NHL Rumor Mill – November 1, 2022

by | Nov 1, 2022 | Rumors | 41 comments

The Leafs’ shaky start to this season is a growing concern to their followers. Could it lead to changes in the front office, behind the bench or to the roster? Read on for the latest in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.

TORONTO SUN: Steve Simmons believes the Maple Leafs 4-4-2 start to this season isn’t something to be taken lightly. He feels the club is heading toward an implosion that could lead to big changes depending on their upcoming performances against the Philadelphia Flyers, Boston Bruins, Carolina Hurricanes and Vegas Golden Knights.

Simmons puts the blame squarely on the performance of the Leafs players, especially during their losses to three of the worst teams in the league in Arizona, San Jose and Anaheim. He singled out core players Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, John Tavares and William Nylander for not playing up to expectations.

Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews (NHL Images).

Simmons acknowledged the Leafs have a banged-up defense corps. Nevertheless, he believes their best players must improve while their worst need to get better. He also criticizes general manager Kyle Dubas for not providing head coach Sheldon Keefe with a roster suitable for success.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Some of the Leafs defenders point out that they were 4-4-2 at the same point in 2021-22 and wound up with a franchise-best 115-point season. Others, however, point to the poor performance of their best players as one of the more concerning issues compared to this time last season.

The Leafs have questionable goaltending and a defense that when healthy isn’t deep enough to make them a serious Stanley Cup contender. Nevertheless, they have sufficient talent to be playing better than they currently are even with an injury-riddled blueline.

Maybe they’ll snap out of their current doldrums and turn things around during that upcoming stretch of games mentioned by Simmons. If they don’t, however, this situation could lead to a coaching change or a roster shakeup.

THE ATHLETIC: James Mirtle suggests the Leafs could need a trade to snap out of their current tailspin. He reminds us that Dubas has had some success with in-season trades, pointing to the acquisitions of Jake Muzzin, Jack Campbell, Ilya Lyubushkin and Mark Giordano. With Muzzin on long-term injury reserve, it frees up a large chunk of his $5.6 million cap hit to put toward acquisitions.

Mirtle suggested Dubas could shop some of his underperforming players to free up more cap space. Justin Holl ($2 million), Pierre Engvall ($2.25 million), Alex Kerfoot ($3.5 million) or Nicolas Aube-Kubel ($1 million) could be trade candidates, with bigger names perhaps becoming available if the losing continues.

Given the Leafs need to address their puck-moving issues among their defensemen, Mirtle suggested Arizona’s Jakob Chychrun or Anaheim’s John Klingberg as possible options. Others included Columbus’ Vladislav Gavrikov, New Jersey’s Damon Severson or Arizona’s Shayne Gostisbehere.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Leafs were reportedly interested in acquiring Ethan Bear from the Carolina Hurricanes but didn’t want to part with a draft pick. He wound up shipped last Friday to the Vancouver Canucks.

That indicates Dubas is looking around for help in the trade market. Finding a suitable return will be difficult at this point in the season given how many clubs have limited salary-cap space but it’s not impossible. However, it could require some creativity on his part, including parting with a quality draft pick or a promising prospect.

Mirtle acknowledged Chychrun’s injury history well as the Coyotes’ high asking price. Klingberg could be a more affordable option in terms of return and perhaps the Ducks would retain some of his $7 million cap hit for the right offer. However, Jamie Drysdale’s potentially season-ending shoulder injury could force the Ducks to hang onto Klingberg for a while.

Gostisbehere could be a possibility as he won’t cost nearly as much as Chychrun to get from the Coyotes. I don’t see the Blue Jackets parting with Gavrikov given his solid all-around play and value to their blueline. The Devils are off to a terrific start and aren’t under any pressure right now to move Severson.

THE JEFF MAREK SHOW (stick tap to NHL Watcher): Elliotte Friedman believes Auston Matthews will sign a contract extension with the Maple Leafs. He doesn’t necessarily believe it’ll be a long-term deal.

