NHL Rumor Mill – March 10, 2020
Can the Canucks afford to re-sign Tyler Toffoli? Who are potential off-season free-agent targets for the Sabres? Find out in today’s NHL rumor mill.
CAN THE CANUCKS AFFORD TOFFOLI?
SPORTSNET: Iain MacIntyre reported Tyler Toffoli has fit in well with the Vancouver Canucks, though his presence hasn’t translated into wins for the slumping club. The Canucks acquired Toffoli leading up to the Feb. 24 trade deadline, but he could be difficult to re-sign. The 27-year-old winger is slated to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1.
Canucks general manager Jim Benning said he’d explore re-signing Toffoli after this season. MacIntyre observed the Canucks must also re-sign pending UFA goaltender Jacob Markstrom. Defenseman Chris Tanev is also a UFA this summer. MacIntyre wondered if terminating winger Loui Eriksson‘s contract this summer might be a way to free up sufficient cap room to retain Toffoli.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Toffoli has eight points in nine games with the Canucks. The absence of Markstrom as he recovers from a knee injury is largely to blame for the Canucks’ recent slump.
I don’t doubt Benning wants to keep Toffoli, bu it could cost over $6 million annually. Mutual contract termination for Eriksson ($6 million annual average value) would certainly address that problem, provided he agrees to it.
Trading Eriksson to a budget club in need of reaching the salary-cap minimum is another option. He gets a $3 million signing bonus on July 1, after which he gets $5 million in actual salary over the remaining two years of his contract.
POSSIBLE FREE-AGENT TARGETS FOR THE SABRES
THE ATHLETIC: Joe Yerdon recently examined several potential free-agent targets for the Buffalo Sabres to bolster their offense this summer. Should the salary cap reach $84 million, they’ll have around $21.5 million to spend. Right-wingers could include Florida’s Mike Hoffman and Evgenii Dadonov and Vancouver’s Tyler Toffoli, Taylor Hall and Carl Soderberg are among the noteworthy left-wingers, while centers include Derek Grant and Erik Haula.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Sabres have to be careful. While there’s an obvious need to boost their scoring, they must avoid overspending to address their needs. Their biggest need is at center, but this summer’s free-agent market is thin at that position. That could require going through the trade market.
Pursuing Toffoli would be their best bet, provided he doesn’t re-sign with the Canucks. Hall would be a tempting prize, but they’ve already got Jeff Skinner and Victor Olofsson on the left side, and they’ve invested heavily ($9 million annually) in Skinner. Hall might prefer joining an established playoff contender, though the opportunity to play alongside Jack Eichel could be tempting.