NHL Rumor Mill – June 9, 2020
Should the Toronto Maple Leafs acquire David Savard or Rasmus Ristolainen? Could they move William Nylander or Kasperi Kapanen? Check out the latest speculation in the NHL rumor mill.
SPORTSNET: In his latest mailbag, Luke Fox was asked if David Savard or Rasmus Ristolainen are legitimate potential trade targets for the Toronto Maple Leafs. Fox believes they are but feels any deal involving either right-hand defenseman means the Leafs will have to trade from their depth of talented forwards.
Both blueliners lack no-trade protection. Ristolainen is younger (25) but carries a more expensive contract ($5.4 million annually through 2022) with the Buffalo Sabres, while the 26-year-old Savard has a $4.25 million AAV through 2021 with the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Ristolainen seems the more likely trade candidate. He frequently surfaced in this season’s rumor mill and recently said he believes he’ll be among those on the move if the Sabres decide to make changes.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The question is, would the Sabres trade Ristolainen to a hated division rival like the Leafs? If the Leafs are willing to part with a scoring forward, the answer could be, “yes”.
Fox pointed out Savard has no issues with Blue Jackets management, but he wondered how desperate GM Jarmo Kekalainen could be for goal scorers. It’s a fair point. Kekalainen could listen f someone like the Leafs made a reasonable offer.
Asked if the Leafs will move William Nylander to free up salary-cap space to sign other players, Fox considers it highly unlikely this off-season. He believes Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas when he said he intends to keep all his upper-class forwards and build around elite offensive talent.
However, Fox also pointed to the Leafs’ need to re-sign Frederik Andersen and Zach Hyman before they become unrestricted free agents next year. Defenseman Morgan Rielly can start contract extension talks next summer.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Nylander won’t be moved, though I wonder if the Leafs could be tempted by an offer of a quality top-pairing defenseman. Dubas reportedly told Nylander that he won’t be traded as long as he was the GM. At some point, however, the Leafs’ need to address their defensive issues will come to a head, forcing Dubas to make an uncomfortable decision involving Nylander or another of his high-priced forwards.
THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): Jonas Siegel believes the Leafs shouldn’t give up on Kasperi Kapanen just yet. After the trade deadline and before the schedule was halted by the COVID-19 pandemic, the 23-year-old winger acknowledged the trade speculation swirling around him, but claimed he didn’t think about it too much. He said he hadn’t spoken with Dubas about a potential trade and didn’t think the Leafs wanted to move him, but understood the business of the game.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kapanen is often mentioned as the player most likely to be used as trade bait to bring in a top-four defenseman. I think Dubas is reluctant to part with him, but he could be the necessary trade chip to address the Leafs’ blueline issues.
Siegel took an in-depth look at Kapanen’s play and potential. He feels the Leafs should wait at least a year to determine what they’ve got in the young Finnish winger. Siegel suggests getting as much of out Kapanen as possible before dealing him away.