NHL Rumor Mill – July 5, 2023

by | Jul 5, 2023 | Rumors | 41 comments

The latest on William Nylander and Matt Murray, an update on Alex DeBrincat, and more in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.


THE HOCKEY NEWS: Nick Barden cited TSN’s Chris Johnston’s recent report claiming contract extension talks between the Toronto Maple Leafs and William Nylander “aren’t going well.” The 27-year-old winger is a year away from unrestricted free-agent status and carries an average annual cap hit of just under $7 million on his current contract.

Toronto Maple Leafs winger William Nylander (NHL Images).

Johnston said the two sides had “a lot of discussions” during the draft in Nashville but “see the world differently at this point in time.” He claimed that Nylander sees himself as a $10 million player based on his points but the Leafs are trying to get him at a lower number.

TORONTO SUN: Lance Hornby reminds us that Nylander and the Leafs played contract chicken during the first half of the 2018-19 season when he was a restricted free agent. The staring contest went down to the Dec. 1 deadline before the two sides agreed to his current deal.

Hornby notes that Nylander hit career highs this season with 40 goals and 87 points. The winger was also fourth in playoff scoring with 10 points despite seeing less ice time than Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner.

Leafs general manager Brad Treliving is reportedly offering the Nylander camp an AAV of $9 million. Meanwhile, has to get a new contract hammered out for Matthews before next summer and keep an eye on a new deal for Marner before the summer of 2025.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Nylander’s previous contract standoff never sat well with some Leafs fans, who’ve used it as a cudgel against the winger whenever he hasn’t played up to their expectations. Another lengthy negotiation will likely prompt them to demand that Treliving trade him as soon as possible for the best potential return.

Treliving wasn’t the general manager during Nylander’s 2018 contract talks. However, he’s inherited limited cap room from his predecessor, who had no problem tossing cash around on Matthews, Marner and John Tavares.

Back then, the argument was Nylander wasn’t in the same class as his three high-profile teammates. Nevertheless, he has steadily improved since 2018-19 into a point-per-game player. He’s also garnered a reputation as a reliable playoff performer.

As Johnston said, Nylander made a reasonable argument that he’s a $10 million per season player. If the Leafs won’t pay him that much, other clubs will, especially if he hits the open market next summer with a salary cap expected to significantly jump following four seasons of stagnation.

I think the Leafs will open the vault for Matthews and Marner but not for Nylander. He could end up playing elsewhere in 2024-25 as a free agent unless the Leafs decide to trade him this summer. Either way, I expect he’ll shine with his new club to the consternation of his critics in Toronto.


THE SCORE: Sean O’Leary cited Chris Johnston reporting the Leafs are trying to shed the final season of goaltender Matt Murray’s contract for salary-cap relief. He’s on their books for $4.6 million for 2023-24 before becoming a UFA next summer.

According to Johnston, the Leafs would prefer a trade. However, they might avail themselves of the second buyout window if a trade fails to materialize. Teams can use that second buyout window if they have a player who files for salary arbitration. Restricted free-agent goaltender Ilya Samsonov could opt to go that route. The filing deadline is 5 pm on July 5.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Murray’s injury history and 10-team no-trade clause could make a buyout more likely than a trade.


SPORTSNET: Wayne Scanlan looked at three possible scenarios for Ottawa Senators winger Alex DeBrincat. The 25-year-old restricted free-agent winger reportedly prefers a trade to an American club but the Senators are having difficulty finding a suitable deal.

One outcome is DeBrincat returns to the Senators this season on an arbitration deal. However, the club has filed to take him to arbitration meaning the maximum award would be 15 percent less than what his qualifying offer ($9 million) would’ve been. They could attempt to move him later in the season near the trade deadline or keep him for a potential playoff run.

Another sees him signing a bridge deal with the Senators for two or three years. That would buy the Senators more time to find a suitable trade package while DeBrincat could become a UFA at 27 or 28 and cash in big on the open market.

