NHL Rumor Mill – July 2, 2021

by | Jul 2, 2021 | Rumors | 59 comments

Are the Oilers interested in Duncan Keith? What’s the status of Oilers’ blueliners Adam Larsson, Tyson Barrie and Oscar Klefbom? Could July become a busy month for Leafs GM Kyle Dubas? Find out in today’s NHL rumor mill.


EDMONTON JOURNAL: Kurt Leavins believes the Oilers are front-runners for Duncan Keith after reports emerged indicated the Chicago Blackhawks were exploring a trade for the 37-year-old defenseman.

Are the Edmonton Oilers interested in Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith? (NHL Images)

Leavins suggests they need a solid, reliable blueliner in case sidelined Oscar Klefbom misses next season. He thinks there’s mutual interest between the Oilers and Keith’s camp. The longtime Blackhawks rearguard apparently wants to be traded to a club close to his offseason home in Penticton, BC to be near his son.

Despite the decline in Keith’s performance in recent years, Leavins feels he has enough left to slot in behind Darnell Nurse on the right side. He also carries a reasonable $5.538 million annual average value for two more seasons.

The Blackhawks’ asking price, however, could be a sticking point. If they won’t retain part of Keith’s cap hit, he wondered if they’d take back a contract they can buy out.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Leavins colleague David Staples believes Keith’s cap hit is a steep price for the Oilers to pay for an aging defenseman on his last NHL legs unless the Blackhawks take a contract like James Neal or Mikko Koskinen in return.

Neal has two years left on his deal at $5.75 million per season. Koskinen might be preferable with one year at $4.5 million remaining on his deal, provided Chicago’s on his list of agreeable trade destinations.

That’s assuming, of course, the Blackhawks would buy out that contract. As Leavins observed, they’re shopping for a top-level defenseman. While they’ll have nearly $11 million in long-term injury reserve cap space to draw upon if necessary, they still must manage their dollars carefully.

THE ATHLETIC: Daniel Nugent-Bowman expects the Oilers could reach an agreement on a new contract with Adam Larsson perhaps as soon as next week. He cited Larsson’s agent J.P. Barry saying they’re making progress toward a deal. Talks are expected to resume next week.

A new contract for Larsson means Tyson Barrie’s tenure in Edmonton will end after just one season despite the uncertainty over Klefbom’s status.

Klefbom missed all of last season to a shoulder injury that eventually required surgery. His agent doesn’t expect clarity as to the status of his recovery until the fall. He could be left exposed in the upcoming expansion draft.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Oilers were happy with Barrie’s performance but GM Ken Holland has made re-signing Larsson the priority. Barrie seeks a long-term deal and that’s something the Oilers can’t afford.

Recent speculation suggested the Philadelphia Flyers were closely watching Larsson’s contract negotiations. They’ll have to shift their focus elsewhere if the Oilers get the 29-year-old shutdown defenseman under contract before July 28.


TORONTO SUN: Terry Koshan expected Maple Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas faces the busiest month for shaping next season’s roster. If Dubas won’t part with an expensive forward like Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, John Tavares or William Nylander, he’ll have to follow the same plan as last offseason to address his roster depth issues.

Koshan expects pending UFA winger Zach Hyman will be too expensive to re-sign unless Dubas can clear some cap space. There’s interest in re-signing defenseman Zach Bogosian and goalie Frederik Andersen. Koshan also advocated bringing back a healthy Nick Foligno for the right price.

The Leafs will lose a player to the Seattle Kraken in the upcoming expansion draft. Center Alex Kerfoot or a defenseman like Travis Dermott or Justin Holl could be joining the Kraken.

Given the Leafs’ limited cap space, Dubas could end up signing some veterans to one-year contracts as he did in last year’s UFA market. He could make a big splash in the trade market, perhaps for a winger like Arizona’s Conor Garland. Koshan doesn’t think it makes sense to peddle blueliner Morgan Rielly a year out from his UFA eligibility.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Dubas has been creative over the past couple of years in attempting to address his roster needs with limited cap room. He could, as Koshan suggested, sign some veterans to affordable one-year contracts again. Perhaps he’ll acquire a player on permanent LTIR to get some extra wiggle room for other additions. Maybe he swings a side deal with the Kraken. He could pull off a one-for-one swap of players with comparable contracts.

