NHL Rumor Mill – July 20, 2020

by | Jul 20, 2020 | Rumors | 33 comments

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


THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): In a recent mailbag segment, James Mirtle was asked if the Toronto Maple Leafs can get a decent return if they trade Kasperi Kapanen, Andreas Johnsson, or Alex Kerfoot or if it’ll be a salary dump because of the flat cap.

Toronto Maple Leafs winger Kasperi Kapanen (Photo via NHL Images).

Mirtle feels they could get a player or prospect for Kapanen, but injuries and so-so-seasons for Johnsson and Kerfoot will affect their value. Still, he feels a depth-depleted club like New Jersey or Ottawa could be interested in one of those players.

He also believes the Leafs could go cheap on defense for next season out of necessity because of their lower cap space, perhaps seeking an affordable UFA veteran like Vancouver’s Chris Tanev. He doesn’t see them moving out a core player for blueline help.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As per Cap Friendly, the Leafs have over $76.9 million invested in 16 players next season, with Kyle Clifford, Jason Spezza, Tyson Barrie, Cody Ceci, Travis Dermott, and Ilya Mikheyev to be re-signed or replaced. General manager Kyle Dubas did some impressive cap management last summer to free up room to re-sign Mitch Marner, but some of his deals received mixed results this season.

Dubas could pull off some more cap wizardry, perhaps acquiring one or two players on permanent long-term injury reserve status to provide more wiggle room. Nevertheless, there’s an expectation Kapanen, Johnsson, or Kerfoot could be moved in a cost-cutting deal. Such a trade doesn’t mean they won’t get an NHL-ready player back, but it would be one with much less than the $3-million or more cap hit of each of those three, with possibly less talent.

Dubas could surprise us with an interesting trade that brings in a top-four, right-shot defenseman. However, I think Mirtle’s assessment that they’ll stick with more affordable options for 2020-21 is the correct one.


AZ COYOTES INSIDER: Craig Morgan recently examined the short- and long-term effects of a flat cap upon the Arizona Coyotes.

Per Cap Friendly, the Coyotes have almost $80 million invested in 17 players for 2020-21, with star winger Taylor Hall among their notable free agents.

Morgan examined several possible cost-cutting trade candidates for ’20-’21, including center Derek Stepan, winger Michael Grabner, goaltender Antti Raanta, and defensemen Alex Goligoski and Jason Demers.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Morgan listed several others but these five appear the more likely trade options. They lack no-trade protection or have limited no-trade clauses, their contracts expire at the end of next season, and they could draw interest in the trade market.

Stepan’s $6.5 million annual average value is steep, but he’ll only get $2 million in actual salary for next season because the Coyotes recently paid out $3 million in a signing bonus. That could make him enticing for budget-conscious clubs looking for some affordable short-term experience and leadership.

Goligoski carries a $5.475-million AAV but receives $4 million in actual salary and has an eight-team no-trade list. Raanta has an injury history but could be a decent short-term option for clubs seeking goalie depth. Demers and Grabner would be affordable depth additions.


SPORTSNET: Mark Spector reports Andreas Athanasiou isn’t working out as hoped for the Edmonton Oilers. Since his acquisition at the Feb. 24 trade deadline, he failed to click alongside Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl.

Athanasiou is a restricted free agent at season’s end and must be qualified at $3 million. Spector doubts GM Ken Holland will pay the winger that much, speculating he’ll likely re-sign him for less on a one-year deal.

(NOT MARK) SPECTOR’S NOTE: Athanasiou’s stock tumbled this season. His speed was supposed to be an asset alongside McDavid or Draisaitl but his skills are good enough to hang with those superstars. If he spurns less money to stay in Edmonton, Holland could try to trade his rights at the draft. Failing that, he could just cut Athanasiou loose via the UFA market at season’s end.


  1. It would be a good trade if the Sabres were to send Montour for Kerfoot and Johnsson. Kerfoot would fit Sabres need for a middle six Center and Johnsson gives them a middle six forward which is another need. Montour. If Montour can be signed for $4 M it would give Toronto nearly $3M in additional cap space. However not sure either team would make a trade like this with an Atlantic Division rival. But we are in a bold new world. (It would be interesting if Sabres were to get Kerfoot and resign Vesey as they were line mates in Vesey’s Hobey Baker year, D. Strome revived his career when reunited with DeBrincat).

