NHL Rumor Mill – May 12, 2020

by | May 12, 2020 | Rumors | 31 comments

Some suggestions to help the Sharks regain their playoff contender status and Travis Dermott’s future with the Leafs in today’s NHL rumor mill.


THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): Kevin Kurz last week proposed a nine-step plan for turning the San Jose Sharks back into a playoff contender next season.

Among his suggestions was finding a suitable backup goaltender to pair with starter Martin Jones. Assuming Jones isn’t traded or bought out, Kurz doesn’t believe they should bring back Aaron Dell, who’s slated to become an unrestricted free agent at season’s end. He advocates signing a free-agent goalie on a one- or two-year deal to allow time for Alexei Melnichuk’s development. Former Shark Thomas Greiss could be available.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Greiss has solid numbers as a career backup and could be open to a return to San Jose. He could provide help offset Jones’ inconsistent streaks. 

Should the San Jose Sharks attempt to trade Brent Burns in the off-season? (Photo via NHL Images)

Kurz also recommends Sharks general manager Doug Wilson trade Brent Burns or Marc-Edouard Vlasic. Burns has a three-team trade list while Vlasic has a full no-movement clause. Kurz feels there’s reason to believe Vlasic would accept a trade to his native Montreal or perhaps Toronto, which could be in the market for a left-shot defenseman. Burns, however, could be the more likely trade candidate as his contract provides a little more trade flexibility and he’d have more value than Vlasic.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Trading either guy isn’t impossible, but there remain several major stumbling blocks. Both are in their thirties (Burns is 35, Vlasic 33) and their best seasons are behind them. They also carry long-term contracts with hefty annual salary-cap hits ($8 million for Burns, $7 million for Vlasic) that will be difficult for most clubs (like Toronto) to absorb. As Kurz noted, if they won’t waive their trade clauses, Wilson’s hands will be tied. At this point, I don’t either guy agreeing to a trade.

Kurz also advocated Wilson trade two of Kevin Labanc, Marcus Sorensen, and Dylan Gambrell. With the freed-up salary cap space from this move and moving Burns or Vlasic, he suggested signing a forward who can score, such as Vancouver’s Tyler Toffoli, Nashville’s Craig Smith or Mikael Granlund, or Florida’s Evgenii Dadonov.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Labanc is a restricted free agent with arbitration rights while Sorensen and Gambrell are signed through next season at a combined $2.2 million. Coming off a career-high 56-point performance, Labanc bet on himself and lost last summer by agreeing to a one-year, $1-million contract. With only 33 points in 70 games this season, arbitration still won’t provide him much leverage to land a lucrative long-term deal. He could become a trade candidate if the contract talks bog down.

If Wilson can trade Burns or Vlasic, he’ll free up cap space to sign a scoring forward. Considering the obstacles in trading either blueliner, it will be quite a challenge to pull that off.


SPORTSNET: In a recent mailbag segment, Luke Fox was asked if the Toronto Maple Leafs’ recent signing of defenseman Mikko Lehtonen spells danger for Travis Dermott’s future as a Leaf.

Fox noted Leafs GM Kyle Dubas indicating the club needs to figure out where Lehtonen slots in on the blueline. He’s a left-shot rearguard who can play either side. While he likes playing on the right side, his strengths appear on the left.

While Dubas could trade Dermott, Fox feels the smart move is to re-sign him to a reasonable bridge deal. He’s coming off his entry-level contract and lacks arbitration rights.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Agreed. Dermott will be an affordable re-signing and has a couple of NHL seasons under his belt. If Lehtonen struggles to adjust to the NHL pace, it’ll be worthwhile to have Dermott around.


  1. I would be surprised if Burns and Vlasic create interest. Their age and contract (both $s AND term) would be a non-starter for any team that might have a need.

    A backup goalie to support Jones is probably a much easier task.

    • Agree – as if some team will, in these highly uncertain financial times, a) take on an aging, cap-costly veteran with considerable term (5 and 7 more years taking both to their late 30s/early 40s, thereby hamstringing their own roster and b) give up ANY assets to do so.

      For Mr. Kurz he needs to understand that wishful thinking is one thing – reality is quite another.

      • I’m glad to hear that Vlasic might accept a trade to Montreal. I don’t see Bergevin biting. He’s 33 years old with six more seasons left on a contract with a $7m. cap hit. His offensive game, at least, has declined the last couple of years. The only way it could possibly work is if the return is minimal and the Sharks retain at least $2m. NOT. GONNA. HAPPEN.

      • Hi Howard

        I agree

        When I look at tough contracts to move I use the absurd ends of the spectrum as a quick line of analyzing it…. using the Pickle as an example

        Bergevin would hang up immediately if the request was

        Pickle (0 retained)

        For 2 firsts plus Suzuki plus Kotka

        and I’m sure Bergevin would immediately jump on

        Pickles (50% retained) and 2 firsts


        Of course these are two maniacally absurd ends of the spectrum that could never happen

        What it does show is there is something between those two crazy goalposts (of trade proposals) that might work

        My question to you Howard is what is your fair trade proposal that brings Pickles home (at 50 % retained)?

  2. You can never have enough depth on the blueline. Kind of dumb (as) to trade McDermott .
    Why do the Sharks need to add a scoring forward when they have Labanc ?
    He will resign with the Sharks as he did Wilson a solid last year and will return to form

    • McDermott wouldn’t bring back much in a trade, his type of dman aren’t hard to find

      • Look who stepped out from under his bridge. I bet this McDermott guy would probably be in the top 4 on the Habs blueline; the Leafs player in question, Travis Dermott is 22 or 23 so the book is obviously out on that guy….still be in your team’s top 4.

