NHL Rumor Mill – June 6, 2022
More speculation about Jack Campbell’s future with the Leafs plus the latest on the Bruins in today’s NHL rumor mill.
WILL CAMPBELL TEST THE OPEN MARKET?
TSN: Chris Johnston recently expressed his uncertainty over whether Jack Campbell will return with the Toronto Maple Leafs. The 30-year-old goaltender is slated to become an unrestricted free agent on July 13.
The Leafs know what the Campbell camp seeks on his next contract since negotiations first started last fall. He apparently wants $5 million per season but the Leafs haven’t been able to meet that. A three-year deal could get it done. However, the Leafs could be in the market for two goaltenders if Campbell goes to market.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: A couple of days following Johnston’s report on May 31, Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reported hearing there hadn’t been any contract conversations for months between the two sides and anything that had been discussed was no longer relevant. Campbell’s agent told Friedman there hadn’t been any material contract conversations since the end of the regular season.
On the one hand, there are those who point out that Campbell still hasn’t proven he can handle the full-time rigors of a starting goaltender. They often cite the drop-off in his play after the first two months of this season and his inconsistency after returning from a rib injury.
However, there aren’t many decent options available via free agency or the trade market. The best potential UFA is Marc-Andre Fleury but there’s no certainty the 37-year-old netminder would be willing to play for the Leafs. His age would also be a concern.
Pickings are also slim in the trade market. There have been some suggestions of the New York Islanders peddling Semyon Varlamov but he carries a $5 million cap hit and a 16-team no-trade list. John Gibson might be available if he doesn’t want to be part of the Anaheim Ducks’ rebuilding project but his annual average value is $6.4 million through 2026-27 and a 10-team no-trade list.
If the Leafs can’t afford $5 million for Campbell, they probably can’t afford it for Varlamov or over $6 million for Gibson. If they’re unwilling to pay Campbell that much, there are no assurances Varlamov or Gibson would accept a trade to Toronto.
Don’t assume the Isles or Ducks would retain salary. The Islanders have cap space issues of their own this summer while the Ducks probably wouldn’t want to carry a retained salary for the next five seasons.
LATEST ON THE BRUINS
Shinzawa speculates a rival general manager could approach Bruins GM Don Sweeney about Matt Grzelcyk or Mike Reilly. If Sweeney can move either blueliner for futures, it would provide the Bruins with much-needed cap space as well as draft picks.
Those freed-up cap dollars could help them convince Patrice Bergeron and/or David Krejci to return next season. If not, perhaps it could be used to pursue a trade for a center such as Mark Scheifele if he and the Winnipeg Jets decide to part ways.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Grzelcyk is also recovering from shoulder surgery and it could take five months until he returns to action. Reilly recently went under the knife to repair a right-ankle tendon but his recovery timeline is three months.
I won’t rule out the possibility of either or both blueliners getting traded this summer. However, the odds of moving them would be better if they were healthy.