NHL Rumor Mill – March 11, 2020

by | Mar 11, 2020 | Rumors | 45 comments

Were the Coyotes planning to sign Auston Matthews to an offer sheet last summer? Should the Canadiens target Corey Crawford or Anthony Mantha this summer? Check out the details in today’s NHL rumor mill.


ARIZONA SPORTS: Matt Layman cites Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman telling the Spittin’ Chiclets podcast his belief that the Arizona Coyotes intended to sign Auston Matthews from the Toronto Maple Leafs to an offer sheet last summer. Friedman claimed Leafs management believed the Coyotes would’ve offer-sheeted Matthews to a maximum seven-year deal if he hadn’t re-signed by July 1. Matthews agreed to a five-year, $58.170-million contract with the Leafs last February.

Were the Arizona Coyotes planning to sign Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews to an offer sheet last summer? (Photo via NHL Images)

“And I’ve looked at it, and people around the league have told me they believe that to be the case,” said Friedman. “Nobody has said to me that’s false. I think the Leafs believed it, I think the Coyotes were going to do it and I think the league knew it. So the attitude is moving.” 

Matthews was raised in Arizona and developed his love of hockey following the Coyotes. Layman noted getting Matthews wasn’t meant to be for the Coyotes, “at least for now”.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Matthews isn’t going anywhere in the short term. However, Friedman’s remarks could plant a seed of doubt over his long-term future in Toronto that becomes a nagging issue over the final two years of his current contract. 

Matthews also lacks no-trade protection until the final season of his deal. Matthews makes his off-season home in Arizona, which could spark speculation that he’d welcome a trade there if things go sour with the Leafs.


TVA SPORTS: Felix Seguin suggests Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford could make an excellent backup for the Montreal Canadiens if he hits the open market this summer. While Crawford’s best seasons are behind him, he can still deliver excellent performances. A Montreal native, Crawford has always played well against the hometown Canadiens. He would also be reunited with goalie coach Stephane Waite.

Seguin acknowledged several issues must be addressed, such as whether Crawford wants to stay in Chicago, if he’s willing to accept a backup role, and the term and dollars he’d want on his next contract. Nevertheless, his skills and experience would make him a fine backup for Carey Price, while allowing time for the development of promising Cayden Primeau.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: With over $63 million invested in 16 players, the Canadiens could have over $21 million available if the cap rises to $84 million in 2020-21. That would allow sufficient space to re-sign Max Domi and Victor Mete while leaving enough to sign a UFA like Crawford. However, I think the Blackhawks will make re-signing him a priority, especially after parting ways with Robin Lehner at the trade deadline. Crawford could also be unwilling to play second fiddle to anyone.

TVA SPORTS: wondered if Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin would consider signing Detroit Red Wings forward Anthony Mantha to an offer sheet this summer. A Longueuil native, Mantha will become a restricted free agent with arbitration rights this summer. Bergevin signed Sebastian Aho last summer to an offer sheet, which was quickly matched by the Carolina Hurricanes. In a recent interview, he didn’t rule out going the offer-sheet route again.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The 6’5″, 235-pound Mantha possesses terrific offensive skils and skates well for a big player. Unfortunately, he’s been frequently sidelined by injuries throughout his NHL career. Bergevin could find better offer-sheet targets, such as the New York Islanders’ Mathew Barzal or Columbus’ Pierre-Luc Dubois.


  1. Another player that can use bergivan to leverage a better deal with his own team.

    • I don’t see Yzerman being one who will take being snookered kindly.

      • What’s he gonna do about it? Offer kockamami?

    • By the time 34 is a free agent Coyotes will have been or in process of being relocated.

      • Ha! I bet you actually believe that too.

  2. By that I mean he’s just apt to say to Mantha “see ya” – and let Bergevin work around what bloated deal he offered the oft-injuyred Mantha (15 games last year – 28 games this year) and take the picks to add to his 6 in the first 3 rounds this year.

    Detroit is facing a long re-build anyway and, with a very good chance of taking Lafreniere – a potential franchise pick and a Francophone to boot – right under Bergevin’s nose in Montreal, that would be thumbing his nose figuratively.

    • Everyone has always said that the reason we never see offer sheets is because they dont work. And that was proven last summer. With regard to the 3 RFAs mentioned above, I have no doubt that their teams would match any offer sheet. If Bergevin chooses to go that route again, it would amount to repeating the tactics which have failed previously.

