NHL Rumor Mill – June 23, 2020

by | Jun 23, 2020 | Rumors | 19 comments

A listing of this year’s top UFA forwards and the latest on the Leafs in today’s NHL rumor mill.


THE SCORE: Arizona Coyotes winger Taylor Hall, Florida Panthers winger Mike Hoffman, and Vancouver Canucks winger Tyler Toffoli sit atop Josh Gold-Smith’s recent ranking of this year’s top NHL unrestricted free agent forwards. Panthers winger Evgenii Dadonov and Nashville Predators winger Mikael Granlund round out the top five.

Arizona Coyotes winger Taylor Hall (Photo via NHL Images).

Washington Capitals winger Ilya Kovalchuk, Colorado Avalanche forward Vladislav Namestikov, Edmonton Oilers winger Tyler Ennis, Predators winger Craig Smith, and Coyotes center Carl Soderberg complete the top-10.

Other notables include Minnesota Wild forward Alex Galchenyuk, Florida Panthers center Erik Haula, New York Islanders center Derick Brassard, Buffalo Sabres winger Wayne Simmonds, and Toronto Maple Leafs forward Jason Spezza.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: You can quibble over some of Gold-Smith’s rankings, but it’s clear this isn’t a great year for UFA forward talent.

Hall is the best of the bunch. Hoffman and Dadonov are reliable scorers while Toffoli is the best two-way forward. Granlund struggled through most of his tenure with the Predators, but his play improved after Peter Laviolette was replaced as head coach with John Hynes. A solid playoff tournament performance could boost his stock.

It’s pretty much buyer beware for most of the rest. They either haven’t panned out (Galchenyuk), were hampered by injuries (Haula), or are on the downside of their careers (Kovalchuk, Brassard, Simmonds, Spezza).


SPORTSNET: In a recent mailbag segment, Luke Fox was asked for the Toronto Maple Leafs likely blueline targets in the off-season. Given their limited salary-cap space, he doesn’t expect they’ll land Alex Pietrangelo, suggesting instead Travis Hamonic, Chris Tanev, Sami Vatanen, or Radko Gudas as more viable options.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap constraints will also hamper efforts to sign the others. Cap Friendly indicates they have over $76.9 million invested in 16 players. Some cost-cutting would have to be made to pursue them.

Turning to the trade market, Fox pointed out Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas tends to deal for players with term remaining on their contracts. High-end right-hand shots include Minnesota’s Matt Dumba, Buffalo’s Rasmus Ristolainen, Columbus’ David Savard, Carolina’s Brett Pesce, Buffalo’s Colin Miller, Edmonton’s Adam Larsson, and Anaheim’s Josh Manson.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I don’t see Dumba, Pesce, Larsson, or Manson getting moved. Ristolainen or Miller could be available, but it depends on whether the Sabres will trade with a hated division rival like the Leafs. Savard might be a trade option if Dubas offered up a decent scoring forward like Kasperi Kapanen.

Regarding Frederik Andersen’s contract status, Fox feels that they should kick it down the road. Andersen becomes a UFA next summer. He also expects defenseman Travis Dermott and winger Ilya Mikheyev will receive bridge deals.


  1. Mikheyev would have had a good rookie season without the laceration . As a result of that audition the Leafs can afford to move Kapanen or Johnsson for defence. Said it before but I believe the best addition with all things considered is Savard.
    I also like Craig Smith as a sleeper pickup .A good all around veteran

    • SilverSeven, Savard just makes so much sense for TOR. Conceptually CBJ-TOR make good trade partners from a needs perspective. What gives me pause is I am curious if Dubas and Jarmo see a deal that has the right value (Savard-Kapanen?). Noise in CBus is CBJ may be willing move Anderson, a Dman (Savard makes sense) and possibly a G (my bet is Korpisalo…an All Star this year) to acquire high skill F. It will be interesting to see if this is multiple deals or a larger “big game hunting” trade. IMHO if moved Anderson and Savard end up in Western conference clubs (COL, CGY)

  2. I know they are discussing (here) top end UFAs but there will be many good lower cost UFAs that should be a great investment…..

    I go back (again and again) to Soucy ….

    Big, smooth skating Late bloomer Dman in the rise ….. and only 25 years old…. current contract $925 K

    I implore Jimmy or Kyle to make an offer

    Picture Pens with Soucy instead of JJ every game …. Cup chances absolutely skyrocket

    Psyk …. a player that is equally comfortable playing W or D; and can score…. was at the Leafs/Panthers game this year when he got a hat-trick👍

    Can easily play mid six wing and/or reg bottom pairing with easy ability to slide to mid pairing if needed; just turned 28.

