Welcome back to another edition of NHL rumours. The 2019 NHL Entry Draft is a week away and chatter around the league is heating up. Today’s rumours span across Canada involving the Toronto Maple Leafs, Vancouver Canucks and Winnipeg Jets. In addition, after inking Jordan Eberle to a five-year deal, it appears the New York Islanders are not done yet.
All of our NHL rumours are taken from the original source and are subject to change.
Toronto Maple Leafs
Rumour: TSN’s Pierre LeBrun reports that the Leafs are “quietly” shopping backup goaltender Garret Sparks.
Hearing from a few sources that the Maple Leafs have quietly been shopping Garret Sparks. The backup goalie, 25, has one year left on his deal paying him $750k.
— Pierre LeBrun (@PierreVLeBrun) June 14, 2019
Analysis: It appears Toronto is ready to give up on Sparks after a tough season for the 25-year-old. Prior to the 2018-19 season, the Leafs waived backup goaltender Curtis McElhinney to free up a spot for Sparks. After posting an 8-9-1 record with a 3.15 goals-against-average and .902 save percentage, Sparks failed to win over fans and potentially the front office in his efforts.
Were the Leafs to move on from Sparks, the backup role would need filling. While goaltending prospects Ian Scott and Joseph Woll could both join the organization in some capacity next season, it is unlikely either would make the jump to the NHL so soon.
If the Leafs look for options outside the organization, expect any incoming goalie to come at a modest price. Similarly, the return in a possible Sparks deal is likely to consist of a pick or prospect, as the team is in no position to take on any additional salary.
Rumour: J.P Barry, the agent of Loui Eriksson, joined Sportsnet 650 radio to discuss his clients future in Vancouver. Barry suggested it may be time for Eriksson’s departure from the Canucks.
"For a lot of hockey seasons, it might be better for Loui to play somewhere else…"
J.P Barry with thoughts on Loui Eriksson's future with the @Canucks
— Sportsnet 650 (@Sportsnet650) June 14, 2019
Analysis: Eriksson’s time in Vancouver could be coming to a close. Despite appearing in 81 games in 2018-19, he registered just 29 points for the Canucks. With the Swedish winger set to turn 34 prior to the 2019-20 season, it is unlikely he fits into Vancouver’s vision moving forward.
With three years remaining on a six-year $36 million dollar deal, moving Eriksson might be tricky. Fortunately, much like the Patrick Marleau contract in Toronto, the structure of the deal makes finding a suitor easier. With only $1 million owed to Eriksson after July 1st, perhaps taking on the former 30-goal scorer is a gamble some teams might take.
Hoping to strike a deal with pending RFA Brock Boeser, Canucks general manager Jim Benning is sure to be a busy man this off-season. As Vancouver adds more young talent like Elias Pettersson and Quinn Hughes, more pay raises are due in the future. With this in mind, Benning will be glad to find a way to get Eriksson off the books to avoid a potential cap crisis in the coming seasons.
Rumour: Pierre LeBrun reported in his “LeBrun Notebook” for the Athletic that Winnipeg is listening to offers on Nikolaj Ehlers.
What does a new contract for Jordan Binnington look like? Such a unique case. That plus other rumblings from around the league in my weekend NHL notebook:https://t.co/9ax1FmQPvT
— Pierre LeBrun (@PierreVLeBrun) June 14, 2019
Analysis: The Jets have some cap concerns heading into a busy offseason. In order to make room for pending RFA’s Kyle Connor and Patrik Laine, Winnipeg is assessing the value of Ehlers around the league.
At only 23 years old, the young Danish forward already has two 60 point seasons under his belt. Ehlers is sure to garner some attention with six years remaining on a contract with an AAV of $6 million.
The possibility of losing one or both of Jacob Trouba and Tyler Myers this summer would leave Winnipeg thin on the back end. As a result, a deal involving Ehlers would likely see a defenseman joining the Jets in return.
With speculation that Phil Kessel is staying put in Pittsburgh and Eberle signing in Long Island, Ehlers value in the market for available wingers is sure to have increased. If the Jets unload Ehlers to free up space, expect the return to be a hefty one.
New York Islanders
Airborne right now, on route to Vegas for Awards festivities, jumped on Wifi and saw Isles signed Eberle. They’re not done. Progress being made on both Lehner and Lee.
— David Pagnotta (@TheFourthPeriod) June 14, 2019
Analysis: The Islanders were shaping up to be a big player in the free agent market this offseason. Having recently signed pending free agents Brock Nelson and Jordan Eberle, the Isles now appear to be working on new deals for both Lee and Lehner.
Many around the league pegged Long Island as a possible destination for Artemi Panarin and/or Sergei Bobrovsky. Projected to have roughly $22 million in cap space in 2019-20, adding both Lee and Lehner would eat up the majority of that figure. If the Islanders chose to go the route of resigning this duo, consider them out on the Panarin/Bobrovsky sweepstakes.
After a surprisingly successful season, general manager Lou Lamoriello looks to be doubling down on this group of players. Under the guidance of head coach Barry Trotz, Lamoriello and co. will be hoping to build on the magic they found in 2018-19 moving forward.
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: ST PAUL, MN – APRIL 17: Nikolaj Ehlers #27 of the Winnipeg Jets controls the puck against Matt Cullen #7 of the Minnesota Wild during the first period in Game Four of the Western Conference First Round during the 2018 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Xcel Energy Center on April 17, 2018 in St Paul, Minnesota. The Jets defeated the Wild 2-0. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)