    • Sabres cannot afford another embarrassing lose via trade, especially with arch rival Tronna.

  2. Re

    “ Dubas could surprise us with an interesting trade that brings in a top-four, right-shot defenseman. ”

    Yes please (and thanks)


    “ He also believes the Leafs could go cheap on defense for next season out of necessity because of their lower cap space, ”

    No thanks

    Leafs need D upgrade to win cup IMHO

    …. and there window for a cup , to me, is ‘21 – ‘25… so they better get on it

    • Simple fix to me would be to trade nylander

      • Jeff

        Completely with you

        I’ve posted that probably 20 times…

        Leafs have absolutely no problem putting puck in net…. with or without WW

        Leafs can’t win cup IMHO ; with 1/2 cap on 4 fwds…. they won’t be moving JT or AM… so it is MM or WW

        Marner’s cap hit limits (severely) number of suitors

        WW; now owed Sal of $2.5 M this upcoming year and effectively an AAV cash of about $5M per for balance of contract….

        WW , in trade; Then should get 22-24 year old top 3 (now or gearing towards) DMan; with term; and still have at least $2M in cap freed up in the deal

        The way to go IMHO

      • Obvious would be a better word than simple, Jeff.

        He had a great season last year but any GM worth is salt is going to ask: what is Nylander’s point total going to be without Matthews or Tavares as his center.

        Top 4 D are coveted. Such a trade would indeed be to the Leafs’ advantage. It would require a team that is deep in D for it to work for them. And with cap space.

      • That argument can be made about many elite wingers. Would Ovi have that many goals without Backstrom or Kuznetsov….its an extreme example but just as valid. And no, I’m not comparing WW to Ovi

        Any team who takes WW would have a hole in the top 6 and that probably means there is a good center that to begin with

      • It is premature at best to categorize Nylander as elite.

      • Guys you trade nylander for picks. And prospects. You spend the money in free agency on a D. But heck if Ottawa (my team) drafts drysdale or Sanderson. Maybe they and Toronto can make a trade for brannstrom or Thompson.

        Not that I’m claiming brannstrom or Thompson, as the solution the leafs need on D .

        My simplist solution idea is a method to free up cap to make another move if a D can’t come back in a nylander trade.

        Move Nylander. His low actual dollar value will appeal to a team who doesnt spend to the cap. Those teams tend to have abundances of prospects and draft picks

        Take those prospects and draft picks. Bundle them with another player and bring in An expensive D or go free agent shoppping.

        Finally when I say simplist solution that doesn’t mean easy. Seems all leafs solutions are going to be e hard kind. This is the simplist of them in my opinion

  3. Mikheyev and McDermott will not be much on bridge type deals. Spezza on a league minimum. The rest are gone.

    Always been Athanasiou’s problem. Million dollar hockey legs and a ten cent hockey mind

  4. Sorry George

    But have to reiterate it my previous push….

    Stepan and Garland for a 2nd (or maybe a 3rd)

    Garland is good IMHO

    $2M for Stepan to “mentor” for one year; AND grabbing Garland!

    Yes I know Sens have great prospects but Garland is already showing well (albeit small sample size) at the NHL level…

    Great speed; hands; and good hickey IQ

    He was Arz’s top goal scorer; and 4th in team in points

    68 GP 22-17-39

    On the up and coming Sens ; I can see him as a perennial 30+ G player

    I know you prefer a bigger guy (he’s 5’10” , 170) but he is quick and has shown success

    He’s only 24; still at $780 K for next year

    Little downside in a move like that

  5. Speculate away Pengy … that’s why we’re here. But I would be very surprised if Dorion added a 3rd/4th line C like Stepan when they already have two like that in the fold (or will have once they re-sign Tierney) – Anisimov is the other – just to get a guy who MIGHT be a bit better than the wealth of prospects they have and are about to add to with two this year in the top 5 of a deep draft.

    No, and since we’re repeating, as I keep saying his eyes (and those of other teams with lots of cap space) will be on younger players with term and cap hits that make it necessary for their teams to move them in order to re-sign key RFAs and UFAs they want to keep.

    He doesn’t need an older soon-to-be UFA to “mentor” anyone on a team that is young and big overall that will show improvement as a new season moves along (IF there’s a whole new season) and could surprise with the additions of the types of players I’m talking about for nothing more than picks and mid-range prospects.

