NHL Rumor Mill – September 14, 2021

by | Sep 14, 2021 | Rumors | 37 comments

Can the Leafs afford to re-sign Morgan Rielly? What’s the latest on Kirill Kaprizov and Brady Tkachuk? Find out in today’s NHL rumor mill.

TORONTO STAR: Chris Johnston recently suggested the large contracts signed this summer by several notable NHL defensemen could make it difficult for the Maple Leafs to sign Morgan Rielly to a contract extension. Chicago’s Seth Jones, Columbus’ Zach Werenski, Colorado’s Cale Makar and New Jersey’s Dougie Hamilton inked multi-year deals worth an annual average value of $9 million or more.

Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Morgan Rielly (NHL Images)

Johnston doubts Rielly’s next contract will come in lower than $8 million per season. He and Dallas’ John Klingberg would become next summer’s top unrestricted free agent defensemen if they opt to test the market. Rielly’s averaged roughly the same point percentage as Hamilton and Washington’s John Carlson over nearly the same number of games.

Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas could take a wait-and-see approach to this season before engaging in contract discussions with Rielly. He could also take the same approach as he did last season with Zach Hyman and Frederik Andersen by treating the blueliner as an “own rental” for this season and letting him skate away next summer. Johnston points out, however, those players weren’t as valuable as Rielly.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Johnston also noted the Leafs’ limited salary-cap space for 2022-23. Cap Friendly shows them with a projected $67.78 million invested in 14 players. Goaltender Jack Campbell is also slated to become a UFA while promising defenseman Rasmus Sandin is a restricted free agent.

Considering how much those blueliners Johnston mentioned received this summer, we can forget about Rielly accepting a “hometown discount” to stay in Toronto. While the salary cap is expected to rise by just $1 million to $82.5 million for ’22-’23, there will be teams prepared to sign him to a long-term deal worth $9 million annually or more. The Leafs won’t be among them unless they shed some salary first.

The Leafs could trade Rielly but that’s not going to happen unless they’re hopelessly out of playoff contention by the March trade deadline. The front office still believes their current roster can stage a deep playoff run and contend for the Stanley Cup but they can’t do it without their best defenseman.

THE ATHLETIC: Michael Russo reports Minnesota Wild GM Bill Guerin admits some obstacles remain in his quest to get Kirill Kaprizov signed before the start of training camp. Part of it involves getting a work visa to travel to the United States, get tested for COVID-19 and undergoing a seven-day quarantine as per NHL protocols before joining the Wild.

Russo believes Guerin and the Kaprizov camp have once again reached a stalemate. Sources say the Wild has offered a variety of terms with an annual average value of $9 million. Guerin doesn’t believe they’re very far apart but acknowledged negotiations can take a while. Nevertheless, he said his club has made “a very fair offer, and that’s just where we are.”

OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch reports talks are continuing between the Senators and Brady Tkachuk’s representatives. While discussions have been cordial they could increase in intensity as the start of training camp on Sep 23 approaches. It’s believed the Senators have offered up an eight-year, $64 million contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Senators have a better chance of getting Tkachuk into training camp than the Wild with Kaprizov given the number of hurdles the latter would have to clear. Russo speculated the Wild’s unwillingness to include signing bonuses in their contracts could be a sticking point.


  1. I’ve posted a couple of times that I really believe the Tkachuk signing will be announced right at the start of training camp to get the most publicity related to a ticket drive. Initially, I thought all 3 main RFAs would be announced at that time, but with Batherson and Gustavsson already announced – and looking at it a bit more deeply – I see where they likely didn’t want those two overshadowed by the Tkachuk signing.

    Do I still believe that? In a word – yyyesss – but I also know that there are times when these negotiations can go south in a hurry, and if he and his agents are digging their heels in with respect to a 3-year deal only as opposed to the 8 x $8 the club wants, the whole picture could change suddenly.

    He’s been rumored to be their next C (I figure alternating C with Chabot), but there’s no way the Senators give him a C with just a 3-year deal. And if it comes to that, as a fan I wouldn’t be shocked – or disappointed – to see him signed to the 3 and then dealt immediately (along with Logan Brown) for either the top wing or C they seek in a package deal. They did it before with Hossa.

