NHL Rumor Mill – August 9, 2021

by | Aug 9, 2021 | Rumors | 44 comments

What can the Leafs do to address their short- and long-term salary-cap issues? What’s the latest on the Panthers? Find out in today’s NHL rumor mill.

TORONTO SUN: Steve Simmons took note of young defensemen such as Edmonton’s Darnell Nurse, Colorado’s Cale Makar, Chicago’s Seth Jones and Dallas’ Miro Heiskanen landing long-term deals worth over $8 million. He believes the going rate for a 27-year-old blueliner like the Leafs’ Morgan Rielly is around $8 million per season, which is a big raise over his current $5 million annual cap hit.

Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Morgan Rielly (NHL Images).

He believes the Leafs face a challenging decision with Rielly. Do they re-sign him? Do they let him depart via free agency next summer? If they re-sign him, how will they clear sufficient cap space for his new contract?

Complicating things further is goaltender Jack Campbell will also become eligible for unrestricted free agent status next summer. Simmons speculates it could the Leafs $6 million they don’t have to keep them both.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That’s why some observers believed the Leafs could trade Rielly this summer rather than risk losing him next summer for nothing. However, management is sticking with its core (which includes Rielly, their best puck-moving defenseman) for the coming season.

Cap Friendly shows the Leafs with $67.78 million invested in 14 players for 2022-23. Assuming the cap rises that season by $1 million, that’ll leave the Leafs with $14.7 million in projected cap space. If they re-sign Rielly for $8 million annually, they’ll have only $6.7 million left to re-sign Campbell and promising blueliner Rasmus Sandin, leaving nothing to fill out the rest of the roster.

They could let Rielly walk or shop him before the trade deadline. However, that will leave a big hole on their blueline that could prove difficult to fill.

Simmons also observed the Maple Leafs are above the salary cap but don’t have to be cap compliant until the start of the regular season. He wonders which players will be waived in training camp or whether Alex Kerfoot will be moved in a cost-cutting trade.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Leafs are 1.394 million over the $81.5 million cap. They also have 15 forwards under contract. Rather than trade Kerfoot, they’ll likely attempt to demote two or three of those extra forwards or see one or two of them claimed by other clubs via waivers.

FLORIDA HOCKEY NOW: In a recent mailbag segment, George Richards was asked about how things stand with new contracts for Aleksander Barkov and Sam Reinhart. He anticipates new deals for both could be announced later this summer.

Regarding rumors linking the Panthers to Zdeno Chara, Richards believes they want to add another veteran defenseman but he’s not sure if Chara is the right fit. He also acknowledged the trade rumors about winger Frank Vatrano before the expansion draft. While nothing came of them, he didn’t rule out the possibility of a training camp deal.

Richards also predicted Sergei Bobrovsky could be moved out in 2023 “one way or another” but it won’t be a contract buyout.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bobrovsky will have just three years remaining on his contract following 2022-23. However, he must waive his no-movement clause first. The Panthers will also have to pick up a healthy chunk of his $10 million annual average value to facilitate a trade. Even then, they won’t get much interest in Bobrovsky if his performance doesn’t improve by that point.


  1. How will the Leafs replace Reilly? He’s their best defenseman. Losing him would create a huge hole in an already thin defensive core. Any capable replacement would cost quite a bit as well.
    The Leafs probably secretly hope that Mrazek will establish himself as #1 so they can let Campbell walk and replace him with a cheaper backup.

    • The Leafs need to move a big forward piece. People can complain but they need to balance the roster. They are a line dominant team, who gets shut down quickly in the playoffs.
      Personally, I think a certain winger needs to be on the move for a young, fast, cheap goal scorer.
      The savings should be put towards their defence by added a couple better pieces.

      • That would be wise advice indeed, but Scooby seems more intent on dying on the hill of “we can and we will” rather than changing course and adapting like a normal GM.

        What you’re saying, trading some of what you’ve got for some of what you need, is GM 101. How leaf ownership let this guy take the team into another season and expect a different result is TRULY the definition of insanity. Wow.

      • TheMan

        Please tell me where you can find a young. cheap, fast, goal scorer in the NHL?

        Good players cost money. If you take i to account the tax implications of playing in Ontario to say, Tampa or VegS, those teams can afford to pay their players a bit less and they can take home the same money because their taxes are lower.