Whether those moves pan out remains to be seen. They won’t make the Leafs a club that can go deep into the playoffs if the past two offseasons are any indication. As long as Dubas keeps his “Big Four” forwards and doesn’t shop Rielly, the limited cap room will hinder his efforts.


  1. “Dubas has been creative over the past couple of years in attempting to address his roster needs with limited cap room.”

    Everybody not in Leafs Nation knew that Jumbo, Simmonds, Bogosian and Brodie weren’t putting TML over the top.

    The cap strapped team plans to bring two duds back and has $5 million committed to a Flame cast off.

    Leaf fans deserve better

    • Habfan. Did everybody not in Leafs land see Montreal in finals? Every year there’s a surprise team. Winning cup still probably hardest championship. Talent, hot goalie, luck, stating injury free. I’m not a fan of either team, but losing Tavares was probably biggest reason they lost series. They had a good regular season and Montreal (18th in league reg season)still barely squeaked by 1st round. (2 OT’s could’ve went either way) Playing a Schiefele less Jets team was another gift. Enjoy the rest of season but remember, Dallas was in finals last year.

      • Slick62,

        In Mtl we saw a much improved team in the off season that could have a run in the playoffs.

        Bergevin was more than “creative” he plugged holes in backup G, starting D, power forward and a scorer successfully.

        The consensus was that the Habs were built for the playoffs and at the end of the day that consensus was right.

        FYI Habs weren’t injury free, closing out the season without Weber, Gallagher, Danault, Price.

        As Bergevin has frequently said once you’re in the playoffs anything can happen.

      • Leafs lost because their entire roster is filled with creampuffs and marshmallows. No grit, zero sandpaper. Pond hockey is great for regular season results and personal stats but has never, and will never win a Cup. Even the 80s Oilers had Tikanen, Semenko or McSorely.

        As long as the Leafs insist on the Shanascam they will never win a Cup.

    • hf30 as a Leafs fan, I’m personally impressed by the way the cap has been worked by Dubas.
      The JT signing is criticized but anytime a player like that is available for just $$ as opposed to giving up assets then thats a move that needs to be made.
      No one loved the Thornton move.
      Brodie – he was consistent during the regular season, was he the best possible option? Probably not but that’s all that was available to address the D.
      Simmonds – much needed big body, he broke his wrist and that obviously hampered his production, he was bringing what was expected prior to that.
      He brought in Foligno and that was a pretty solid move as well.
      The Leafs have been in cap hell for quite sometime, he has always managed to improve the team on paper which is commendable. What he has failed on is the choice of coaching staff.

      Would the series have played out differently if Foligno, Tavares and Muzzin were all healthy? Your guess is as good as mine on that one.

      • The 11.5 Dubas signed Tavares for would have been much better spent on a decent winger and a defensive defenceman.

        Signing Johnny its not about the money Tavares didnt address any position of need.

        Boy Blunder Dubas saw a shiney new trinket in the window and just had to have it, and the Leafs are paying for that foolishness now with inflated contracts for Matthews, Marner, Nylander and no cap room to sign needed pieces.

        The Shanascam, complete joke.

    • Habfan30,
      Leafs and Habs definitely are different teams and you certainly get to gloat given the playoff results.
      But really no need to troll the buds fans. You clearly won this season.
      And re the TJ Brodie comment, I love that behind the back pass from Edmunsen. Reminded me of Jake Gardiner.

      • Wawman93,

        I’m not trolling leaf fans at all, I said they deserve better.

        Would TML have been better off with Jake Allen and Edmundson instead of Bogosian and TJ Brodie? I think so.

        Dubas could have done that.

        I have nothing to gloat about, I’m a fan of my home team and have interest in the rest of the league too.

      • Wawaman93: Please separate pointed comments about Dubas and what appears to be a pig headed commitment to a plan that has clearly failed, with trolling leaf fans. Watching Dubas and Shannahan at work has the same facination as driving by a car crash. There are Leaf fans here who have criticized Dubas.

