.We’re almost two weeks into free agency, but we still have plenty of NHL rumours. Teams still have plenty of time to set the rosters and will look to make some more moves. Today we look at rumours surrounding the Toronto Maple Leafs, Dallas Stars, and Winnipeg Jets.
All NHL rumours are taken from the original source and are subject to change.
Toronto Maple Leafs
Rumour: The Athletic’s Aaron Portzline indicates that the Columbus Blue Jackets are amongst a number of teams that have considered giving Mitch Marner an offer sheet.
Many teams have spoken w Marner’s agent about a possible offer sheet, and, yes, CBJ are among them. But I see no indication Marner wants to leave TML. Also, #CBJ convinced Leafs would/could match any offer sheet, perhaps by trading Nylander.
See where the summer goes. https://t.co/gcn092r1dm
— Aaron Portzline (@Aportzline) July 12, 2019
Rumour 2: Meanwhile, TSN Ottawa Radio Host Shawn Simpson says that Marner is looking for a four-year deal.
Hearing Marner wants four years on an offer sheet.
Teams won’t give up 4 1st’s for that.
Leafs would easily match.
Player doesn’t want to leave TO.
The games people play.
— Shawn Simpson (@TSNSimmer) July 12, 2019
Analysis: With the financial power of MLSE to match any upfront bonuses, and the way that general manager Kyle Dubas has maneuvered around a potential salary cap issue this summer, a successful offer sheet for Mitch Marner seems a more and more remote possibility by the day. The Leafs will not easily part with the former fourth overall pick who blossomed into the team’s leading scorer last season.
The question now becomes what type of deal Marner will get. The Leafs will want to avoid a four-year contract. Such a deal would walk Marner right up to unrestricted free agency without buying any UFA years. The Leafs will be seeking a longer deal, while the Marner camp wants to cash in with a second big deal in his mid-20s. Looking at recent deals for Auston Matthews and Sebastian Aho, five years might be a compromise that both sides can live with. Now to deal with that AAV.
Rumour: Matthew DeFranks of Dallas Sports Daily speculates that the Stars could move defenceman Julius Honka before the start of the regular season. With the Stars adding Andrej Sekera, re-signing Roman Polak and Taylor Fedun, and with Stephen Johns skating and hoping to return from injury there may not be room on the roster for Honka. The former first-round pick would need to clear waivers before he could be assigned to the AHL. DeFranks reports that the Stars haven’t been secretive about their desire to trade Honka. He did not play a single game after last year’s all-star break, finding himself in the press box as a regular healthy scratch.
Analysis: Even if Johns does not return from his concussion issues, there may not be room for Honka on the roster. Honka played just 29 games last season, often finding himself in the press box. The 23-year-old is clearly not a favourite of head coach Jim Montgomery. Honka is a talented puck-mover but his size and defensive ability have been question marks. At this point, it may make sense for the Stars to move on from the former 14th overall pick. However, given his inability to make an impact to date, his lack of waiver eligibility, and his deficiencies the Stars shouldn’t expect a big return for Honka. Trading for another young player needing a change in scenery (perhaps a forward) could make sense for Dallas. Or the team could look for a late-round pick or long-term project.
Rumour: On the 31 Thoughts Podcast, Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reports that Jets winger Patrik Laine is looking for a short term deal. He also indicated that Laine did not get along with the leadership on the team.
Friedman said “Laine is a whole big discussion right now because he’s the one guy who seems to want a short bridge of all these guys. He didn’t leave happy last year and we’ve talked about this, some of that was his own fault, he wasn’t as good as he could be and I think he chafed under some of the leadership there. The guys at the top of that food chain are hard driving guys. They expect you to buy into the program and I think that they felt he didn’t buy in enough and I think he felt that some of the things that they wanted were ridiculous. So you got to bridge that too.”
Analysis: Laine has scored at least 30 goals in each of his three seasons in the NHL. However, he was very disappointing in the second half of last season finishing with just 30 goals and 50 points in 82 games. He was also an eyepopping minus-24. The advanced stats weren’t much better, with a 46.2 percent Corsi-For and -3.2 relative Corsi. He was better in the playoffs though, with three goals and four points in the Jets first-round loss to the St. Louis Blues. This was well down from his 2017-18 season when Laine scored 44 goals and 70 points. He added five goals and 12 points in 17 playoff games as the Jets went to the Western Conference Final.
All of this makes finding the right value for Laine difficult. When he is on his game, he is amongst the best goal scorers in the NHL. Laine has a one-timer that rivals Alex Ovechkin and Steven Stamkos. However, Laine still has to work on being a consistent producer in the offensive end. He can also improve his effort level and positioning in the defensive end. Laine seems to want a short-term deal. He is hoping that he can put up big numbers over the next two years and then returning to the bargaining table to really cash in.
NHL Rumours: Jared Clinton of The Hockey News names Jason Zucker, Nikita Gusev, Travis Hamonic / Michael Stone, Chris Kreider, and Loui Eriksson as his top-five trade candidates between now and the end of the regular season.
Analysis: Besides the fact that Clinton cheated and named six trade candidates (by including two Calgary Flames defenders) in his list, these names should come as no surprise. The Minnesota Wild have nearly traded Zucker twice in recent months, with the deals falling through at the last minute. Gusev’s problems with the Vegas Golden Knights have also been well documented. The Vancouver Canucks have been looking to make Eriksson a cap dump. Meanwhile, the New York Rangers continue to rebuild and with one-year remaining on Kreider’s contract they need to decide if he will be part of the team going forward.
Meanwhile, there has not been as much written about the Flames defencemen (though it has been speculated before). Rasmus Andersson is already a full-time NHLer. Juuso Valimaki and Oliver Kylington got plenty of NHL experience last season. The Flames could save cap space by giving their young defencemen more NHL minutes next season. Stone and Hamonic are surplus to requirements. With teams always looking for decent right-handed defencemen, there may be a market to move one of them.
Main Photo for this edition of NHL Rumours:
ST. LOUIS, MO – APRIL 20: Patrik Laine #29 of the Winnipeg Jets attempts to pass the puck against Ivan Barbashev #49 of the St. Louis Blues in Game Six of the Western Conference First Round during the 2019 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs. The game was played at the Enterprise Center in St. Louis, Missouri on April 20, 2019. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)