Welcome back to Wednesday’s edition of NHL Rumours from the Last Word on Hockey crew. We are now less than a month away from opening night and players are starting to get back home to kick off training camp. There is still plenty of time however for teams to make so final moves to upgrade their rosters. Today we have NHL Rumours from the Toronto Maple Leafs, Montreal Canadiens and the Carolina Hurricanes.
All NHL Rumours come from their original source and are subject to change.
Toronto Maple Leafs
Rumour: While speaking of Mitch Marner on Sportsnet’s 590 The Fan, Chris Johnston stated that there is a tentative deadline to get Marner signed by September 12th so that he is available on the first day of camp. He states that if he is not signed by then all bets are off.
“I would expect you’re going to see a concerted effort to get him signed and in camp by September 12th, and if that doesn’t happen all bets are off. “@reporterchris on Mitch Marner @gregbradyTO @SmrtAsh.#LeafsForever
— Sportsnet 590 The FAN (@FAN590) September 3, 2019
Analysis: While we are not exactly sure what Johnston means by “all bets are off”, what we do know is that the Maple Leafs certainly do not want to go down the same road they went down with William Nylander last season. We would also believe Marner does not want that either. We saw last season the impact it had on the player more so than the team. Nylander struggled to return to top form after such a long layoff. He never got back to the player he was the season before. Nylander offered his own advice to both Matthews and Marner after signing his deal, and that was to get it done before the season started. Auston Matthews, of course, is already signed to a five year $58.17 million deal.
More on Marner
TSN’s Darren Dreger also had a hit on Leafs Lunch stating that there is speculation that there is a three-year deal on the table with an AAV of around $9.5 million. He believes Marner would absolutely sign a three-year deal. However, it’s hard to believe he would sign for that low of a number. Despite that being the same number that arguably the best winger in the game Nikita Kucherov signed for, it’s not enough in Marner’s eyes. There is also a difference in taxes between Toronto and Tampa. So Kucherov would actually be pocketing more than Marner with that deal.
The fact is it seems Marner wants an identical contract to Matthews, much like Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews did in Chicago. It does not seem like he is going to settle for anything less. So unless Kyle Dubas caves and gives him that same deal, we could be looking at a long standoff between both parties.
NHL Rumours: Montreal Canadiens
Won’t be long before hockey’s back in full swing. On that note, hearing the #Habs are considering 36-year-old Jason Pominville, who had 16G and 31PTS (avg TOI 12:28) in 73 gms with Buffalo last season. There have been some talks. Nothing imminent, but something to look out for.
— Eric Engels (@EricEngels) September 3, 2019
Analysis: This comes after his agent Norman Dupont stated that Pominville would be interested in joining the Canadiens and would certainly listen to any offer from the organization. Although Pominville is a Quebec native, I’m not so sure there is a real fit for the player. Pominville’s career is winding down and is not as effective as he may have been three or four years ago. The Canadiens have a ton of depth at the wing position. With youngsters like Nick Suzuki and Ryan Poehling looking for a spot with the big club, bringing in another depth forward does not seem like the best option for the Canadiens.
However, this could all change. Marc Bergevin could have a separate move up his sleeve to move out some of his bottom line depth via trade. Pominville is still capable of being an effective third or fourth-line player who could help the Habs powerplay which they desperately need. He had 16 goals and 31 points in 78 games last season. So he is still capable of pitching-in offensively. If Bergevin does, in fact, sign Pominville, expect another move to follow shortly thereafter.
Rumour: The last of our NHL Rumours comes from Sara Civian of The Athletic. She recently wrote a piece covering the recent news of Justin Williams stepping away from the game. In the piece she suggests this is very much like the Mike Fisher “retirement” and Williams could return to the Hurricanes during the season.
The Hurricanes will be OK without Justin Williams, but they’ll never be the same. What his break from the NHL means for the Canes: https://t.co/gkKgYbFwcn
— Sara Civ (@SaraCivian) September 2, 2019
Analysis: As Civian states, “this is not a retirement.” Williams just has not decided where to go from here. He is clearly wearing down and unsure of how much he has left in him to give to the game and the Hurricanes organization. With that, Williams being the ultimate team player that he is, decided to step away from the game so that he is not a distraction on the Hurricanes organization. Hurricanes GM Don Waddell had already prepared for this by acquiring Erik Haula and Ryan Dzingel in the off-season. If the Hurricanes are in the playoff hunt in the second half, my bet would be that you will see Williams re-sign with the club to get one more kick at the can before he officially announces his retirement from the game.