Check out the latest Oilers and Leafs speculation plus an update on Ethan Bear in today’s NHL rumor mill.
LATEST ON THE OILERS
SPORTSNET: In a recent mailbag segment, Mark Spector was asked which goaltender Edmonton Oilers general manager Ken Holland might target in this summer’s free-agent market. He believes he’ll choose a cheaper, less proven goalie than an expensive free-agent question mark.
Spector said sources tell him Marc-Andre Fleury chooses not to play in Edmonton. He anticipates the Oilers’ free-agent targets will be St. Louis’ Ville Husso and Toronto’s Jack Campbell. He envisions a tandem of Campbell and Stuart Skinner.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Oilers face considerable uncertainty between the pipes for next season. Mikko Koskinen is off to Switzerland while aging Mike Smith could be considering retirement. Even if Smith returns to complete the final season of his contract, they still need a more reliable starter.
Campbell and Husso have shown promise as starters but question marks hover over both. Campbell struggled over the second half of last season with the Maple Leafs, which was his first full campaign as a starter. Husso had a solid regular season with the Blues when Jordan Binnington struggled but gave way to Binnington in the playoffs.
Of those cost-cutting trade candidates, Barrie could attract the most attention. He’s a skilled puck-moving defenseman who could draw interest in the trade market. VancouverHockeyNow’s Rob Simpson believes he’d be a good addition to the Canucks.
WHAT NEXT FOR THE LEAFS AFTER RE-SIGNING LILJEGREN?
Koshan wonders how the Liljegren signing affects Justin Holl’s future with the Leafs. While he carries an affordable $2 million cap hit for next season, re-signing Sandin is a priority. He also anticipates trade-deadline pickup Ilya Lyubushkin will hit the open market on July 13.
With less than $7 million in cap space, Dubas must figure out his goaltending. He also needs to bolster his defense and forward lines.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It remains to be seen what Dubas has in store to find the cap space to address those needs. However, it wouldn’t be surprising if Holl gets traded (despite his 10-team no-trade list) in a cost-cutting deal to free up space for Sandin’s new contract.
Check out the latest on the Leafs, Penguins and Predators in today’s NHL rumor mill.
LATEST ON CAMPBELL, NYLANDER AND GIORDANO.
TORONTO SUN: Terry Koshan reports Maple Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas said his assistant GM will be meeting soon with Jack Campbell’s representatives for contract negotiations. The 30-year-old goaltender is slated to become an unrestricted free agent this summer. Campbell professed his love of playing for the Leafs and the city of Toronto but is leaving contract details up to his agent and Leafs management.
Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender Jack Campbell (NHL Images).
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman doesn’t believe there have been many negotiations between those two sides. Nevertheless, I believe the Leafs will re-sign him given how thin this summer’s market will be for goaltenders. They know what they have in Campbell.
Koshan also reports William Nylanderacknowledged his name frequently surfaces in Leafs trade rumors. However, he doesn’t want to be moved. Koshan pointed out that general manager Kyle Dubas has indicated he has little appetite for making big changes.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Nylander’s not going anywhere. He carries the more affordable contract among their foursome of top forwards plus he elevates his play in the postseason.
SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman believes there have been talks with defenseman Mark Giordano about bringing back the 39-year-old defenseman at a lower salary.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Giordano’s current AAV is $6.75 million. How much lower is he willing to go to finish his career in Toronto and for how long? Time will tell if they can get something done before the free-agent market opens on July 13.
MALKIN AND LETANG HOPE TO REMAIN WITH THE PENGUINS
TRIBLIVE.COM: Seth Rorabaugh reports the Pittsburgh Penguins’ long-time core of Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang hope to remain together for a few more years. Crosby has three years remaining on his contract while Malkin and Letang are due to become UFAs in July.
Malkin said he’s leaving his contract business to his agent. He also dismissed a report out of Russia claiming he would return to his hometown of Magnitogorsk next season, stating he wants to stay in the NHL.
Letang declined to discuss his contract citing an agreement with GM Ron Hextall not to talk publicly about the matter.
Meanwhile, fellow UFA Bryan Rust said he felt he’s taken his play to a higher level than the salary he’s been earning the past few years. He indicated he’s seeking a fair and reasonable new deal.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Elliotte Friedman cited The Athletic’s Rob Rossi recently tweeting that the Penguins’ best offers to Malkin and Letang were three years and $15 million. Friedman said he’s heard the Penguins and the Malkin camp have discussed a three-year term to line up with Crosby’s contract but they’re far apart on salary. Letang, meanwhile, is apparently seeking a four-year deal for slightly less than his current $7.25 million annual average value.