Friedman is concerned about things going off the rails. He doesn’t believe the 24-year-old center is currently unhappy but felt the Leafs have to “constantly take his temperature”.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The earliest Matthews can sign with the Leafs is July 1, 2023. He’s slated to become an unrestricted free agent a year later. It’s interesting that Friedman believes he’d sign a short-term extension. Perhaps it would be a three-year deal taking him up to age 30.

Of course, as Friedman also points out, it will depend on whether Matthews is happy with the direction of the Leafs. If things do go off the rails, he could decide to test the market on July 1, 2024.


  1. The leafs will eventually pull out of it too many good players, but I don’t think they will do much in the playoffs the most important position, much as I’d love to have another Bobby Orr, the most important position bar-none is goaltending without you’re screwed the leafs don’t have it. Even with Chuck back would like to have a Lawson Crouse on the team

  2. Auston Matthews for Logan Cooley and Jakob Chychrun.

    • Right now? If the Coyotes would ever trade for Matthews (or even Nylander, I’ve thought about WN for JC) it would have to be before free agency starts. The AZ Coyotes are budgeted for tanking. Getting AM would involve spending to the cap and bringing in players that the Coyotes would need to be more competitive.

      • WHS,
        if the Coyotes Get the Aprovial for a New Arena.. and are still in Arizona in 2024…thats where Austin Mathews will go as a UFA
        in july 2024❓

        Thinking outside the Box
        Mathews could do a 1 year deal with a NMC to win the cup with a contender ……..maybe with his Good buddy Oilers Captian Connor McDavid🤔….⁉️

        Mathews is more than likly thinking i got to get of the merey go Round in Toronto if i want to win a Cup…..😳

      • Ya Willie w hopefully when Mathews leave like you and others hope, err suspect he’ll leave a big hole in the Leafs cap space which they can sign McD with. We all know he wanted to be a Leaf, right?

  3. 1) The Jackets aren’t going to trade Gavvy since he’s the only d-man who is playing good defense and is not a rookie.
    2) Toronto is, IMHO, screwed. Tying up $40/MM on four forwards was dumb and is getting dumber. Dubas and Shanahan should pay for this massive error and Keefe may have lost the room.

    • No offence but Im so tired of WN being bunched together with the other 3 in a 40m heap. He makes 4m less than MM and JT and almost 5m less than AM. He has a fair cap hit for what he brings, JT and MM does not while AM usually brings what he costs. WN has trade value, JT does not and MM has low trade value at that cap hit.

  4. Marner for Karlsson ($2M retained) + Riemer

    • I like how you think Johnny. However, you still might not have the Dman you need defensively with Karlsson. At least it would put the Sharks in contention for Berard without those two, and give them a tradable asset in Mariner, who I’m sure they would get rid of at the trade deadline if they could.

  5. Give me a break leafs are 4-4-2, Matthews is a notorious slow starter.

    Yes they lost to some teams they shouldn’t have, every team does.

    Barry Trots wants to coach an original 6 team. hmmm does he have any ties to the Soo grey Hounds?

    Toronto is a playoff team, are they deep enough to win, that i don’t think they are there today.

    • didnt he open his career with 4 goals?

    • The main difference between last year to this year is the teams that the Leafs lost to. Arizona, Anaheim, and San Jose are three of the worst teams in the NHL this season. LA is the only team that the Leafs lost to that was a playoff team last year.
      Last season Pittsburgh, Carolina, and NYR, three of the five losses last season (including the O.T. loss to NYR) were all playoff teams. Ottawa and San Jose were the other two losses.
      Matthews isn’t historically a slow starter, it has just been the past couple of seasons where he started slow. He has more seasons with strong starts than slow starts.

  6. I love Leafs fans…..bwahahahaha.

    Y’all make Dallas Cowboy fans and NY Yankee fans seem quiet and reserved. Bwahahahaha…..

  7. “Some of the Leafs defenders point out that they were 4-4-2 at the same point in 2021-22 and wound up with a franchise-best 115-point season.”

    I love this argument, because the simple response is “and you’d be happy with this season ending the same way last season did?”