The other, more likely outcome is a trade. That would depend on the Senators finding a return that helps them now while the DeBrincat camp find a contract they can live with, though perhaps not the long-term deal they recently envisioned.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It might be to DeBrincat’s advantage to accept a short-term deal to facilitate a trade. The cap is going to rise substantially for 2024-25 and 2025-26. He’d then be in a better position to find a more lucrative long-term deal either with his new team or on the open market.

Speaking of a trade, Sportsnet’s Jeff Marek reports the Detroit Red Wings and New York Islanders remain in the DeBrincat sweepstakes.


SAN JOSE HOCKEY NOW: Sheng Peng cited Daily Faceoff’s Frank Seravalli reporting the San Jose Sharks and Vancouver Canucks have a deal on the table involving Canucks defenseman Tyler Myers. It would see Myers head to San Jose straight up for winger Kevin Labanc.

So far, that deal has yet to materialize. Seravalli claimed the Canucks were exasperated that this offer has sat on the table for some time now.

Peng speculates the Sharks prefer waiting until Myers is paid his $5 million signing bonus on Sept. 1. After that, the Sharks would only have to pay him $1 million of his remaining actual salary, though the $6 million cap hit would count against their salary cap for this season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If that’s the case I expect the Sharks would’ve communicated that to the Canucks by now. The delay could also be due to the Sharks’ efforts to trade Erik Karlsson.


  1. Taking on the final year of Matt Murray’s contract sounds like a Kent Hughes move (see Sean Monahan deal). You could end up with draft futures and/or a prospect in said deal. Give them Cayden Primeau back and bury Murray’s contract in the minors.

    • Problem is the Leafs traded most of their 1st rounders and they dont have much quality prospects in the system… Can’t happen with the Habs

  2. Why would San Jose want Tyler Myers? What am I missing? Is it just a cost/contract thing?

    • Hi foleyd7

      I’m pretty confident that’s it

      Both 1 year left; Sharks aren’t likely a playoff team this year…. Swap after 1/9 (PB payment)…. Saves (Net savings) Greier $4.9 M cash

  3. Tre….Ronny

    WW for **Oleksiak straight up

    Leafs free up $2.4 M in Cap space; avoid the protracted hold out by WW’s dad; din’t overpay WW; get a strapping top 4 D-man locked very reasonanle for 3 more years; balance out roster… getting away from 1/2 Cap on 4 Fwds; and worse if extending both AM and WW…. Because that way Leafs would start 24/25 at 54%-55% for top 4 Fwds

    Kraken get a 40 G scorer who has had two very good most recent seasons for no more than *$8.5 M

    *WW net more take home even at $8.5 M per

    * Per Gavin group…. Krakken could offer WW $7.5 M AAV ; which has the same annual take-home (~$4.7 M) that $19 M gross has in Toronto

    BTW…. $8.5 M has a take home of $5.4 M…. Leafs would need to offer $11.5 M just to match a Krakken $8.5 M offer

    WW only has 10 team trade protection… hard to think he’d have Krakken as one of the blocked teams

    Maybe if Tre adds Niemela … Ronny takes Brodie as well

    **Oleksiak does have an NTC… so he’d have to waive

    • Typo…


      “that $19 M gross has in Toronto”


      “that $10 M gross has in Toronto”

      Single fat finger typing on small screen with weak eyes


      • Pengy, that’s a decent trade. Maybe add a conditional draft pick for the Leafs if Nylander re-signs with Seattle.

        In Toronto’s favor, WW is only owed $2.5 M cash.
        Oleksiak is owed $15.25 vs cap hit of $13.8 (3 years).
        Larsson is owed $10M vs cap hit of $8 M (2 years).

        Murray is owed $8 M this year, making him tough to move.
        Brodie earns $7.5 M vs cap hit of $5 M.

