NHL Rumor Mill – March 6, 2020

by | Mar 6, 2020 | Rumors | 39 comments

The latest on the Leafs, Jets, and Canucks in today’s NHL rumor mill.


TSN: Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas told The Athletic’s Pierre LeBrun the reason he didn’t adjust his roster at the trade deadline was in part because he didn’t see an opportunity to solve his club’s long-term needs on defense. Dubas received calls about defenseman Tyson Barrie, but Bob McKenzie reported the Leafs GM sought a right-handed blueliner as part of the return. Barrie remained with the Leafs and is slated to become an unrestricted free agent in July.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Dubas could’ve resolved that issue much sooner if he hadn’t handcuffed himself by signing center John Tavares to a seven-year, $77-million contract. Even if next season’s salary cap jumps to $88 million, he still has over $77 million tied up in 16 players. That won’t leave much wiggle room to suitably address that need and fill out the rest of the roster.

Could a higher-than-expected salary cap for next season make it easier for the Toronto Maple Leafs to sign Alex Pietrangelo if he test the UFA market?

St. Louis Blues captain Alex Pietrangelo has come up as a possible target for the Leafs if he tests this summer’s market, but they can’t afford what’s likely to be at least a $9-million annual average value to sign him without first shedding considerable salary in the process. Sami Vatanen, Kevin Shattenkirk, Justin Schultz, Travis Hamonic, and Justin Braun would be more affordable, but it would still lead to a cap crunch.

Dubas could be forced to shop a forward to address that long-term blueline need. Kasperi Kapanen, Andreas Johnsson, and Alexander Kerfoot often surfaced in this season’s rumor mill as trade candidates.


WINNIPEG FREE PRESS: Mike McIntyre believes the projected rise of the salary cap to between $84 million and $88 million will allow Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff to go shopping for talent this summer. The rise in the cap and the potential termination of Dustin Byfuglien‘s contract ($7.6 million AAV) could leave the Jets with $22 million to fill nine roster spaces. Four of those could be filled by re-signing Jack Roslovic, Mason Appleton, Jansen Harkins, and Sami Niku.

McIntyre recommends re-signing Dylan DeMelo and Nathan Beaulieu. He also proposes scouring the free-agent market for blueline depth, suggesting Calgary’s Travis Hamonic, Carolina’s Joel Edmundson, and Washington’s Brenden Dillon as options. McIntyre acknowledged that it could be mitigated if Ville Heinola and Dylan Samberg are ready for full-time duty next season. There could also be a need for depth at center and a new backup.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cheveldayoff could make a splash or two via free agency, but that’s not a certainty. The Winnipeg Sun’s Paul Friesen points out the Jets GM usually isn’t a big spender in the off-season, preferring more cost-effective options. Maybe he changes his mind this summer, but it wouldn’t surprise me if he remains a bargain hunter.


THE ATHLETIC: Rick Dhaliwal recently sorted through the Vancouver Canucks’ free-agent scenarios for this summer. While they’d like to re-sign pending UFAs like Jacob Markstrom, Tyler Toffoli, and Chris Tanev, their limited salary-cap space could hamper those efforts. They have over $63 million invested in 15 players for 2020-21. Given Markstrom’s value as their starting goalie and Toffoli’s contributions to their forward lines, Tanev could be the odd man out unless they shed salary to retain him.

Dhaliwal also wondered if the Canucks will attempt to trade winger Loui Eriksson, bury him in the minors, attempt a mutual contract termination or buy out the remaining two years of his contract. Eriksson will be paid a $3 million bonus on July 1, after which he’ll only be owed $5 million in actual salary over the remainder of his deal. A rival club could be willing to take on Eriksson if the Canucks take on another bad contract or give up a draft pick.

Nikolay Goldobin could also be shopped this summer. Dhaliwal claims the Ottawa Senators showed some interest in the 24-year-old winger before the trade deadline.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Dhaliwal’s report came out before the recent news the cap could rise as high as $88 million next season. That will make it easier for the Canucks to re-sign those key UFAs, but they must ensure they don’t eat up too much cap space going forward when Elias Pettersson and Quinn Hughes will be due for big raises next summer.

Trading Eriksson actually could be easier because of the higher salary cap. A budget-minded club like the Ottawa Senators looking to hit the cap minimum ($65 million?) could be amenable if the Canucks include a draft pick or a decent prospect.


  1. Had they not handcuffed themselves by not trading nylander or Marner after the great signing of Tavares they could have solved their defense issues.