        I see the Leafs have signed Simmons again – is there a better example of the problems the Leafs have with cap space?

        As for the Habs success, I believe most Habs fans believe two things: the team is better than it demonstrated in the regular season; and it is not good enough to beat Tampa. Pleasant surprise, even joy at getting to the finals. No gloating. The Habs aren’t going to win the Cup.

      • @LJ “I see the Leafs have signed Simmons again – is there a better example of the problems the Leafs have with cap space?”

        That contract can be buried in its entirety in the minors if needed. Where is the issue here?

      • Do you really think the plan is to sign Simmons for the purpose of burying the contract in the minors, Taz?

        Simmons was signed on a show me contract last year. What he showed is evident: a player in decline. He was irrelevant in the playoffs this year. Let’s be honest in our assessment: He was signed because of the Leafs’ cap issues. All the more astonishing that he was signed for two years.

      • habfan30, not trolling here nor am I seeking to pile on fans among Leafsnation … but I’ve seen your comment before that they (the fans) “deserve better” and I am genuinely curious as to why they – or fans of any other pro sports franchise – “deserve” anything?

        Based on what? Constant sellouts while putting up with 54 years of cup failure? That’s hardly a condition of deserving.

      • George: ouch. But I have to say there is merit to your comment, as bruising as it is. Surely I am not the only one who wonders if the Leafs would be better off were there not be a non-stop sell out of Leafs games.

        For years the Leafs were owned by the Ontario Teachers Pension fund, whose goal was to make money. Are they now still owned by Rogers and BCE? Of course owners don’t buy hockey teams to lose money, but when money pours in each season win or lose with the predictability of sun rise it has to make ownership complacent. Especially so when a corporations goal is first to make money.

      • Yep LJ – I have always felt that the ONLY “weapon” held by the fan to provoke fundamental changes is to keep his/her butt out of the seats once it becomes clear that a team’s malaise is the result of consistent mismanagement of both players and, since its inception, the cap as it relates to its distribution.

        If enough take that approach any ownership will sit up and take notice.

      • George O,

        TML fans deserve better than what they get served up by the media and management, hopes getting dashed constantly.

        There are periods during the year when you can improve the team, TML fans are all over it and I’m not referring to the internet warriors who just love trolling.

        When the Habs signed Perry, there was no hoopla, he was expected to be on the taxi squad with Michael Frolik, depth signings who can play in a pinch. Perry was a pleasant unexpected surprise.

        TML fans were fed a diet of Jumbo feels like a kid he’ll be on the first line and Simmonds will be a regular and bring grit.

        Montreal had a reporter, Red Fisher, who’s steady refrain was “show me the players”
        We expected a cup every year, not by right, but because management kept bringing in players who filled roles.

        I’ve watched/cheered 12 Stanley Cups, its thrilling for the city and TML fans keep getting their hearts broken…..and it isn’t on account of fans buying tickets.

        Cities like Montreal and Toronto are sold out all the time by way of corporate, business, family trusts etc, it isn’t easy to buy seasons tickets, actual attendance in Montreal has droughts when the team falters., I don’t know about Toronto.

        Bottom line,maybe “deserve” is the wrong word but I think fans need something to cheer for and the onus is for management to provide it and for the media to say “show me the players” instead of pumping their tires.

      • Agreed George 100%!

        I hate the deserve tag. Whether it be a team in a city that’s doesn’t give a crap or “deserves a championship “.

        Absolute bs. You bought a jersey or two and follow a team. You deserve nothing!

        Cringe worthy comment!

    • First, who is the 5m Flame castoff?

      Leafs needs to pull the band-aid of trading one of Nylander or Marner. “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

      Do something different Dubas, do something different!!

    • Thornton and Simmonds…… or ….. Staal and Perry.

      Boy genius chose poorly.

      Poor decisions lead to poor results.

      Which get you fired in every NHL city except Toronto.

      Shanahan, Dubas and Keefe should all be terminated for lack of results.