      • Agree on your points HOG

        Like the idea of the conditional pick

        Could be a sign ‘n trade

        I think it’s basically down to a buyout for Murray

        Leafs can’t keep Samsonov, Murray and Woll

        No GM takes on Murray at full whack (well, what’s left post Sens’ retention)

        Taking him at 50% of his remaining is still needing to be accompanied by a sweetener (or 2)…. Retaining 50%…. Leafs free up 2.35 M

        Buyout…. $4M Cap saved 23/24; $2M deadcap 24/25…. If WW not being re-upped…. $2M less important

    • Interesting, but not Ole.
      Larsson for Willie and Murray.
      Kracken files for arb on Dunn to get to the 2nd buy-out window and buys out Murray. Larsson gets traded a 2nd time for a superstar.
      Leafs trade Timmons or Lily for more depth or towards a goalie if Sammy/Woll is not their tandem.

  4. If Pajama Boy is worth 11 million isnt MeLander worth more?

    Scooby really left Treliving in a money bind.

    On the other hand he can likely get a 1st and a prospect from Pittsburgh for Murray.


    • 👏

  5. Can someone explain why a team doesn’t assign a player to the AHL rather than buying him out with the attendant cap hit? In the Leafs case its not like money is a problem in sending him to the Marlies.

    • I believe only $1.1 million can be buried in AHL demotion, the rest of the cap hit remains on the books.

      • Ya, that would appear to be the reason Redmonsters. They are $3.2M over the cap today with Muzzin on LTIR. Sending him to the minors doesn’t get you there as his hit is $4.687M. His buyout only costs them $687K this year, but bites them next year.

        Might have to go that route, as if you can’t move him without selling the farm to do it, what choice do you have?

      • Hey Ray, I think the rule prohibit a buyout of a player on IR.

      • Murray is on IR again?
        Or did you think I meant buy out Muzzin?

        I meant buy out Murray if my post wasn’t clear.

    • I suppose it has to do with the length of the dead cap space if bought out, coupled with his base salary compared to 1 more year at a cap hit of $4,687,500. In other words, pick your poison.

      Trading his contract with an appropriate “sweetener” seems to be the best approach, And before anyone says no one will want the attendant uncertainty … L.A. just signed Cam Talbot … and Pittsburgh gave Jarry a $5 mil plus deal … and both have quite similar and frequent injury list visits.

    • Thanks.

  6. Dooby

    You have erroneously publicly stated that buyouts for Pens should not be an option; and is “last resort” option

    Granlund buyout should have already happened… wake up

    Dooby keeps harping on about Dead Cap crimping things down the road…. For Granlund buyout…. Dead Cap doesn’t arrive until 25/26…. And Pens in 25/26 in no way will be spending at/near Cap (their window for sure has passed then)

    More importantly the dead cap of just $1.8 M comes AFTER JJ is off the books and comes when (at worst) Cap is at $92 M; the following year…. Some have projected in the $97 M range!!!

    Right now Pens are over by $1.5 M and only have 22 counting towards that…O’Connor yet to sign

    Granlund buyout frees up $4.2 M… that’s huge; that’s necessary

    Trading Granlund …. If at all possible; comes with a huge give in sweetner(s) as he is actually owed $6M this year… not happening

    Keeping him @$6 M cash; $5 M Cap… absolutely ludicrous

    Since Dooby was too pig headed to do the buyout when Pens could (no other things needed to happen)…. He can only now buyout Granlund IF O’Connor elects Arb… and he must do so today or tomorrow

    So …. Scratch out your contract with O’Connor… agree on term and $’s… shake his hand…. Promise to sign deal IF and only IF he elects arb

    When he elects arb (today or tomorrow)… immediately buy out Granlund; THEN sign the actual agreement with O’Connor

    Pens under Cap; have O’Connor signed; and have effectively replaced Granlund with Eller… getting bigger; stronger; better in the process…. AND; most importantly… saving $1.8 M net cap this year; $0.8 M net Cap next year


    • Pengy, does Dooby read these comments?

      • I doubt the professionals do. Otherwise chad and Jack would be on suicide watch from pengys constant bullying.

      • Hope he does HOG

        Really hope so

        Chrisms…. Bullying?