    • Agree, 100%.
      Poor asset management.
      The good news for Leaf fans is that there’s still time to not only fix their issues, but to actually improve on their current situation.
      Takes balls though.
      Someone like Chia would make the tough move.
      I don’t think Kyle has it in him.

      • Did they not claim the cap will rise around that amount last year but we only got a 1.5 mill in crease.

        If i was a GM i would opperate on todays cap value. Any increase that happens i would use as wiggle room to adjust the roster mid season if need be.

    • how can you defend a signing of Tavares who is a career .944 point per game player. The Tavares signing is the reason why Matthews and Marner got their $11 million dollar deals instead of the $8 to $9 million that they are. IMO the Leafs would be a lot stronger team if they hadn’t signed Tavares and kept the players they have lost because of the lack of cap space in JVR, Bozak, Gardener, and other.
      There is no coincidence that Matthews and Tavares best seasons have been with Marner on their wings. Marner is just as valuable to the Leafs as Matthews is.

      • Have you really not been paying attention? The reason MM and AM didnt take discounts is because they hated Mike Babcock. That’s exactly why Matthews’ contract walks him right to free agency.

      • How is not giving a 27 year old UFA an $11 million dollar 7 year contract who is a career .944 points per game not a mistake? Especially one who hasn’t won anything in the NHL, and when I say “won anything” I’m talking about individual awards like the Hart, Art, or the Ted Lindsay.
        If you look at the top 10 player cap hits, you see the names you see players that have actually won something, with the exception of Marner and Tavares.
        Your 2 young RFA’s who are the actual future of your team, who out performed Tavares are going to want more! Even if the Leafs didn’t sign Tavares the $8 to $9 million a year for Matthew and Marner would still not be a discount. The $11 million is an overpayment for all 3.

      • I agree with you. Signing JT was not necessary, especially at the price they paid. That led to the overpayments for AM, MM, and WN. And to make the problem worse, JT still doesn’t get it, and is a defensive liability, without the excuse of youth and lack of experience.

      • There is zero correlation between Tavares contract on Marner Mathews. That is beyond bologna. He is a legit top line center obtained for no assets but cap space. He is the best Ufa on the market since…. who? You sign him for under market value then trade another asset to get a d man. The signing was great. Not trading a winger…. that’s your lost cap space.

      • Chrisms,
        Sorry, but I don’t see how $11 million for Tavares is under market value. Yeah, he is a first line centre and was the star player on the Islanders at the time. But $11 million for a player who hasn’t won any of the individual NHL awards and is also below a point per game player is an overpayment. Just because other teams were offering him more money doesn’t make getting him at $11 million the right. IMO it would have been a better decision to let another team sign him for that or more and let him become that teams cap issue. Also to say that signing him came at no cost but cap space is false. Because of the cap space Tavares took up the Leafs were not able to sign JVR,Bozak, Brown, Gardner, Kadri and more.
        Also why would Matthews and Marner take less money than Tavares if they were out performing Tavares? That is how Tavares contract is in correlation to Matthews and Marner’s.

      • Imo signing Tavares was no mistake. Trading Kadri was a mistake.
        Marner, Matthews and Nylander had no arbitration rights coming off their entry level contracts. Dubas should have played hard ball and brigde all three. The result is an impressive (sarcasm) 5-year deal for Matthews at $11,634,000 (UFA after the deal), $10,893,000 per year for Marner, a $6,962,366 per year for Nylander, an overplayed goalie and a below average defense corp.
        Trading Nylander or Marner in the summer could net the Leafs a good top 4 d-man. Rielly and Muzzin are the only top 4 d-man on the Leafs roster. Sandin and Liljegren are not fully developed and should play at least another year in the AHL. Imo Holl is at best a 6/7th d-man on a good defense, Ceci is way past his prime, Marincin is a career AHL player and Barrie a powerplay specialist and defensive liability.

      • By the very nature of him getting more elsewhere it means he’s under market value. And he was an ufa that earned his right to that contract. Marner and Mathews did not have to be signed the way they were. They could have said hey look at that guy! And Dubas could have said do it as long as he has and get paid like him.

