NHL Rumor Mill – June 9, 2020

by | Jun 9, 2020 | Rumors | 29 comments

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”.

Don’t expect the Toronto Maple Leafs to trade William Nylander in the off-season (Photo via NHL Images).

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.


  1. If I’m Toronto I move Marner before Nylander better return plus frees up the cash they need to repair defense. Leafs have plenty of offense even without Marner but need two real good stay at home D men.

    • Agreed but only if Willy keeps playing like he did during the last part of this season.

    • Luckily, Obe, you’re not Toronto. Pretty sure the Leafs will hold on to the top four for one more season at the least.

  2. But Obe what are they going to do when they play on the road.
    You gotta have defense that do more than stay at home.
    The defense will be alright. When the team commits to defense they win.
    That’s part of a young team.
    Consistency is their problem

    • I’m half way with you Vinnie. Teams do tend to play a more defensive style on the road – during the regular season.

      But the playoffs are different. Play is tighter, and defense is more important at home and on the road.

      Dubas is gambling a high octane offense will win. If the Leafs do not go deep this year I expect he will want – if not be compelled by others – to rethink his approach.

    • Not sure what you mean by young team. Toronto sits at 14th in the NHL by average age, 17 teams have younger teams by average age.

  3. I agree with both Obe & Vinnie…especially the Marner part if they can close to fair value in D and futures….would not trade Nylander unless the other team approached me with a great offer

    I have never been an AJ guy but I think you trade him low value now….already did that with Kadri…

    I think that leaves you with Kapanen or Kerfoot and I have no idea what you get back for one or both of them…

    If Dubas is in a box with Kapanen…he was the carpenter….to mix metaphors….most of us dig the holes we fall into

    • Yes Dubas did OBD, but also a little bit unlucky with COVID. When you place big bets on young players with long term deals, you are also placing bets on what the cap ceiling will be.
      It was supposed to go up to approx $84M next season, plus a new US TV deal on the horizon and this was a long term play.
      Not a totally unreasonable bet IMO when you look at the cap historically and what the future looked like.
      You can argue that the smart GM’s don’t put themselves in this position and maintain flexibility, but not all GM’s had high end talent like the Leafs did all coming due within 2 years.
      Having said all that I think he could have saved $2M-$3M if he negotiated with a more hard line stance.
      Little bit of both IMO.

    • Wouldnt it be awesome if Toronto could just find a young high end winger to play with Matthews?? They have one… Marner! They will not, and should not, trade him.
      Kappy is the only piece I would move. He is streaky and not a top line guy.
      Ristolainen would be my preference.

    • If only .. agree with you 100%. MM seems like he’s good with elite talent but he can’t drive the play… In other words, hes very good but not so good that a replacement @ far less $ wouldn’t make sense… Plus his dad/agent

    • If the Sabres could get Kerfoot and Kapanen back in a deal for Ristolainen. That would be a solid deal and save the Leafs $1.3 M on the cap.

  4. Morgan and one of the kids are your power play guys what I mean by stay at home are D men who can work the corners get the puck out and move people in front of net. I believe every hockey player has some offense or they wouldn’t have made it most were best player on their team growing up. Your right you also need team defense in having your forwards come back hard and help. Marner to me brings a very good D man and a prospect or pick they can’t afford to take equal value back. They could still win with what they got in beating teams 6-5 but hard to do night in and night out. Problem is not many teams can afford a 11 million dollar guy and if can have to have that D man you want.

  5. Anyone else have to search David Savard? Is this guy a hidden gem, underrated defenseman? Am I missing something? He was drafted in 09′ and really did see steady NHL time till 2015, isn’t a big name, makes 4.25 mil AAV (not exactly “cheap”) why the interest?

    • Marko, the first real look I had at him was last year in the playoffs against Boston. Watched every minute of that series.
      Played the hard minutes against the Bruins best and played tough and physical.
      Warrior is an overused term, but how about no fun to play against and a really good tough defender. A guy you want on your side.

    • Everything I’ve read about Savard has been positive. I think he would bring a lot of interest across the league, not just to Toronto.

    • Hi Marko, I am CBus resident/CBJ fan and can comment. Savard is a very underrated. He is the quintessential stay at home, strong, shut down RHD. He also has solid, underrated puck skill, passing, and transition ability but those are not going to jump out at anyone. Not flashy but a rock solid #3 getting 20-23 mins with and has anchored CBJ’s 2nd pair for years with a variety of partners. He really is an excellent fit for any team needing a shut-down RHD. Only possibly available for trade as he is UFA after next year and CBJ may be looking to trade from their D depth to add high skill/speed F.

      • Marner for Ryan Ellis and Austin Watson solves all their cash and positional problems and to me makes them the must balanced talented team in NHL.

  6. Will be interesting to see which team doesn’t make final 16. Leafs or Jackets. If Leafs get knocked out, I think they’d be most likely to make changes. Could Dubas get fired? Then the agreement with Nylander goes out door with him.

    • Slick, that question was asked of Sportsnet’s Luke Fox in the aforementioned link. He believes Dubas won’t be replaced if the Leafs fail to qualify for the sweet 16.

      • Just read that. He mentions how Keefe is Dubas 1st coaching hire and team has been better. Still, even if they make sweet 16, I think if they don’t go further he could be in trouble. No success plus being in cap hell isnt a good combo. They have to keep Reilly. Would think Keefe would want some of the AHL kids to start joining the fray. Best way to offset the big contacts.

    • “Then the agreement with Nylander goes out door with him.”

      There is no agreement, so it doesn’t matter.

  7. I’m no Leaf fan but they are beating Columbus.

    • I’ll take that bet.
      A healthy Columbus team is one I’d like to avoid at all costs.

  8. I feel same way about Leafs a ton of talent and a ton to prove.

  9. I do not see either Dubas or Botteril taking a risk on sending skilled players to their hates rivals.

    • hated rivals

  10. Toronto – Columbus:
    1. Goaltending?
    2. Officiating?
    3. How’s the ice?

  11. CBJ in 4. Leafs still learning the PO’s take 60mins of full out team effort in both ends. There is nothing that shows they can do that. The regular season allows slumps & streaks but the PO’s do not.

  12. I wonder why Dubas didnt give him a NTC? You know if he was so certain about not trading him.