      The Shanascam is almost as big if not bigger a joke as the NBAs 76ers “The Process” strategy.

      • Perry and Staal over Thornton and Simmonds. 20 years ago there could have been a serious debate. Today, none of these guys will win you the cup, if it’s them you are counting on.
        Come on!!!

      • My bad. Had leafs picked up Perry he wouldn’t have kneed Johnny T in the head.

  2. Sharing a CBJ Jones trade update. Portzline reported yesterday that based on info from multiple league execs, virtually every team has contacted Jarmo on Jones (lots of tire kicking). However, 4 teams are making strongest push: LA, CHI, COL, and PHI which confirms what LeBrun, Friedman, et al have been reporting. The return for Jones is expected to be 3-4 pieces primarily prospects and picks w/ potential for a roster player being included for select deals/teams to address cap considerations. The quality of prospects included likely depends on Jones’s receptiveness to sign long-term w/ the acquiring team. Portzline and Pronman then posted an article on the Athletic where they speculated on returns from those 4 teams using the OTT-SJ Erikkson trade as the basis for selecting the assets involved….IMHO it was a mediocre speculation at best and I believe Jarmo will get a stronger return than any of the deals they proposed. Hope folks find the info interesting.

    • Avs in Win-Now mode…
      could Bowen Byram be play?

      • DS that would be an awesome return for CBJ…not sure he will be one of the assets coming back from a COL deal unless Jones clearly will sign long-term and/or Jarmo is a magician. I personally am hoping for Dach or Reichel from CHI or one of the numerous high end C prospects from LA as part of the deal. I am just not as excited by the PHI prospects.

      • Unless he opens himself up to an extension I can’t see Jones bringing back more than a good rental has. A 1st and a prospect?

    • I looked at those proposed trades and they were underwhelming at best, given he signs with the new team

    • Deacon: I understand that Jones would want to test the market like every other player in his situation has.

      I am interested in your view as to why there are so many other players who have left CBJs. Is it penny pinching ownership, was it Torts, or …?

      • LJ that is tough to accurately assess. There is a growing narrative here that there are some hard line stances in the front office that cause challenges. The tough RFA negotiations are cited as an example of that but honestly that and other suggestions are purely speculation at this point. Losing Anderson Dubois and now Jones in less than a year are huge setbacks for the organization. I do think a “tear it down” rebuild is just starting but the next month will show what the frontnoffice is thinking

      • Thanks, Deacon. Somewhere not long ago I heard that several former CBJ players were interviewed and they had positive things to say about Columbus. This was during Torts’ tenure, which surprised me as I am not a fan of him.

        I recall that CBJ ownership is comprised of quite a few individuals. Not a recipe for success, IMO – though per my comments on the Leafs corporate ownership can also be a problem.

        You might be better off without Dubois, who was terrible this season — as long as Laine either plays better or you get a good return. As a Habs fan we thank CBJ for Anderson.

  3. I agree that the Oilers need a solid, reliable D-man. In other words, the Duncan Keith of 5 years ago. That guy’s long gone.

  4. Dubai seem to get a lot of credit for being creative.

    What has that creativity brought the Toronto Maple Leafs?

    Yes it was unfortunate JT got injured.

    I remember going into the playoffs the coach said he wasn’t shying away from anyone when it came to matchups against Matthew.

    I was thinking that was the wrong way to think
    Should always be looking for an advantage, no matter how small.

    With the expansion draft and possibly losing Hyman, the leafs are trending not to be as strong as last season.

    • I don’t mind hearing this from you, Caper, but that HF30 guy needs a little reality check. Montreal fans were ready to run Bergevin out of town on a rail until Carey Price became Carey Price again.
      Let’s see how things stack up next year.

      • BCLeafFan,

        Reality check?

        Fact is that the consensus among GM’s, Pundits and fans is that the Habs were the most improved team in the off season and began the season accordingly.

        The internet warriors who complained about Bergevin wanted to run Carey Price out on a rail and anoint Jake Allen as the #1G. Same folks still complain about the Weber/Subban trade.

        Did we “know” the Habs would be in the SCF? Of course not
        Did we know the team was greatly improved? Of course.

