NHL Rumor Mill – April 15, 2021

by | Apr 15, 2021 | Rumors | 34 comments

Looking ahead at what the offseason could have in store for the Blue Jackets and Leafs in today’s NHL rumor mill.


THE ATHLETIC: Aaron Portzline examined what could in store during the offseason for the Columbus Blue Jackets after being sellers at this year’s NHL trade deadline. General manager Jarmo Kekalainen insists his club isn’t rebuilding but retooling.

Will Seth Jones re-sign this summer with the Columbus Blue Jackets? (NHL Images)

Kekalainen faces a busy offseason. Head coach John Tortorella could be on his way out as he’s in the final year of his contract. Goaltenders Elvis Merzlikins and Joonas Korpisalo are slated to become unrestricted free agents next summer and it’s likely one of them will be traded this summer. Winger Patrik Laine is a restricted free agent with arbitration rights this summer. Defenseman Zach Werenski reaches a similar status next summer but could be re-signed to an extension this summer. 

Blueliner Seth Jones is a year away from UFA eligibility and can be signed to a contract extension this summer. His willingness to commit long-term to the Jackets will determine if the club is retooling or rebuilding. Kekalainen could move quickly to trade Jones if the rearguard rejects an extension.

With three first-round picks in this year’s draft, the Jackets could try to shop one of them (except their own) to add a roster player.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This could be a summer of significant change for the Jackets. As Portzline suggests, that will be determined by what happens with Jones. His situation will be closely monitored by Jackets followers this summer.

Merzlikins was frequently mentioned as a trade candidate leading up to Monday’s deadline. He has better stats than Korpisalo, potentially making him a more valuable trade chip to add a quality forward if packaged with one of their extra first-round picks.

Laine will seek a big raise over the $6.75 million salary-cap hit of his current contract. His performance this season, however, might not help his case if it goes to arbitration. Werenski, on the other hand, shouldn’t have much difficulty getting a hefty pay hike given his value to the Jackets blueline.

It’ll be interesting to see what happens with Tortorella. Many observers (including me) feel the Jackets need a change behind the bench but Kekalainen could see it differently.


TORONTO STAR: Kevin McGran recently examined the cost for the Maple Leafs of re-signing pending UFAs Frederik Andersen and Zach Hyman. He anticipates the latter could command something comparable to the $6.5 million AAV that kicks in next season for Montreal’s Brendan Gallagher.

Keeping Andersen and Hyman would mean trading away someone of significance such as Alex Kerfoot and his $3.5 million cap hit. If the Leafs believe Jack Campbell is ready to become a full-time No. 1 goalie they can let Andersen walk and hopefully have enough space to re-sign Hyman and perhaps add a reliable backup.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This is probably Andersen’s last season with the Leafs regardless of Campbell’s status. If they have any doubts over Campbell as a starting goalie they’ll keep him as a backup and look to the trade market (maybe Elvis Merzlikins?) or free agency for a suitable starter

As for Hyman, I’ll be very surprised if the Leafs let him walk. He’s developed into an invaluable top-six forward. Unless his salary demands are ridiculous he’ll be re-signed to a long-term deal.


  1. Werenski isn’t an RFA until the 2022-2023 season per CapFriendly.

    • I just looked at Cap Friendly, they have Werenski becoming a RFA July of 2022.

      • Exactly. As all us Blue Jackets fans know, Zack is one of a slew of Jackets whose contract ends next year.

  2. Columbus first priority need to be a C, they should be heavily involved in trying to sign RNH if he doesn’t resign in Edmonton.

    Torts act always has a short life span i believe its time to move on.

    Laine isn’t in for that big of a pay day his numbers doesn’t show it.

    I did find it interesting that he had a 2 goal game immediately after Foligno went to Toronto and one was a beauty started from behind his own net.

  3. Tortorella’s shelf life in Columbus has expired, if JK doesn’t see this then he might as well move on down the road as well … maybe ship all three first rounders to Detroit for Larkin … Yzerman wants to hit rock bottom and Larkin is a tremendous trade chip … Larkin & Laine together could produce some impressive numbers … then trade one of the goalies for a d-man or recoup some draft capital … resign Foligno for leadership and find a new progressive head coach, not a recycled dinosaur …

    • I would be shocked to see Larkin moved, not just because he is captain and best player currently on the roster, but because Detroit is thin down the middle.

    • Ed, I agree that Torts time in Columbus has or should come to an end. I remember a situation in Pittsburgh where Ray Shero stuck with his guy, Dan Bylsma for one more year after a miserable playoff series loss against the Flyers. That ended up costing Ray his job. After losing in the playoffs the next year, management fired them both.

    • Ed: serious question, do you really think Larkin is worth *three* first round picks?

    • Nah, don’t see it Ed. I think last season is as low as Yzerman will let the Wings go. If he was going for rock bottom, this season would have been the year for it. He wouldn’t have signed the 6 free agents he did, instead he could have simply plugged the lineup with what we already have and played as bad as last season. There has been much progress this year. In fact, if it weren’t for the 8 game losing streak early this season when we lost 5 players to Covid after starting 2-2, we might have been a .500 team this season. Look for at least .500 next year, and then better afterwards.