    Those cap-strapped teams HAVE to make moves like that or risk losing their RFAs to offer sheets and UFAs they really want to keep due to lack of cap space. And GMs like Dorion know that. They are under no pressure to take on players those teams would love to get rid of or so-so prospects.

    It simply isn’t going to happen IMO. We’ll soon find out if I’m wrong.

    • Hi George

      Sorry , I guess I wasn’t conveying my post properly.

      I certainly don’t think Dorian needs any mentors or extra aging players. Not at all. Stepan is just part of a “moving forward; long term investment type of deal”

      My sentiments are only from an investment perspective. My scope and mindset seems to follow those parameters narrowly as that is what I do for a living (I (well my staff mostly) negotiate and project manage acquisitions and mergers of small/medium sized companies by slightly bigger Companies). We find and implement investments; evaluating the costs and analyzing the risks and expected returns.

      My “investment” proposal was $2.8 M and a 2nd or 3rd

      The return was a (IMHO) very good up and coming perennial 30+ G scorer; for 20/21 and his rights for 4 years after that ; plus a veteran hockey presence for one year

      Where they play Stepan (3rd line; 4th line; Belleville?) for the year; is irrelevant; the key gain is Garland

      Canes paid $3.8 M (Marleau deal) for a first overall pick which at best will be in the high teens this draft; and possibly (Leafs loss and Laff win) in next years draft… an unknown player that won’t be in the NHL until likely 22/23 earliest (and it is still an unknown player right now…. could be a bust)

      Sens are in a great set up now as they can take on cheap (Sal wise) short term contracts from Cap strapped panicking teams; and gain good young players who will be part of their core when they are contenders 3 years from now

      Sorry again for not properly conveying my intentions

      • AA not a fit? Everybody here always speculated just throwing a speedster next to McDavid. After Puljujarvi fiasco and watching Strome thrive in NY, I wonder if there’s something with Oilers star players that some teammates just aren’t comfortable playing with them.

      • I followed your company philosophy about acquiring assets right up to where you said “The return was a (IMHO) very good up and coming perennial 30+ G scorer; …”

        And that’s where you lost me. Unless you saw a lot of Garland – both in the AHL and in Arizona – that’s going out on a limb by projecting him as a perennial 30-goal scorer on the basis of one season of 22g in 68gp and two decent seasons in the Q. I would think Dorion sees the same potential for players like Norris, Gruden, Formenton, Batherson, Brown, Balcers, Chlapik & Tkachuk. Not to mention what he lands with this draft if he selects Fs with his top 2 picks.

        There is NO need to be impatient and take on the contract of a Stepan with so many other options open to him by simply waiting for one of the GMs of those cap-strapped teams to crack. Much better players await.

        Patience is power and “timing” and not an absence of action. It waits for the precise time to act, for the right principles and in the right way.

      • Hi George


        Yes… I do feel that Garland has that in him…. small sample size for what I saw; but what I saw did impress me

        I believe that this (my proposed) will never come to fruition; but it is a route I would take

        I do believe that Dorian WILL take a crap (high cap low cost) short term contract to gain a young player ( I think Dorian will get some calls for sure ; as will Stevie Y)

        Agree with patience… but patience does have its own downside … that being missed opportunities

        No matter what route Dorian takes… he’s set up quite well

        Unless NYI lose and then win Laff; Sens have 3 first rounders…. and effectively could argue … 4 as 33rd pick is not really different from 28th-31st

        I don’t remember any team ever having 4 first rounders; but if it gets late in round 1 where a player Dorian has liked has slipped (from his say thoughts of that player going in late teens)… maybe he offers his 33rd and another 2nd to get that player at 25-27???

        If the Isle pick is 18-20th and Dorian sees Quinn still available at say 12 or 13… does he try to flip Ilse’s pick and 33rd to get Quinn?

        *Byfield; Drysdale and Quinn…. 3 years from now 👍😀

        What about instead of Quinn ; trying to move up to get Askarov

        * may be Stutzle

      • Slick. Crosby’s best line mates have included pascal dupois, Colby Armstrong, and Chris Kunitz. Sometimes it’s just a chem thing with superstars

  6. It always irks me when I see fans of other teams wanting to tinker away with a 3 rd C or 6 D man and thinking another team will pay up for them and meaningful change will happen. And now my fellow Leaf fanss and the writers around the team are doing the same thing. Any you know what, it irks me.

