NHL Rumor Mill – October 27, 2021

by | Oct 27, 2021 | Rumors | 54 comments

Should the struggling Maple Leafs fire their coach or trade a big-name player? Are the Golden Knights pursuing a trade for Sabres center Jack Eichel? Should the Avalanche also try to acquire him? Check out the latest in today’s NHL rumor mill.

SPORTSNET: Daily Faceoff’s Frank Seravalli appeared on Sportnet 590’s FAN Morning Show to discuss the Toronto Maple Leafs’ options as they endure a slow start to this season. He believes they face three options. They could replace head coach Sheldon Keefe, trade a big-name player like Mitch Marner or “triple down” and stick with the roster they’ve built.

Toronto Maple Leafs winger Mitch Marner (NHL Images).

Seravalli doesn’t see them firing Keefe as he just got a contract extension. Marner could have value in the trade market despite his offensive struggles stretching back to the 2021 playoffs. However, Seravalli doesn’t believe they’re at that point. He sees them sticking with their roster and waiting for them to overcome their slow start.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Keefe hasn’t been helped by the steady depletion of roster depth over the last two offseasons. The loss of gritty heart-and-soul forward Zach Hyman to free agency this summer was a significant blow. They remain top-heavy at forward, lacking skilled depth throughout their checking lines and defense corps.

Marner’s hefty contract ensures he’s not going anywhere during this season, especially with only a handful of teams carrying $10 million or more in cap space. His $10.9 million deal is difficult for another club to absorb during the season. The earliest Marner could hit the trade block is in the offseason, assuming the Leafs face-plant in the first round again or fail to reach the postseason. That’s usually when stars with big contracts get dealt.

For now, of course, it’s still too early to talk about a big roster shakeup by the Leafs. As Seravalli indicated, they’ll stick with their current roster in anticipation of them turning things around soon.

DAILY FACEOFF: Seravalli also reports there’s been “increased chatter” between the Vegas Golden Knights and the Buffalo Sabres about Jack Eichel in recent days. Eichel and the Sabres remain at a standoff over which medical procedure he’ll receive for a herniated disc in his neck. There’s speculation he could file a grievance through the NHLPA if there’s no resolution to the impasse soon.

The Golden Knights’ interest could depend on the status of winger Mark Stone. He carries a $9.5 million salary cap hit but is currently sidelined with what Servalli called a back injury. It’s uncertain how long he’ll be out but the Golden Knights could be holding their cards close to the vest in hope of making an Eichel deal work. He also mentioned the possibility of a third-party broker getting involved to make this work from a financial standpoint.

THE DENVER POST: Mark Kiszla believes the struggling Colorado Avalanche should beat the Golden Knights to the punch and acquire Eichel. He acknowledged the difficulty from a salary-cap viewpoint as well as the risk posed by the uncertainty over Eichel’s medical condition. Nevertheless, he felt that might be better than Eichel scoring a clutch goal for the Golden Knights against the Avalanche in the playoffs.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Golden Knights have long been linked to Eichel and he would address their glaring need for an elite first-line center. They’re sitting over the $81.5 million salary cap but are getting nearly $12 million in cap relief with Max Pacioretty (lower-body fracture) and Alex Tuch (shoulder surgery) on long-term injury reserve. They could get $9.5 million more if Stone ends up there too.

Acquiring Eichel now and letting him undergo disc replacement surgery could mean waiting weeks or months before he’s ready to play again. Pacioretty and Tuch, meanwhile, will return to the lineup later this season, meaning the Golden Knights must be cap complaint when Eichel makes his return.

The Golden Knights would also have to give up three roster players as part of the deal. Reilly Smith, Peyton Krebs and Nicolas Hague were part of the Sabres’ reported asking price back in July. If the Sabres won’t lower that price it would further deplete their roster, knocking them out of playoff contention by the time Eichel is ready to play.

A third-party broker might mean the Golden Knights won’t have to give up as much to get Eichel, but that third team would still want a significant return to absorb a healthy chunk of the center’s $10 million annual cap hit. It would still leave Vegas’ lineup depleted and struggling.

