NHL Rumours: Toronto Maple Leafs, Vegas Golden Knights, and Boston Bruins

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NHL Rumours
ST. LOUIS, MO - FEBRUARY 19: Vladimir Tarasenko #91 of the St. Louis Blues checks Jake Gardiner #51 of the Toronto Maple Leafs at the Enterprise Center on February 19, 2019 in St. Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)

It’s been 10 days since free agency started and there are still plenty of unsigned free agents to be had. We’re here to keep you informed of all the latest news and NHL rumours as soon as we get knowledge of them.

For the Thursday edition of NHL rumours, we will cover the Toronto Maple Leafs, Vegas Golden Knights, and the Boston Bruins.

All NHL Rumours are subject to change and taken from the original source.

NHL Rumours

Toronto Maple Leafs

Rumour: Justin Cuthbert of Yahoo Sports Canada wrote about how the Toronto Maple Leafs are still in the game on Jake Gardiner.

Analysis: Would Jake Gardiner entertain a pay cut to stay with the Leafs? Much depends on the ever-pressing outcome of the Mitch Marner contract negotiations. With only $9-10 million available once Nathan Horton ($5.3 million) is placed on long-term injured reserve, does Gardiner play the waiting game?

Or would the team think outside of the box and perhaps consider trading Cody Ceci who signed a $4.5 million pact recently after getting traded to Toronto?

While most fans may favor that scenario, it’s unlikely to happen. So, where will Gardiner go? If only we knew. Adding him to an already upgraded back unit containing newly acquired Tyson Barrie, along with a full season of Jake Muzzin, and the quickly improving Travis Dermott has got to entice both parties to determine a solution. In the end, it’s about money… what else?

If Marner gets the huge deal that he is seeking, there seems to be no real way to fit in a respectable salary, even if it’s lower than Gardiner’s previous cap hit of $4.05 million. The 6-foot-2, 203 pound native of Deephaven, Minnesota has 45 goals and 200 assists in 551 NHL career games. He’s also been productive in the playoffs with two goals, 10 assists in 26 games.

The only question remaining is… who gives in first on negotiations? Will Gardiner take a $1 million pay cut in salary? Should he? Will another team offer Gardiner the type of long-term big-money deal many predicted on July 1st?

NHL Rumours: Mike Babcock’s Last Year?

Rumour: If head coach Mike Babcock doesn’t get past the first round in the playoffs next year… it could be the last year of his coaching tenure in Toronto.

Analysis: As stated in the video, this next season is crucial for the Toronto Maple Leafs head coach Mike Babcock. But wait… wasn’t that the claim last season when they added the most sought after free agent out there in John Tavares? With three straight first-round losses, it is time for the Leafs to take the next step. If they don’t, changes will be made.

With additions like Tyson Barrie, Cody Ceci, and Jason Spezza Babcock had better get past the first round or he could find himself unemployed.

Luke Fox, NHL Insider of Sportsnet agreed that if Babcock fails next season then something needs to change. To put it bluntly, ” Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result is the definition of insanity.

NHL Rumours: Vegas Golden Knights

Rumour: Ryan Lambert of Yahoo Sports Canada writes that the Vegas Golden Knights would be making a mistake they’d regret if they trade Nikita Gusev.

Analysis: The Vegas Golden Knights are only in their third year of existence in the NHL. They are not under the salary cap with all their high priced contracts they have committed to pay. With the signing of Malcolm Subban yesterday to a one-year pact equaling $850,000, the team is going the wrong direction to limit their salary cap dilemma. They are now over the cap limit by $3.525 million. While they can place David Clarkson on long-term injured reserve, to get back under the cap, they still need to fill out the bottom end of the roster with only 21 players listed in this calculation on CapFriendly.

It is expected that Cody Glass would be added to the forward group, making the team this year. Meanwhile, there are only five NHL defencemen under contract. The team would like to re-sign Deryk Engelland. College signing Jimmy Schuldt is an RFA. It would take some maneuvering to get to the point where they may afford Gusev.

For starters, he is reportedly demanding at least $4 million for two years, while the team is only offering half that much money for the same term. If general manager George McPhee wants to retain the services of the former KHL star, he needs to determine what roster moves may allow that to happen.

It seems that McPhee would want a second-round pick or a combination of a later pick. And perhaps a mid-range prospect if he would trade the Russian sniper. It would be a gamble (even in Sin-City) to trade him away only to see him prosper with another team. McPhee may decide he likes the idea of Gusev (0.85 points per game in the KHL) after all.

He starred in the KHL last season with 17 goals, 65 assists in just 62 games. To compare his potential is to perhaps pass on the next Alex Radulov, Ilya Kovalchuk, or even Artemi Panarin.

Of course, there is an escape hatch for McPhee in the form of moving a Ryan Reaves ($2.775 million) and/or Nick Holden ($2.2 million) to not only get their salary cap in order but also to retain a talented forward like Gusev.

Hope he has a good accountant.

Boston Bruins

Rumour: Per Matt Porter, NHL writer at the Boston Globe, the Boston Bruins have $7.35M left to sign both Charlie McAvoy and Brandon Carlo and that means a trade could be in order.

Analysis: With players like David Backes ($6 million AAV for two years), Kevan Miller $2.5 million, one year), and John Moore ($2.75 million AAV for four years) a trade seems mighty likelyOne fan wrote back on Twitter: “So, any trade the Bruins make to address this situation will be some combination of a) creative b) genius c) painful.” And, that says it all!

The Bruins might as well join the salary cap merry-go-round. Oh, what to do to sign players they really need to get signed? Fitting it into the restrictive salary cap limit is the challenge. Most think that the Bruins should definitely part ways with Backes. It may not be that easy. They could retain up to a limit of 20 percent of his salary. Then maybe offer a second-round pick and maybe another one the next year. Keep in mind also that Backes has a modified no-trade clause in his hefty contract.

Don’t forget that Backes was a healthy scratch nine times in the playoffs. That kinda signifies the team’s lack of faith in his playing ability. No doubt it’s time to look for a new landing spot for him, but it’s looking quite difficult.

The other two players mentioned here are both not healthy. They may not be available when the new season begins in October. It’s never easy to trade hurt players. That’s never a good thing.

We’ll need to wait for this one to see how it gets resolved. Good luck general manager Don Sweeney. I wouldn’t want to be you.

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