NHL Rumor Mill – August 22, 2023
Could the Leafs’ William Nylander be a fit with the Ducks? What’s the latest on the Predators? Find out in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.
COULD NYLANDER BE A FIT WITH THE DUCKS?
Nylander, 27, is slated to become an unrestricted free agent next July. Rupp thinks his tenure with the Leafs is coming to an end, perhaps before the end of the coming season.
The Leafs must also re-sign Auston Matthews. Rupp believes they’ll get that deal done but there won’t be enough long-term cap space to retain Nylander, who tallied 40 goals last season.
Rupp would be interested to see Nylander get an opportunity where he could be “the man” somewhere. He noted the Leafs haven’t picked high in the draft in quite some time. Rupp noted the Ducks already have a boatload of young talent and suggested they use some of their picks as trade bait.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bear in mind that Rupp is merely suggesting that Nylander would be a great fit with the Ducks. He’s not saying those two clubs are discussing a trade. Nevertheless, it’s something interesting to muse about as the offseason dog days drag on.
Rupp envisioned Nylander at left wing on the Ducks’ top line alongside Trevor Zegras and Troy Terry. Nylander has spent more time in Toronto at right wing but he can also skate on the left side. If he meshed well with Zegras and Terry, the Ducks would have a potent first line that could accelerate the club’s rebuilding process.
With $16.6 million in cap space, the Ducks could afford to take on Nylander’s $6.9 million cap hit for this season. With over $39 million in projected cap space for 2024-25, they can afford to pony up the $10 million annually that Nylander reportedly prefers on his next contract.
As for a return, core Ducks like Zegras and Terry as well as up-and-comers Mason McTavish and Jamie Drysdale are off-limits. So are top prospects like Leo Carlsson, Pavel Mintyukov and Lukas Dostal but they might part with Owen Zellweger, Sasha Pastujov or Nathan Gaucher.
The Ducks have all their picks for the next three drafts along with an extra second-rounder and two extra third-rounders in the 2024 draft. They would likely package some of those extra 2024 picks in a deal for Nylander but they’ll also have to include a first.
So what say you, Leafs and Ducks fans? Does Nylander to Anaheim make sense? And what do you think the trade would look like? Let me know in the comments below.
LATEST PREDATORS SPECULATION
NASHVILLE HOCKEY NOW: In a recent mailbag segment, Michael Gallagher was asked which trade might make sense for the Predators given their $7.9 million cap space for the coming season.
Of the three, he considers Kuznetsov the most likely given the Predators pushed hard to acquire him before the start of free agency on July 1 and remain high on him. The only problem with taking him on is it would push Cody Glass down to the third line unless head coach Andrew Brunette wants to move him to the wing.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Predators might still have an interest in Kuznetsov but I think that has waned over the summer. If they really wanted him they likely would’ve acquired him by now. Maybe they wanted the Capitals to retain part of his $7.8 million cap hit through 2024-25 or perhaps the Predators are on his 10-team no-trade list. Whatever the reason, the deal didn’t happen and doesn’t seem likely to be resurrected.
Gallagher believes the current Predators roster is what we’ll see when training camp opens next month. If they make an addition it could be an affordable free agent such as Max Comtois or Jay O’Brien.