    • I am on the side of not signing Tavares due to the cost of signing UFA’s, especially one as good as Tavares, and will be 30 starting next season.
      They had a good 2C on a very good contract early in his prime. Had plenty of depth up front with high end talent.
      Came off a 105 pt season.
      Could have been more patient with deals and wouldn’t have had to fire sale quality players or give up picks to move Marleau.
      They had options/choices which means leverage whether on trades or contract negotiations.
      Or to Chrisms point, they could move somebody else for D help and cap flexibility once they made the Tavares decision. They didn’t do that either.
      Still can, but again, they are in a position where they HAVE to make moves. Not a good negotiating position. All in all Dubas has stick handled through it so far, but seems more reactionary than strategic.
      IMO they are still a good team that could catch fire and do some damage if they can get a stay healthy on the back end.
      Should be another interesting summer in Toronto. Not the most patient hockey town.

    • The Shanaplan!!!

    • Here is a select list of players that JT’s contract either basically equals or exceeds that I would rather have on my team – McDavid, Panarin, Carlson, Kucherov, Pastrnak, Huberdeau, Ovechkin, Draisaitl, Crosby, Kane, Eichel, Marchand, Zibanejad, Scheifele, Bergeron, Hedman, and Josi. And here is a list of players that are at least equal to JT and making less money – Stamkos. Pacioretty, Aho, Couturier, Wheeler, Point, Konecny, and Malkin.

  2. Long time follower of this site from way back, first time poster.

    I would like to gauge the communities thoughts on what it would take for the Leafs to move Marner. From the outside the Leafs aren’t going to move Mathews or Tavares. They could move Nylander but he doesn’t really open up enough space to address their issues. So to me moving Marner’s 10.8M is the only long term solution.

    If NJ offered up – 2020 1st (Ari) 2020 1st (Van) 2021 1st (NJD) plus Wood, Boqvist and Zetterlund would that be enough.

    The RFA compensation for Marner’s contract would have been 4 1st’s. My proposal has 3 plus NJ 3rd and 8th ranked prospects. NJ doesn’t really have any D to give or that solve the leafs problems.

    NJ easily has the space to absorb all of Marner’s contract which would make them an attractive partner, and while they aren’t getting any D help which is what their issue is, they are getting some sandpaper, some cost controlled young prospects, and some top half 1st round picks and most importantly cap flexibility to resign their players and address their needs in FA.

    • Seems like an overpayment to me.
      NJ is rebuilding and can really use those picks.
      I’d want Toronto to hold salary as well.
      I like Mitch a lot, but how does he perform without Tavares or Matthews?
      It also doesn’t address the Leafs defensive holes.

      Maybe for Subban a 1st (Van) and a prospect/ Wood?

      • We’re seeing what Tavares is without Marner on his wing this season.
        Last season Tavares at the age of 27 beat his career high in goals by 10 with 47 (.57 goals per game). This season he is back down to his usual production of just under a point per game and a .42 goals per game.
        This season Matthew has already passed his career highs in goals and most likely get 50 for the first time in his career. He is also having the best point production of his career with 1.16 points per game. The previous 2 seasons he had 1.02 points per game.
        FYI Marner is producing at the same rate this season as he was last season.
        So this shows me that Marner is one of those players who make his linemates better players.

      • I guess hindsight is 20/20.
        Too bad we can’t see into the future.

      • @Kev last year Tavares played the whole year with basically the same 2 wingers this year he’s basically played with everyone. He’s also missed a month due to the hand while still facing the opposite teams top line. Marner on the other hand no longer required to do any defensive work so his production should skyrocket and it hasn’t. As a matter of fact it’s just as likely Marner and Matthews have benefited from Hymans presence. Marner has 1 real goal in the past 18 games and his primary assists are down for the year so he’s not driving the line as your suggesting. Players benefit from having the same line mates every game and it’s showing

      • Bob,
        Last season when I went to dailyfaceoff.com to check teams line ups and starting goalies for my fantasy hockey, Tavares and Marner were on the same line. This season it has been Matthews and Marner who have been on the same line. Last season the Tavares and Marner line were also going up against the oposicions top checking line, just like this season with Matthews. I have no idea about Hyman, but looking at his previous point totals IMO he is benefiting from playing with Marner and Matthews. How else can you explain a player going from a .519 points per game the previous 2 seasons and then a jump to .755 points per game this season. I could understand your argument if Hyman’s point per game this season was on the same level as the previous seasons.
        Now I don’t know what you mean by real goals, but in the last 18 games Marner actually has 3 goals. Now if there is such a thing as non real goals, do they count any differently on the scoreboard?
        Also just checked and Marners Corsi for percent and Fenwick for percent is higher this season than it was last season.