        The big 3 contracts on the Leafs Matthews, Tavares, and Marner are all point a game players. They’d get paid very similar salaries by any team in the league.

        Would a #1 Defenceman like Hedman look good in TOR? Absolutely but teams aren’t giving them away. Also, keep in mind that not all teams win while their best players are in their early 20’s

      • I agree, but I think the list of teams looking to trade a young, fast, goal scoring winger for a large contract is very limited…

  2. I’m sure the New York Rangers have a need for William Nylander to take the $ load off the Leafs cap. What would it take though is the question?

    • Rangers do not have the space.

      Panarin, Trouba, soon Fox and Zib, then Kreider eating up all over 6.5 million. No room for Nylander.

      Sabres should make the call and offer up Asplund, Thompson and a 2nd.

    • NY just traded Buchnevich in order to give Kravstov, Kakko and Laffreniere more ice time.

      On top of already having Kreider and Panarin.

      They need Nylander like they need a hole in the head.

      • Depend if you think Nylander can play C or not. I think it was his natural position and he played it until the NHL as they had vets in their top 6 already and wanted him in an offensive role, so went to the wing. Leaf fans can confirm, but I think he was effective in that role with the Marlies.

        Skates well enough, good vision, not little either.

  3. Hi Lyle: Damned if I understand the rules about LTIR, specifically as it relates to the Habs. Weber and Byron still seem to be included in their cap space. If correct, when can they be subtracted from the coming season’s cap (and will they get another center?)


    • LJ: The Canadiens could put Byron on LTIR now if they wished, especially if they were planning to add other players during the offseason. He’s undergone surgery and it’s already known how long he’ll be sidelined. However, they don’t have to do so right now. All teams are allowed the 10 percent offseason cushion and the Canadiens aren’t close to exceeding that, so they can wait and put Byron on LTIR at the start of the regular season.

      As for Weber, it’s expected the league will allow the Canadiens to put him on LTIR. They’re saying Weber is likely out for the coming season and perhaps longer. However, I believe the league is awaiting supporting medical reports on his condition.

      Details on LTIR can be found here: https://www.capfriendly.com/ltir-faq

      • Thanks Lyle.

    • I think they sit in the cap until the season starts then can be moved

  4. Next year brings a new economic situation for the league.
    Last year brought a tightening of contracts.
    This year brought the dumping/giving away players and drat picks for cap space.
    What is left to manipulate or next year?

    That will determine if GMs will pay Rielly Nurse like money or Petry like money.

    TML also needs to figure out if a team that is overloaded on scoring F needs to overpay on scoring D or strong lower cost stay at home D.

  5. 2 words – TRADE MATTHEWS.

    2 other words – Trade Nylander.

    Arizona, LA, Philly, Anaheim among others have plenty to offer to make this team a contender. You’ll likely see players waving NTC-NMCs to come to Toronto, as that’s where every player wants to play!

    Build the team around Marner, Tavares and Reilly.

    If Dubas plays those 2 cards right, they’ll go from pretender to contender.

    • You are obviously not a leaf fan

    • Hi Artsy

      I think the likelihood of trading Mathews is a huge long-shot this year

      I don’t see proper available pieces working with ‘Yotes . Ducks… Comtois a must in the package

      I have doubts of a deal with Flyers

      LA would have to be Doughty (his control) and with retention; AND Vilardi AND Byfield…. I can’t see Blake doing that (and that’s IF Doughty agrees)

      Rangers still in search of Eichel? Mathews much better…. But it would require Strome; Blais; Lafrennierre and a pick

      So even if Dubas was inclined to trade AM (he’s not) ; trade partners with the right assets are either stymied by NMCs or will not part with what is required

      Mathews will remain a Leaf this year. If Leafs miss the playoffs (a possibility)…. Maybe he’s moved next summer

      Leafs can’t let him walk for nada on 1/7/24

    • Personally not so sure that TO is where every player wants to play…

      Also, why empty your team of young assets and picks when you know TO is going to be in the exact same position as today in a few years and you can sign AM without giving up anything?

