NHL Rumor Mill – May 18, 2023

by | May 18, 2023 | Rumors | 28 comments

Check out the latest Leafs speculation involving Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner and William Nylander in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.

TORONTO SUN: Lance Hornby reports uncertainty over the Arizona Coyotes’ future following their failed arena bid should put to rest the rumors suggesting Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews would sign with his hometown club next summer as an unrestricted free agent.

Matthews, 25, has never hinted that he was bent on signing with the Coyotes. Earlier this week, he emphasized his intent to re-sign with the Maple Leafs as soon as possible.

Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Me and the crew at The Face Off Hockey Show podcast have regularly joked about Matthews going home to sign with the Coyotes next summer. However, that’s not something I seriously expect to happen. Given the current rebuilding path set by the Coyotes, they probably don’t intend on pursuing Matthews if he hits the open market.

Terry Koshan reported a sports betting site had the Chicago Blackhawks as the favorite to land Matthews if the Leafs were to trade him this summer. The Blackhawks recently won the 2023 NHL Draft Lottery and are expected to select top prospect Connor Bedard with the first-overall pick on June 28.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Don’t waste your money. The Blackhawks have torn their roster down to the studs and are rebuilding with young, affordable talent. At this stage in Matthews’ career, he’s probably not keen to play for a team that could take several years to become a serious playoff contender again.

SPORTSNET: If the Leafs do swing a blockbuster trade this summer involving their core four stars, Luke Fox believes it comes down to William Nylander and/or Mitch Marner. Matthews is their top center while captain John Tavares has a full no-movement clause and intends on finishing his contract with the Leafs.

Nylander and Marner expressed their wish to remain with the Leafs. Nylander is a year away from unrestricted free-agent eligibility and his 10-team no-trade clause begins on July 1.

If the Leafs intend to move one or both it’ll have to be within the next six weeks. Marner’s full no-movement clause in the final two years of his contract kicks in on the same day.

Both players are coming off strong performances this season and would draw plenty of attention in the trade market. What must be considered is swapping one or both for a top-pairing defenseman and/or a different type of top-six forward who can provide immediate help.

Fox looked at several teams for potential options. He suggested Colorado defenseman Samuel Girard, Washington power forward Tom Wilson, Calgary’s Elias Lindholm, Arizona’s Nick Schmaltz, the New York Rangers’ Filip Chytil and K’Andre Miller, Seattle’s Vince Dunn, Philadelphia’s Travis Konency and Cam York, and Anaheim’s Jamie Drysdale as possible options.

THE ATHLETIC: Pierre LeBrun believes Nylander is a possibility but noted he’s only signed through next season. That creates the complication of an interested club trying to work out a contract extension to get a deal done. That will limit the number of potential trade destinations before his 10-team NTC starts on July 1.

LeBrun believes Marner would be the least complicated to move given the two years left on his contract. He believes the deal would have to fetch the Leafs a top-pairing blueliner.

Putting Marner on the market could make some teams willing to move players we thought were untouchable. LeBrun pointed to the Calgary Flames trading Matthew Tkachuk to the Florida Panthers for Jonathan Huberdeau and MacKenzie Weegar as an example.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It could come down to Nylander or Marner but I don’t see both moving unless the returns are substantial. Nylander’s $6.9 million cap hit is more affordable than Marner’s $10.9 million but the latter is a better two-way player.

Fox admitted he was merely spitballing when he listed those potential trade options. Girard, Schmaltz and perhaps Lindholm could be available in this summer’s trade market.

I don’t see the others hitting the trade block. Nevertheless, LeBrun is correct when he suggests all bets are off if the Leafs start sending out trade feelers on Marner.


  1. Fox thinks the salary cap doesnt apply to the Leafs.

  2. Marner and Samsonov to Calgary for Markstrom, Weegar and Toffoli

    • HAHAHAHAH! No.