      • I think the reasons we don’t see offer sheets is pretty simple. If you don’t sign the player to a stupidly high offer, the other team will match. Then you just signed a player to a stupid contract.
        Not sure about retaliation, as why retaliate by doing the same thing to yourself?
        Another reason is that contracts, just like arbitration, are done using comparable’s. Why raise the bar for RFA salaries when the other team will likely match. Every team has to sign their own guys too.
        If you want to get a player, make a deal for him. If the price is too high walk away.
        Screwing another team, like MTL did to Carolina, accomplishes nothing. I would bet they wanted Aho at either a lower number, or the same number with more term. MTL did nothing to improve their team but Aho is a UFA sooner.

  3. I don’t see Yzerman losing Mantha for nothing. If it get’s to the point of Mantha demanding over market salary, I could see a sign and trade deal, or a Trouba like trade, but don’t expect Montreal to get AM for nothing.

    • He’s gonna be awesome.
      Fantastic upside.

    • They wouldn’t get him for nothing. A successful offer sheet would cost several high draft picks. Not that I expect it to happen.

    • If mantra wasn’t on board with a sign and trade sure yzerman could still do it. But his rep with all other upcoming rfas would be trash.

      • Sure it would.

  4. Agree with that one George….don’t know what revenge would be available to him….but no doubt he would use it liberally….

    He unlike Dubas has been around long to know that if you let someone screw you over once….they will screw you over again if it is needed.

  5. I like Mantha huge upside . But as a Habs fan I don’t see the point . so far away one player wont put them in talks for the cup . Keep your picks .

    • Noted Hab hater here.
      I think they’re closer than people think.

      They’re still not out of it.
      Probably miss out by a point or 3 at the most, if they don’t squeak in.
      They’re not terrible by any means.
      They could probably use some more leadership to help Weber and company.

      • This season the Habs are one of those 7 teams that have spun their wheels by moving neither up nor down to any significant degree in league standings over the two distinct halves of the schedule – mired in consistent mediocrity (position at the half-way (41 game) mark followed by position so far in the 2nd half (with games played in the 2nd half in brackets)

        Los Angeles – 29th 28th (28)
        Montreal – 23rd 23rd (30)
        Chicago – 24th 24th (28)
        Detroit – 31st 31st (30)
        San Jose – 26th 27th (28)
        Buffalo – 25th 26th (28)
        Ottawa – 27th 30th (29)

  6. Montreal has bigger fish to fry than trying to sign other teams RFAS like starting a true rebuild by moving Weber and Price. Habs keep finishing middle of pack a horrible place to be and with cap supposedly going up now may be the best time to move out their two biggest contracts. Wouldn’t be easy but I do believe it could be done Weber is still a top defenseman while Price might take a team desperately seeking a quality tender. Montreal probably won’t rebuild they are still living in never never land.

    • Remember when we were in the “middle of the pack” with Claude at the helm?

      They’ll be ok, I think.
      But, Maybe you’re right, Obe.
      It is a terrible grouping to finish in. Unless they strike gold in the Mid 1st round, like we did with Pasta.

      • I’ve been saying to friends for a couple of weeks that if anyone gets offer-sheeted by the Habs it should be Sergachev.

        5 years at close to $8mill per should do it.
        Sacrifice a 1st, 2nd and 3rd in 2021.

        Unfortunately for my credibility Jack Todd wrote the same thing two days ago – now I’m in “analysis”!

      • SOP, you will remember Claude was the Bruins coach when they won in 2011, and in 2013 when they lost in the finals to a great Chicago team. Toe Blake couldn’t do much with the Habs right now.

        You and Obe are right, I think, finishing outside the top 5 draft picks is hockey purgatory.

    • Seeing the recapture penalties to the Panthers (just under $1.1 million) and Canucks ($3 million) when Luongo retired, I think it’s going to be harder to trade Webber now than before. He has the same type of long term front loaded contract like Luongo’s.
      Plus he’s 34 and his contract goes for another 6 years at a $7.8 cap hit. Not an easy contract to trade at anytime.

  7. Lyle, surely gate revenue is directly related to the salary cap. Even if teams continue to play with crowds in the stand, there is going to be drops in attendance. I doubt the 84 million estimate is going to be met.

  8. It’s ok to be middle of pack with a young building team and yes you may get a steal like a Pasta but it’s much easier with early first round picks. Pittsburgh with Sid Malkin and the Flower Leafs with Matthews Marner and Nylander Chicago with Kane Toews and so on. There definitely are teams that have won by drafting making trades and signing UFA,s but I like the odds better with top picks. Let’s see who wins cup first between Detroit and Habs or at least gets to finals.