      • @Kev put down the stat sheet and actually watch the game. You can throw stats out till the cows come home you ever think maybe Hyman has just gotten better. He’s scoring goals that he missed before it’s called confidence and that has nothing to do with Marner. If anything that helps Marner not Hyman and Marner played all last year with Hyman so that point increase would tend to be because of Matthews then not Marner like you say. I’m not counting empty net goals so Marner has 1 goal in the past 18. While Matthews 200 ft game has improved a lot in the past 2 years when Toronto has last change I notice it’s still Tavares getting the call to face the other teams top line. When Matthews has called out the other players for lack of effort who do you think he’s talking about. The guys who play 5 minutes a game or the guy who floats like a butterfly

  3. Here are some alternatives to help the Leafs’ defence corps – the development of young prospects like Sandin and Liljegren; the return of Calle Rosen; European free agents – Toronto added Mikheyev this way and there are defence men in Europe that could play in the NHL; returning players – Holl, Dermott, Marincin, Muzzin, Reilly.
    I think Dubas will trade one of the less expensive wingers for a right shot D man but will count on the development of prospects, a better year from Freddie Andersen, and a more consistent commitment from the forwards to playing the right way in their own end.
    I don’t see any of the top four forwards being moved.

    • Solid points BC, but I’m not sure the less expensive wingers bring back anything more than a middling defenseman.

      One of them (top 4) should really be moved as they make too much $ to add the right complementary pieces.
      Nylander doesn’t make enough $ to make a huge difference in cap space.
      Or does he?

      Just an outsider’s opinion.

  4. The JT signing wasn’t necessary and as they say only cost $$$; until you’re trying to sign other players.

    I don’t necessarily buy the ideal that they should’ve trade AM, WN or MM to address a d need back then.

    A healthy Rielly will be a welcoming addition. Toronto thought they addressed their d need by moving Kadri for Barrie.

    I for one think the Kadri move hurt a lot. With Kadri and the addition Muzzin this team would of had the team toughness. I know about his dumb penalties but I still want him in a Boston uniform warts and all.

    I curious to see how Mitch Marner performs in the playoffs 2017-2018 7gp 2g 7a 9pts +2
    2018 – 2019 7gp 2g 2a 4pts -4 he needs a rebound playoff and they’ll be playing TB in the first round this year. (hoping)

    I don’t like the ideal of trading the young core of 22 and 23 year olds let them grow together unless you’re bring in the same age bracket. JT would be the guy i would want to move but he won’t move his NMC.

    • In my view I hop WN is shopped for a Two way D. TML desperately needs to bolster their D, and I think Willy would benefit from a change of scenery. Maybe WN to Arizona for OEM ? Just spittballing!

      • DanB, OEM has a full NMC , he is not likely going anywhere. For WN you could potentially see Chychrun , young forward like Crouse or Garland and a pick / prospect.
        Chychrun when healthy has a lot of upside, problem he is that he has been injured often.

  5. Lyle,,,,could not disagree with you more….just one Leaf fan’ s opinion but….

    The problem was not the Tavares signing …it was the refusal to immediately use that as an excuse to trade Marner….a related problem IMO was not scheduling the length of Matthew’s contract to match the end of McDavid’s contract…that way you have potential long term strength at center.

    Dubas does not think strategically…..he is too young and inexperienced to know how….

    If had traded Marner then he would not have the cap issues nor the defense issues he has now….I am not writing this only with 20-20 hindsight….those who have been reading here know I have felt this way a long time….

    Dubas accepted a position where one of his needed skills was foresight……Paul Marner , Ferris
    and that stooge fifth columnist for the players association ( Kypreous) played him like a fiddle and he did not have the gravitas nor foresight to use the power he had when he had it…..he lacked the cohones the postion required

    In terms of strategic thinking …..Dubas is as strong as overcooked pasta

    • OBD, had the Leafs traded Marner Leaf-land would have gone nuclear.

      I seem to recall that Tavares was perceived as the final piece in a run to the Cup with Matthews and Marner. Indeed, Bodog, the betting site, was so inundated with Leaf fans betting on the Leafs to win the Cup after Tavares’ signing the odds had them as the favourite.

      I too thought Tavares was paid too much, and it is interesting that there is a shift to see him as the overpaid one. Every crisis needs a sacrificial lamb.

      Surely the fact remains that of the expensive forwards the Leafs has Marner and Matthews are keepers, and Tavares to0 expensive to trade anyway, has a NMC. That circles us back to Nylander.

      And if Dubas wants to trade Marner, I will personally contribute to his salary if he goes to Montreal. Dare to dream …

  6. LJ ..I am 73 still play hockey 3 times a week with overly experienced hockey nuts….only a few of them agree….and they tend to think I am obsessed with removing Marner….which I am….this morning after hockey I mentioned I would trade Marner even up for Doughty….I got scoffed at….

