NHL Rumor Mill – March 18, 2020

by | Mar 18, 2020 | Rumors | 20 comments

The NHL regular-season may be paused, but the trade and free-agent rumor mill churn on. Check out the latest on the Leafs and Sharks.


SPORTSNET: Luke Fox examined the effect of the salary cap remaining at $81.5 million could affect the Toronto Maple Leafs. He wondered if pending UFA forwards Kyle Clifford and Jason Spezza would accept something near the league minimum to re-sign with the Leafs.

UFA defenseman Tyson Barrie and Cody Ceci aren’t expected back. Their spots could be filled by affordable youngsters like Rasmus Sandin and Timothy Liljegren, but that would leave only Morgan Rielly and Jake Muzzin as established veterans. Fox wonders who they could add via trade or free agency and what the price would be. Re-signing RFAs like Ilya Mikheyev, Travis Dermott, and Frederic Gauthier will also eat up valuable cap room.

A flat salary cap could force the Toronto Maple Leafs to swap a forward like Kasperi Kapanen for a defenseman (Photo via NHL Images).

A nuclear option to address their blueline needs would involve trading a top forward like William Nylander, Mitch Marner, Auston Matthews or John Tavares, but Fox doesn’t detect any desire from Leafs management to go that route. Instead, they could be forced to swap a middle-class forward such as Kasperi Kapanen, Andreas Johnsson, or Alexander Kerfoot for a defenseman.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Every NHL team will be affected by a flat cap for 2020-21. Teams like the Leafs with limited cap space will feel the pinch more than others. They have over $76 million invested in 16 players next season

Clifford and Spezza probably won’t get much more than offers that are close to the league minimum from other clubs, so they could be open to staying in Toronto. Bringing in one or two veteran blueliners will cost more than the Leafs can afford right now.

If they’re unwilling to move one of their top-four forwards for a blueliner, a deal involving Kapanen, Kerfoot or Johnsson seems the only viable option. Unless they can free up the additional salary, such a move could end up being dollar-for-dollar.


THE MERCURY NEWS: In a recent mailbag segment, Curtis Pashelka was asked if the San Jose Sharks might move a big contract in the off-season. While general manager Doug Wilson insists he likes the core of his team, he hinted after the trade deadline that there could be a deal made in the off-season. The effect of the current health crisis upon league revenue will also affect the salary cap, which could hamper any potential deals by the Sharks unless it’s a “money-in, money-out” move.

Regarding their next head coach, Pashelka thinks they could take a long look at former Nashville Predators bench boss Peter Laviolette if they decide not to keep interim coach Bob Boughner in that role. He also thinks they could consider adding more grit to their lineup.

Asking if former Sharks Brenden Dillon or Patrick Marleau might return via free agency, early indications are Marleau will be back next season. Pashelka doesn’t see Dillon coming back after the Sharks re-signed Radim Simek to a four-year contract extension.

NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: Brian Witt reports long-time Sharks center Joe Thornton intends to return next season. “”I have years to go!” Thornton recently texted The Athletic’s Pierre LeBrun.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: With over $66 milion committed to 13 players, the Sharks will have around $15 million to work with under an $81.5 million cap. While all their core players are under contract, upgrading their roster could prove difficult. Wilson has proven adept in the past in retooling a roster quickly through trades and free agency, but this off-season could prove challenging.

If Wilson moves a big contract, I suspect it’ll be for a return that provides immediate roster help. It won’t easy. Timo Meier is the only high-salaried Shark lacking any form of no-trade protection. Erik Karlsson and Marc-Edouard Vlasic have no-movement clauses, while Logan Couture, Brent Burns, Evander Kane and Martin Jones each have modified no-trades listing three preferred trade destinations.

Interesting that it appears Marleau could return with the Sharks next season. He’ll have to a pay cut to do so, but at this stage in his career, I don’t think that’s a concern for him. The same goes for Thornton. If they want to return to the Sharks and if Wilson wants to bring them back, it’ll be under affordable, one-year deals.



  1. In any event Thornton must cut that beard and that should be a clause in his new deal. League minimum.

    McDermott will be affordable and will sign as a part of the Leafs top 4 . They will need some toughness and should sign Clifford as well.
    They should continue to draft D. One of them will hit in their window. Maybe Sandin Liljegren sheltered but not both as the every day third pairing
    Definitely can afford to move a forward like Kerfoot or Johnsson or both for help on the backend. Easily replaced by Mikheyev if not injured would have moved ahead of them on the depth charts.

    First covid confirmed in league (on the Senators )

    • So the Senators finally are first !!!!

      • Bada-boom!

    • Keep the beard ! It separates him from the usual boring conservative clones in the most of the rest of the league. besides it looks great on him!

