NHL Rumor Mill – July 13, 2019
The Blue Jackets reportedly looked into signing Mitch Marner to an offer sheet. The details plus the latest on the Canadiens, Blackhawks, and Bruins in today’s NHL rumor mill.
BLUE JACKETS SPOKE TO MARNER ABOUT AN OFFER SHEET
TSN: cited a tweet by The Athletic’s Aaron Portzline reporting the Columbus Blue Jackets were among “many teams” that spoke to Mitch Marner about an offer sheet. The Maple Leafs winger is a restricted free agent but Portzline said he’s seen no indication he wants to leave Toronto. He’s also convinced the Leafs would match any offer, “perhaps by trading (William) Nylander.”
SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman said he also believes the Columbus Blue Jackets were thinking about signing Marner to an offer sheet. This came after a report a week ago by a Sportsnet colleague claiming everyone was talking about the New York Islanders pursuing the winger. Friedman believes term was the sticking point, with the Jackets preferring seven years and Marner less than that. He added sources told him if anyone was going to pursue Marner with an offer sheet, it was the Blue Jackets.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Around and around we go in what’s become “The Summer of Marner.” Last week, it was the Islanders supposedly poised to sign him despite carrying insufficient cap space to pull it off. Now, it’s the Blue Jackets. Some pundits even wondered if the Montreal Canadiens, fresh off their failed attempt to sign Sebastian Aho away from the Carolina Hurricanes, might make a pitch. Wonder what team will be linked to Marner next week?
Yes, a rival club could sign Marner to a expensive short-term offer sheet too expensive for the cap-strapped Leafs to match. Perhaps they could be forced to trade Nylander to free up the dollars to match. The longer this goes on, however, the less likely that scenario seems to be.
I don’t doubt the Blue Jackets looked into it. Cap Friendly indicates they’ve got over $15 million in cap space and need something to significantly bolster their offense after losing Artemi Panarin, Matt Duchene, and Ryan Dzingel to free agency.
However, restricted free agent defenseman Zach Werenski is due a substantial raise that would eat up a big chunk of that cap room. And no, they’re not going to ink him to a short-term bridge deal when defense partner Seth Jones is pulling down $5.4 million per season. So I don’t see how Marner’s a fit there.
As I noted earlier this week, only a handful of teams – the Jackets, Colorado Avalanche, Winnipeg Jets, Ottawa Senators, Philadelphia Flyers, St. Louis Blues, and Minnesota Wild – have enough cap space to make a competitive offer for Marner.
Some, like the Jackets, Avalanche, Fyers, and Jets, have significant restricted free agents of their own to re-sign, cutting deeply into their cap space. The defending Stanley Cup champion Blues are more interested in keeping as much of their roster intact as possible. The Wild, meanwhile, don’t strike me as a club with serious interest in going the offer sheet route.
SUGGESTED MOVES FOR THE CANADIENS
LE JOURNAL DE MONTREAL: Winnipeg Jets winger Patrik Laine, New York Rangers winger Chris Kreider, and Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere are among seven suggested trade targets for Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin. Others include Vegas Golden Knights forward Nikita Gusev, New York Islanders defenseman Nick Leddy, Calgary Flames rearguard T.J. Brodie, and Edmonton Oilers winger Jesse Puljujarvi.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The piece acknowledged pursuing Laine via trade or offer sheet was a pipe dream. I daresay it was included simply because some observers wondered if Bergevin would try his luck again after failing to land Aho.
Kreider could become a cost-cutting candidate by the Rangers. There’s also the risk he’ll depart next summer via free agency. Trade rumors last month linked the Habs to Gostisbehere, Leddy and Brodie. The Canadiens need another good left-side blueliner so perhaps there’s a deal to be made with one of those teams.
Gusev reportedly seeks a two-year deal worth $4 million annually, which might explain why he hasn’t been traded yet. Puljujarvi is a reclamation project at this point. Still, the Oilers will want a decent return.
TVA SPORTS: suggested Bergevin should target some of the few available Quebec-born players still available in the UFA market. They include forwards Jason Pominville, Derick Brassard, and Gabriel Bourque. A report out of Edmonton earlier this week claimed Brassard sought $4 million per season, which he denied on Friday.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Rather than target one of the few remaining Quebeckers, all of whom are past their playing primes, how about pursuing the best available and affordable talent that might actually improve the roster? Just throwin’ that out there. I don’t presume to know Bergevin’s intentions for the remainder of the offseason. Signing a fading veteran merely to add another Quebecker to the roster doesn’t appear to be a front-burner issue.
BRUINS MUST SHED SALARY
NBC SPORTS: In the wake of the Boston Bruins signing Danton Heinen earlier this week, Joe Haggerty notes they’ll have to shed salary to re-sign defensemen Charlie McAvoy and Brandon Carlo. The Bruins now have around $8 million in cap space.
Haggerty believes it could cost around $10 million to re-sign the two young blueliners. He suggests shopping a sidelined blueliner like Kevan Miller ($2.5 million AAV) or John Moore ($2.75 million) once they become healthy enough to play. In the meantime, the Bruins could one of them on LTIR to start the season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: A rival club could also squeeze the Bruins by insisting on a draft pick, a prospect, or a young NHL-ready player be included in the deal. It’ll depend, of course, on how much it costs to re-sign McAvoy and Carlo.
Interesting thing from last nights @MadhousePod, @JayZawaski670 mentions the Blackhawks are shopping Anisimov (no surprise) but also have been shopping RFA Brendan Perlini. Interesting, not sure the return on Perlini would be great but forward is becoming a logjam.
— Michael Wagner (@MichaelDWagner) July 10, 2019