        Stating his stats and improving act on Pens… that’s all

        And I’ve never said anything negative about the man himself…. Ever

        My comments reflect his play; and the huge negative impact he had on all he s team-mates stats

        The one that was s etched in my mind is the GF%-GA% for Pens when JJ was on the bench vs off the bench….. every single Pen player (who played > 5 games) had a higher number when JJ was on the bench.

        the biggest impact was on Gino…. 22% better in that stat when JJ was not on the ice

        I’m very confident JJ is a nice guy; great husband and father; and great teammate …. Proof is…. With those negative stats…. If he had any issue whatsoever in the dressing room; with anybody at all; anybody..,,. He would have been gone after the first year… even with Jimbo’s public over the top praise of JJ

        Same goes for Ruhweedel…. I’m positive he’s a super friend/teammate

  7. Re Tarasenko,
    Still think its 50-50 with the Cans and the Sens…
    3 yrs at $4 to $5.M deal…
    if the Sens can get a trade done asap with the Cat

    RW Tarasenko would be a good replacement for the Cat as a scoring winger in Ottawa… for sure

    Who needs Scoring & who’s the Running for the
    Cat still today❓looks like a 1st pick and a salary player trade

    Teams with Lots of Cap $10M to$28M (long shots)….
    Hawks to play with Bedard…?

    • Stunning news out of the Tarasenko camp. He’s switched agents. Obviously, he’s not happy with the offers he’s getting. Don’t see how a new agent will change this.
      Larry Brooks is reporting that he’s gotten offers of $5.5-6m. AAV at various term. I normally put no credence in what that guy says (and I’m far from the only one around here), but this is ludicrous even for him. If he’d gotten offers like this, he’d have signed already.
      Tarasenko will likely wind up signing a one year deal. At far less money than $5m.

  8. Let’s pause for a moment, and reflect that, to our chagrin, the cap is working precisely as it is supposed to. Without said external discipline, ten teams that could would add 20M each to payroll, and 10 that couldn’t would be perennial bottom-feeders with a few fans yearning for the old international league so at least they could win something. Perhaps the balance is a bit unfair to the players, a good bargaining team will work that out. While the owners in many cases have substantial unrealized capital gains, they are unrealized; teams still live by the cash drawer. Our favorite league has parity if management is decent; every fan in every city can hope to see a loser (if that’s their fate) turned into a winner before their first grader hits sixth. Most of the players are good citizens, most of the owners support their communities well, playoff hockey is great and most of the regular season is very watchable. The overall skill level has never been better. Watching baseball make a quantum change this year brings to mind how much hockey has been trying to keep up incrementally. I’d like to fold a more international flavor into things. I’d like to make it possible for someone who has been in a market for a decade to stay. I’d like to pay the mid level players more, tho with the star power driving ratings that’s hard. And I think there is more that can be done to improve televised games, which seem to have less technology than other sports. But as we all kvetch this time of year I think we should realize that that’s a good thing, and a sign of a healthy sport.

    • Well said.

      • Yep

    • Richard, an honest analysis to be sure … but in comparing baseball to hockey don’t forget that what hockey gets from TV is a fraction of that of baseball.

      I fully agree with your contention that 10 teams would add 20 million to their payrolls – each – and that the 10 that could/would not would then become perennial bottom feeders.

      The owners know that, so do GMs and most fans with any realistic insight. And, yes, so does the NHLPA – but in their case … and, as a consequence the demands of the biggest “stars” … realism is lost when it comes to salary negotiations … a process further muddied by the knowledge that several states have the “recruiting” advantage of low or non-existent taxes.

      The players on those teams who, collectively, are taking up over 50% of their team’s cap (no more than 5 or 6 players in such cases) have to know that that hampers any efforts of their GMs to flesh out the rest of the roster and, if they do manage to ice a 23-man team with enough skills to provide 4-line effectiveness, 6-man D and goaltending to win a cup, that will only last as long as those not in the top 5 or 6 are playing on manageable contracts, and that the “best of the rest” will eventually be seeking THEIR big contracts.

      Under that formula, and even with cap increases of $5 mil (is there any indication that they could rise higher than that on an annual basis?), more and more “stars” are going to find no room at the inn when it comes to contract time. It’s inevitable.