The same goes for the Avalanche. They were rumored to have looked into the cost of acquiring Eichel but they don’t seem to be seriously pursuing it.


  1. I can’t wait until the Vegas roster is entirely filled with players making $9m+.

    Can they win with eight skaters and Lehner?

    • Not sure I follow your line of thought gargsy.

      Their 3 highest cap hits are

      Stone – $9.5 mil – 6 years to run when he’ll be 34
      Pietrangelo – $8.8 mil – 6 years to run – he’ll be 37
      Pacioretty – $7 mil – 2 years to run – he’ll be 35

      the last two probably won’t be re-upped when they become UFAs

      Same applies to several of the next highest batch

      Karlsson – $5.9 – 6 years to run – he’ll be 34
      Marchessault – $5 mil 3 years to go – he’ll be 33
      Dadonov – $5 mil – 2 years to go – he’ll be 34
      Martinez – $5,250,000 – 3 years to go – he’ll be 36
      Theodore – $5.2 mil – 4 years to go – he’ll be 29 and maybe looking for a raise to that level
      Lehner – $5 mil – 4 years to go – he’ll be 33 and perhaps retained at an increase
      Tuch – $4,750,000 – 5 years to go – he’ll be 29

      None of their RFAs will be looking at $9 mil any time soon.

      Seems to me they’ve managed their cap better than many.

  2. If Buffalo want Reilly Smith they can sign him next year for zip he is an UFA. In my opinion theirs not much Buffalo would want except maybe Krebs. If I’m Buffalo I want one good player a prospect and two firsts.

    • This trajectory of 9 million plus players under a flat and uncertain cap will lead to what gargsy said….teams won’t be able to fill a full roster.

      With regard to Toronto, the problem is clear as day…overpaid figure skaters, defensemen with muffin shots from the point, puck possession to boost analytics but don’t generate goals or keep pucks out of their own net, no grit, no forechecking, no back checking, no one in front of the net, constant passing and always on the periphery.

      This team won’t even make the playoffs at this pace.

      Recommended solutions:

      1. Ask Tavares to waive his NMC.
      2. If he waived it trade him for assets.
      3. If he doesn’t waive it strip him of the captaincy and have him focus on defensive duties. He’s aging in between periods and has two lead feet. He looks like a middle aged man in a men’s league out there.
      4. Strip Marner of the alternate captain. It was all about him in negotiations and the money grab led to this salary cap quagmire. He was useless in playoffs and it’s become clear he has no interest in getting the eggs in his pockets broken with any contact. If he continues to play scared he should be put in the doghouse like Babcock did.
      5. Have GM KD explain why Wayne Simmonds is on this team. What exactly does he do other than fight every 15-20 games?
      6. Put Spezza on top line and have the overpaid figure skaters sit on the bench and embarrass their carcasses.
      7. Give them 20 games to get to the top of their division. Can’t do it by s quarter of the season hand out the pink slips from top of the chain to the locker room.

      Been a Leafs fan all my life. Have suffered like many others watching bad teams overachieve but never a good team underachieve.

      It is pathetic. They ought to be embarrassed.

      • I feel your pain. You make some good points but won’t happen. Biggest mistake was getting rid of Lamoriello.

      • to TML: Eakin, Okposo, Girgensons & a Gilbert Perrault Jersey

        to Buf: Tavares (provided he waives)


      • I’m starting to feel the same way about the Avalanche? Couldn’t believe the lack of effort to begin the game last night against Vegas! What more incentive do they need? They were bounced out of the playoffs by them last year. Here is the perfect game for them to exact some revenge for last year and they don’t show up until it’s too late. Something wrong with this teams mindset IMO. MacKinnon and Miko need to simplify their game. Landeskog brings it every night but I don’t understand how they can sleepwalk when the puck drops? Coach Bednar keeps saying the same things now every year, “I don’t like our starts”. When is this going to change? The Avalanche have a problem between their ears man. Just play and quit jackin around. I’m tired of the excuses, this team is too good to just go through the motions. GO AVS!!!!!

      • Frank for GM!