  6. Re Leafs and Cap…. Again it’s simple math; assuming $1M increase in Cap and $8M for Reilly….

    That leaves Leafs (next year) with 9 F; 5 D; 1G under contract and $6.7 M to re-sign Campbell and fit in 5 more forwards and 2 defensemen …. Note 7 players at MINIMUM NHL Sal costs $5.3 M… so $1.4 M to use towards getting more than 7 League min players

    It just can’t be done w/o a different roster balance and that means a move

    Leafs out first round (AGAIN) and can at best be argued as roster being at same level (would mean arguing Mrazek = Freddy and forward and D exits replaced by equal value producers…. I can’t see it that way…. To me Leafs got worse)

    Add to that…. Panthers improved and are positioned to finish ahead of Leafs; Leafs not close to Bolts level (even with their lost players) ; and therefore Leafs have to battle Bruins and Habs for 3rd…. so fair chance they (Leafs) are then battling for WC spot just to make the playoffs…. so chances of missing the playoffs next year are certainly on serious concern

    4 Fwds taking up 1/2 the Cap has not; is not; and will not win a Cup

    Leafs window ends June of ‘24(AM exits 1/7/24 at the latest)

    One of the 4 must be moved (sooner rather than later)

    It is extremely unlikely that it is AM

    JT fully in control (NMC) so it won’t be him

    Almost $11 M in Cap for MM…. How many teams can (and are willing to) take a winger on for that Cap hit….. or a crap contract has to come back; or Leafs retain…. Kind of defeats the purpose

    I then come around to (again)…. WW… only $7M in Cap hit; BUT only owed still a total of $14.5 M…. ~ $4.8 M per cash AAV….. a great bargain for teams…. How is that move not Leafs most strategic move?

    • A multi-player swap that solves issues for Leafs and works for their trade partner…. Leafs Cap strapped; Cash rich; Ducks completely the reverse

      WW + Holl + Kerfoot for

      Manson (50% retained) ; DesLauriers (50% retained) ; Henrique (no retention)

      Ducks save cash this year and out years

      Leafs then set down the centre; got much tougher and got better defensively; but most importantly …. Freed up more than $4 M in valuable Cap space

      • What about

        to BUF: Nylander & Kerfoot

        to TML: Mittelstadt & Thompson

        then TML goes and signs Casey Czikas to be their 3rd line center

      • oops forgot buffalo needs to toss in a good draft pick LOL

        sorry sleepy.

      • Hi IHC

        Leafs lose big in that trade and Czikas (per reports) already has a multi-year deal in place (just yet to be announced) with GMLL

      • Pengy, the cap going to Buff is to be able to sign Reilly in the off season.

        the good pick helps rebuild and good prospect in Mittelstadt

    • Every team knows that the Leafs are in a cap crunch. Very few will be willing to give up significant assets to help them out. The only way Nylander gets moved is if the Leafs get back less than fair value.

      From a TO point of view it will be a bitter pill to swallow, but may be the best thing in the short/medium term…

  7. A little comparison. This week many Edmonton fans were bemoaning the Nurse signing. Too much money. I don’t know if that is true….. BUT…..at least they were able to maintain a balance between high payments on D and forwards. The Leafs cannot do this with 4 high salaries on forward. The whole league knows it, Leaf fans ( like me) know it….fans of teams that want to beat the Leafs know it…

    I have no idea how the brain trust at MLSE can condone continuing with this. I have been a Leaf fan for more than 60 yrs and this is the most discouraged I have been. It is not because we lost to the Habs. It is not even because we have not won a series, nor is it because we just traded about all of our draft choices for nothing this year.

    It is because the Leafs have done all these things and will not learn from them. How can one have any optimism if mistakes don’t have at least some teaching power.

    • Well said Old Blue Dog. I hate the $$, but that’s the market value that was set. That being said, I have alot of faith in Doc and making that a worthwhile investment.
      Holland is covering the long-term bases. We just need a G. I like Skinner and especially Rodrigue, but they’re a ways off yet. And let’s face it….with all due respect to goalies, they’re as much a crap shoot as 1st round draft picks. They’re paid to stop a puck. But it has to go through 5 other teammates 1st.
      The Leafs basing their future (2 more yrs) on scoring goals isn’t gonna do it. They need to round the team out.
      Lou and Mark could’ve done it.

    • I feel your pain OBD. My Leaf fan buddy is equally discouraged.

