Duba’s feet to the proverbial fire?

    Gorgi & Kapanen?

    NY seriously needs to reconsider their bottom 6.

    This allows them to sit Haley and add scoring to the bottom 6. OR send Fast to the bottom 6 and Kapanen can slot with Zib.

    I am sure other things can be in play to help make cap work.

    • Shesterkin was called up today for Rangers so….. let the Gorgiev rumors fly!!

    • Georgiev is not landing Kapanen.

      Goalies are worth squat.

      • My turn.

        Georgiev for Backes.

        Backes is worth about squat.

  13. There is no way the Leafs entertain Gorgi for Kapanen….
    Kapanen hasn’t come into his own, as yet…..In my opiniion, big time under – rated.
    Gorgi is a minor improvement over Hutchison, if any at all….
    IF someone wants to offer a starting 4 defenseman, and a rugged player, Leafs should consider it, there might be something more than Kapanen going the other way, if this is the case.

    • Gorgiev and Lias Anderson for Bracco and a 3rd. We’ll throw in Beleskey Or Haley for toughness!

    • Georgiev is not landing Kapanen…. and Kapanen isn’t landing a top 4 d-man +.

      Both fan bases are just getting silly here.

  14. I have no idea of fair value or if it can be done. Seems to me Kaponen to Edmonton to play on McDavid’s wing is a match born in heaven. Two superfast guys and allows Edmonton to place Driasaitl (sp) on a line he can lead.

    I am a Leaf fan but from what little I have seen of Edmonton Kap doesn’t earn Bouchard, Klefbom or Nurse and that Larson is not enough.

    What would TO have to add to get Kelfbom or Nurse…What would Edmonton have to add to Larson to get Kaponen?

    • Interesting OBD. Kap for Larsson seems like a decent idea as principals in a deal.
      I don’t think you could get Edm to part with Klefbom or Nurse with the best player from the Leafs coming back is Kap. More like Nylander IMO.
      Would definitely have to add to Larsson, a good D prospect like Samukorov or forward like Benson? If you want NHL today Khara doesn’t score much but is a useful player. Big, fast, tough on occasion. 4C type, who chips in.

    • Are you kidding?
      Toronto would take Larsson for Kapanen in a heartbeat.
      Klefbom is signed to a nice contract so he’s staying put.
      Nurse is due a big payday next season and his history with Dubas and Keefe going back to Junior makes for a good reunion so if Nurse was heading to Toronto IMO it would take Kapanen and Gauthier. Fills the top 6 winger and 3rd line center holes in Edmonton’s roster and the Leafs get one of if not the toughest D man in the league for a cup run. Maybe Edmonton throws in Puljujarvi too.

  15. Pretty much any team that loses their number one goalie has no chance to win in the playoffs. The benefit to getting a backup is to give Freddy some rest before the playoffs only. The Leafs have by far the best and deepest offense in the league including from the defense position. They do need to replace CC as the priority ahead of the playoffs but can do that without touching their roster as it stands and dealing Picks and Prospects. Toughness would be nice but not necessary for a deep run in the playoffs. The Leafs could go all the way with one solid defensive RHD move and good health.

  16. Every post today was a great read…I put my order in for Kreider & Ross The Boss….Bring it on Caps & Blues

    • Joe, do you like Trent Frederick in Providence?

      Imo, he’s just what you’re looking for. A big strong, angry young man, who seems to enjoy beating on guys.
      ……….and Ross the Boss, who could probably be had with the swapping of a Dman.
      NYI needs 1 or 2, and we have em to spare.

      • I noticed that too Shoreorrpark, dude is scrapping regularly. My be a 3C down the road? Or a Kassian type winger? Slow start but has started to contribute offensively too.

      • Frederick Has played with the big boys a few times right now I’m wanting a player more proven …..

  17. Laviolette fired

    • Deboar incoming?

      • Nice spelling shoreorrpark, ya big dummy.

  18. If your read Haggs mailbag today I think he’s peaking in on Spector’s Hockey comments about the B’s

    • He’s really not much better than Brooks.
      They don’t even hide it though.