  9. So, am I alone in thinking Matthews heads to AZ as soon as his contract expires, if not before?

    It’d be good for Hockey, imo.

    • I think that decision will be based upon how the Leafs are faring as a team. If that young D shows continued improvement (they were pretty damned good last night) and they can hold that potent offense together for the most part and are doing well, he’s likely to stay. On the other hand …

    • No possible way anyone could know. It seems like players usually stay put if it’s competitive or if they are in the prime of their career. Coyotes could be contenders by then or could be in a situation with unstable ownership and questions about where they;’ll be playing, that team seems to still only have a toehold in that market, who knows. As a Leafs fan I’ve been told that players don’t want to come play for their home team and not to expect it, who knows.

      McDavid made it fairly clear when he was drafted that he was hoping for Toronto but doesn’t mean he’s ditching Edmonton for Toronto, though that would also be good for hockey, NHL version of James going back to Cleveland, don’t think that will happen though.

      I think Matthews and the young guys had a problem with Babcock, he’s gone and Matthews is getting the ice time he should and the numbers show that Babcock was mismanaging his ice time. If he’s happy and the team is competitive I would think he’d stay but that’s all Toronto can do to keep him. Ice a good team in a team environment where players are happy and getting results and they’ll want to stay, but of course there is a pull to play for your childhood team I would imagine.

      • Solid points, tb!
        I felt Babcock was trying to teach the youngsters how to play a complete game and how to compete.
        They were redirected and kinda punished accordingly for not doing as directed.
        Only time will tell, I suppose.
        Not sure if Keef has it in him to hold the young superstars accountable.
        They still do as they please for the most part.
        Must be tough, getting paid all of that money, (too early) and trying to live up to the point totals they expect of themselves.
        Pride, ego, any number of contributing factors for that matter are keeping them from selling out and doing the right thing for the team.
        Again trying to live up to those contracts and hit individual markers to prove they’re worth it.
        Point padding, be damned. They have to play for each other.
        They’ll get there eventually.

      • I agree with you for the most part, there are nights when they are not engaged or periods where they buy into their own hype and appear to think they can play lazy hockey and just pull it back in the 3rd which doesn’t work. Then nights like last night where they play great…the curse of Toronto is they always play at the level of the other team. They’ve always lost to bad teams and been competitive and beat good teams, frustrating but I also imagine everyone feels like that to some extent with their favourite team.

        I say all the time when I bother posting that it’s a young team still growing into themselves. The whole league is in what seems to be a sea change in the way things are done, players are getting paid for their potential but I think that’s mostly because the way it was done could be disastrous, paying players for past performance. I dont’ know what the balance is. One thing I will say is overpaying when they are young does make it possible for a contract to look cheap a couple years later when the cap is higher and guys are signing for more. Nylander was a horrible contract last year, looks cheap this year. When Tor gave Kessel $7 is was a ton of money, cheap now.

        The other thing I find pretty funny is how people look down on teams at the cap. Toronto doesn’t have a cap isue, it’ll be a challenge next season but it was last season as well and they got it done. What is the value of being under the cap at the end of the season? Just money you had but didn’t spend. Will be challenging for Toronto but they have a good cap management team who gets paid a lot of money to know more about this than any of us.

      • It’s simple after July 1st year 4 of contract you see if Mathews will sign. If not trade him for a massive return and continue to compete. If he’s willing to sign then you do it and move on. Same goes with Reilly next year July 1. If he wants way more than 7 million per year trade him and move on. The team will stay competitive with the return you get from these players. You just have to look at them as assets and never lose them for nothing. Always try to sign them at the first opportunity and if they don’t satisfy the number you trade them while they still have a year of control left to maximize your return. The exact opposite of what Dubas had been doing. He’s waited till the last minute to negotiate and the players have maximize there contracts.

      • td, I would like to know where McDavid made it clear “that he was hoping for Toronto”?
        All I could find on the situation was an article from NHL.com https://www.nhl.com/news/mcdavid-top-players-react-to-draft-lottery-results/c-764045

        “McDavid was asked point blank if there is any disappointment in possibly being chosen by Edmonton, which has not made the Stanley Cup Playoffs since 2006.
        “No, why would there be disappointment?” McDavid said. “I mean, any of those 14 teams (in the lottery) it would have been an absolute honor. If I am selected by Edmonton it will be amazing, a dream come true. They have a lot of amazing young players there.””
        Just curious as I have never heard anything of that kind.