      The two of us agree that barring a miraculous deep playoff run this coming season this will be the last go for Dubas and perhaps Shanahan. It will take a few years for the ensuing recovery to gain altitude but at least it will then get off the ground.

    • The leafs have been and will continue to be better than the Oilers so I don’t get the comparison. Building your team like Edmonton shouldn’t be the gold standard. Seriously the only defenceman on the Oilers that I would take over Reilly, Muzzin or Brodie is Nurse. Edmonton’s defense is way worse then the Leafs. Think before you speak OBD at least use a better defensive team when you want to go on a rant about the leafs.

    • I feel your pain OBD…

      Hopefully these 2 words will bring back memories and make you feel a little less bleak about the future…

      Harold Ballard

    • The definition of insanity….doing same things over & expecting different results. Time for a management shakeup at Mlse….Shanahan, Dubas & Keefe must all go. We need a new vision.

  8. No reference to the flat cap scenario which I’m sure all the so-called experts predicted. No acknowledgement of the Leafs’ improved defensive play. Nothing about the Tavares injury.
    Just the same old stuff over and over again.
    Ray made the one suggestion that made sense – Nylander at centre. Depending on his linemates, that could help balance the lines.
    I think Keefe needs to balance time on ice, especially for Matthews and Marner. Sometimes he acts as though they are the only answer and just wears them out. If he took Marner off the penalty kill, that would help but he needs to play other forwards more and the top line less.
    And finally, man, am I sick of hearing that Lou and Mark could have fixed everything. If Mark Hunter is a genius, why aren’t teams lined up to hire him? And ask NJ fans how they feel about Uncle Lou. My lasting memory of his time in Toronto is that he was the one who gave Patrick Marleau a three year contract that eventually cost the Leafs a first-round draft pick to move.

    • We can agree on one thing BCLeafan: it is indeed the same old stuff over and over again. Minus Hyman. But hey, they resigned Simmons.

      PS: How do Islander fans feel about Uncle Lou?

      • not an Islander fan but Lou has made a few smart moves BUT

        traded away many picks that ill potentially b the next future of this team.

        Nelson, Lee, Barzal, Beauvilier, Bailey, Eberle(gone), Pelech, Pullock, Leddy(gone), Czikas, Clutterbuck, Mayfield….ALL from the previous regime.

        He best move was hiring Trotz. He traded assets for Palmieri and Zajac. Sort of an ok move but not the barn burner performance from Kyle you’d hope for.

        He traded to get back Martin which was a decent move but then also traded assets for Komorov…

        I just watch what happened in NJ and traded picks and never got past the cup performance for the next generation.

        I see he appears to be trying to lock this roster in from a good 6 years to compete but what will happen after? Does he keep his picks and develop the next round of players?

        I will give him credit for drafting Dobson and Wahlstrom as I am a fan of their performance.

        The Varlamov signing was a crap shoot and I’ll have to give him some redit for taking a chance but goaltending is luck. Perfect example 2 time cup champ Murray signs in OTT and stunk his first season there.

        Overall Trotz is making this happen.

      • I’m probably the only Isles fan here so let me weigh in.

        Pre Lou. Hapless organization never knowing which direction to go in.

        After Lou Single minded determination to win the Cup.

        Pieces like Martin, Pageau, Palmeri, Sorokin, Varly and Greene have meshed perfectly with the existing line-up.
        If hiring Trotz was such a no brainer, why did Wash let him leave?
        Devils fans can bitch and moan all they want, but how many Cups have they won since Lou left??

        In Toronto, Lou did not have full control.
        On the Island, he does.

        In the years since LL left, how many rounds has TO won in the Playoffs?

        How many have the Isles won?

        Stop kidding yourselves. LL won the GM of the year two years in a row. With the work he’s doing this year, he’ll be in it for the hat trick.

        Lou does, what Lou does. He blends a team fit for the Playoffs.

      • Sorokin was drafted in 2014 while Lou was still driving the devils into the ground. He was considered one of the worlds best goaltending prospects on the planet. And still is.

        Devils aren’t winning cups since Lou left because Lou could not navigate being a GM in the cap era. His last 12 years in NJ he won nothing. While signing past his prime Elias and others , Kovalchuk who NJ is still paying for.

        I’m a Ranger fan, this isn’t a Ranger fan bashing a rival gm.