As for Rust, it doesn’t look like he’s interested in a hometown discount. He earned $3.5 million annually on a four-year contract. He could seek around $5 million per season.
THE ATHLETIC: Making a decision on Filip Forsberg’s future topped Adam Vingan’s recent list of offseason issues the Nashville Predators must address. The 28-year-old left winger is due to become a UFA in July. They must also decide if they’ll pick up the option year in head coach John Hynes’ contract and find a competent backup for starting goaltender Juuse Saros.
Vingan cited Evolving Hockey’s contract project model indicating Forsberg could get $8.5 million annually on an eight-year extension with the Predators or $9.5 million on a seven-year deal on the open market.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Forsberg has stated his goal is to remain with the Predators. As I’ve noted before, the concern for GM David Poile is he already has two forwards earning $8 million annually in Ryan Johansen and Matt Duchene. He might not be keen to have another in his lineup. We’ll find out by July 13 which direction Poile wants to go.
What next for the Leafs, Bruins and Kings following their first-round playoff exits? Check out the latest in the Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup.
ARE CHANGES COMING FOR THE LEAFS?
SPORTSNET: Despite another first-round playoff exit by the Toronto Maple Leafs, Elliotte Friedman didn’t think there needs to be a shakeup in the front office, behind the bench or on the roster. He cited their fourth-overall Eastern Conference finish in the regular season and losing to the defending Stanley Cup champions by one goal in Game 7. He felt there needs to be some tweaks but no one should be fired.
Kelly Hrudey agreed that no one deserves to be fired but there must be changes on the ice. He felt the Tampa Bay Lightning were beatable but the Leafs failed to take a 3-1 series lead in Game 4 and couldn’t finish off the Lightning with a 3-2 series lead. Hrudey isn’t buying excuses such as bad calls.
Jennifer Botterill felt the Leafs did well this season. However, she believes they couldn’t adjust in certain games to find a way to win in the playoffs.
ESPN.COM: Kristen Shilton suggested a lack of killer instinct remains a problem for the Leafs. She thinks there must be changes, likely starting in the front office as team president Brendan Shanahan and general manager Kyle Dubas have to answer for yet another first-round failure.
Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender Jack Campbell (NHL Images).
Turning to the roster, Shilton points out goaltender Jack Campbell is slated to become an unrestricted free agent this summer. He’s in line for a big payday but the cap-strapped Leafs could have difficulty accommodating him. She also wondered about veteran defenseman Jake Muzzin’s status as the Leafs continue to get younger on the blueline.
THE ATHLETIC: Jonas Siegel is among those who believe the Leafs only need to tweak their roster for next season. He doesn’t see their core forwards being moved, though it may be time to question Tavares’ role with the club given his line’s defensive struggles. Defensemen Morgan Rielly and T.J. Brodie aren’t going anywhere.
They’ll have to find a suitable backup goalie if they bring back Campbell as expected. That would mean trying to move oft-injured Petr Mrazek and his $3.8 million cap hit over the next two years. Siegel is also curious about the 33-year-old Muzzin’s future and wondered if the Leafs will try to bring back Giordano.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Shanahan, Dubas or head coach Sheldon Keefe could lose their jobs over this but I wouldn’t be surprised if they’re back next season. Leafs ownership has been very patient with them and their improvement this season could give that trio one more opportunity to turn this club into a Cup contender.
I’ll be shocked if the Leafs peddle any of their core players. Their hefty contracts would make them difficult to move anyway with the salary cap only rising by $1 million for next season. Nylander is the more affordable at $6.9 million but he’s also been their most reliable playoff performer going back to last year.
The Leafs will try to bring back Campbell but I expect he’ll be seeking more than $4 million per season. Try between $5 million and $6 million annually on a five-year deal.
Even if the Leafs convince Campbell to accept $4 million per season, they must shed salary to sign restricted free agents such as Rasmus Sandin, Timothy Liljegren and Pierre Engvall. Moving Mrazek will help but they’ll need to find a suitable backup. They’ll also have to free up more space if they hope to keep Giordano.
WHAT NEXT FOR BERGERON AND THE BRUINS?
NBC SPORTS BOSTON: Nick Goss reports Bruins captain Patrice Bergeron wasn’t ready to discuss his future during his post-game press conference following his club’s first-round elimination by the Carolina Hurricanes. The 36-year-old center is slated to become a UFA in July but said it was too early to talk about it following a heartbreaking end to the season.
Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy said he didn’t know which way Bergeron was leaning regarding his future. He said everyone on the team wants him back.
