NHL Rumor Mill – March 11, 2020
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.
FRIEDMAN BELIEVES COYOTES INTENDED TO SIGN MATTHEWS TO AN OFFER SHEET
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.
“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.
COULD THE CANADIENS PURSUE CRAWFORD OR MANTHA?
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.