NHL Rumours: Toronto Maple Leafs, Montreal Canadiens, and More

Newcomer to the NHL rumours pool, Andrei Markov, skates with the puck in a Montreal Candiens game from 2016.
MONTREAL, QC - DECEMBER 12: Andrei Markov #79 of the Montreal Canadiens skates the puck during the NHL game against the Boston Bruins at the Bell Centre on December 12, 2016 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. The Boston Bruins defeated the Montreal Canadiens 2-1 in overtime. (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)

As the summer progresses, there are still plenty of NHL rumours to discuss. With so many hot-topic free agents still in limbo, and many trades looming, it seems like there’s a lot of excitement yet to be had. Last Word on Hockey is continuing keeping fans up to date with the latest NHL rumours. In today’s piece, we look at NHL rumours surrounding the Toronto Maple Leafs, Montreal Canadiens, Philadelphia Flyers and the Edmonton Oilers.

NHL Rumours

Toronto Maple Leafs

Rumour: It’s no shock to see the NHL rumours pool circling back to Toronto. Sportsnet’s Satiar Shah reported that there was supposedly a contract between the Maple Leafs and star winger Mitch Marner lined up but the deal wasn’t approved by Toronto’s president, Brendan Shanahan.

Analysis: It seems like every week a new Marner rumour surfaces. He’s by far one of the most talked-about free agents in recent history, despite only being a restricted free agent. The general thinking lately has said that Marner is in continuous talks with the Leafs but an agreement isn’t near. As a result, the 22-year-old winger is seeking offer sheets to help strongarm Toronto’s negotiations. However, Shah’s report may argue that thinking a bit.

Shah says that a deal wasn’t far off between the two parties but Shanahan shot down the proposed contract. This is a huge surprise to many. Popular rumours have insinuated that Marner’s camp were the ones making contract talks difficult. Now it seems like neither party can find a happy middle-ground.

This could be a good sign for Leafs fans, though. The proposed deal may only need a few minor tweaks before Shanahan gives it the green light. Toronto’s general manager, Kyle Dubas, has made it explicitly clear that signing Marner is the team’s top priority. The forward netted 94 points in 82 games last year and is a major part of the Leafs lineup.

Montreal Canadiens

Rumour: TSN’s Andrew Zadarnowski reports that the Canadiens could be bringing back fan-favorite defenceman Andrei Markov, although nothing seems to be guaranteed.

Analysis: Markov had a prolific NHL career. He was drafted by the Canadiens in the sixth-round of the 1998 NHL Draft. After a stint in Russia, he moved to the NHL where he played 16 years with the Canadiens. He had many spectacular seasons, including seven years with at least 40 points. This includes the 2008-09 season, where he tallied 64 points in 78 games.

The terrific defenceman announced he would return to his native country of Russia after the 2016-17 season, after not being granted a two-year $12 million contract from Montreal. For the past two years, he’s played with the Kazan Ak-Bars of the KHL, where he’s scored 47 points in 104 games. When announcing his departure for the KHL, Markov made it clear that a return wasn’t out of the question. He also made sure to specify that said return wouldn’t be with anyone but the Canadiens. At the time of his announcement, Markov said, “those 16 years were a big part of my life. I will never forget my time here, I didn’t see myself with any other NHL team. I didn’t see myself wearing another jersey.”

While nothing is set in stone, it seems like that return may be coming sooner rather than later. The Canadiens have roughly $4.8 million in cap space and have been in search of left-handed defensemen to round out their roster. They recently signed Ben Chiarot, which adds a noticeable boost, but bringing back Markov could be the icing on the cake. Markov will turn 41 in late-December.

Philadelphia Flyers

Rumour: Sam Carchidi of the Philadelphia Inquirer reported that the Flyers could be one of many teams interested in Russian forward Anton Burdasov. Burdasov has played in the KHL since the 2009-10 season.

Analysis: Burdasov stands at 6’3″ (191 cm) and weighs in at 198 pounds (90 kg). He’s a large presence on the ice and makes sure it’s known. He’s been no stranger to the penalty box as his career has progressed. Last season was by far his most-penalized year, though. He recorded 114 penalty-minutes in only 50 games.

Of course, Burdasov is not unfamiliar with scoring either. He recorded 31 points in those 50 games last year, tying his career-high. While not as prolific as some KHL stars, Burdasov still knows how to make his way onto the scoresheet. It’s very likely that he could be the perfect replacement for Wayne Simmonds, who the Flyers traded away during last year’s Trade Deadline.

Simmonds, another very strong power-forward, was a big part of Philadelphia’s roster. He was an unrestricted free agent this summer but chose to sign with the New Jersey Devils instead of returning to the Flyers. This has left a big hole in the Flyers roster. Burdasov is equally as strong, and physical, something that the Flyers roster needs. If all translates perfectly, he could add a tremendous spark to a roster that barely missed the playoffs last year. The Flyers have $13.4 million in cap space to re-sign Travis Konecny and Ivan Provorov. The two could eat up most of this space but it’s not likely that Burdasov, who has had issues playing in a full KHL season in the past, has the pieces to argue for a high salary.

Edmonton Oilers

Rumour: Jason Gregor of TSN reports that trade talks surrounding Milan Lucic have come to a stand-still. He says he expects Lucic to start the year in Edmonton.

Analysis: This report may also raise a few eyebrows. After a devastating 2018-19 season, the Oilers were in clear need of a better-rounded lineup. While this was the best summer to add key pieces to a roster, Edmonton wasn’t able to participate much. They’ve remained strapped for cap space, with many troubling contracts getting in their way. Of them all, no contract is worse than Lucic’s. The 2019-20 season will be his fourth year on a contract the Oilers signed him to in 2016. The seven-year deal gives Lucic a no-movement clause in every year. It also adds in a modified no-trade clause for the final two seasons. Worst of all, though, is the fact that the deal comes in at a staggering $6 million cap hit.

Since signing the deal, Lucic has scored 104 points in 243 games with Edmonton. Of these points, 50 came in his first year with the team. He’s notably declined since then, recording only 20 points in 79 games last year. With such a daunting deal, the Oilers desperately need to move the 31-year-old Lucic to help improve their chances of a fast rebuild.

Yet, it seems like the Oilers may be out of luck. Gregor reports that all trade talks surrounding Lucic have completely died down and aren’t likely to pick up before the 2019-20 season starts. With all speculation, it wouldn’t be a shock if the death of these trade talks is simply from lack of interest around the league. Between his diminishing play and awful contract, there’s not much to be excited about with Lucic. So much so that the Oilers were reportedly tacking Lucic on to trade talks surrounding restricted free agent Jesse Puljujarvi.

Puljujarvi has repeatedly demanded a trade out of Edmonton. In his piece, Gregor also mentions that Puljujarvi likely won’t be traded until at least September.

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