        I have a laundry list of complaints about Gorton. Gms do good things, Gms make mistakes. Lou hasn’t won anything in almost 20 years. The man does not walk on water.

        The footprint of the Islanders is all about Garth Snow.

    • It is recency bias BCLeafFan, we all have it.
      Lou has his share like every other GM who has done it for a while.
      Remember that Tavares actually did take a discount to come to TOR. The discount was off of Lou’s offer to keep him on the island.
      Yep, Marleau.
      And let’s not forget Kovalchuk deal.

      All in all more good than bad, hence he still does it for a living.

      If the Leafs trade Matthews Dubas should be fired. He is a top 5 player in the NHL IMO. Which is why he won’t.

      The got screwed by the flat cap more than most teams, but need to do something. If it is me I trade a winger, because Tavares is too hard to move. Marner or Nylander.

    • BCLeafFan.

      I couldn’t agree more.

      The Leafs were much better defensively this season. Do they have an elite #1 à la Hedman or Pietrangelo…no. They get it done by committee.

      As for your idea about Nylander playing C I think it’s a worthwhile idea. Tavares is a fine C in the NHL and turned Matt Moulson into a 3 time 30G scorer on Long Island.
      Nylander at C with the defensively responsible Kerfoot at LW and the speedy Mikhayev at RW would be an interesting combo.

      Do not forget the Zaitsev contract which cost the Leafs Connor Brown when mentioning Lou’s blunders.

      I would not pay Reilly anywhere near $8M a season. A raise is in order but I’d cap it at $6.5M

  9. BC Leaf fan…no one is saying they did not make some improvements….but there is no denying what happened….they failed to win a series again….management came out within hours of dropping another series and said there would be no change to the core four though Nylander’s….you and don’t agree but to me they are the problem not the answer….

    I take all this Soo Greyhound criticism with a grain of salt….with one exception….

    Keefe was outcoached ( again…same with the Colombus loss last year)….if there personal friendship is coming in between the Leafs getting a better coach….the organization is resembling a frat house more than a multi million dollar investment .

  10. If Barry Trotz was coaching the Leafs and Sheldon Keefe was coaching the Islanders, we might not be having this exchange. Uncle Lou made a great move there and Kyle Dubas better hope the current coach does a better job this year.

    • As a Lightning fan, I feel in a good position to say you do not want to face a LL/Trotz team in the playoffs.

      It does not matter how good you are or how much talent you have are what the matchups are on paper; you will feel pain and the games will be close and nervewracking.

      I agree with those who suppose the Leafs would likely play differently under a Tratz, See Capitals, Washington for whom he solved much the same problem.

      • Well Richard being a Lightning fan you of all people should know how hard it is to win the cup. How long was Tampa Bay considered favorites before they won it. 10 years or so? In fact they got swept by Columbus in the first round the year before they won the cup. To expect a team to win it all when your core players are all in there early 20’s is just unrealistic. Heck look how long it took Washington and St Louis to win it all. They were both favorites for years. Colorado is not doing that great in the playoffs and they’ve been favorites longer than the leafs. I know the leafs are the center of the hockey universe but people need to find a new hobby.

  11. I’m sure Lou would be quite disappointed to learn that 2 Ranger fans and a couple of Leaf fans think he is a mediocre GM. Maybe one day he can take you guys to see his plaque at the Hockey Hall of Fame. Sounds like a couple of rival fans are a little jealous of what he has built on Long Island in terms of Coaches, Players and overall winning culture that eluded this team since the mid 80’s. Actually it seems a winning culture is exactly what the Leafs and Rangers both need. Maybe they should give Lou a call.

  12. Every offseason it feels like Leaf fans sound like Matthew Mcconaughey, “The players get older but the still lose the same way”
    Another season and countless discussions about trading Kerfoot to fix the salary problems. Then you have the arrogance of fans to think trading Matthews, Marner, or Nylander to a Team for their top prospects and a solid NHL player while at the same time expecting the opposing GM to retain salary? The signing of JT slammed whatever window was open years ago. That might be the worst signing by a club in 20 years. Going back to the regular divisions is going to hurt Toronto. They are likely going to be fighting FL for #4 in the division. Now they TML fans are talking about trading Reily? Their best defensemen?