    But that’s the extreme – which I don’t believe will happen.

  2. Leafs will be forced to sign Reilly . He is worth between 7- 8 but will get 9-10m being in Toronto. That contract will hamstring them even more roster wise than they currently find themselves.

    Kirill the Thrill…they can’t be bouncing around $9m . One short season . Don’t think so Tim.
    2 or 3 year Bridge first or hit the scrap pile of promising Russians

  3. More power to players refusing to sell their ufa years. If that’s the case with Brady or kk… give them the three year deal and worry about two years from now. A lot can change in that time.

    • I have a sneaking feeling that that is what it will come down to in Tkachuk’s case and, if so, the C goes to Chabot AND, as I say, if the right deal is there it woudn’t shock me to see him dealt.

  4. GMs once again show that they for the most part can’t help themselves from having a circular firing squad.

    A handful of players get these obscene contracts that are totally out of line with a cap freeze and while I’m not a fan of the TML, justifying a contract for Rielly based on some overpays does make one wonder.

    I thought the Oilers signing of RNH, the Habs signings of similar dollar contracts would set the tempo but they didn’t.

    It’s almost as if contracts are more important than playing the game itself .

    • I completely agree with you!

      Give me players like Toffolli, Dvorak & Hoffman at 4.5M or less, or D-men like Edmundson, Chiarot, & Savard at 3.5M.

      You can’t build a balanced, deep roster when you throw huge money at guys that can’t possibly earn it.

      I’d rather have those 3 MTL D at a combined 10.5M/season than Hamilton or Rielly at 9M.

    • Couldn’t agree more. Somewhere along the line good players started to get 8 to 9 million instead of 6 to 7. Smh.

    • Well, Chabot got a long-term deal in Ottawa at $8.5. If you look at his career averages from an offensive standpoint, he and Rielly are virtually identical

      Chabot – 11g 37a 48 pts
      Rielly – 9g 35a 44 pts

      Now, while Chabot is no defensive stalwart and will always need a good stay-at-home partner who can skate (I think they may have found one in Zub), he is better at that end than Rielly – in my humble opinion. Both are good on the pp.

      Those are the kind of benchmarks his agent will point to when it comes time to extend.

      • Perfect example of overpay for Chabot and talk for Rielly. Neither of these guys are special players, they are pretty good.
        None of the D signings are worth $8-10 million, none of them are special.

        In the past we used to tamp down the hyperbole by saying “he’s no Bobby Orr”
        These guys couldn’t carry his jock strap

        Chabot – 11g 37a 48 pts 8x$8 million
        Rielly – 9g 35a 44 pts $5 million, expecting $8-9 million.

        Jeff Petry last 3 years: $5.5 raise to 4x $6.25

        13g 33a 46 pts
        11g 29a 40 pts
        12g 30a 42 pts

      • Well, according to Travis Yost Reilly and – company – make the Leafs d the best of all Canadian teams. Note that T J Brodie is a “gifted puck mover.”


        The fact that the cap is – or nearly is – frozen now doesn’t really enter into it. If you want to trace the locus of out of step contracts go back to Toews and Kane signing 10.5 million, 8 year contracts when the cap was 69 million. The cap hit for the Hawks was essentially the same for each player as the cap hit for McDavid in percentage terms.

        If your point is that such contracts make it difficult to ice a winning team with so much allotted to so few players, I agree.

        If your point is something else, what is it? Sometimes the market value of a player is not directly linked to winning. Imagine what it would have been like for the Oilers fan base if McDavid had not been resigned?

        The Habs overpaid by a ton for Price because letting him walk to UFA would have been seen as a team that was content to lose.

        The Caps have resigned Ovi to a contract that at 9.5 million a season, surely an overpay two years from now, because he is the face of the Caps’ irrespective of the fact the Caps know it will get in the way of a rebuild.

        So, yes, there are times when GMs see the contract as disproportionate to the chances of winning. Whether that extends to being more important than playing the game itself … depends on how GMs – and their fans – define the result.

        And your example of Petry is meaningless unless you put up #s for all defencemen against their salary. And then include other important factors as well.

