NHL Rumor Mill – August 2, 2023
The latest Leafs speculation, an update on Tyler Myers and some cost-cutting trade candidates for the Senators in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.
LATEST ON THE MAPLE LEAFS
THE ATHLETIC: In his latest mailbag segment, Arpon Basu was asked to predict which players the Montreal Canadiens might target in the 2024 class of free agents. He proposed Toronto Maple Leafs winger William Nylander.
If the Canadiens decide to be active in next summer’s unrestricted free-agent market, Basu believes they would target a winger to complete their top-six forward lines. He thinks they would have sufficient cap space to pursue Nylander, whose current contract extension talks with the Leafs reportedly aren’t going well.
Nylander will be 28 next summer and has been a consistent scorer for the Leafs, even in the playoffs. Basu speculated it would cost $10 million annually on a contract carrying him into his mid-thirties.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bear in mind that Basu was merely responding to a reader’s question and he’s not reporting the Canadiens will pursue Nylander on the open market next summer. Depending on the course of their rebuild and the performance of young players such as Juraj Slafkovsky, Kirby Dach and Alex Newhook, they might not be in the market for a big-name UFA by that time.
Still, this gives us all something else to banter about during these dog days of the NHL offseason other than when and where Erik Karlsson will be traded.
Meanwhile, Basu’s colleague Joshua Kloke looked at some bargain-bin free agents for the Leafs to consider. They included Jonathan Toews, Zach Aston-Reese, Jesse Puljujarvi, Sam Gagner, Derick Brassard, Ethan Bear and Scott Harrington.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Toews is likely retiring while Puljujarvi underwent double hip surgery and probably won’t be available for some time. The rest could be dirt-cheap signings for the Leafs or other NHL clubs looking for affordable options to boost their rosters for 2023-24.
THE HOCKEY NEWS: David Alter recently examined how the Leafs can slide under the salary cap before their season opens in October.
One option is demoting waiver-exempt players such as Nick Robertson and Pontus Homberg. They could also do the same with Matthew Knies though they’d likely prefer retaining someone who performed well during the playoffs. Another would be placing Maxime Lajoie or Dylan Gambrell on waivers.
DO THE CANUCKS HAVE A DEAL IN PLACE TO TRADE TYLER MYERS?
THE ATHLETIC: In a recent mailbag segment, Harman Dayal was asked about rumors claiming the Vancouver Canucks already have a trade in place for Tyler Myers but are waiting to announce it after his signing bonus is paid next month.
Dayal recalled Daily Faceoff’s Frank Seravalli reporting in late June that the Canucks had a deal on the table to send Myers to the San Jose Sharks. This was denied by Canucks GM Patrik Allvin as well as Myer’s agent, J.P. Barry. Seravalli clarified that the deal would’ve sent Myers to the Sharks for winger Kevin Labanc.
Myers’ future feels like a “wait-and-see” scenario for several reasons. One is the Sharks’ efforts to trade defenseman Erik Karlsson. The Canucks might also prefer seeing how their other right-shot blueliners fare during training camp. Myers’ 10-team no-trade clause also complicates things.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Myers’ situation could be resolved before the end of September. We’ll know by that point if the Canucks indeed to move him or not.
POSSIBLE COST-CUTTING OPTIONS FOR THE SENATORS
Ryan Hyndman listed five potential cost-cutting trade candidates. The most obvious is forward Mathieu Joseph as clearing his $3 million cap hit from their books provides the room needed to re-sign Pinto.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I think it will be Joseph but they might end up having to package him with a sweetener to get it done.