Goss points out a potential departure by Bergeron would create a huge hole at center for the Bruins, leaving Charlie Coyle and Erik Haula as their top-two centers. There aren’t a plethora of potential replacements via free agency or within the organization while the club lacks sufficient assets to use as trade bait to address that issue.
THE ATHLETIC: Fluto Shinzawa considers getting an answer on Bergeron’s future as the club’s top priority. He also believes they must make a decision on Jake DeBrusk’s trade request, which he didn’t withdraw despite signing a two-year contract extension in March. They could also shop a left-shot defenseman like Matt Grzelcyk, who became the odd man out during the playoffs.
ESPN.COM: Kristen Shilton also believes the Bruins need a decision on Bergeron’s fate and DeBrusk’s trade request. She also felt they need to improve their scoring depth.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bergeron’s status and DeBrusk’s trade request will be the dominant issues for the Bruins. His return will buy some time to start building up their depth at center. Perhaps trading DeBrusk, who’s signed through 2023-24 at $4 million per season, could address that issue.
The Kings will have over $20 million in salary-cap space with Dustin Brown’s contract coming off their books. However, they only have 14 players under contract for next season with Adrian Kempe, Gabe Vilardi, Carl Grundstrom and Sean Durzi among their restricted free agents.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Blake must give priority to his key RFAs as well as re-sign or replace UFAs like Andreas Athanasiou and Alex Edler. Depending on how those negotiations go, he might have enough room to make another significant veteran acquisition.
Chychrun and his $4.6 million annual cap hit through 2024-25 would be an affordable pickup cap-wise. However, the Coyotes seek a significant return including high draft picks and top prospects.
The Leafs are shopping a defenseman but have yet to open contract talks with Jack Campbell, while trade chatter grows about Blue Jackets goaltender Joonas Korpisalo. Check it out in today’s NHL rumor mill.
SPORTSNET: Luke Fox cited Elliotte Friedman and Nick Kypreos reporting the Toronto Maple Leafs have let the rest of the league know Travis Dermott or Justin Holl are available for the right price. Fox speculates that price is either “an upper-mid-round draft pick” or “perhaps a rugged d-man with less term on his contract.”
The cap-strapped Leafs have no space to add a salaried player, they hold just three draft picks in the 2022 draft, and management must clear cap space for the short and long term. Holl is signed through next season with a $2 million cap hit and a 10-team no-trade list while Dermott is earning $1.5 million annually through 2022-23.
Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender Jack Campbell (NHL Images).
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’ll be interesting to see which one gets moved. Holl, 29, is more expensive and his no-trade complicates efforts to move him. He’s struggled this season but played well over the previous two campaigns. The 24-year-old Dermott is younger, more affordable and he lacks no-trade protection but he’s had consistency issues and been relegated to mostly third-pairing duty.
TORONTO SUN: Michael Traikos reports agent Kurt Overhardt, who represents Leafs goaltender Jack Campbell, denied reports contract extension talks are underway with his client. “Whoever said we’re talking is full of crap,” said Overhardt.
Traikos believes the Leafs have already waited too long to ink Campbell to an extension, believing it should’ve taken place during the summer. As the 29-year-old goaltender’s value rises, Traikos believes he could be playing elsewhere next season the longer it takes the two sides to start contract talks.
Campbell is slated to become an unrestricted free agent next summer. His current annual cap hit is $1.65 million but Traikos believes the Leafs will be lucky to get him for twice that amount if his strong play continues throughout this season. He pointed to Philipp Grubauer getting a long-term deal worth $5.9 million annually from the Seattle Kraken and Cal Petersen earning $5 million annually on a three-year contract.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Leafs have little choice but to sign Campbell for probably between $5.5 million and $6 million annually. They’ve got no one in their system capable of challenging him for the starter’s job, there aren’t better options in the trade market and Cap Friendly shows few suitable long-term alternatives via next summer’s free-agent market.
That explains in part why they’re looking to move one of their defensemen. They must free up cap space before next season to absorb Campbell’s new contract.
THE ATHLETIC: Aaron Portzline recently reported trade chatter was increasing about Columbus Blue Jackets goalie Joonas Korpisalo. He said there were whispers around the league claiming Columbus general manager Jarmo Kekalainen was fielding calls for the 27-year-old netminder.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Korpisalo is a UFA relegated to backup duty behind Elvis Merzlikins. He could be on the move at some point before the March 21 trade deadline.
The Coyotes seem like a prime landing spot given their struggles this season but they could be reluctant to acquire someone who could bolt via free agency next summer. . The Sabres are getting surprisingly good goaltending from 40-year-old Craig Anderson and backup Dustin Tokarski but that could change as the season goes along.
