NHL Rumor Mill – May 28, 2020

by | May 28, 2020 | Rumors | 21 comments

Check out the latest on the Leafs, Oilers, and Devils in today’s NHL rumor mill.


SPORTSNET: In a recent mailbag segment, Luke Fox was asked if pursing a third-line center was a priority for Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas. Fox believes acquiring a top-four, right-shot defenseman remains Dubas’ priority, but feels improving the depth at center should be next.

The reader proposed pursuing Nashville Predators center Nick Bonino. Fox believes he’d be a wonderful addition but doubts the Predators will part with him. He instead suggested some short-term UFA options like Joe Thornton, Derick Brassard, Nate Thompson, Brad Richardson, or Greg McKegg.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Predators GM David Poile still considers his club a contender. I don’t see him moving Bonino.

Cap Friendly indicates the Predators have over $72 million invested in 16 players for 2020-21. They could use some cap relief if they hope to re-sign UFAs like Mikael Granlund and Craig Smith, but Poile could consider other cost-cutting options (hello there, Kyle Turris).

The Leafs, meanwhile, have over $76.9 million tied up in 16 players. That’s not much room to pursue a top-four defenseman and a third-line center. They’ll have to shop one or two salaried players to address those needs.

Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Morgan Rielly (Photo via NHL Images).

One reader proposed the Leafs swap Morgan Rielly and William Nylander to the Columbus Blue Jackets for Seth Jones and Josh Anderson. Fox loves the idea of such a blockbuster deal but noted how NHL teams love their talent too much to make such transactions. He also pointed out Jones and Rielly are massively popular in their respective markets.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If you’re gonna dream, dream big. Thanks to the salary cap, true blockbuster trades are increasingly rare.


EDMONTON JOURNAL: Jim Matheson reports the NHL deciding the regular season is over could mean the Oilers won’t have to part with their conditional 2020 third-round pick to the Calgary Flames. It was part of the deal that saw the Oilers ship winger Milan Lucic to Edmonton in exchange for winger James Neal.

Under the conditions of the trade, the Oilers’ pick would’ve belonged to the Flames if Neal scored 21 goals this season. He had 19 when the schedule was paused. Oilers GM Ken Holland said he hasn’t been officially told that’s the case.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Athletic’s Jonathan Willis said the league still hasn’t addressed how it will sort out this season’s conditional trades. He suggested three possible approaches. One, the season is interpreted as having ended at 71 games, meaning the Oilers keep their pick. Two, the league prorate results over 82 games, meaning Neal could be credited with 22 goals and the Flames get the pick. The third is a compromise in which the Flames get some lesser draft compensation from the Oilers.


THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): In a recent mailbag segment, Corey Masisak was asked about realistic blueline trade targets for the New Jersey Devils.

Masisak ruled out pursuing young defensemen on potentially cap-strapped teams like Tampa Bay’s Mikhail Sergachev and St. Louis’ Vince Dunn as he expects they’ll be re-signed by their respective clubs. Older, short-term options could be available, such as Chicago’s Olli Maatta or Arizona’s Niklas Hjalmarsson.

He also noted the Buffalo Sabres have too many blueliners, suggesting Colin Miller as a target. He also wondered if the Minnesota Wild might part with Jonas Brodin. Even some potential free agent bargains like Cody Ceci or Joel Edmundson might be worthwhile for the right term and price.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Masisak believes the Devils’ priority could be adding a defenseman or two after trading away Sami Vatanen and Andy Greene in February. Who they target, however, depends upon who’s sitting in the GM’s chair following this season. Will interim GM Tom Fitzgerald remains on the job, or will they hire someone else?


  1. Just a gut feel here, the Devils will make interim GM Tom Fitzgerald the full time one in the near future. Why they have not is that I think they are also looking at a new role, President of Hockey Operations (i.e., Gillis) and make sure that they agree to the GM pick. This all comes from the Shero fallout that highlighted some internal dysfunction. That is the rumor going around locally anyway. the Devils have to do so much this off-season, and now they have time, but they have to nail their management structure first; hopefully soon.

  2. We’re doing some maintenance on the site, including with the comments section.

    • Lyle. How come when you get the go daddy error page it doesn’t at least give you a smoking hot pic of the old go daddy girl?

      • What error are you encountering, Chris? Is it a 502 hosting error?

      • Maybe? I think so. Happened a bunch yesterday.

      • Yeah, we’ve been trying to sort out the server issues since Saturday. Really appreciate everyone’s patience and support. We are working hard to get this sorted!

      • To quote George Takei: “Oh, my!”

      • Ha!

  3. Lyle, I know you said that cap situations will cut down on blockbuster trades but I think, and hope, that the trade market will be active this year. Hopefully there will be plenty of action at the draft.

    • Oh, I agree with you! However, I think it’ll be mostly cost-cutting deals that involve a notable player being moved for peanuts, rather than the type of player-for-player blockbuster one of Fox’s readers suggested.

      • And if that blockbuster ever did happen, would it be safe to assume we’ll be discussing everyday how Leafs need a left shot defenseman?

    • So who wins the deal if it happened, CLB or TOR?
      Ya, I know, highly unlikely.

      I do it if I am CLB, not sure I do if I am TOR.

      • Anderson’s the wild card in that deal. Nylander IMO has established himself as a reliable top-six winger. Anderson has power-forward skills but that shoulder injury is a concern.

      • Ray Bark, Jones is the Jackets ‘ acknowledged next captain. He’s also one of the few Jackets who is untouchable. Maybe Werenski would be available, but I doubt it. Add in that the Jackets have 9 or 10 defensemen with NHL experience and there’s no way they’re taking back a defenseman in any trade.

  4. I think all this staying in has affected the already NHL hockey unreal scenarios they continue to suggest, usually making the team they write for get better through trades for their throw-ins. My personal opinion is with the tight future Caps the upcoming Seattle team addition, the regular clubs aren’t stripping their defenses until those guys weren’t getting protected.. I am pretty certainties layoff gave all the organizations a chance to chart their path towards the expansion draft and their conservative policies will continue across the board, so thinking a marquee name is going for a marquee name seems a passing thought.

  5. I have no idea why Sabres traded for Miller – they have never used him. Botts being Botts

  6. I know it rarely happens, but I can see Devils trying to get Vatanen back. My blockbuster.
    DeAngelo,Strome, Buchnevich for Nylander and Reilly

    • Great Idea – if you are a Rangers fan. I don’t think much of Dubas, but even he isn’t that stupid.

      Are you the same guy that proposed ADA, Strome, and Georgiev for Larkin and a 2nd ? Do you think the rest of the NHL owes the Rangers a debt or something, and are obliged to send their top players to NY for several bags of pucks ?

  7. Slick62,
    Why would TML make this deal?
    Really >ADA
    Nylander >Buchnevich
    And Strome and ADA are both restricted with arbitration rights?
    The TML are improving, and won’t be saying and cap space. ADA is not going to get bullied like he did last negotiation with the NYR. And Strome just came off earning over $3M on his last deal. Unfortunately, this is not a fit for Toronto.

    • Francois, I guess it depends on how much you think Strome and AdA get in their next contracts. Leafs though would be getting 3 roster players for close to what they’re paying 2. And the subject was adding a 3C. Not saying this would happen, but just putting it out there, as Pengy would say. for Shi&& and giggles.