    • The recycled Dinosaur did more with less last year than any other coach in the league so, like him or hate him, at least show him enough respect. He has earned that much.

      • You mean the same respect he shows others?

      • Flying v What year and who in the media last asked a thoughtful question of a coach. I dont blame torts for teeing off on lazy dumb beat reporters. Thats the only interesting part. The questions never are.

      • Wendel17higgins, that’s not the only example, the media, there are a lot more issues than that. I’m not saying he doesn’t know how to coach, he just doesn’t treat most people with respect so he shouldn’t be provided the same as Soupcan suggested he should.

  4. Guys like Torts and a Mike keenan won’t last long in today’s nhl they’ve got the nhl players association the various social media outlets to run to. Coaches today are different than they were back even as much as decade ago They have to be. Watch Torts get the heave ho in Columbus.

    • There were hints earlier in the season that Tortorella might retire after this season.
      Foligno’s one of his biggest boosters – have to respect that.

      • BCleafs you have a player that can really change the game for TO in Foligno he’s like the oft injured Kevan Miller players don’t tend to be too bold when he’s around, but Foligno is better very very good choice for the leafs.

      • Many players have said that Torts evolved his style over the years to reflect the changes in coaching today’s players. When the players concede as much that is good enough for me.

      • I have never been a fan of Torts, didn’t like the snapping on players on the bench and have said as much on here numerous times.
        But I read the other day that he rescues dogs, including Pit Bulls.
        That’s a big check mark.
        Can’t be all bad.

      • Ray “Bark” that might be why Torts barks so much.

      • The actual Ray Bark was a rescue dog we had going back a ways. Big burly fella.

    • Rick,

      You can add Babcock and Hitchcock to your list, as well!

    • Torts is really old school but to compare him to Keenan is just not fair, he is a much better coach than Keenan ever was, not even close

  5. With the Canucks coming out of Covid and certain to be playing at far less than 100% as well as icing a few of the Utica Comets in coming games against the Oilers and Leafs I wonder if we’re going to see some records fall…

    Sittlers 10pt night – McDavid? Marner?
    Berensons 6 goal game – Matthews? Draisitl?
    Bladons 8pt game – Reilly?
    Bladons +10 game?

    I legit feel bad for the Canucks, theyre most likely headed for a few beatdowns before they get anywhere near actual game shape.

    Hopefully they pull through with nobody getting injured.

  6. Hyman must be signed. Not at any cost, but he seems reasonable, unlike Nylander and Marner were. I see him taking 5-5.5M.

    Anderson is gone after this year, barring a serious discount. 4M tops.

    They can’t forget that Reilly is up next, and love him or hate him, he’s the best they have. Gotta reserve room for him. Of course, if Jones remains unsigned… Although I’m not sure even Pridham could fit him under the cap.

    • I agree with you, except I think his salary ceiling has dropped closer to $3M.

    • WestBrantKid, why would Hyman sign a “club friendly” deal at that price without at least testing the UFA waters to see what some other team is offering in terms of both salary and term?

      Let’s face it, this is his prime shot at long-term security. He turns 29 in June and is coming off a $2,250,000 cap hit. How many years do you see Dubas offering him at $5 to $5.5 mil? I’m betting no more than 5. So, let’s say another organization with no current cap problems offers him $6.5 over 6 seasons. Does he walk away from $5 to 7.5 mil?

      With all due respect to those who think he’ll “take one for the team” I don’t think so.

      • @George O
        Because the Leafs have a very tight dressing room, and he’s made a home and started a family in Toronto.
        I also believe the he and the Leafs would make up for any discount (a discount of necessity if he wants to stay) by signing longer term. They’d likely give him 8 years.
        Pridham might have a few tricks that could help as well.
        Have you never heard of a player taking a discount? Heard of Tavares? It may not happen often, and I don’t know Hyman personally, or what his priorities are but I think this is a strong possibility.

    • Pridham :”Greek God of capology”

  7. Adios tortorella! It’s time for the players to quit sprinting for the exit door and time for this club to make some real progress!

  8. A coach should know that it is ending before it starts.
    These year’s draft is a crap shoot
    (most are at the best of times) . Limited games limited opponents late start on Andrew on
    I would of deferred to 2022 like the Flames and some others did. If Blue Jackets let Jones walk a BIG mistake.

  9. $7.5 million minimum qualifying offer to Laine – ouch, love him when he’s hot, but that’s a lot of clams for a streaky player who doesn’t fit your team’s “system”.

  10. Ranger could :

    – sign Dryden McKay as back-up (NCAA standout)
    – ship Georgiev to Leafs for a 2nd

  11. CMB SHOULD trade Domi along with Nyquist and their 3 1sts this year to

    BUF for Eichel

    win for both teams.

    Not an overpayment

    Remove Torts then and put in Gallant

    1st line Eichel & Laine for the future
    Laine would welcome Eichel

  12. Two things have to happen in tonight’s game, hall has to score and Rask has to show up and play lights out no more excuses, no tummy aches,back aches, play like a number one goalie. There’s a new Sheriff in town and his name is Jeremey Swayman and he’s winning hearts all over beantown. Play like you really can play don’t want to hear about rust or any of your other excuses. Bruins have to win first game of back to back they are terrible at playing back to back games especially the second one!