NHL Rumor Mill – July 31, 2018

NHL Rumor Mill – July 31, 2018

Speculation of the Leafs and Blues talking trade plus a look at the future of Rangers forward Kevin Hayes in your NHL rumor mill. 

Are the Toronto Maple Leafs pursuing St. Louis Blues defenseman Colton Parayko? (Photo via NHL Images)

LEAFS INTERESTED IN PARYAKO?

BETWEEN THE POSTSHoward Berger reports a source told him the Toronto Maple Leafs and St. Louis Blues “have recently kicked trade tires.” The Leafs are looking “for a big-time defenseman” while the Blues are “in need of offence.” He said Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas is trying to pry blueliner Colton Parayko out of St. Louis.

Berger doesn’t believe the Leafs would make William Nylander available to land Parayko. He instead proposes a package “that includes Jake Gardiner and Andreas Johnsson. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It wouldn’t surprise me to hear Dubas is shopping around for a skilled defenseman. Perhaps he’s given a call to Blues GM Doug Armstrong to inquire into his asking price for Parayko.

However, Armstrong already made several moves to bolster his offense this summer, acquiring Ryan O’Reilly in a trade with the Buffalo Sabres and signing former Leafs center Tyler Bozak and hometown winger Patrick Maroon, as well as bringing back former Blue David Perron. So I doubt he’s still in the market right now for more scoring punch.

If Dubas were to offer Nylander for Parayko straight up, perhaps Armstrong would listen. That’s what I believe it would take to bring the big blueliner to Toronto.

Gardiner has good offensive skills but he’s not as solid as Parayko in his own zone He’s also a UFA next summer and I don’t think Armstrong would be interested in giving up one of his best blueline assets for a player who could bolt at season’s end. Johnsson has promise but he’s yet to play a full NHL season. Just because he was lighting it up for the Leafs’ farm team doesn’t mean he’ll do the same at the NHL level.

The Blues also have several promising prospects, such Jordan Kyrou, Robert Thomas and Klim Kostin, in their system. Perhaps one of them will crack the lineup in 2018-19 and provide the Blues with additional scoring punch. 

IS HAYES ENTERING HIS FINAL SEASON WITH THE RANGERS?

NEW YORK POST: Brett Cyrgalis reports the New York Rangers yesterday avoided salary arbitration with center Kevin Hayes by re-signing him to a one-year, $5.125-million contract. Hayes will be eligible to become an unrestricted free agent next summer, so this new deal casts some doubt over his long-term future with the Rangers.

Hayes could flourish in 2018-19 under new Rangers coach David Quinn, If not, he could become a trade chip near by next February’s deadline if Rangers general manager Jeff Gorton continues stockpiling draft picks and prospects. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE:  Hayes isn’t a top-line center but he’s a good second- or third-line forward who’s exceeded 40 points in three of his four NHL seasons, including a career-best 25-goal performance last season. If the Rangers remain in rebuild mold by the trade deadline Hayes will likely be shopped to playoff contenders seeking depth at center.