    I think Dubas is determined to go with his philosophy until he loses his job or he succeeds. And I am ok with that ( but don’t agree with it) for another year.

    But as others have written here, the team will not change structurally until one of the big 4 forwards is traded. To me the obvious one is Marner to others Nylander. Some even breath deep and think Matthews.

    Sometimes the obvious is not obvious to true believers.

    • Hi OBD

      Fully agree that one of top 4 must go

      See my post above

      To me; the move is WW

      I can’t see AM moved at all… but it would be a big haul… many teams at/near ceiling now…. so mmmmmmm …. not gonna happ…..but would you trade AM for a mid 20’s top 2 D; and a Mid 20’s 2C; and a bottom 6 winger if those 3 Cap hits total came in at or less than AM’s $11.6 M

      Not a chance it happens but I’m talking like…. would you accept Jones; Jenner; Anderson for AM if offered?

      Would you take Prov, Couturier, Lindbolm for AM?

      Hamilton + Trokeck + Necas for AM?

      Pulock + Pelaech + JGP + Dal Colle for AM?

      Hanafin + Moynahan + Mang?

      Again, not happenin’ ; but food for thought

    • O.B.G., as a Habs fan cannot fathom why any Leafs fan would want to trade Marner????

      IMHO, this kids has all the tools any team would want. Size maybe his only issue from what I have seen of him & the Leafs.

      That said, I see Patrick Kane in this kid every time I see him, vision, skill, skating, especially his edges & it looks like he had been adding defending to his resume. I can’t imagine a fan of any team that wouldn’t want a guy like this to be, if not, their centerpiece, at the very least a core piece of their team, bordering on untouchable.

      Personally I believe he is the Leafs best forward.

      Just curious, what from the Habs would you take for him????

  7. Pengy…I would consider the first two…but don’t think I would accept….I want him in the west if has to go….also I would want 2 players max back so you are getting quality….Is there a high quality D man in the west available that is not to old…..how about the best Nashville D man with a significant plus…he would be my last preference Leaf forward to trade….though I really dislike the 5 year term….

    I wrote at the time of the Colombus rumoured offer sheet for Marner let him sign and go after Boston’s Carlo and keep the difference in draft picks . Or trade him to Colombus for one of their good D man ( only Werenski or Jones) I hope I am wrong on Marner because I think he is a Leaf for a while.

    Nylander would not be the guy I trade. But I am in the minority there.

  8. Hi OBD

    Concur that West is best

    Again ; can’t see AM moving but it should be at least a 3 for 1…. top quality D; 2C; plus a third player

    Re team from West… I had Hanafin + Moynahan + Mang?

    Would love Manson ; but the 2C coming back would be Henrique (he’s 30 I think); so Steele would also have to come over

    Re Nash… can’t see the proper package there

    Heiskenen (Stars) would be great; but really no 2C to offer up

    At the original draft … the final offer reported from Coyotes; I would have taken.
    it… it was reported as OEL ; Strome ; Domi ; and the 2nd of Coyotes first rounders… low 20s) for 1st over-all (AM)…. and Friedman said they balked but Coyotes had also then considered making it the earlier of the first rounders (7th) but it as after the fact…. again all speculation…. but at that time when I heard it; I was pro on leafs taking the deal

  9. Uwey…

    IMO opinion the Leaf insurmontable problem is the length of Matthews contract….at the very least it should dovetail with the end of McDavid’s contract…but it doesn’t so their window is 4 years after this one….to be fair to Dubas he could not plan on the virus or the flat cap….

    The Habs do not have what the Leafs need which is a young dominant D man . They have 2 I admire and who are dominant, Not sure they fit the Leaf window as defined above. Those 2 would be Petry and Weber.

    Many Hab fans seem not ready to do a total rebuild. Trading for Marner would mean that. It in the end is probably what they need but that is for the Habs and their fans.

    I am forcing this Uwey and don’t know if it fair to either team…..but to give an answer to a question.

    Maybe Weber, Domi/Drouin and this year’s first.

    I did it that way so the Habs would keep their young guys which is part of the rebuild. Fire away anyone I just tried a quick response.


    • OBD, I like Marner more than you do, and I recognize you say you are in the minority in wanting to trade him.