      • LOL. Petry turns 34 in December – Chabot doesn’t turn 25 until late January … ask Bergevin if he’d trade Petry even up right now for Chabot? The name alone would have him tripping over himself to get that deal done.

      • LJ,
        You seem to have a bone to pick.

        The mere fact that Yost refers to Brodie as a gifted puck mover makes his analysis questionable and more importantly has nothing to do with my post you’re responding to.

        The cap has everything to do with
        GM responsibility and accountability which I’m addressing.

        The contracts of Toews, Kane, Price, Matthews, Tavares etc were given with rising revenues allowing for rising caps and have nothing to do with my point.

        Did I mention difficulty icing a winning team?

        You go on and on about things I haven’t mentioned or implied and they are irrelevant to my comment.

        Petry is a very good example of my point whether you approve or not, the comparison is to the D-men that were raised.

        I’m not going to down a rabbit hole with you.

      • What is your problem, Habsfan30? I asked what your point in the post was. There was nothing pointed in the commentary, and I provided a few examples of how I view the issue of expensive contracts, a point you raised.

        The comments re Reilly were – again – to share another opinion. I actually agree with you re Reilly, I wouldn’t pay him either. But again, where is this provocation you see? Or the off topic reference?

        The purpose of this site is to exchange opinions. If the mere responding to one of your posts sets you off then perhaps you should stay in your rabbit hole. And grow TFU while you are there.

      • LJ,

        I don’t have any problem at all 🙂

        My point was very clear and understood by others. GMs being irresponsible during a CAP FREEZE handing out unwarranted contracts.

        You addressed everything BUT that.

        There’s nothing provocative in being off the point or even disagreeing if you were on point.

        You’re free to comment as you wish though I suggest not telling others to grow “TFU”.

      • Is there a difference between handing out outlandish contracts with a cap freeze (it is rumored to creep up next year by the way) and bad contracts with no cap freeze? I say, no, not really. In addition to the Hawks example, there is the Kings as well. The cap didn’t rise fast enough in subsequent years to get either team out of cap hell. So bad contracts have, demonstrably, hobbled teams irrespective of cap growth. Not sure why you find my contrary view either off point or objectionable.

        And if you don’t like my grow TFU comment, how about yours from a few days ago:

        “If I need to explain it, it isn’t worth discussing.”

        Understand my comment better now? No one likes being patronized by a self declared expert.

        I don’t come to this site to quarrel with anyone. I’ve agreed with some of the points you have made, including some today. When you stick to civility and accept fair exchanges you will get the same from me. Your choice.

      • Oh, and by the way Habfan30, while I provided career annual average for Chabot and Rielly based on their totals date divided by 82 games to get an annual seasonal average, you compared that to Petry’s last 3 seasons.

        Career-wise, as per the same calculation, he works out to 9g 24a 33 pts per. I’m willing to bet that when Chabot gets to 700+ games played his average will be a LOT higher as his initial years were spent on bad, re-building teams. They are getting better and that will show in his stats.

      • LJ,
        Do you recall why I said:

        “If I need to explain it, it isn’t worth discussing.”

        I said 9/11 changed the world as we know it and you disputed it, pointing to covid.

        I stand by what I said.

        If you are too young or too unaware of 9/11 impact on the world, I’m not the one to explain or educate you.

        Apparently you had a bone to pick as you just made clear.

        Have a great day 🙂

      • I accept your good wishes as sincere, and tip my hat in return.

    • HF30, you’re right about GM’s and overpays. I think, if Reilly has a good year, they will think hard about dealing one of Nylander or Marner to keep Reilly in the fold.
      Of course, if the season ends as it did last year, someone else will be making that decision.
      This is a huge year for the Leafs.

      • Toronto should be shopping Reilly, he is good on offence and terrible at defence. The Leafs are not going to win the cup with the current team. They lost out on many draft picks by not trading players like JVR, Bozak and the list goes on. I’m sure they could get back a decent Left D and draft pick for him.

      • I often times enjoy my coffee reading the posts of “I said” – “you said” bantering which hopefully stays friendly. It is really entertaining. What would be interesting if some expert data collector could keep track of who was closest to being right. Maybe at the start of the season an award could be given and that person could be deemed “The Resident Expert”.