  3. As a Leafs fan, I wish the solution was as simple as trade this guy or that guy and get this, this and that. There’s more to it than just trading an asset like Marner or whoever. There’s the coaching staff, there’s all these UFAs and RFAs both on the Leafs and their AHL club to deal with as well as who gets promoted or not. Goalie situation isn’t clear, they will have cap space, enough to maybe run it back again if they wanted to. As usual, everything should be on the table and it looks like this time it finally is. The hope is that they can make deals that work for them both short and long term and I say long term because usually the trade winners are the ones getting the better player and no way Toronto gets the better player if they trade a Marner or Nylander.

    The bottom line is that this will take more than a trade or two to fix the team and they will undoubtedly look very different next year. This isn’t a terrible team it’s a team that needs more variety in its ability to attack – both from the forwards and the defense. Just an FYI, all the talk of the 4 not showing up that last series (they did carry the club in round one) no one noticed how the poorly the defense contributed…I don’t have the exact number but didn’t the defense only produce like 5 or 6 points combined for both series? You can’t win with that, the game of hockey is basically a scoring competition and you’re not gonna win anything if you’re getting that kind of output from your D.

    • Ron,

      Pretty much agree with everything you said.

    • Ron, in total the Leafs D produced 5g 17a 22pts in their 11 playoff games.

      Unfortunately, the bulk of that came from one – Morgan Rielly – who played all 11 games and contributed 4g 8a 12 pts and was a +11.

      The only other goal from the D came from Erik Gustafsson – who also only played in 2 games (1g 0a 1pt and E).

      As for the rest:

      Brodie – 11gp 0g 3a 3pt -3
      Giordano – 11gp 0g 2a 2pts -7
      McCabe – 11gp 0g 2a 2pts -7
      Holl – 8gp 0g 1a 1pt -7
      Schenn – 11gp 0g 1a 1pt +8
      Liljegren – 5gp 0g 0a 0pts -1

    • @Ron Moore I don’t think Leafs have any option but to trade Marner! His 2 year NMC really hurts him. At least with Nylander and Matthews you can try to extend them and if not you could move them before it kicks in. You can’t extend Marner before the NMC kicks in. So you will be over a barrell to give him whatever he wants or he walks..

      I can’t help but think that Mitch’s dad insisted on this bc it was one extra year of NMC over Matthews, but ultimately it will be his ticket out. There is no logical ownership group that would not trade Marner right now. You have a surplus of elite offensive players and you have zero control over what you will be paying him..

      I will inevitably get the “why would someone want him then?” Because not everyone has one elite offensive talent and not everyone has cap issues..
      my money says he is gone

    • @Ron Moore I agree with all that you said but you in my opinion missed 1 and maybe the most important thing. Keefe is a terrible coach, how much of a difference would it had been if Dubas had fired Keefe and hired Trotz when he was available. To me Trotz would`ve been the missing piece. Keefe got out coached by every other coach since he was gifted the job by Dubas. Every playoff year he can`t match lines and the PP disappears. Watching Sandin flourish with the caps speaks volumes to how Keefe lacks the ability to coach, Gustafsson quickly from an offensive contributor in Washington a non factor in Toronto and yet puck moving dmen were exactly what they needed. Reilly went from a 20 goal dman to a missing person the day Keefe got hired. I would love to see this team perform with a coach that can match lines make in game adjustments in stead of standing behind the bench with a stunned look on his face when things don`t go his way

  4. Fox had the Leafs resigning Matthews at 13.5, Nylander at 10.5, O’Reilly & Accari, plus adding Dumba from Minnesota and Hellybuck from the Peg in one of his Pulitzer worthy missives the other day.

    Of course he had zero explanation as to how to work that under the cap.


  5. Att: Kyle Dubas:

    Playoff Warriors carry clubs, not purses.


    Every Stanley Cup Champion ever.