      • Speaking of the recruiting advantage… I’ve debated with ny fans who complained about the tax thing. I’ve said the rangers have a huge advantage over other teams as well by just being in ny and being the rangers. Here comes wheeler to prove my point again.

    • Richard


      Well noted

      also … love the “kvetch” reference

      I’m sure I’m top 5 on here when it comes to kvetching

      Other’s here see me as just plain meshuggeneh (not sure if I spelled that correctly)

  9. I’m back from semi-retirement but always lurking in the shadows.

    Nylander cannot be paid more than 9 million. If he’s asking for 10 his defensive liabilities make for a forced trade. Here’s my proposal:

    To NY Rangers:
    William Nylander
    TJ Brodie
    Matt Murray (50% retained)

    To Toronto:
    Jacob Trouba

    Leafs get solid top 4d, cap relief and Murray contract partially off the books, along with three yrs of cost certainty for Trouba

    Rangers get top 6 forward for next 9 yrs, stay at home defender

    • Did Nylander suddenly become a mediocre forward? He’s a high level forward and the Leafs will get a lot more from him than anyone here’s proposing.

    • Hi Frank

      Welcome back

      How’s Aunt Sally doing?

      Re Trade… Rangers can’t fit that swap in

      Like the idea of WW traded for a defensive D man

      That said…. I’m not a fan of Trouba’s style of play

  10. So OTT and Leaf fans, would you trade DeBrincat for Nylander straight up? Assuming they extend with similar term.

    Both have a year left

    Their offensive #’s a remarkably similar over last 3 – 5 years. Both durable.

    DeBrincat is younger by a couple years, with Willie 4″ taller and 25 lbs heavier.

    • As a Sens fan … in a second. IMO Nylander is a better player. But Debrincat is probably the 4th or 5th best forward on the Sens. Nylander is the 3rd best forward on the Leafs.

      IMO Sens are not goIng to get a lot for Debrincat. If the Leafs dangle Nylander as available for a trade, I think they will get a lot of interest.

      • I would do that deal too if I was Ottawa Peter.

      • For sure … but the Leafs … IF they traded Nylander … would be doing so to free up cap space … not increase it.

    • Hi Ray

      Leafs already in trouble with 4 FWds @ 1/2 Cap… this flip would make it worse this year as DeBrincat will get more than 5

      So this Leafs fan says no

      On the issues of similar stats… I can’t ignore the 4” and 25 lbs

      WW needs to be moved…. But preferably for a D…. and must result in freed up Cap space

  11. Hi Ray
    I would do that deal if…….They were both Signed to a Reasonable dollar amount and Traded…
    So you would have them locked up for 8 years asumining they agree….❓

    This could drag out for a long time with both players seeing $$ sign’s…. and Both thinking they are both worth more in the $9.M ++ range than they actually are….❓🤔

    Willie at 27yr old & the Cat at 25 yrs old….

    Think 26 yr old Timo Meier $8.8M in NJ
    Jasper Bratt 24 yr old $7.9M in NJ

    Look at The Blues 2 young stars @ $8.125M
    Jordan Kyrou & Robert Thomas………🤔

    lots of GM’s starting to smarten up at last👀

  12. Any elite player that signs an 8 year contract, barring a career ending injury, will lose money in the long run. Nathan Mackinnon the last few years at 6 million? Kyle Connor 3 more years at 7.1 million? McDavid 3 more years at 12.5? Draisaitl 2 more years at 8.5? Tage Thompson 7 more years at 7.1?

    These players would make way more in the long run if they signed shorter term contracts. You can say they are looking for security with longer term contracts, but….. are you kidding me?? They can’t live comfortably off a 2 year, 14 million dollar contract?

  13. This pretty much says it all.

    “I think the Leafs will open the vault for Matthews and Marner but not for Nylander.”

    Why should Nylander take a discount when Marner and Matthews wont? Players in general can accept discounts if they feel other players did the same for the good of the team. The problem in Toronto is that the “best” players wont, so why should anybody else?