    • Garth, I think the simple point they are making, and that I have made, is that is is only 10 games and they are just outside a playoff spot.
      Pasted from a Sportsnet article I read yesterday showing the starts of the last 5 cup winners:

      • 2017-18 Washington: 5-6-1
      • 2018-19 St. Louis: 3-4-3
      • 2019-20 Tampa Bay: 6-4-2
      • 2020-21 Tampa Bay: 4-1-1
      • 2021-22 Colorado: 4-4-0

      Not suggesting the Leafs win the cup, just that all teams have ups and downs. Good ones included.

      Leafs had a 115 points last year, major change in net. Who knows where this goes, but way too early to panic. Now if they get more injuries…. gonna be tough.

      • I get that all teams have ups and downs, but people who “aren’t worried” are pointing to last season as a success, when only a few short months ago they (not all, of course, but enough) were calling for a full housecleaning of the entire front office.

        If this were Colorado or Tampa (or hell, even Edmonton) there might be an argument, but when you’re pointing to last year’s extension of playoff inefficiency as something to strive for this year, there’s a MASSIVE problem.

        Nobody in Leafs Nation will be happy if they end up with 115 points in the regular season and lose in the first round. In fact, if that happens they’re going to be doing what they’re doing right now, comparing this season to last season, and calling for Dubas’s, Keefe’s and Shanny’s heads again.

      • Fair enough Garth, I get the frustration for Leaf fans, I live in EDM. Heck my B’s haven’t advanced past 2nd round since 2019. Happens, just need to keep getting to the dance, and yes change what you can to help that and stay cap compliant.

        I would be willing to bet at least $100, that if the Leafs don’t get out of RD 1, Dubas will be gone, maybe Shany too.

        If it is all about the playoffs, and I get why Leaf fans say that, all that really matters is you get in and a so so regular season doesn’t really mean that much does it? Maybe the players feel the same.

        I dunno, but I would be surprised if they don’t get in, unless of course if Samsonov (has been pretty good hasn’t he?) or Matthews gets a long term injury.

      • Not to be a Debbie downer but that success the Keafs had last year largely had to do with losing like 1 or 2 games in Nov plus Campbell was lights out that month.
        I highly doubt they will repeat that. The only saving grace for all fans is that ten games in and everyone but the devils, Buffalo and Bs have shown up to play.

  8. All the leafs have is the regular season, and if they don’t have that, what do their poor fans have?

    Their story is all about a Management Failure for failing to manage. The overpaid top 4 which meant you had 40.5 M to fill out the final 18 roster spots. That is a failed concept. Only deep teams win when it matters, and it’s been clear for years this team isn’t able to win.

    The rebuild failed, and it’s beyond over. Ownership has failed to act on Management that clearly is inept. What are they waiting for?

    What possible reason would Matthews have to want to stay for more of this? At the end of the season, which in Toronto is ALWAYS during the first round, Matthews will let them know he won’t be re-signing, and that they should trade him elsewhere to start the next rebuild.

    Ownership and Management, by failing to act and change course in the face of the obvious, will have a rebuild thrust upon them whether by choice or failing to choose.

    “If you choose not to decide
    you still have made a choice”

    – Neil Peart

    • Pete, if the Leafs were “owned” by one individual who was as much concerned with winning as he/she is with the bottom line, you can bet there would have been changes in recent years.

      But the Leafs are owned by a conglomerate known as Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment Ltd., with decisions made by a committee chaired by Larry Tanenbaum, and as long as the $$$ keep rolling in through 100% attendance and merchandise sales, not to mention from the CBC and other sports outlets, apparently the committee, happy that the shareholders are happy, is not motivated by a burning desire to win – so the same old same old lingers on.

      • George, that same conglomerate owns the Raptors and Toronto FC, both of which have won championships recently.
        How does that work with your argument?

      • Their management got it right?

      • As per Toronto FC, they were having attendance issues which got Tanenbaum’s attention. Then they put some money into the management of the team, which turned into playoff success.
        Raptures haven’t had attendance issues.
        So George’s comment does have some weight to it.

      • Terrible, old argument that is an easy and lazy argument. Can’t prove it right or wrong because it based on baseless assumptions.

