Welcome back to another edition of NHL rumours. Free agent frenzy is only days away and speculation around the league is heating up. Today’s rumours focus on some of the league’s biggest teams, including the Toronto Maple Leafs, Edmonton Oilers and the Chicago Blackhawks.
All of our NHL rumours are subject to change.
Toronto Maple Leafs
Rumour: We start off NHL rumours with Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston reporting that Kyle Dubas and the Leafs “would love” to bring back pending UFA Ron Hainsey. While Dubas expressed interest in keeping the defenseman in Toronto, he fears the price on Hainsey might be too high.
The #leafs would love to bring back Ron Hainsey, according to Kyle Dubas. But he thinks they may get priced out of the market for the veteran D.
— Chris Johnston (@reporterchris) June 28, 2019
Analysis: The fate of the Maple Leafs free agent activity lies in the hands of Mitch Marner. Until the team finds a resolution to the pending RFA’s contract conundrum, they are unlikely to sign any additional players. This includes former players such as Hainsey.
The recent re-signings of Kasperi Kapanen and Andreas Johnsson make keeping Hainsey in Toronto even more complicated. As is stands, the Leafs have less than $7 million in cap space heading into next season. With a Marner deal yet to be completed, it’s safe to say retaining Hainsey is not top priority for Dubas.
If the numbers don’t make sense and Hainsey moves on, the Leafs need to look internally for help on defense. With fellow UFA Jake Gardiner likely on his way out of Leaf land as well, there are two big holes on the backend. Expect some combination of Calle Rosen, Justin Holl, Rasmus Sandin and Timothy Liljegren to fill the void for Toronto.
— Scott Powers (@ByScottPowers) June 28, 2019
Analysis: Hawks General Manager Stan Bowman has never been afraid to make a splash in the offseason. Having already acquired Calvin de Haan, Olli Maatta, and John Quenneville in recent weeks, Bowman is likely just getting started.
Two of Chicago’s biggest issues in 2018-19 were their backend and depth in their bottom six forwards. Adding Maatta and De Haan has helped find a possible solution for the latter. Acquiring Bellemare or Carpenter could help round out the Blackhawks bottom six.
Although neither forward is the flashiest free agent on the market, Chicago could be involved beyond simply adding depth players. As of now, the Hawks have roughly $12 million in cap space for 2019-20.
As the window begins to close for Chicago’s core to win it all one last time, they have the flexibility to make a splash this summer. With rumours of the Blackhawks having interest in some big name free agents, particularly Joe Pavelski, expect Bowman to be a big possible spender come July 1st.
Rumour: Pierre LeBrun of TSN and The Athletic notes the Oilers have reached out to UFA Brian Boyle ahead of July 1st in hopes of adding the veteran Center.
Boyle camp I believe has heard from 5-6 teams and Edmonton is indeed one of them https://t.co/LlunbM2Cdi
— Pierre LeBrun (@PierreVLeBrun) June 28, 2019
Analysis: Centers Connor McDavid and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins give Edmonton two solid options in the middle. Beyond this duo, depth at center was a concern in 2018-19. As a result, help at the forward position should be high on the Oilers lengthy list of needs this offseason.
Boyle is an intriguing option for Edmonton coming off an impressive 18 goal season. Beyond his knack for finding the net, the veteran Center is capable of killing penalties and is responsible in his own end in all situations. The Oilers interest in Boyle makes sense beyond his offensive production considering their 30th ranked PK in 2018-19.
The question remains whether the 34-year-old Boyle has interest in Edmonton. It’s likely Boyle would prefer to sign with a contender. Given he may have just a few years remaining to win it all before calling it a career. Perhaps the opportunity to join a young group led by McDavid could be enough for Boyle to take his talents to Oil Country.
That’s it for today’s NHL rumours. Check back again for a new batch of rumours and analysis at Last Word on Hockey.