  3. Lyle, saw an article posted by Soectors concerning possible grievance by Eichel. Is it possible Buffalo could allow disc replacement and use avoiding grievance as cover for caving in?

    • Anything’s possible, Slick, but the Sabres have the CBA on their side. The odds are in their favor if Eichel goes the grievance route.

      • True. Good article though.
        I like points about 2nd and 3rd opinions. Eichel has been gathering multiple opinions. Why have that in cba if Buffalo not willing to even consider?

  4. Why is it Marner that needs to be moved? Where has the captain been (that is the worst contract on the team – I know he would be near impossible to move due to no move etc.)? Also everyone tip toes around Matthews he has not been lighting it up either. Go look at his playoff points vs Marners. I would trade the guy who is more than likely not here after his contract and would net you more value move Matthews. This would allow you to round out the lineup and improve the D

    • If TML needs depth players I hear AZ has a ton of them on 1 yr deals to trade Marner for LOL

    • Rudy, Matthews missed the pre-season following wrist surgery. His goals will come soon enough.

      THE primary reason guys like him and Marner don’t score or rack up points with the same frequency in the playoffs as they do in the regular season is twofold: 1) there are no dud teams still left once the playoffs start against which to score multiple goals in a game, and 2) opposing teams give them extra attention and little room to manoeuvre, knowing the scoring drops off considerably once you get to the other lines.

      The issue of spending over 50% of the cap on 4 players has been brought up often, including the resulting inability to retain the best of the “other 19” – such as Hyman this year and probably Rielly next season, and perhaps even Campbell.

      That falls on Dubas, although – to cut him some slack – he did that figuring the cap would continue its upward trend, and at a pace better than $1 mil. No one saw the pandemic coming and its consequences on gate income and season length for 2 straight years.

      Nor is Toronto the only team in that boat. Maybe it’s time the league recognized the unforeseen effects and install some relief formula until such time as the teams can complete a full season with full capacities.

      • Hyman was there last playoffs and contributed nothing either.

        When injuries left them with one offensive line with one trick, it was too easy to shut down the scoring, out coach them, and Price out goaltended them.

    • Matthews is the best in the league

      • Hardly. The Leafs would trip all over themselves if Holland offered McDavid even up for Matthews.

  5. Well, the Habs are now the first casualty of the regular season playoff race. After another pathetic game last night and losses in 6 of 7 games, they have effectively reduced their schedule to 76 games while the rest of the league plays an 82 game schedule.

    Let’s have a contest for the best line describing the Habs. Here’s my entry:

    If my Hoover sucked as hard as the Habs I’d only have to vacuum once a year.

    • After watching the Habs/Kraken game last night if I didn’t know better I would have taken Montreal as the first year expansion team. Gosh, the Habs were awful once again. Somebody has to step up and grab the leadership role. Weber is not coming back and Price is any bodies guess

  6. Marner to the Anaheim Ducks for Jamie Drysdale , Richard Rankell plus a 2nd round pick
    The Leafs need to Shake up this core. Sandin and Drysdale give you option to send Rielly to LA or Seattle

    • Why would Anaheim do that?

    • Ya George, Drysdale’s a keeper by the looks of his play so far and the kid was a gamer for Canada in the WJ’s. Shows character.
      Like FD said, if Marner made $4M less…

  7. Anaheim says….”hold $4 mill or beat it” !

  8. For a long time, I thought it was the quality of the players on the team that determined the outcome of the games/season. However, with parity and the competitiveness of post-expansion/salary cap NHL, the talent in the NHL is probably at its highest its been for some time. Team management develops a personnel plan, picks the players to fill in those spots, and then its up the the coach to push the X&Os. Motivation should be a part of job description as well, however, at this level, pros should need much of that (they should come with it).
    That said, was watching the Amazon All or Nothing on the Leafs. Keefe spends a lot of time screaming and yelling his message. Hey I get it…. this is how to motivate younger players….but professional hockey players? Thinking this method has a short life span.
    Dubas is stuck with the players he has. A behind the bench change is all he has, fully realizing he canned one of the most success bench bosses (yes, I know his tactics were not cool). Can Dubas bring in a 3rd guy and still keep his job?