  2. While it’s not part of today’s topics; with NHL being on hold I’ve been playing catch-up in a lot of stuff. I have to ask. Will Habs be retiring #21 now that Guy Carbonneau is in the Hall Of Fame? Seems like a no brainer. But given how he was dismissed as head coach and way it was handled, wondering how much bad blood may be left? Both sides to need move forwards, he deserves that honour.

    • Don’t see that happening Andy. Carbo was a very good player but doesn’t fit into my category of the Habs elite.

      Besides, Jacques Lemaire’s # 25 hasn’t been retired. He won 8 Cups with the Habs. Surely him before anyone else?

      • the same guy who forced Guy Lafleur to retire in 84/85 when he was the coach ?
        excellent player , HHOFer player, but lots of old school Habs fans hold a grudge against him

      • Not sure why those fans would hold a grudge. The way I understand it Lemaire wanted to implement a defensive style, and wanted all players to play that way. Guy didn’t want to, got less ice time, got pissed.
        Savard is the guy who refused to trade him as he was GM.
        Habs won the cup the next season, without Guy.

      • Lemaire was not the coach the following year Perron was.
        Guy was a legend in Montreal , check the footage of his return to the Forum in 89′ with the Rangers. Tough to recall a time when the fans gave some many standing ovations to an opposing team’s player in one game. It was electric.
        For the record I was at the Forum in standing room,cheering loudly and furthermore was a Habs fan from the mid 1960’s until 1985 ….they also shafted Steve Shutt that same year. I never forgave Lemaire or Savard.

      • Fair enough Fergy, my point was they won without Lafleur, so was Lemaire right? Just seems like Savard should shoulder the blame more than Lemaire for the treatment of the player.
        If you want to deploy a defensive system and a player doesn’t want to play in that system, then fine to cut back his ice time. Can’t win if everybody isn’t on the same page. Agree that you trade a guy like Lafleur if he wants out and it no longer is a fit. If he is gonna retire rather than play for you, then move him.
        Lemaire was a pretty successful coach, not like he didn’t know what he was doing. Not trading him seems spiteful.

      • Ray , we could go one and on and on , we’ll leave it at that. This conversation would be better had over a couple of beers.

    • Carbonneau has no business in the HOF (see Gillies, Clark) and certainly doesnt merit a jersey retirement ceremony in Montreal.

    • hopefully the bad feelings get sorted out. as a player, watching carbo, gainey putting on a clinic in 3rd period shutdown.an intergral member of the 86, 93 teams.

  3. Sharks need to move either Burns or Karlsson. I know, easier said then done. Buy out Jones and get some grit. Believe it or not, Wilson will do it.

    • Andy

      I always liked Carbo, but Toe Blake is also in the Hall of Fame.

      And imo far more deserving of having his # retired by the Habs.

      You agree, George?

      • Wow, kind of crazy that it isn’t retired when you consider the success he had as a player and coach.
        Seems like him not being French Canadian didn’t hurt his abilities to coach the team. Nor Scotty Bowman, Dick Irvin etc. Actually the vast majority of the Cups were won without a Francophone coaching the team.

  4. Actually it’s kinda weird, given his history with The Punch Line, that Blake’s # 6 has never been retired (he also wore # 16 for 1 season in 1937 – and that’s shared by Henri Richard and Elmer Lach in the retired number category).

    Although there have been 22 different players to wear # 6 (including current Hab Shea Weber) the only other long-term owner of the number is Ralph Backstrom who had it from 1959 to 1971.

    Maybe they could honour both Blake and Backstrom that way (two other #s to have two named are 12 (Dickie Moore and Yvon Cournyer) and 5 (Bernie Geoffrion and Guy Lapointe).

    But hey, retiring # 6 would put 1 to 7 out of commission, along with 9, 10, 12, 16, 18, 19, 23, 29 and 33. That would leave just one single-digit # to use – # 8 worn by 44 different players.

    • Blake was a Franco Ontarian, his mom was francophone. I’m sure he spoke some.

      And “Toe”, for those who might not know, was what his baby sister called him when she tried to say “Hector”.

  5. all this cap crunch talk!…I am glad I am a avs fan!…in patient joe s we trust!

    • No cap crunch in Ottawa either. Big ticket players like Karlsson and Duchene are now ham-stringing SJ and Nashville, and Pageau is earning far more than his actual worth in NY, while Dorion mulls over his 9 options in the first 3 rounds of this draft, including 3 in the first round and sees the results of his trades such as Norris, Chlapik, Thompson, Formenton etc ready to step into the NHL. All things that bug the living crap out of a certain troll in these pages.