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 North of the border involving the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Vancouver Canucks. With plenty of big names sure to be on the move in the near future, we check in on two more teams of particular interest in the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Colorado Avalanche.
All of our NHL rumours are taken from the original source and are subject to change.
Toronto Maple Leafs
Rumour: Pierre LeBrun of TSN and The Athletic reports the Leafs have had preliminary talks involving a Patrick Marleau trade with the Los Angeles Kings. While LeBrun notes the connection between Marleau and Kings coach Todd McLellan, negotiations are still in the early stages.
Hearing the Leafs and Kings have talked about a potential Patrick Marleau trade. Obviously there’s the Todd McLellan connection there for Marleau so he might waive. But as of now I don’t think the two teams have found a fit. Kings would need to unload a contract or two as well…
— Pierre LeBrun (@PierreVLeBrun) May 31, 2019
Analysis: Leafs GM Kyle Dubas appears to be taking a proactive approach to the potential headache of signing Mitch Marner to a new deal. Speculation over what Marner’s camp might be seeking sparked much debate this past week. Getting Marleau’s $6.25 million dollar AAV off the books for next season would make fitting that likely double-digit number in a whole lot easier.
What makes Marleau the easier piece to trade is the structure of his contract. Only 20% of his $6.25 million dollar AAV is owed to him next season thanks to some hefty signing bonuses. For teams free of cap concerns, paying out only $1.25 million for Marleau might make sense. For such a deal to happen at the reduced salary number (but not cap hit), it would come after July 1st, when the Leafs would pick up his 2019-20 bonus.
At 39 years old, the Kings or any other interested teams would be adding a player in the twilight of his career. With that said, his leadership could be an asset for any team in transition or full of youth.
Rumour: Pierre LeBrun reported in his “LeBrun Notebook” for the Athletic that Pittsburgh is willing to hold onto Phil Kessel if the right trade can’t be made.
Items on Marleau, Zaitsev, Kessel and Hall in my weekend NHL notebook:
— Pierre LeBrun (@PierreVLeBrun) May 31, 2019
Analysis: It appears Kessel leaving the Pens is no longer a foregone conclusion. Since their abrupt elimination in the playoffs, talk of change in Pittsburgh has been rampant. While Pens general manager Jim Rutherford may still move Kessel, the return will have to be worthy of the American sniper’s services.
In Kessel, team’s will be looking to add a 30 goal scorer and two time Stanley Cup champion. The 31-year-old has three years remaining on a modest contract with a cap hit of $6.8 million. While the Minnesota Wild were recently unable to strike a deal, they won’t be the only team to inquire about Kessel.
Considering the going price for goal scorers in today’s market, any team with the cap space should have interest in Kessel. Because he holds a limited no-move clause, there must be mutual interest for a deal to be made. As LeBrun notes, the relationship between Arizona Coyotes coach Rick Tocchet and Kessel makes the Yotes a team to keep an eye on in a potential trade.
Rumour: Sportsnet’s Irfaan Gaffar reports that the Canucks and pending RFA Brock Boeser are far apart in negotiations.
#Canucks and Boeser camp expected to meet again soon. Told the two sides are not close at all.
— Irfaan Gaffar (@sportsnetirf) May 30, 2019
Analysis: 2019 is shaping up to be the summer of the RFA in the NHL. Boeser joins a star-studded RFA class of 2019 which includes Mitch Marner and Patrik Laine amongst many others. While Auston Matthews was able to avoid joining this group in the offseason, his big payday might have set the tone for his peers.
Early in his Canucks career, Boeser has shown an ability to find the back of the net. With 59 goals in only 140 NHL games played, the 22-year-old looks like a 30 goal scorer down the road. What makes accurately projecting his future difficult is the small sample size of his production.
Perhaps the lack of clarity of what exactly Vancouver has in Boeser explains the status of their negotiations. A bridge deal could make sense for both sides, serving as an opportunity for the player to prove his worth and the team to evaluate their asset.
Rumour: Adrian Dater (formerly of the Denver Post) suggests that the Avs could be in on upcoming UFA Artemi Panarin.
Avs have as much to spend in free agency as any team. If a guy like Panarin chooses Florida over Avs, it’ll be more of a pure financial decision. And that’s fine. Avs will be there pitching him though
— Adrian Dater (@adater) May 29, 2019
Analysis: Colorado is reportedly ready to add some pieces following a surprisingly successful 2018-19 season. With the Avalanche in line to have as much as $37 million dollars in cap space next season, expect them to be active in the free agent frenzy window beginning July 1st.
The selling point for free agents to join Colorado lies in the firepower of the Avs roster. Adding Panarin to an offence already consisting of Nathan MacKinnon and company would give them one of the top forward units league-wide.
While Panarin’s price tag is sure to be a hefty one, the Avs have room to make multiple additions. As Mackinnon begins to reach the prime of his career, Colorado’s window to win opens. If Avs general manager Joe Sakic believes that time is now, he has the budget to act accordingly.
That’s it for today’s NHL rumours. Check back tomorrow for a new batch of rumours and analysis at Last Word on Hockey.
Main Photo: TORONTO, ON – JANUARY 12: Patrick Marleau #12 of the Toronto Maple Leafs battles between Brandon Carlo #25 and Torey Krug #47 of the Boston Bruins during an NHL game at Scotiabank Arena on January 12, 2019, in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The Bruins defeated the Maple Leafs 3-2. (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)