NHL Rumor Mill – June 18, 2021
LATEST ON THE LEAFS
THE ATHLETIC: James Mirtle no longer feels optimistic about the Toronto Maple Leafs’ chances of re-signing Zach Hyman. The 29-year-old left-winger is slated to become an unrestricted free agent on July 28
Multiple sources claim they don’t believe there have been any substantial contract discussions between the Leafs and the Hyman camp for some time. Talk around the league is the winger could command up to $6 million annually on a long-term deal, with the Montreal Canadiens’ Josh Anderson (seven years, $38.5 million) cited as a comparable.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: We can’t rule out the possibility of the Leafs re-signing Hyman for perhaps a bit of a hometown discount. He could find it difficult to land a big-money deal with the salary cap remaining around $81.5 million. Nevertheless, many NHL general managers tend to succumb to auction fever in the free-agent market. Someone could tempt Hyman away from the Leafs with a significant offer.
OTTAWA SUN: Joel Colomby recently expressed the hope that Hyman would accept a hometown discount to stay with the Leafs and give them that essential grit they need on their top line. With Nick Foligno expected to return to the Columbus Blue Jackets, Colomby believes they must find someone to replace him. “Is that Evander Kane’s name we’re hearing in trade rumors?”, he asked.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: To my knowledge, Colomby’s the only one hearing Kane’s name in trade rumors. The 29-year-old winger was their most productive player, finishing the season with a team-leading 22 goals and 49 points in 56 games.
Things have been rather quiet for the San Jose Sharks in recent weeks. I believe they have no intention of moving Kane. If they were, his bankruptcy proceedings could dampen his value. That’s assuming the Leafs are among the three teams on his list of preferred trade destinations. If that wasn’t a showstopper, his $7 million annual cap hit through 2024-25 probably would be.
UPDATES ON JONES AND HAMILTON
THE ATHLETIC: Mark Lazerus and Scott Powers cited a source claiming the Chicago Blackhawks are going to explore adding either Dougie Hamilton or Seth Jones to their defense corps this summer. However, they don’t intend to leverage their future to add either blueliner.
The Blackhawks won’t be interested should Hamilton seek a deal comparable to the $8.8 million annually on a seven-year deal Alex Pietrangelo signed last October with the Vegas Golden Knights. They would, however, consider discussions for a lower cap number.
As for Jones, it depends on the Columbus Blue Jackets’ asking price. One league source believes it could be a first-round pick, a second-rounder, and a high-quality prospect. Another felt Kirby Dach would have to be part of any offer from the Blackhawks.
COLORADO HOCKEY NOW: Adrian Dater believes the Avalanche should pursue Jones if he wants to come to Colorado. He speculates the cost could be either Nazem Kadri, Tyson Jost or JT Compher, a first-round pick and a prospect such as Connor Timmins or Justin Barron. He wouldn’t give up Bo Byram though the Blue Jackets are sure to ask for him.
OTTAWA SUN: Joel Colomby reported there are rumors of the Maple Leafs having talks with the Blue Jackets about Jones. He believes the Leafs could fit him within their well-publicized salary-cap constraints by having the Jacket retain salary on the final year of his contract.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: With Brent Seabrook and Andrew Shaw on permanent long-term injury reserve status, the Blackhawks will have sufficient cap space to pursue a top-two defenseman like Hamilton or Jones. Whether they can pull it off remains to be seen. Jones could end up costing them more in terms of a new contract plus the sizable return to the Blue Jackets. With Hamilton, it’s just the contract to be sorted out.
It’ll be interesting to see what Avalanche GM Joe Sakic has in store for his club following their disappointing playoff exit. He’s got to re-sign or replace pending UFAs like Philipp Grubauer and Gabriel Landeskog, plus Cale Makar is due a hefty raise coming off his entry-level deal. Sakic will have to shed salary if he pursues Jones.
The question of return will also be an issue for the Leafs. They don’t have a first-round pick in this year’s draft to include in a trade offer. There’s also the long-term cost of Jones’ next contract, which could exceed $8 million annually starting in 2022-23. Cap Friendly indicates the Leafs have over $51 million tied up in just six players for ’22-’23. They can’t take on Jones without shedding one of those contracts.