  6. It will be interesting to see what the GMs do to improve their teams under the ongoing cap restraints.

    We have seen the moving of bad contracts year, the moving of injured players for ir purposes year, the giving away of players for “futures” year, the sweetening the pot and giving away players.

    The point may have been reached to let UFAs go in order to better use the cap space.

  7. Cup winners get meaningful contributions from the entire roster and have sound, sometimes spectacular, goaltending. They usually have two or three injury plug-ins play well as well. So your cap hit at the trade deadline is a 23 man roster. Itis clear that the players the Leafs brought in at the deadline were among the top half of contributors; should this not direct the focus or tweaking the lineup going forward?

  8. .
    The leafs should try to trade John Tavares,
    We all know he has No-trade in his contract….and 2 more seasons after this one. They should try to move him and his $11M contract.. this could take some fancy PR work on the leafs part to move him and Tavares may be the hardest to more because of his age and dollars❓

    The other 3 are worth way more in a trade so it comes down to
    Mathews is not going anywhere….

    Mitch Marner,
    that would not sit well with his best buddy Austin Mathews….🤔
    William Nylander
    he is the most likly to be traded, but he was also there one of the top 3 best players in the playoffs

    but the leafs need to do something hear and Mr Trader KD will be the best guy to do it…❓

    • Tavares will not be traded. His Pajamas won’t allow him. Sometimes you get what you wish for.

      -Regards from the Isles fan.

  9. since Marner’s full NTC goes into effect 7/1, I think he’ll be traded by draft weekend, more likely so than Nylander. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a deal with Philly that includes Kopecny and other assets.

    • Marner + Samsonov for Hart + Risto + Fla 2024 1st

      • That would be a horrible trade for Toronto. Risto would hurt the team and Hart was worse than Samsonov last year.

        If Marner is traded to Philly (IMO, unlikely), Konecny would have to be part of the package and Toronto would probably target Provorov or Sanheim over Risto.

      • I sometimes like to throw brown at the wall to see if it dries. Marner to Montreal for Anderson + Dvorak + 1st (Florida).

      • Philly aint giving up that first…..but Hart/Risto/Provorov for Marner/Samsonov+pick would definitely start conversations.

        Philly most likely trades Hart as his window and theirs do not align.

        Put Hart behind TML last year and he has a much better looking year. Put Samsonov behind Philly’s defense last year and he performs nowhere near as well as Hart.

      • Marner is not a Tortorella kind of player.

      • Yeah, I can just imagine their first conversation at training camp” (Marner) “you want me to block WHAT ….”

      • Oof ! Your first scenario was much better Johnny 😉

  10. Bruins…..I for one don’t think both 37 & 46 are coming back one will one won’t …I would move Grez…Hall…Ullmark it will give them cap relief in order to a # 1 or 2 center upgrade the #3 Dman and build a bottom 6 … sign a vet backup goalie and ride Sway

  11. You can’t trade Willy as he is the best player on the planet. He got 87 points in 82 games but that tells only a minor part of the story. He plays about 18.33 minutes a game and his shift length is about 50 seconds. On an average shift he is coasting somewhere on the ice on his own for about 20 seconds, and standing still with one hand on his stick for another 20 seconds or so. That leaves about 10 seconds per shift or approximately 20% of his total ice time available to score. So he has scored 87 points in 82 games x 18.33 minutes per game x 20% or 300 minutes or 5 hours which equates to about 17 points per 60. The second best player, Connor someone, got 153 points in 82 games where he skated 22.23 minutes per game at 100% engagement for a points per 60 of only about 5. Willy is clearly amazing

  12. Hey Leafs people. The Penguins will gladly trade a gently used Bryan Rust and a Petry for your unwanted Marner. I’m guessing that’s, as the kids say, a hard pass, but since you don’t seem to want him….

  13. Marner and nylander for Brady tkachuk.

    Matthews for chytill and Miller.

    Let the rebuild begin.

  14. With Dubas gone, which is very unfortunate, the Leafs should revisit Mark Hunter.