    • Sure, why not? Look at Bergevin- he’s already on coach #3 and coach #4 is likely to arrive any day now.

    • Agree with the first part on motivation Wingnut. Speeches from the coach trying to motivate mean squat. This ain’t Hollywood and Any Given Sunday (was a great speech though).
      To your point he is there to teach the X’s & O’s and get everybody on the same page. If a few do their own thing it all falls apart as the speed of the game requires knowing where guys will be so decisions happen quicker. On both sides of the puck.

      They are pros, if they aren’t ready to play, get new pros. And no it isn’t “leadership”. You have the wrong guys.

      No idea if that is the issue with the Leafs, haven’t watched them yet.

      • The difficulty with your suggestion of getting new pros is that if they are self motivated and ready to play, why would a GM give them up and then have to look for other self motivated pros to take their place?

        Was never a Messier fan, but you might be. This excerpt from an interview might be of interest to you on the topic of what it takes to win:


      • Fair point LJ, and never said it would be easy! You don’t trade those guys. I think the Oil have quite a few now.
        Wasn’t a Messier fan as didn’t live in EDM during his era, and the Oil had a tendency to beat my Bruins and he played on the edge at times.
        Did respect his success though.

        We test for self-motivation (desire to succeed) amongst other things, before we interview people. If they candidate doesn’t test high in that category we don’t interview them. It is critical. You’re in it to win in business as well.

        Wasn’t a believer in those tests at first, and while not perfect as some people try to manipulate the results, I use them all the time now. I took it to see what it said and gave results to my wife. It was bang on according to her.

      • Ray, Bruce Boudreau is the answer. Even if the Leafs keep playing bad hockey, Leaf fans can enjoy watching Gabby behind the bench and in post-game interviews.
        Pretty sure Sheldon Keefe has a pulse but he keeps it well-hidden.

      • Luv Bruce BCLeafFan, they used to have a Filthy Bruce segment on TSN 1260 here in Edmonton. Priceless.

        The flat cap screwed the Leafs more than any other team just because of the timing. The B’s signed most of their big deals 5-7 years ago so look good now. Leafs sucked at the wrong time and had to pay good players right before Covid.

        Never did like the Tavares signing as they had Kadri on a good deal. The opportunity cost bothered me more than my thoughts of him as a player.

    • Don’t overlook Shanahan, Wingnut. In his 7th year of the “re-build” he has the ultimate responsibility for the current state of affairs.

      Looking ahead to next season, and assuming the cap rises by just $1 mil as projected by Daley, they have $68, 614,783 committed to 14 players (59% of which is accounted for by the “core 4”). With the $1 mil increase in the cap that leaves them with $13,885,217 to sign 9.

      Their 5 RFAs (Kase, Engvall, Amadio, Sandin and Liljegren) currently account for $5,007,500. Assuming modest increases for each to say, a combined cap expenditure of $7 mil, they’ll then have $6,885,217 with which to sign 4.

      Right off you can say goodbye to all 3 UFAs (Rielly – coming off $5 mil per – Campbell – coming off $1,650,000 per – and Mikheyev – coming off $1,645,000 per). They don’t have enough to even pay them the current cumulative total of $8,295,000, and to retain all 3 you’re looking at something closer to $14 mil.

      I suppose it’s fine to say they’ll just let some of those RFAs walk and maybe Mikheyev and fill out the gaps with ELC deals from the Marlies. But are there any on that team capable of stepping in and effectively replacing those allowed to walk?

      Dubas has a rough row to hoe there.

      • You are missing Spezza as a UFA, arguably their best player right now.

      • Didn’t miss him John … just figured he’d be one of those on the roster at the ELC contract level if he continues to seek a position at the bargain-basement $750,000.

      • As was posted here earlier- “ let Lamoriello go too soon”! His discipline, roster manipulation & just his no nonsense way would’ve worked wonders over these last 2-3 yrs

  9. 50% retained Kessel and Hayton plus a 2nd to TML
    Marner to AZ?