      • Mcdavid never implied that. And you just had the leafs pajama rockin home boy sign back home.

        And roger… Mathews as a rental would bring in premium assets… but not the haul you’re implying.

      • Yes, of course he says the right things, he always does. If you watch the lottery draw he looked disappointed when he didn’t go to Toronto, was wearing his blue and white tie, whatever it wasn’t my point. The media made a big deal of it at the time, I’m not even saying it’s a real thing but it did look like it. Obviously he’s a kid being drafted into the league he’s always dreamt of so I don’t think there is any actual disappointment. My point is that I don’t expect him to leave Edmonton because he grew up in Toronto cheering for Toronto, but it seems to be a given that Matthews is leaving to go back to Arizona. It’s way too early to know, Matthews probably doesn’t know himself. I don’t think JT was planning in the second year of his contract on leaving New York for Toronto, you deal with it when you deal with it. It’s also given that Morgan Riley is going to get more than $7 million, he’s a Norris calibre defenceman who will want market value, there’s a guy that they need to fit in under the cap.

      • I
        Think he was disappointed to go to Edmonton. Hence the look.

      • McDavid signed an 8 year extension. If he wanted to get out of Edmonton why did he do that? He has more leverage than any player in the NHL and if he held firm for 5 he could have.
        We can all try to guess what he was thinking by the look on his face (he always has a stone face when on TV) but he signed for max term.

    • It could be suggestive that he was adamant that his desk takes him to ufa. But he also could just want to cash in big anywhere.

  10. @TB: Ya I saw that draft too and for sure, at that point in time, McD had that train crash look on his face about joining the Oilers.

    The way they’re playing now under Ken Holland and Dave Tippett? Looks pretty good at this point in time.

    Matthews;shortly after signing that contract extension, was a bit choked about one reporter who threw out the idea that he might bolt to Arizona come expiration of his contract.

    Well, at that time, Babcock was the coach; and by some of his TML team mates, loathed. Was Matthews one of them? Nobody knows.

    What is certain is TML, after this year, has 3 more years to win a CUP before Matthews and his NTC kicks in the following year so until then, business as usual.

    But, on a closing note, should TML miss the playoffs this season due to “stuff”, not only are players looking at potential new homes, but Mgt. might be too

  11. Who’s buying up all of the toilet paper?
    Crazies are gonna drive up the prices on basic needed items.

    Sorry, that wasn’t hockey related, but I like talking to you guys and learning from you’re sage advice.

    George, you must have seen 30+ end of the worlds by now?
    How did people get hysterical with only a weekly newspaper to spurn them on.

    • As a kid I grew up through the polio epidemic – kids my age all over winding up in iron lungs – also a diphtheria epidemic. I never recalled any panic among our age group – too stupid to take notice I guess. But the adults noticed. Pools and beaches closed all over – stay away from rivers and lakes (yeah sure).

      One thing remains constant – the thought of a pandemic drives adults to paranoia, leading to highly questionable behavior – like hoarding toilet paper and umpteen jars of hand-sanitizer. Saw a great sign in a pharmacy:

      “For those of you over-stocking on toilet paper, please stop in aisle 12 and save the planet from stupidity.” Aisle 12 held a large supply of condoms.


      • Hahahaha

      • Ya the skid tape splurge is odd. There is logic to the hand sanitizer and washing your hands, I don’t want to get it either.
        And the water? Don’t most people have a faucet in their house?
        Bottom line is that there is a big chunk of the population that isn’t that bright., but they don’t know it
        Here is a stat for you – 85% of people believe they are above average intelligence.

      • I used to think I was smart, until I started working with smart people.

      • I learned in college that the yellow pages worked better than the white pages to wipe.

        wait… there is no more yellow pages!?!? WE’RE DOOMED!

  12. More talk of offer sheets. LOL
    Considering that the Covid-19 issue is likely to hit NHL budgets very very very hard this season, I think we will soon hear something about next’s year’s cap projections being scrapped entirely.
    In that environment, I think only an idiot would try an offer sheet or accept one. Embarassment factor would be triple what Bergevin encountered on the Aho folly.
    I have little doubt that right now, Bettman is trying to figure if they can play playoff games to empty seats and still make money off of skyboxes and TV revenue.

    • Agree completely re the cap and offer sheets doktordave. Barring a miracle of sorts I can see the start of next season being pushed to late October or even November and all teams functioning under the existing cap. And those areas with the highest concentration of the virus will have a hell of a time trying to attract any UFA.