NHL Rumor Mill – May 31, 2023
LATEST ON MATTHEWS AND THE LEAFS
Johnston reports the line of communication between the two sides has remained open despite the departure of former general manager Kyle Dubas. While there haven’t been any progress or firm discussions about an extension on July 1, Johnston doubts bringing in a new GM will derail things. He pointed out that Matthews has consistently expressed his desire to stay in Toronto and expects those contract talks will pick up once a new GM is in place.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: In other words, both sides are willing to do a contract extension but they’re going to wait until a new general manager is hired. That makes sense but of course, gives rise to conjecture over Matthews’ future.
Unless those negotiations go off the rails during this summer I anticipate Matthews will sign an extension at some point in this offseason. Expect the length of that new contract and the average annual value to be grist for the rumor mill.
Nevertheless, I anticipate that Matthews will end up earning the highest AAV of any NHL player starting in 2024-25. Colorado’s Nathan MacKinnon is currently the leader at $12.6 million. Don’t be surprised if Matthews comes in between $13 million and $14 million. And yes, the Leafs will be able to afford it because the salary cap is projected to jump by at least $4 million for 2024-25.
Kypreos was no fan of Dubas signing Tavares to his seven-year contract at $11 million annually back in 2018. The Leafs captain said he has no intention of waiving his no-movement clause as he wants to honor the remaining tenure with the club Nevertheless, the Leafs must shed salary and moving Tavares’ contract should be an option.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I understand that a player carrying a no-movement clause can opt to waive it for a certain team if pressured or requested to do so by management. However, I doubt Tavares is going to do that. For better or worse, the Leafs are stuck with his contract until it expires in 2025.
BRIERE DOWNPLAYS HART TRADE RUMORS
THE HOCKEY NEWS: Ryan Quigley reports Philadelphia Flyers GM Daniel Briere is throwing cold water on trade rumors about Carter Hart. In an interview on Saturday, Briere indicated he’d be willing to entertain trade offers for any player, including the 24-year-old goaltender.
Talking to Broad Street Hockey’s Bill Matz and Kelly Hinkle on Tuesday, however, Briere clarified that while no player is immovable, it’s not a foregone conclusion that he’s trading Hart. Briere indicated that he still sees the young netminder as a part of what they’re trying to build in Philadelphia. “It would have to be a crazy load of a haul to even consider trading him,” said the Flyers GM.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hart’s future could also be determined by his willingness to agree to a contract extension. He signed through next season and becomes a restricted free agent with arbitration rights next summer. If he and the Flyers don’t reach an agreement on a new contract, he can become an unrestricted free agent in 2025.
Briere’s remarks suggest that he wants to keep Hart in the fold for the long term. Of course, there’s plenty of time for the two sides to work out an agreement. Nevertheless, it’ll be interesting to see if they open extension talks this summer or wait until next year to work this out.
UPDATE ON THE STARS
THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Joseph Hoyt looked at some key questions facing the Stars as they head into the offseason.
With limited salary-cap space, he wondered if Stars management can find sufficient cap space to re-sign Max Domi or Evgenii Dadonov, who played well after joining the Stars at the trade deadline.
Their estimated $7.3 million in cap space could allow a promising young forward such as 21-year-old center Mavrik Bourque an opportunity to crack the lineup next season.
Unless they can find a way to shed forward Radek Faksa and his $3.25 million cap hit, they’ll have to find some serious value via free agency or trade for a player with a lesser cap hit who’s under contract for several seasons.