    • Wait a minute. So Arizona, with current cap space of $9,487,775 retains half of Kessell’s $6,800,000 and, with Marner’s cap hit of $10,903,000, adds $14,303,000. While also relinquishing the 5th overall pick in 2018 (LW/C Barrett Hayton) AND a 2nd round pick, for a guy that many think Toronto should get rid of because he is way overpaid for what be brings to the table?

      How does doing the Leafs a favour work to Arizona’s advantage?

      • Marner 24 grows with core of AZ.

        Cannot always be rebuilding.

        Perhaps not a 2nd to boot if my choices are Marner or Hayton I am choosing Marner.

        Plus cap hit next year keeps them above floor when all their 1 yr contracts are up.

  10. Something to consider for the folks loving to dump on Shanahan and Dubas daily, instead of gloating in hindsight, accept the thinking at the time.

    Tavares was signed to a 7 yr $77 million.
    Lou Lamoriello GM of NYI at the time offered Tavares an 8 yr $90 million contract.

    Tavares left money on the table to sign in Toronto.

    • The Leafs’ self made cap problems are because of the cumulative effects of 4 signings, not one. It has never been about Tavares himself, so citing his signing in isolation is off point.

      • Exactly.

    • Building a roster with a salary cap is like doing a puzzle. Tavares fit the puzzle in NY. He did not fit the puzzle in Toronto. Look at those puzzles now. This is on a shortsighted rookie GM trying to make a big splash.

    • Yes, but Lamoriello didn’t also have to sign Nylander, Marner and Matthews in Long Island. Signing Tavares was a mistake – should of used the $11 million to improve the defense and provide more talent in the bottom six. Also the $11 million became the benchmark for the above named players.

    • Hi HF30

      Yes technically $11.25 M per is more (than his $11 M from Leafs) ; and yes… Isles were giving him an 8th year…. So if he payed out his contract …. And setting aside escrow…. $13 M gross more… and putting the two annuals $11.25and $11 M into the GavinGroup tax calculator for the respective cities over the term… JT would have $9.6 M less total (over term) take-home in T.O.

      That said… the big difference in the two offers is guaranteed money. No one knows for sure but TSN “reported” (Dreger and Friedman) that the $90 M Isles offer included only a total of $5M guaranteed (SB)….. Leafs offer guarantees $71 M in SBs

      With that… it could be argued that Tavares got a better offer in Toronto…. He’s already pocketed over $52 M (that’s gross not take home) for 3 years and a handful of games

      Take a look at Isles contracts in CapFriendly …. Very very few SBs… mostly low relative to Sal, and only for 1 year

      JT was coming to play for his hometown team, got $71 M guaranteed….. I’m not JT and I can’t possibly know what his thought process is or was…..

      But if it were me…

      getting offered to go to play for my hometown team, signing a contract at 27 years old; and comparing $71 M to $5M guaranteed; with the worst case scenario of playing one less year (7 vs 8) and after the 7 years only taking home $9.6 M less (again that’s over 8years)…. With possibly even the thought (at that time when he’s 27) that at the end of the Leaf contract he could sign 1 more year to be with Leafs (@34) and with Sals and Cap increasing (they were big time in 2018 when he signed with T.O.) for prob $7 M ($11 M per in 2018 prob projected to $14M’sh per in July of 2025, so he’d be re-upping at 50%) ….. then his take home loss is nearer $6M over the contract….. all that taken into account… to me….the Leafs offer is more attractive…

      leaving $ on the table is factual and accurate (assuming full term contract… absolutely no challenge….you are correct…. but as I said, for me… Leafs offer was much better

      • With the benefit of hindsight, would they do it any differently now?

  11. Tired of all the people trashing Marner. He is a true superstar in this league. He is exciting to watch and drives the play and plays in all situations. He will only get better as he is only 24. Is he over paid yes but not by $4M. He is paid for the total length of the contract. I’m confident in the next two years it will be a good value contract. Leafs fan be careful what you wish for. If traded he will be the the super star Toronto will wish they had. Funny Panarin’s contract is considered good value at $11.6M per year and he is 29. Very similar player.