      • Habfan at the start of the year it was consensus that Montreal was a dark horse to make the playoffs. Calgary under achieved allowing them to get in. Looking back at some of the articles written most pundits and fans seem to be unsure of last summers changes. Please tell us which GM`s picked the Canadians to be the most improved. Most articles that mentioned which teams were improved pointed towards Carolina Florida not Montreal. Toronto is this years biggest disappointment but Montreal is this years biggest surprise

      • Bob: who says at the beginning of the season that the Habs were a dark horse to make the playoffs? Half way through, sure.

        But I very clearly recall TSN publishing an article at the beginning of the season with predictions from 15 anonymous GMs that the Leafs were picked to finish first in the North, and the Habs second. I am not sure if TSN has archives, you can check for yourself.

        I cannot refer you to anything as specific as the article above but my strong recollection is that Bergevin got rave reviews for his free agent signings from hockey analysts on TSN, Sportsnet and the Globe and Mail. I don’t recall you posting anything different then. Did I miss something?

    • Caper, one thing I am completely in agreement on is that the coaching staff was absolutely brutal for the Leafs.
      Habs played well, I take nothing away from them. A major reason for that is that they were allowed to execute their game plan. They came prepared, the Leafs came in arrogant.

      • Still cant believe Keefe didnt get Matthews away from Danault

      • Too much is being made of that comment by Keefe, he continued with:

        ” John, Riley Nash and Jason Spezza have go to be comfortable playing against anyone, too. We’re not hiding our best people from anyone.”

        A coach expressing confidence in his own players is fine.

        I think they misread the impact KK and Caufield would have.

        Danault was injured a few minutes into game 1 and couldn’t even take face offs properly till game 5.

      • No argument about the coaching staff which I believe will be Dubas’s downfall more than anything.

      • Re your comment that “Too much is being made of that …” – that’s one opinion but from this vantage point they may have won that pivotal game 5 at home had Keefe used the home ice last change a bit more diligently. That’s another opinion.

      • @Taz I`ve been saying since last year Keefe is nothing but a Dubas yes man that`s how he got the job. Dubas from the start did everything he could to undermine Babcock to give him a reason to fire him and put Keefe in place. He got rid of any player who displayed heart and grit. Toronto even had a reliable backup what did Dubas do got rid of him forced Babcock to play Sparks and we all know how well that went. 2 years ago Dubas had about 3.5 mill in cap space at the trade deadline but decided not to bolster the lineup for the playoffs. He did trade for Muzzin but that was about 5 weeks before the deadline. Yes Dubas is a joke no question about that and too many people give Dubas credit for manipulating the cap, Bob Pridham is the man that should be getting that credit not Dubas. Management is Toronto`s biggest obstacle to winning a cup. People that need to go Shanny Dubas Keefe and 1 of their 3 11 mill players. Matthews will be gone anyways do it now. If GM`s are kicking tires on Eichel at that price imagine what Toronto could get for Matthews right now but first change the management.

      • George O,

        “from this vantage point they may have won that pivotal game 5 at home had Keefe used the home ice last change a bit more diligently. That’s another opinion.”

        All we have are opinions, at times we agree at others we don’t, it doesn’t really change anything does it?

        I like hearing different opinions, gives me something to think about when it comes from folks like you who offer up real ideas and are respectful of the system.

        I happen to agree that Keefe was outcoached at the tail end of the series, not adjusting to Ducharme’s tweaks.

      • I agree about the coaching. You play a team 10 times in the season. 7 more in the playoffs and you did nothing to change your power play.
        Hind sight.
        You go old school, with 2 defenceman on the point. Maybe you score or at least defend against a shorthanded goal in which was the winner in game 1.