Sloppy defensive play and inconsistent offense are the Canadiens’ biggest problems this season. I doubt they’ll pursue Korpisalo with Carey Price set to return to the lineup in the coming weeks and Jake Allen doing a decent job between the pipes in his absence.
With the Jack Eichel trade watch finally over, here’s the latest on the Maple Leafs in today’s NHL rumor mill.
SPORTSNET: Luke Fox cites Nick Kypreos reporting Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas is now focused on signing Jack Campbell to a new contract after getting Morgan Rielly signed to a long-term extension. Asked about Kypreos’ report, Campbell neither confirmed nor denied it but indicated he’d love to stay in Toronto.
Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender Jack Campbell (NHL Images).
Fox pointed out Campbell’s made $4.2 million in career earnings so he’ll be seeking a significant pay raise on his next contract. With just $7.2 million in cap space for 2022-23, the Leafs could try to keep the cap hit on his next deal as low as possible. He speculates Campbell’s agent could use the three-year, $15 million deal signed by Calvin Petersen with the Los Angeles Kings as a comparable.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Leafs also have 15 players under contract for ’22-’23. Whatever it costs to re-sign or replace Campbell, they’ll have to get creative to free up sufficient cap room. Perhaps it’ll be a cost-cutting trade or maybe they acquire the contract of a player permanently on long-term injury reserve.
THE JEFF MAREK SHOW: Elliotte Friedman reported the Leafs are shopping a right-side defenseman. He speculated it could be Travis Dermott, who is listed as day-to-day with a foot injury.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Dermott has slipped down the Leafs’ depth chart under head coach Sheldon Keefe. The 24-year-old might benefit from a change of scenery. He carries an annual average value of $1.5 million through 2022-23.
Check out the latest on Jonathan Toews, Mark Giordano, Jack Campbell and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NBC SPORTS CHICAGO: Jonathan Toews looked like his old self in his first NHL game since being sidelined with chronic immune response syndrome 407 days ago. Despite a 4-3 preseason shootout loss to the Detroit Red Wings, the Blackhawks captain logged 22:48 of ice time, collected an assist, three shots on goal, two takeaways and won 15 of 21 faceoffs.
Chicago Blackhawks center Jonathan Toews (NHL Images).
SPECTOR’S NOTE: A promising start for Toews. The Blackhawks need their captain healthy if they hope to contend for a playoff spot this season.
CALGARY SUN: Former Flames captain Mark Giordano returned to Calgary for his first game since being selected by the Seattle Kraken in July’s expansion draft. He received a warm welcome from Flames fans, scoring a goal in a 4-3 preseason shootout win by the Kraken.
THE SCORE: Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender Jack Campbell believes there can be no excuses for the club this season. He and his teammates intend to use last spring’s disappointing postseason as motivation to win in the 2022 playoffs.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Leafs will face tremendous pressure this season following three straight first-round playoff exits.. Their last Stanley Cup title was in 1967 and they haven’t won a postseason series since 2004. Some teams can use previous playoff disappointment to grow and change into a championship team. Whether the Leafs can channel that this season remains to be seen.
NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: Promising prospect William Eklund has a legitimate shot at cracking the San Jose Sharks roster this season. The seventh overall pick in the 2021 NHL draft, Eklund leads the Sharks with three points in two preseason games.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s still very early in preseason play and Eklund hasn’t yet tasted regular-season NHL action. Nevertheless, the 18-year-old winger could have an opportunity to at least start the season with the Sharks.
TSN: Montreal Canadiens owner Geoff Molson reportedly offered a contract extension to general manager Marc Bergevin in July, but they haven’t reached an agreement yet. Both sides continue to talk.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: TSN’s Pierre LeBrun believes the Canadiens don’t want uncertainty over Bergevin’s contract status hanging over the club this season. The Canadiens GM garnered leverage with his club’s surprising march to the 2021 Stanley Cup Final, but that could evaporate if they struggle this season.
THE DENVER POST: Former NHL forward and current Colorado Avalanche color analyst Peter McNab has been diagnosed with cancer and is receiving treatment. The 69-year-old McNab will continue his role with Altitude Sports.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best wishes to McNab for a speedy and full recovery.
NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: Flyers center Tanner Laczynski will require surgery on his left hip and could be sidelined for the season.
Per Coyotes, D Kyle Capobianco has a knee injury. He is considered day to day.
Seattle #Kraken have signed UFA Max McCormick 1 year / 2-way deal NHL: $750,000 Minor: $150,000 ($200,000 guaranteed) McCormick played 12 games with Carolina last season, scoring 2 goals and adding 1 assist.https://t.co/QC2ZYYl95N — CapFriendly (@CapFriendly) September 29, 2021