NHL Rumor Mill – June 22, 2019

NHL Rumor Mill – June 22, 2019

Despite the lack of trades involving NHL players during the first round of the 2019 Draft, the rumor mill churns on. Check out the latest on P.K. Subban, Tyson Barrie, and Jason Zucker plus updates on the Leafs, Penguins and more. 

WHY NO TRADES IN THE OPENING ROUND?

THE ATHLETIC: Pierre LeBrun reports uncertainty over the final amount of the 2019-20 salary cap paralyzed some of the trade discussions during the opening round of the 2019 NHL Draft. The cap, projected to reach $83 million, is expected to be between $81.5 million and $82 million. For some teams, that $500K difference is a big deal.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The final number will reportedly be released during the remainder of the NHL Draft later today. It could launch a blizzard of late-round deals or clubs could wait until next week to start wheeling and dealing. 

PREDATORS SHOPPING SUBBAN AND TURRIS

OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch reports the Nashville Predators are rumored to be shopping P.K. Subban and Kyle Turris in hopes of cutting their salary-cap payroll. Subban has three years left on his contract with an annual average value of $9 million. Turris has five seasons remaining at a salary-cap hit of $6 million.

TSN: Frank Seravalli cited colleague Bob McKenzie speculating the Toronto Maple Leafs might have interest in Subban. The Leafs need a skilled right-side defenseman. The Predators are reportedly willing to absorb 30 percent of Subban’s cap hit to facilitate a trade. The Leafs, however, must first shed salary if they intend on acquiring the Preds blueliner.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Predators will also have to pick up a healthy chunk of Turris’ cap hit to move him. However, the remaining term of his contract could be a major sticking point.

The Athletic’s Pierre LeBrun said the Leafs are still discussing a possible trade scenario with the Arizona Coyotes involving winger Patrick Marleau. If they can pull that off, it could free up enough cap room to pursue Subban. Of course, that also depends on the cost of re-signing restricted free agent winger Mitch Marner. And speaking of the Leafs…

The P.K. Subban trade rumors continue at the 2019 NHL Draft (Photo via NHL Images).

LATEST LEAFS SPECULATION

TORONTO SUN: Terry Koshan took note of Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas talking with Predators GM David Poile before the start of the opening round last night. While rumors link the Leafs to P.K. Subban, Koshan points out they lack the cap space to take him on, especially with Mitch Marner, Kasperi Kapanen, and Andreas Johnsson to re-sign.

Dubas claims re-signing Marner is his top priority, but there’s talk he may be closer to re-signing Kapanen. It remains to be seen if he’ll keep or trade the winger. Koshan also dismisses the notion of trading Marner as absurd.

The Leafs could seek a defenseman if they trade Kapanen or Nazem Kadri. Those who could be available include “Kris Letang of the Pittsburgh Penguins, Brett Pesce of the Carolina Hurricanes or Tyson Barrie of the Colorado Avalanche.”

Koshan notes the Leafs are still trying to move Patrick Marleau and Nikita Zaitsev. Connor Brown could also be on the move and Koshan doesn’t rule out a William Nylander deal.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Dubas has to do something to free up cap space for Marner’s new contract. If he’s close to re-signing Kapanen, perhaps it’s a “sign-and-trade” scenario. Then again, he could keep Kapanen and move Andreas Johnsson. He’ll certainly have to shed salary if he intends to add a blueliner like Subban, Letang, Pesce, or Barrie. 

BARRIE NOT AVAILABLE?

THE ATHLETIC: Ryan S. Clark reports Colorado Avalanche GM Joe Sakic is denying media conjecture suggesting defenseman Tyson Barrie could be traded. He claims there’s nothing to those rumors.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Barrie has frequently surfaced in media trade chatter in recent years. Despite Sakic’s latest denials, speculation persists the 27-year-old defenseman could be moved soon. 

NO MOVES IN STORE FOR THE PENGUINS?

PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE: Jason Mackay reports Penguins GM Jim Rutherford claims he’s no closer to swinging a deal. When asked about Kris Letang or Evgeni Malkin, Rutherford said it was “highly unlikely” anything happens with them. While acknowledging he’s open to trade calls, he claims he wasn’t aggressively shopping his top guys. He denied a lower-than-expected salary cap for next season is a factor.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: In other words, unless someone blows Rutherford’s socks off with an incredible offer, Letang, Malkin and Phil Kessel aren’t going anywhere. Their respective no-movement/no-trade clauses also hinder any possible effort movement to move them.

UPDATE ON ZUCKER

TWINCITIES.COM: Dane Mizutani reports Minnesota Wild GM Paul Fenton won’t trade winger Jason Zucker unless the price is right. “I listen to offers and I make offers just like everybody else does,” Fenton said. “It doesn’t mean that he’s pigeon-holed into something. I love Jason as a player and he’ll be a great fit for us when he comes back.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A few weeks ago, the right price was Pittsburgh winger Phil Kessel. At the trade deadline, it was Calgary winger Michael Frolik and a draft pick. Just sayin’.

RISTOLAINEN, DILLON ON THE BLOCK?

OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch reports the Buffalo Sabres talked to several teams about a possible trade of Rasmus Ristolainen. The 24-year-old defenseman carries an annual salary-cap hit of $5.4 million through 2020-21. Garrioch believes Ristolainen could benefit from a change of scenery, suggesting there’s “a strong chance” he’ll be traded before the start of next season.

Garrioch also said the San Jose Sharks are shopping blueliner Brenden Dillon and there are a few teams interested in him.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Ristolainen trade rumors won’t go away. I don’t doubt there are teams interested in him but Sabres GM Jim Botterill won’t just give him away. He’ll either want a top-four defenseman or a scoring forward in return.

The Sharks, meanwhile, already traded away a blueliner by sending Justin Braun to Philadelphia. Unless they believe Jacob Middleton is ready for prime time or intend to re-sign Tim Heed, moving Dillon might not be a wise course of action.