Welcome back to another edition of NHL rumours. With the playoffs coming to a close and the off-season looming, speculation for the Summer is beginning to shape up. Today we’ll dissect rumours involving the Toronto Maple Leafs, Edmonton Oilers, and Tampa Bay Lightning. Additionally, with talk of a return to the NHL for Russian defensemen Andrei Markov, we look at potential suitors.
All of our NHL rumours are taken from the original source and are subject to change.
Toronto Maple Leafs
Rumour: TSN’s Darren Dreger joined “Leafs Lunch” on TSN 1050 radio to discuss the Mitch Marner contract situation. Dreger anticipates that Marner’s camp is likely to extend negotiations past July 1st, the date which Marner will become an RFA. Similarly, the TSN insider added that a deal beyond five years in length is unlikely and the Leafs will have to offer Marner 10+ million to ink an extension.
— TSN 1050 Toronto (@TSN1050Radio) May 28, 2019
Analysis: The Maple Leafs are set to pay out just shy of $30 million for the trio of Auston Matthews, John Tavares, and William Nylander starting in the 2019-20 season. Adding Marner at a number north of $10 million could be problematic for Toronto.
As of June 26th, Marner is eligible to meet with teams hoping to offer sheet the upcoming RFA. Toronto would be entitled to four first-round picks as compensation were Marner to sign an offer sheet with an AAV north of $10.57 million.
Any team in a position to shell out that type of money for Marner is likely to be closer to the bottom of the league’s standings. With this in mind, the draft picks coming back have an increased probability of being strong prospects. Given their cap concerns, it is hard not to consider the pros of letting Marner walk in this manner.
In a perfect world, the Leafs are able to strike a deal with Marner before the end of the summer. Reports such as Dreger’s suggest doing so might not be an easy process. While much time remains to work out an agreement, Toronto might find themselves in a holdout scenario for a second consecutive season.
Analysis: Coming off a four-point showing in eight games at the WHC, Tiffels has garnered some attention in Oil Country. The Pittsburgh Penguins originally drafted Tiffels 167th overall back in 2015. Since then, the German had a brief stint with the AHL and ECHL affiliates of the Pens before heading back to Germany for the 2018-19 season.
While his numbers to date don’t jump off the page, there’s plenty of room for improvement given that he is just 24 years old. A move for Tiffels could be a low risk, high reward move for newly appointed general manager Ken Holland. Considering his track record with unwanted European forwards, Oilers fans will be hoping Holland can recreate some of the magic he possessed while at the helm for the Detroit Red Wings.
Tampa Bay Lightning
Rumour: Multiple outlets are suggesting there could be mutual interest between Erik Karlsson and the Tampa Bay Lightning. Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman noted Karlsson maybe hoping Tampa could make a deal work in his latest edition of “31 Thoughts.” Similarly, The Athletic’s Joe Smith recently dissected how a Karlsson move to Tampa might look.
How Erik Karlsson could land with the Lightning this summer
It would be complicated, no doubt, but if Karlsson wants to join his pal Victor Hedman and play for the Lightning, he is in control.@JoeSmithTB explains how it could work: https://t.co/SiRBj4TWLX pic.twitter.com/Z8fBQ07sOH
— The Athletic (@TheAthleticTB) May 24, 2019
Analysis: The Lightning boast arguably the strongest offensive team in the NHL. With big players come big price tags. Breakout centremen Brayden Point is set to become an RFA on July 1st and is due for a hefty raise.
Landing Erik Karlsson will be challenging for Tampa, albeit not impossible. If his desire to play for the Lightning and fellow Swede Victor Hedman is great enough to take a pay cut, a deal could be made.
While other teams such as the San Jose Sharks await Karlsson’s decision before making any major moves, Tampa will look to move contracts out if their aspirations for the Swedish defensemen are genuine.
In similar fashion to that of last summer’s John Tavares tour, expect many teams to express interest in Karlsson this offseason. As Hedman suggested to Joe Smith, “Who wouldn’t want one of the best players in the world?”
NHL Rumours: Andrei Markov back to North America?
Former #Habs defenceman Andrei Markov has received contract offers from three NHL teams and one KHL team.
— Andrew Zadarnowski (@AZadarski) May 28, 2019
Analysis: Having played his entire 16-year NHL career in Montreal, the Canadiens are likely the odds on favourite to land Markov were he to make a return to North America. The question is whether or not the Habs are indeed interested in a reunion.
At 40 years old, Markov’s best days are undoubtedly behind him. With that said, his leadership and ability to quarterback a powerplay could be attractive to teams league-wide. In a sheltered role with limited even strength minutes and reduced games, Markov could be an X-factor for any team willing to take the risk.
Considering their powerplay woes in 2018-19, the Nashville Predators are a potential fit. The Preds boasted the league’s worst PP despite finishing atop the Central division standings. With players such as Roman Josi and Markov’s former Montreal teammate P.K. Subban comfortable taking on big minutes at even strength, Nashville could accommodate Markov’s specific needs.