  5. If that’s your belief then (IF you’re a Sens fan) you need to be content and accepting of Tkachuk getting a fair offer rather than an overpay–call Melnyk cheap. HE IS CHEAP but if you don’t want to be hamstrung by giant contracts……be willing to part ways with the asset for the long term benefit of the team.

    • Point to ONE concrete, documented example where you can prove he’s “cheap.” Just one,

      • How about trading Zibanejad for Brassard?

  6. I can simply google Ottawa area contractors who he still owes money too. The parking fiasco after the most recent ECF.
    Forcing PD to trade Stone….trading a whole host of people WHO….it would have taken more money than he was willing to spend to keep. And that’s the crux. Is that cheap. In this—a rich man’s game…it is.

  7. Nobody forced anyone to trade Stone – he admitted that the money and term offered was good but that, since it was clear they were headed into a full-scale re-build, at his stage of his career he wanted to play for a contender. Duschene said the same thing. Karlsson and Hoffman and their personal issue were becoming a distraction and Dorion decided he wanted no part of that. Ask SJ if they’d do that Karlsson deal over, Hell, ask Ottawa if they’d take him back – at any price. Hoffman has since been allowed to walk as a UFA by two teams despite his scoring ability. Coincidence?

    As for those contractors do you know the whole inside story? And what does that have to do with his hockey team?

    All you’ve done is drag up the same old BS that’s been rehashed over and over. Quit watching Top Shelf on YouTube.

  8. Leaf talk is starting to surface again. Wendel17 where art thou?

  9. George. We can agree to disagree.
    Or we can both start googling and disagreeing on the results.

    He saved the franchise. Then some savvy GMs and players saved him from having to sell.

    • All I was asking Dark G, are some names from that “whole host” you say left because Melnyk wouldn’t fork over what they were seeking.

      I provided 4 links which shows 4 names, anyway, two of whom admitted what was offered in term and money was more than fair but that they just wanted to go to a contender. The other 2 – which upset a lot of fans – who never dig deeper than the name on the back of the jersey they bought – were out of here regardless – and neither would ever be brought back under any term or $$ amount.

      The only lamentable loss was Pageau – who I always liked for his tenacity, especially in playoff hockey. But with his diminutive size and seeking – and getting – a 6 year deal which would have seen him repeatedly knocked down the C pecking order back of Norris, Pinto, likely Stutzle at some point, and even White, it was simply not doable here.

      I’m glad he wound up with a team like the Islanders, however.

  10. Not sure why GMs always get sucked into term. I would be fine with short term deals. If anything cap space has been proven to be king. Forces players to bet on themselves and keeps teams in the win now mode. In other words keeps everyone honest. Of course you go the max term for generational talent but other then that 4 years or less.

  11. When was the last time Ottawa wasn’t flirting with the cap floor?

    How many times has Ottawa used dead cap space to get past the floor before the freeze?

    That’s what makes the Sens how should we say, frugal.

    All the rest is spin.

    • When you’re near – or headed to the bottom – it would be stupid to the nth degree to be spending to the cap on useless players.

      When they were in contention – and not that many years ago – it was the policy of both Murray and then Dorion to always leave $4 to $5 mil in cap space in order to be able to bring in trades late in the season for a playoff push, rather than be flush up against the limit and ham-strung in that regard.

      Murray always insisted on that and Dorion followed suit as recently as that playoff run that ended in double-OT against the eventual cup winners, Pittsburgh.

      It’s a policy choice – and had/has nothing to do with “frugality.” But you go ahead and keep pushing that crap narrative. Anyone who knows anything about the team and isn’t just a Senators pom-pom waving fanboy will know whereof I speak. That’s the sort who STILL think we should have held onto Karlsson.

  12. HabsFan, How much do you want to bet that the Habs finish out of the playoffs this year?

    Name the stakes, my friend.

    • Make your comment interesting nevinsrip: why not, who will, and why?

      I have a wall to paint. Some interesting comments will make the day more enjoyable, so how about it?

    • One way to make these kinds of long-distance bets viable is for the loser to, say, refrain from posting for 2 months – or whatever.

  13. nevinsrip,

    I’m not a betting man but I don’t think any team in the Atlantic is guaranteed to be in the playoffs this year. 🙂