    • @LJ I wasn`t going to spend a ton of time but I could only find 3 writers who were on the Montreal band wagon Mark Spectre Dan Rosen and Frank Seravelli. Most everybody seemed to have had Toronto Calgary Winnipeg and Edmonton as their top 4. Toronto Calgary seemed to be the so called sure bets followed with Winnipeg Edmonton and Montreal fighting it out for the next 3 spots with the majority leaning towards Winnipeg as 3rd. Rosen nailed the North division perfectly including Montreal to win it and Marner falling flat on his face and Toronto going nowhere because of it. I couldn`t find any article about the 15 gms but I`m sure some gms did think Montreal would make some noise this year and I for one hope Montreal wins the cup mostly because it`ll make Dubas look even worse

  5. “Kurt Leavins believes the Oilers are front-runners for Duncan Keith”

    Every once in a while it’s good to be reminded that Ken Holland no longer has anything to do with the Red Wings.

    • This comment made me LOL. I was a season ticket holder until it because apparent that Kenny was running the DRW into the ground to keep that streak going. I stopped going to games until Yzerman was hired. Sadly I missed the last season of JLA and first of LCA. But I felt the only way to get some change was to stop supporting the mediocrity .

      • I am a Wings fan, with a partial season ticket package. While I was not a big fan of Ken Holland, I think some of the reason that he did some of the things he did that didn’t turn out so good came from ownership. If you look at the Wings and Tigers, they were managed much the same. I believe that Mr. I very much wanted another championship for Detroit while he was alive, and sold the farms trying. I respect him for that, because I feel that Mike had his city in his heart and soul. His intentions were good, but things just didn’t work out for the way he wanted. Maybe this wasn’t all on KH.

  6. Sure would like to see Nurse ( one year from UFA ) in a Bruins Uniform…

    • It’s gonna be tough to afford Nurse. According to one person on this site the BBB’s are going to have Eichel and OEL on the team next season. Although how they pull off either hasn’t really been explained yet, I assume due to the sensitive nature of the transactions.

    • Nurse is not going anywhere, no chance on the Carlo / debrusk combo . Huge overpay or Edmonton wouldn’t even listen .

  7. If the Bruins don’t plan on using #48 & # 74 as trade pieces why not leave them unprotected with the hopes of Sea taking both and giving the Bruins more cap space relief ….

    • Joe, so your suggesting a side deal?

      Kraken trade for 48 say 3rd round pick and in return Seattle select Debrusk?

      If I’m understanding you; your opinion is Grizz and Debrusk have no trade value.

      I fully disagree with that assessment.

      • Well each player alone would bring very little back … each make to much $$$ for the stats they put up …74 has issues showing up for games and 48 is a 3rd pairing Dman

  8. How does acquiring a player with a permanent LTIR condition save cap space? Let us say that a team acquires a $5.0 million contract. It is added to their cap, then they get up to $5 million in LTIR relief. How are they ahead on their cap room?

    • It doesn’t save cap space. That was hastily written on my part and I’ve amended it accordingly.

  9. I hopeTampa wins 4 straight and gets the second Covid Cup behind us. Thought I would like the format but tired of it early . Seeing Sens and Flames 9 times did me in.

    We will see what a full 82 looks like. Players like Thornton Perry E.Staal and Simmonds won’t help much.
    Leafs should go the other end and fill the lineup with entry level.

    • 9 times too much? LOL. By today’s standards, yes yes and yes. But think what it was like for us who grew up with the original 6 when, in a 70 game schedule, they met each other FOURTEEN times. That was the root cause of a lot of blind hatred which often flared up into bench-clearing brawls.

  10. The only way that the leafs seriously improve this team is to find a lot more cap space or get crazy lucky with rookies who play like vets and over 30 guys who play like 25 year olds.
    Seriously, if there is a buyout window, I would be approaching the big 3 and asking if they would agree to a buy-out followed by a new 2 year deal…until the cap rises. It will never happen so the only out remaining is to trade a massive contract for 2 or 3 guys on their way up.
    Dubas needs a big redo or a $95 million cap to get any better or even just tread water.

    • Guys like Connor Brown, Kasperi Kapanen, Andreas Johnsson Tyler Bozak, JVR, Nazem Kadri….if you ad all those guys on TOR in 202q, I think you would have a far better tam able to play any style of game and win. Always replacing these type of players means that the Leafs always take one step forward and 2 steps back. They were a better team when they lost to Washinton.