  9. Re “Mirtle suggested Dubas could shop some of his underperforming players to free up more cap space. Justin Holl ($2 million), Pierre Engvall ($2.25 million), Alex Kerfoot ($3.5 million) or Nicolas Aube-Kubel ($1 million) ”

    Shop … yes… “shop” is easy

    Who/where are the buyers in this “shop”…. ?????

    • The old I have some bad/very overpaid players, so other teams are dying to trade me a star player for….

    • Pengy, that’s what gets me about most of these so-called “journalists” like Mirtle. They toss out the names of 4 players contributing very little to the team’s fortunes, whose combined cap-hit is $8,750,000 and who, together, have produced 3g 4a 7 pts and are a -5 collectively, with 5 of those points (1g 4a) coming from the one who costs the most – Kerfoot – at $3.5 mil. But they never suggest, from their lofty media positions, exactly – or even “suggestively” who they think would take them.

      Frank, below, certainly isn’t wrong.

  10. Yes sloe start… same last year

    Yes record breaking season last year… anybody here actually believe they’ll match that this year

    Anybody here truly believe that the roster as is; is truly a cup contender next June?

    Perhaps an “implosion” as bandied above; could bring about the ling term changes needed (IMO) to get to the promised land….. a team built from the back end out and NOT with 1/2 the Cap on 4 FWDs

    People dump on MM; on JT etc

    However, IF (huge IF) they do move away from 1/2 Cap in 4 Fwds…. JT had full control … nix that idea

    Will they trade (in-year) the 60 goal scorer….. mmmmmm…. Nyet

    Will anybody take a n $11M MM….methinksnot

    That leaves two options…. WW for D upgrade; OR serious retention on MM for D upgrade

    …. and with “serious retention”.,.. that’s on the books for 2 more years…. and scrap any notion of buyout…. Saving a WHOPPING $0.5 M in 23/24 and 24/25

    Rock and a hard place… we all know how that position came about…. And no… it is nog on covid…. All teams hit with that

    Covid exacerbated it for sure; but did not cause it to happen

  11. Mistake to let Hyman walk. Mistake to let Mikheyev, Kase, Campbell and Lyabushkin walk for nothing. Replacements were out of a dumpster bin. They are all a downgrade.

    Holl and Engvall 6.5 giants that play with eggs in their pockets.

    Robertson, Malgin, Jarnkrok, Sandin are small and soft.

    Nylander afraid to break his fingernails.

    Simmonds and Clifford can barely skate to make a hit.

    Murray can’t stop a beachball.

    Muzzin constantly injured.

    Reilly snd Brodie have muffin shots from the point.

    Giordano and Tavares aging in between periods.

    Benn, Mete, Kral, Kallgren should be in the minors if not mens league.

    Aston-Reese and Aube-Kubel do nothing of substance.

    Marner throws a hissy fit can’t take constructive criticism along with his 10.9 million.

    Yep, a roster my 13 yr old can build on Sony PlayStation. That’s the only cup this roster will win.

    • Frank I am a big long long time Leaf fan and agree with everything you say.

      Dubas did not have the background and Shanahan bought a puppy while shopping for a dog.

      First move….if done by Shanahan….fire Dubas ….one thing Leaf haters forget is that those “elite” players have value….trade willie & Mitch….having got rid of the boys get some men in there on D strengthen the goalie position….Dubas has never had enough respect for goaltending, hitting and roughing the opposition up.

      Dubas’s actual theory of the game is wrong. It may be backed up BS baffles brains statistics but it is wrong. It reeks of being written by a nerd who never played the game.

      For those of you who think I am overreacting 10 games….know that I have been writing of the flaws in the Dubas plan here and other places for years.

      • LOL

  12. I’ve been reading these posts for years and today is my first time posting.
    While I understand the criticism the leafs get, coming from a wings fan that grew up watching the wings not get over hump for years as well as a long gap between cups, sometimes it just takes patience.
    Look at Washington, constant loses early in the playoffs until they finally won it all.
    I think Toronto has the talent to win one or more in the Matthew’s Era but I agree it will take a better defense and goalie core. Especially when. It comes to above the bottom pair and under Morgan Riley.