        Sad but true. Have a nice nap under your bridge.

      • Lol old Ron the troll enjoy your years of overvaluing leafs players yet no playoff round wins in 15 years or cups in half a century…… but hey in a leafs fans eyes they could do a sign and trade McDermott straight up for petro? Or the blues could just hit the waiver wire and pick up a McDermott lol

      • I don’t think gms would like that idea at all. It would hurt trade value.

  3. Wouldn’t it be great for fans if when you go to Cap Friendly website, and when you click on details about players contracts, you could actually see the teams on their trade lists? If we knew which 3 teams Burns would go to?

    • Anaheim
      Los Angeles
      That’s my guess.

    • Slick, that’s a great suggestion. I love that site and that would definitely make it even better.

      • Something league should consider for fans. Definitely would keep fans engaged in off season.

    • Problem is the trade lists are usually asked for before the season starts, so that list would potentially change every year for each player.

      Could be a nightmare for capfriendly to keep up to date, but a great resource for fans like us.

      • True. I looked at CapFriendly and there isn’t really any set date unless agreed to. Example: parties agree player will submit a list on July 1st every season. Some agreements have no requirements that players submit a list unless team asks, which might never happen.

      • Hmmm, good to know slick.

  4. It always amazes me reading some of the ridiculous ideas and comments contributors think about their home team. I’m a Detroit guy, and things aren’t any different here. We all overvalue our own players, and always seem to think that we can pluck the best players from other teams in exchange for what amounts to a small bag of pucks. If anyone is willing to trade for Burns/Vlasic, perhaps they would also be willing to trade for Abdelkader or Nielsen. Their cap hits are smaller and for lesser term. Anyone ?

    • Considering a defenseman like Burns outscores both of those 2 Detroit forwards combined every year, I’d think there would be quite a few teams that would trade for him if they could. He’s still playing at a high level. The guys a freak. He hasn’t missed a regular season game in last 6 seasons. Right now he’s worth the 8 mil he’s getting. He turns 40 at end of his contract. He might not be worth it then, but Abdelkader and Nielsen aren’t worth their deals right now. Any team that is considered a cup contender would trade for Burns tomorrow if they could.

      • And then be stuck with him and his cap hit as he nears 40? Not in this age of financial uncertainty across the board … not just sports.

      • George, I understand your view, but as I said a contender that is in a win now mode, and can find a way to fit him? If you think he’s got at least 3 solid years left? I don’t think they’re worrying about 4-5 years from now. At worst, he ends up an overpaid 3rd pair. Can always be bought out. As far as financial uncertainty, any trade won’t happen until off season when league will have a better idea of future. Also, aren’t owners about to get huge chunk of Seattle buy in money?

      • Nope – not with that long contract. Ask Chicago about signing players to big contracts and long terms. The would love to rid themselves of Toews, Seabrook, and Keith, and that’s what Burns will be in another year or two. SJ would have to accept another bad contract in return. And my comment about Abby and Nielsen was a joke – no one in their right mind will trade for either.

  5. IF Seattle owners can still buy in. Probably they will … but there’s also the possibility that their money stems from some commodity or commodities taking a big hit … and if the world tumbles into another full-scale depression – which some economists are now saying is quite possible – it won’t be so much a question of buying in as it will dropping out in some cases. Just trying to keep reality in the rear-view mirror



  6. I hate to say it because I’m a big Doug Wilson fan, but he screwed the pooch signing Karlsson. I still am at somewhat of a loss as to why the Burns/forward experiment is over. He’s got a great shot, but such a defensive liability. With Karlsson now on the back end, why not experiment with Burns up front again? What could they lose? If a buyout situation develops, then buyout Vlassic and Jones and grab Lehrner if they can. A new back up is not the answer. What a mess!

    • Sounds the Burns idea sounds reasonable Dman. Gotta give Wilson credit he kept the window open a long time and had to sign these guys to big deals or lose them.
      Might look like Detroit did a year or so ago.
      Gonna take a while to get back.
      If they get some goaltending they could be in the hunt for a playoff spot again next year. Big if. They have some players, just might be too old.

    • Dman

      I was thinking the same thing—what a mess!!! If it takes a 9 (NINE) step plan to make a team a possible playoff contender, that is pretty hopeless! A lot bigger than what a backup goalie can cure.

  7. Great thought with Burns as a forward. Apparently they need one .

    No disclosure on no trade teams is the right thing and I agree it would be nice for some but it would give those cities a black eye and potentially effect negotiation. The player can wave anyway so no point in others knowing or at least broadcasting. It could only serve as motivation for those no go teams.

  8. Hi Pengy,

    Sorry but I haven’t checked in all day because I was busy with work – and trust me, I’m not complaining.

    “Pickles”? I’m sorry but who are you referring to?

    • Vlasic is a brand of pickles

    • Vlasic

      I heard the broadcasters call him Pickle a few times times and they said that some teammates call him that

      It’s a brand of pickles in the states… IMHO absolutely nowhere near as tasty as Strubs 🤓

      • Sorry. I guess I’m not up to date on pickle brands.

        Sorry but NO and NO. Vlasic’s contract looks shaky now and will be an albatross inside of three years. I would not give up much for him and even then some salary would have to be retained. Won’t happen.