      The trade you propose would work for Montreal in a couple of years, and that is predicated on their keeping Petry and some combination of Juulsen, Fleury, Romanov and Brook taking big steps pretty quickly.

      Otherwise the Habs could find themselves with an upgrade on the wing in Marner, no Weber, possibly no Petry in a year, and thus a lousy defense. In other words the Habs might be a poor man’s Leafs.

      Were your posts not so clearly sincere, I would wonder if this were not a sneaky Leaf fan trying to do in the Habs – LOL!

      • LJ…one of the things I enjoy on a winter’s evening is listening to the Habs home radio broadcasts…..the fans are boisterous and loud in their enthusiasm for their team….I am many miles from a Hab fan….but you have to admire some truths….

        My trade was not a backdoor way of pulling the Habs down in 3 years…..but another Hab fan asked me what I might consider….so I answered…

        One of the things I like about this site is that there is very little fan immaturity on it….so I try to do my part in treating others with respect…

      • Well said.

        I confess now: I was raised as a Leafs fan. My Dad hung in there for years before becoming frustrated. I jumped ship many years earlier. But I enjoy the rivalry. Makes the game what it is.

    • O.B.D., I was kidding about a Leafs Habs trade to be honest.

      That said, I still believe Marner to be the Leafs most talented player.

      Even in Matthews first NHL game, scoring four against the Sens, I came away thinking Marner was the most talented player on the ice in that game.

      Maybe it was just the rose tinted Habs glasses I was wearing that me see it that way!!!!

      • Which, by the way, the Sens won because Matthews lost track of his check for the winning goal.

  10. I usually don’t take plus/minus seriously but, Athanasiou is minus 45 this year alone, minus 76 in his NHL career? (5 years) Red Flag?

    • Vincois, at first glance that does tend to stand out like a sore thumb. But you have to look at it in total context. Here are the final +/- stats for each of the 4 main seasons he spent in Detroit along with those of the team in total:

      2016-17 – 7 & team -37
      2017-18 – 15 -&team -38
      2018-19 – 9 & team -50
      2019-20 – 45 & team -122

      So, in 4 years of bad teams he was a cumulative -76 while the team went -267! I think you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone who played a lot over those years with a + total.

      I’ve always felt that +/- can really be misleading at times. A F like Athanasiou can be on the ice for an opponents goal and get a minus simply because the goalie blew an obvious save – or because a D-man coughed up the puck coming out of his own zone – or the result of a breakaway thanks to a giveaway by a linemate on the opposite side of the ice. To me. that’s one stat for which the criteria should be changed to reflect upon, in circumstances just described, only those clearly responsible.

    • Being a Wings fan and watching him for all of his time with the Wings I would say his biggest issue is he doesn’t want to play defense. He can be very good on D when he wants to be, very responsible and has shown it from time to time. His issue is consistency and not sure how you fix that when a player just doesn’t seem willing to sacrifice goals for defense. I really wish he could have been mentored by Datsyuk and Zetterberg playing on their wing but timing just didn’t work out. Has the talent and skills to be great, just something missing in focus and attention to details.

      • I plugged in the leafs numbers into cap friendly. They can sign spezza at 750k, clifford at 1,400 000 , micheyev at 1 500,000 dermott at 2250000 for a 22 man roster within salary cap any would only need to trade johnsson for picks ( the conditional 2and or 3rd from Clifford trade in 2021 and another pick. They promote Robertson and sandin and liligren (as extra d). Plus they have Lehtonen. Already their densense is better as all but muzzin still improving and all 3 new dmen are way better defensively than ceci and barrie. The offense of the young guys may not match barrie but Lehtonen may surprise. Anyway, point is, there is no cap issue in Toronto this year and anyone who says there is dont watch this team closely enough.

      • Sounds like a reasonable assessment AZWingsFan. Too bad they don’t break down minus totals by actual fault – be interesting to see just how much of his -76 was as the result of his miscue as opposed to simply being on the ice 5-on-5 when someone else made the gaffe that led to a goal against.

        It’s one thing for the league to say every one on the ice has to share the blame for an opponent’s goal and so all get a minus, but they don’t similarly credit every one on the ice with an assist when they score. Seems to me if they can keep track of the last two to touch the puck before someone else scores a goal and award assists, they can also keep track of who committed the gaffe (missed check, turnover, whatever) that led to an opponent’s goal.