    Love reading all the posts.
    Take care!

    • Hey Christiopher Houlihan … welcome – and keep posting please – fresh ideas and comments always welcome.

      Detroit did have some good runs under Babcock and now Yzerman has them on the right track to eventually get back into the mix.

      When you say “but I agree it will take a better defense and goalie core. Especially when. It comes to above the bottom pair and under Morgan Riley.” – therein lies the rub. With 58% of their cap going to 5 players, that leaves just around $35 mil to flesh out the remaining 18 spots.

      And when this season is done, heading into next season they have 10 signed leaving just $11,231,050 with which to sign 13, including 5 RFAs whose combined current cap hit is $4,860,000. Even if that stayed the same (which it won’t, of course) that would leave them $6,381,050 to sign 8.

      You can’t really improve much of the bottom half of your line-up with such limitations – unless you get incredibly lucky with 5 or 6 ELCs from within your system.

      No matter how you look at it, they cannot improve to any great degree by forking over almost 60% of your cap to 5 players. No matter how good they are.

      That’s the way I see it anyway. Many will disagree but the proof, as they say, will be in the pudding.

    • Hi Chris welcome and please feel free to make logical comments. You’ll find it’s needed but often retorted using many of the same old arguments like as if your points or anyone else that debunk their claims are not read. Kinda fun.

  13. Good thing the Bruins had a great October.
    Now is where they test their mettle, against some powerhouse teams.
    Our record should even out a little after this next 6 or 7 games.

  14. Covid impacted everybody but the resultant cap freeze affected some than most.

    Tampa Bay and TML are two teams that found ways that other GMs came around to after the fact.

    Dubas got ahead o his skis but only with the benefit of hindsight.

    He put together teams that are consistently ahead of the pack and the players he “gave away” were players he signed who couldn’t get TML over the hump.

    Fantasy hockey, PS5 hockey, nostalgia hockey …..neither are honest reflections.

    • Agree with that entire post HF30.

      My B’s for example, did not get impacted as much as their core players were signed years before the cap freeze and the rising cap made them look like bargains, or at least reasonable, over time. Bergy, Marchand, Rask, Pasta, Krecji – all were signed to long term deals. Ya some guys took a bit of a discount, but not that much. Exact same thing Dubas tried to do, and every other GM probably would have. Lock up your best young guys.

      The 4 TOR guys that get sited over and over signed long deals in 18/19 and 19/20. You could argue a 1 got more than they would have elsewhere, Marner. JT took less than Lou offered him on the island.

      The big difference was simply timing.

      IMO he loses every trade he tried to make with the big 4 since the flat cap, nobody trying to win had any $. I have yet to see a trade proposal that makes sense, and would make the Leafs better. I am guessing Dubas hasn’t either.

  15. Fans listening to Simmonds is the real problem.
    Hyman is awesome, however in 3 years when he’s about 33 with 3 years left making $5.5 million everyone would cry. Why would you sign him knowing he’s got injuries and getting older.
    Leafs d is probably the best it’s been in a long time. Less Holl of course.
    Why is everyone on Kerfoot. He’s shown the most in the last two playoffs. Playing up and down the lineup.
    Bring back Uncle Leo!!!!

    • Yes Guy
      Agree with you, Hyman was invisible in the playoff. His demands were high good move to move on. Same goes with Campbell to much term. Leafs are not built to win the playoffs.
      Engvall and Willie will not win you puck battles. Marner is a spoiled little rich kid trade him if possible.

  16. TROTZ
    Plain and simple
    He will gain the respect from fellow GM’s in the league
    They will gladly wheel and deal with him
    He’s earned it , he’s due , he’s hungry for the opportunity
    Not that I have talked him personally Lol
    Common knowledge – Here U go Mr. Trotz – It’s been 64 years since Lord Stanley has visited the Toronto Maple Leafs !
    What’s your game plan – How can you help us. !!!

  17. Maybe center a deal around marner and chyc

    Crouse & Chyc for Marner

    Then when AM signs in AZ in 2024 marner is already there.

    Az need to draft Dmen alot the next 3 years.