    • Panarin is a very good player, as is Marner.
      Value isn’t a word I would use for either contract though.

      My guess is the Leafs get it going and back to pushing for a playoff spot, unless there is something seriously wrong in the room. Teams go through tough stretches, just stands out more when it’s at the beginning.

      They will lose another quality player next year and if that keeps happening you obviously get worse. That seems self evident.

      Might be time to rethink the big 4.

  12. When the Leafs’ braintrust loaded up on highly paid superstar forwards, I (and many others) wondered if they were concentrating too much cap space in too few players. The ongoing death-by-a-thousand-cuts to the roster is an inevitable outcome.
    Maybe we wouldn’t be having this conversation if the pandemic hadn’t happened and the cap ceiling hadn’t frozen, but here we are.
    The Leafs are playing without determination, heart and desire, and there might be a problem with the coaching staff. We know, however, that there’s definitely an issue with roster composition and salary structure.Mark

  13. Been a Leaf fan since the 1950s. In my books they have had enough time. Marner IMO is not a star in this league. Matthews is a star but not interested in success as a Leaf. Dubas is a good guy so far undewater he can’t see the surface. Keefe has been outcoached each of the 2 playoffs. Tavarres while a contributor to the Leafs was a contract that turned into a ancor.

    I think this rebuild has been given a fair chance. It is time to clean out the management offices and tradethe 3 players mentioned above for fair value or a little less.Start the next rebuild ASAP

    The next ” stars” need to be D men and a good goalie. Offence wins games….defense championships

  14. 2/3 of the teams in the league have cap problems with or without a “big 4”.

    It isn’t as if the bottom 3rd cap teams are in the running or even close to it.

    TML management has spent the money to build a winning team and the regular season success in recent years is to be lauded.

    As mentioned before Dubas signed Tavares for less than the NYI offer.
    Matthews is paid like the top goal scorers that he is.
    Marner is point per game player since he’s 20.
    Nylander’s contract will soon be a bargain.

    TBL has $30 million in the top 3 and BriseBois is a genius.
    TML has $33 million in the top 3 and Dubas is a bum

    Obviously I’m not a TML fan but they are very good and while there are holes on the team they aren’t unique in that sense.

    • That is a fair argument HF30.
      Just would point out the Tampa’s Big 3 are a Forward, D-man and Goalie.

      TML are heavy up front.

    • habfan30 you’re right but I think the problem is just people’s evaluations of players and teams. Superstars should be plaid as such and do a team some point…it’s like pay now or pay later.

      If you can put aside the cap being flat for a couple of years hurt a lot of teams and definitely hurt the Leafs. I guess the Leafs are to blame for that.
      It’s not a bad thing to pay 80+pts players over $9M but it is bad paying over $7M to a 40-50pt player.

      Going back to evaluating players, What is the best way of doing that’ so we can have some baselines?

    • It is NOT a question of “dumping on” – what it is is simply looking at the limitations of the cap and coming to the valid conclusion that, in such a system, you cannot pay over 50% of your cap to 4 or 5 players and expect to have a solid roster overall, with the ability to retain the best of the rest when they reach free agency.

      Quit preaching – or go open a church somewhere.

  15. Did the Makar overpayment lead to overpayments to other Avalanche players or to other D around the league?

    Had Tavares signed with NYI (more money) Matthews and Marner would still have used that contract and Nylander would probably have gotten a better contract.

    Piling on Dubas (and Bergevin) is a sport for too many experts imho.

  16. Whenever a player signs a contract, I am sure that agents will use that as a comparable in trying to get their client signed. Having said that, it’s easier for the agent to make his case, if the comparable is a teammate. Once Tavares signed at $11 million in Toronto, Dubas had to and did pay his 2 other stars similar money on an AAV basis. If Tavares stayed in NY and Nylander, Marner, Matthews still got their existing contracts, there would be an extra $11 million dollars to improve the team. The Tavares contract is not going to age well. It was a mistake given that they had Marner, Matthews, Nylander, Kapanen and Hyman. I am not an expert but the proof is in the pudding.