It’s that time again for some NHL rumours. We’re going to discuss NHL rumours with the Toronto Maple Leafs, Winnipeg Jets, Dallas Stars, and Anaheim Ducks. What’s going on with these teams as the Stanley Cup Final is being played? Well, we have it all here for you to digest and analyze.
Toronto Maple Leafs
Rumour: The Toronto Maple Leafs are finally admitting that it may be time to find a new home for Nikita Zaitsev.
It was Nikita Zaitsev who, for personal reasons, asked TOR today to try to facilitate a trade. He has five years remaining on a contract with an AAV of $4.5M. TOR will try to oblige Zaitsev but are not in a salary cap position to retain much, if any, salary.
— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) May 30, 2019
Analysis: To state that after signing Zaitsev to a seven-year $31.7 million contract two years ago was an error in judgment… is an understatement. He won’t be out of that contract until the 2023-24 season. His production is certainly not equal to his compensation. During the 2016-17 season, he collected a promising four goals and 32 assists in 82 games. Since then it hasn’t been so great. In the 2017-18 season, he had just five goals and eight assists in 60 contests. This past season he slipped even further with only three goals and 14 assists in 81 games. Meanwhile, his possession numbers have also slipped from his rookie season, with Zaitsev at -1.8 relative Corsi in 2016-17, and -4.1 and -4.0 the past two years.
What Can be Done Going Forward
The 27-year-old Russian native is a right-handed defenceman and a team needing that asset will look at him. Yet, finding a team to take on that contract with little money retained on it may be a task that general manager Kyle Dubas finds to be difficult at best. It’s never easy to unload a player who is in decline for whatever reason. Dubas may want to give him a fresh start with another team, but getting that to work out may be easier said than done.
Obviously, the Maple Leafs are motivated to save some cap space in an attempt to make room to meet Mitch Marner’s contract renewal demands. This isn’t a bad starting point and we will need to wait to see how this turns out.
Rumour: Jacob Trouba has ignited significant interest in his services per TSN insiders Frank Seravelli and Darren Dreger.
My colleague @frank_seravalli has Jacob Trouba #2 on TSN’s Trade Bait board. There is significant interest in Trouba and ongoing discussions. Several teams are conducting pro scouting meetings this week, so action is expected to heat up.
— Darren Dreger (@DarrenDreger) May 30, 2019
Analysis: Several teams are checking into his availability during scouting meetings this week. Dreger stated that his colleague Frank Seravalli has Trouba #2 on TSN’s Trade Bait board. Things could be heating up with teams like the New York Rangers, Detroit Red Wings, and of course, the Toronto Maple Leafs all looking for a right-hand shooting defenceman.
Trouba is a pending restricted free agent coming off of a $5.5 million AAV deal and can be an unrestricted free agent in one season. He had 50 points this past season in 82 games. Trouba also had a 50 percent 5V5GF, a 48.4 percent expected goals for percentage, and 49.2 percent Corsi and +0.7 relative Corsi. He stands at 6-foot-3, 202 pounds and is just 25-years-old.
If the Jets were to listen to any trade offers they’ll more than likely be looking for a top-4 defender or a second-line centre in return. The Jets are going to try to rid themselves of Trouba’s contract which will increase for whichever team lands him. It’s also been hard to get Trouba to sign long-term in Winnipeg with two contract disputes in three years. Even with the Jets having over $25 million in cap space they also have seven RFA’s and seven UFA’s to try to sign to contracts. Included on that list are Patrik Laine, Kevin Hayes, Kyle Connor, and Tyler Myers all wanting raises (especially the RFAs in Laine and Connor).
What it all boils down to is, it looks like Trouba will be dealt at some point before the July 1st opening of free agency. This is one of the hottest NHL rumours to follow.
Dallas Stars/Anaheim Ducks
Rumour: Bob McKenzie from TSN has confirmed that the Anaheim Ducks empty head coaching slot search will include interviewing Todd Nelson who is currently an assistant coach with the Dallas Stars. The interview is to take place next week.
There hadn’t been much going on with news of who will be behind the Duck’s bench next season after Randy Carlyle was let go until today. McKenzie also added that Lane Lambert, Rick Bowness, and Dallas Eakins are in the mix as candidates… so far. There could be more? We’ll see.
Lane Lambert, Rick Bowness, as well as Todd Nelson, and Dallas Eakins are amongst the candidates in ANA. There may be more.
— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) May 29, 2019
Analysis: The Ducks finished a lowly sixth in the Pacific Division with just 80 points. Ryan Getzlaf led the team with 48 points to display just how weak the Ducks were on offence. It was believed that Eakins was the frontrunner to take over this year. However, with the Ducks giving multiple interviews to other options, the chances of him getting the job may be dropping somewhat.
McKenzie also informed us that former Los Angeles Kings head coach, John Stevens could be joining the Stars coaching staff in a yet unknown role. Unless Nelson were to leave and that an assistant coaching gig would open up for Stevens. The point made by McKenzie is that head coach Jim Montgomery and Stevens are good friends and have worked together before. So, that is something we here will track for all of you as things progress.