    To me most over rated over paid player in the league…he is who Keefe was referring to when he used the word “immature” ….to enhance my credibility in these matters I will point that I met Gretzy when he was around 19…. I assured everyone that he was to thin….too narrow shouldered to make it in the league….I gave him 4 years….

    • I am impressed that you are still literally in the game at 73. Keep going!

      I can’t say you are wrong about Marner as I don’t follow the Leafs as closely as the Habs. All I know is that he has 65 points in 57 games.

      A by-product of Muzzin and Clifford in the Leafs line up is that they know what it takes to win the Cup. That will help Marner and the rest of the Leafs line up.

    • OBD, what’s your position in oldtimers? Third line winger on a two line team?
      Just kidding, keep er going!

  7. Actually the Leafs are in better position now. Before they were just fighting for 3rd place in the Atlantic division . Now they have a chance at a wildcard spot as well. It didn’t look like that option was available 1 month ago. 2 of their top 6 defensemen will be back next week.
    Considering their so bad they are hanging around. And Andersen looked pretty good against LA last night.
    Actually all I can think about is Brassard for Zibanejad.

    • One of those head scratching moments where a goalie gets credited for a shutout but not a win.

  8. The head scratcher I heard today…..Pocket Rocket who as a Feb 29 birthday….therefore he won 11 Stanley Cups before his 12 th birthday…..Had I met him I would probably said he was to small to last …

    Another great player from a hard era has passed

    • Pocket Rocket was a great player – I will miss him along with too many others who have passed before him. The only bad thing I remember about Henri was the Stanley Cup winning goal he scored in Detroit to defeat my Wings in 1966. I still think he put it in with his hand.

  9. I wrote this really late some days ago, maybe it can be re-visited here. I propose:

    To Chicago: Mitch Marner, Ilya Mikheyev

    To Toronto: Patrick Kane

  10. Agree that Tavares has not been worth the colossal salary. He’s been good, but only good., not a player who carries a whole line or a team on most nights.

    Still the question comes up, who exactly would have been the answer for Dubas, if he’d kept the money and Kadri, rather than signing Tavares?
    I don’t really see a Dman who would have fit the bill in Free agency for the past two years. Tyler Myers? Barrie this summer? Who would have been the answer?

    • Jacob Trouba ?

    • I respectfully disagree Dave, Lyle and others who have made the Tavares signing ground zero for the current Leaf Cap situation and problems. Tavares had a history of being a top centre and character player in the league. He turned down more money to play in Toronto. He, Muzzin, Spezza and Clifford are what the kids need to learn from, which is that while individuals can win games, teams win championships, and they need to play better as a team and not worry about individual awards and individual stats. Any of the teams who interviewed Tavares, including the team he left, would be happy to have him. Has he won any individual awards or a Stanley Cup? No, just a Gold medal. What have the other top 3 on the Leafs won (yes, Matthews got an individual award) yet one is paid more and one just slightly less. As someone else pointed out, in his 62 games played this season, JT has had as his wingers, for at least one game or more, Zach Hyman, Mitch Marner, William Nylander, Alex Kerfoot, Pierre Engvall, Ilya Mikayev, Trevor Moore, Andreas Johnnson, Kasperi Kapanen, Jason Spezza and Denis Malgin. I may have missed someone. Nic Petan? And he played with a rotation of different players all through his time on the Island. Yet we want him to be as productive and consistent as when he played almost the entire season last year with Hyman and Marner. Last year Nylander was the goat and this year I guess it is going to be Tavares. For everyone obsessed about the Cap, yes, the consistantly having a rotating pair of Wingers John Tavares (58 pts) has cost the team $189,655 per point. Coming in 2nd is Mitch Marner (65 pts) at $167,584 per point. Matthews (79 pts) at $147,265 per point, and Willie (58 pts) at the bargain basement price of $129,040 per point, with an average of 3 minutes less TOI than Marner, while trailing him by only 7 points. If anyone should be more productive this year it is Marner, who leads all leaf forwards in Ice time. If Tyson Barrie had been blowing it up this season we are not having this conversation. I wil bet if Johnnson had not been injured just before the deadline there would have been a trade for D. I am as dissapointed with this season as anyone and would have liked to see how the team would have performed without injuries all through the team especially to Reilly and Mikayev. But in no way do I think everything that hobbles the leafs circles back to the signing of John Tavares.