Welcome to Friday’s edition on NHL Rumours from Last Word on Hockey. We’re closing in on the beginning of training camp and there are still plenty of talented players left without contracts. The RFA standoff is still going strong as we await the first domino to fall. Not only that but there are still some quality UFAs looking for new homes. As we head towards the final weeks of August, we should soon start seeing these players putting their names to paper.
All NHL Rumours come from their original source and are subject to change.
NHL Rumours #1: San Jose Sharks
Rumour: Kevin Kurz of The Athletic wrote a piece stating that Joe Thornton has a handshake deal with the Sharks to come back for another season. Patrick Marleau, on the other hand, is not expected to be back in a Sharks uniform.
— The Athletic (@TheAthleticSF) August 14, 2019
Analysis: The is rather surprising as at the beginning of the off-season we all thought Marleau would sign with the Sharks on a cheap one year deal to end his career. Marleau had moved his family back to San Jose after being traded to the Carolina Hurricanes from the Toronto Maple Leafs and then later bought out. However, it does not seem as though the Sharks are interested in their all-time franchise leader in basically every category possible. Kurz mentions that there is no real fit for the veteran who is set to turn 40 next month. The Sharks are in the market for a right-winger however, that is a position Marleau has not played.
Thornton, however, is just waiting for the Sharks to get their roster in place so he can set a number on a new contract for himself. Thornton is basically doing Sharks GM Doug Wilson a favour by not demanding a certain salary. Instead, he is just waiting to see what is left to give him at the end of the day. Thornton wants a cup. That’s all that matters to him at this point in his career.
St. Louis Blues
Rumour: Jeremy Rutherford of The Athletic reports that the agent for Blues forward Ivan Barbashev has told them that his client is listening to offers on both sides of the ocean. He states that this is not a bargaining ploy and that the Blues know where they stand.
Dan Milstein, the agent for Blues restricted-free agent Ivan Barbashev, tells @TheAthleticSTL this morning that his client is “looking at options on both sides of the ocean.” Milstein insists this is not a negotiating ploy and the Blues know where they stand. #stlblues
— Jeremy Rutherford (@jprutherford) August 15, 2019
Analysis: The is big news out of St. Louis as they run the risk of losing one of their young up and coming players. Barbashev just completed his first full season in the NHL where he put up 14 goals and 12 assists for 26 points in 80 games. He also scored three goals and three assists in 25 playoff games. The trouble for the Blues is they only have $1.97 million in cap space. That’s not enough to get Barbashev under contract. Not forgetting to mention, he could get more if he went back to Russia. They would need to move out a contract in order to get Barbashev signed.
The other risk they run is that they have some key free agents coming up next season. Alex Pietrangelo, Vince Dunn, and Brayden Schenn will all need new contracts after this season. All three will be getting a nice raise from what they’re making now. The Blues will certainly want to have as much cap space as possible to get these players signed. Some players may be sacrificed and Barbashev may just be one of them.
Toronto Maple Leafs
Rumour: Dan Rosen of NHL.com had a mailbag segment where he was asked who would be the first RFA to sign. Rosen explained that it seems the rest of the RFA’s are in a holding pattern until Mitch Marner signs with the Maple Leafs. After that, the rest will quickly follow suit.
Analysis: Marner is expected to be the highest-paid of this elite group of RFAs. What he signs for will dictate the rest of the group as Rosen explains. Marner is going to sign for somewhere in between $10-$11.5 million per season. There have been rumours that Marner has had three offers presented him with different term and money on each one. However, Marner is also rumoured to be looking for Matthews money. That means chances are his cap hit comes around $11 million per season. Therein this would theoretically put the Leafs over the cap.
Kyle Dubas has done an excellent job moving cap around this summer, however, he still has some work to do. Rosen says there is a soft deadline to sign which is the beginning of training camp. The Leafs are scheduled to begin their physicals on September 12th. The good news, if Rosen is right, we should soon see the end of the RFA standoff.