    Just finished best year statistically; and done in inly 58 games … 9-9-18–+4;

    Just came off 3 years @ 2.7M
    I see his value to many teams….

    Note …. born/raised in Ed…. could be a good add for Oil

  3. Pengy, what do you think of Justin Schultz? Will he be back in Pitt? How much?

    • Nope. Peterson Marino dumo letang top 4 leaves no room for him. He’s not a bottom pair guy and won’t sign for that type of money.

      • He”ll be 30 in July. I can’t see him getting same money as he’s making now.

    • Hi Slick62

      I concur with Chrisms… I do like Shultz but no $ or Cap for him and unless things change ; even if he’d accept contract at much lower than value ; he nor his agent would allow him to be paired again with Mr. Horrfic

      Would love


      Very solid D

      This year’s top (I say tongue ‘n cheek because it includes the worst DMan in the NHL) 6….. ~$21M

      Next year; including Pettersson raise and what’s left on Cap from JJ buyout and accounting for Soucy acquisition … the above 6 will be about the same cost or slightly less than that; AND will be better; faster and younger

      Move Bjug and even with flat Cap… that leaves about $17 M – $18 M to re-sign Murray; Jarry; McC; Rodriguez; Simon; Riikola; Laffy; AA…. filling easily the 23 man roster within Cap

      *Soucy acquisition space via Cap savings from JJ buyout…. the Soucy for JJ swap alone ; massively increases cup chances in ‘21; improves stats for ALL other Pens players; uplifts team; while coaching, management and fans enjoyment/satisfaction soars

      • Koivu likely to retire..

        Bjug & JJ to Billy G for a late round pick (no retention)



        McC-Horny-*Psyk or Tanev or **Ennis or ***Poulin

        Blueger-Tanev (if not on 3rd line)

        Bottom 6 wingers and 13/14th Fwds: (in no particular order) Rodrigues; ZAR; **Ennis

        **Soucy & *Psyk or Riikola
        7th … Riikola or **Hutton

        Murray & Jarry

        *Psyk plays (equally well) both W & D

        ** Soucy , Psyk, Hutton, Ennis…. reasonable UFA acquisitions

        ***Poulin has an outside shot to make the team… no worry on size… I wouldn’t bring him in for 4th line/depth… only if he can impress enough to be on middle 6 wing

        Above roster comes in relatively easy to get under the estimated/expected flat Cap; younger; speedier; better defensively and offensively

        OUT: JJ, Bjug; Shultz (from reg season) ; plus Sheary and Marleau (from basically playoff roster); Ruhweedel; AA; Laffy…. to WBS

        In: Soucy; Psyk; Hutton; Ennis and MAYBE Poulin

  4. Who is Soucy?

    What’s his full name please?

      • That’s him George

        Watched him play about 15 games this season… and I liked what I saw

        Late bloomer… good size; smooth skater; poise; good stats for the limited mins and games played; and I believe a good future ahead of him

        25… UFA NHLer … is rare

        Should be low cost acquisition, low risk, with potential very good upside

        Jimbo and KD…. Put in your offers

    • Carson Soucy

      • Where else would his future be?

  5. I’m hearing Matthews nose won’t stop running may need reconstruction on his nose and nasal cavity and his throat is so itchy not sure he will be able to play first round.

    • Leafs need to make one deal to be the best and most talent balanced team in league easily within cap.

      The deal is marner to nashville for ryan Ellis and auston Watson. No salary retention and mid round picks can be exchanged if needed. Then you put Ellis with Muzzin and leafs have their long needed and aptly nicknamed “ZZ Top pairing”

      Plan the virtual parade next year

      • “Billy” MuZZin and “Dusty” Ryan would be the most trustworthy leaf d pairsince Turnbull and Salming.

  6. No problem. Now all you need do is convince Poile, who has $72,232,810 committed for 17 players with 6 to sign, including some key UFAs, in a flat-cat era to give up arguably his best D, who’s signed for 6 more years at a very reasonable $6,250,000. and to toss in a 6′ 4″ F who’s signed for 3 more at $1.5 mil, for a F costing close to $11 mil off the cap for 5 more years.

    Snap. Just like that.

    • No problem we can take turris for compliance buyout and get a 1st + out of them too. Poile takes the marner ellis deal in the blink of an eye and makes whatever other deals he needs to make it work. Pengy knows this would work .

      • I’ll say one thing, you guys dream big … and in technicolour too.