Welcome back to another edition of NHL Rumours. As the season gets closer more and more news and rumours come available. Every single day LastWordOnHockey has the latest from around the league. From unrestricted free agents to RFA’s to trade bait, we have it all. Today we look at NHL Rumours from the Toronto Maple Leafs, Montreal Canadiens, Minnesota Wild, and Nashville Predators.
Toronto Maple Leafs
Rumour: We start NHL Rumours in Toronto where the news has been nonstop. Sportsnet’s Brian Burke went on Sportsnet650 and said that he believes Toronto will name John Tavares captain. This comes on the heels of the Auston Matthews news from the other day.
Burke said on 650 his information is John Tavares will be named captain.
— Taj (@taj1944) September 26, 2019
Analysis: There has been a ton of speculation about who will be named captain. Matthews not informing the team was clearly an issue, however, the decision on the captaincy was always up for debate. Even before this week, choosing Tavares would be a solid option. He led the New York Islanders for years and by all accounts was a very good captain. He generally keeps his head down and lets his on-ice results do the talking. That could be something these young Toronto Maple Leafs need just about now.
Another option could be Morgan Rielly. By all accounts, he has been a great presence in the dressing room. Rielly is still young but has seen a lot in the NHL. He has been through the Leafs rise from the bottom of the standings to the team they are today and could be a legit option. However, Burke has been around the game for a long time so it would not be shocking if he had some connections still in Toronto. It seems likely that the Leafs will continue to hold this close to their chests.
Rumour: John Lu of TSN reported that Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin stated that the reports of Jonathan Drouin being a potential trade piece are mostly rumours coming from someone’s basement in Toronto. Bergevin is clearly showing a statement of faith in his player.
#Habs Bergevin on reports about Drouin suggesting he’s on the trading block: “Most of those reports are coming from somebody’s basement in Toronto.”
— John Lu (@JohnLuTSNMtl) September 26, 2019
Analysis: There’s a lot to unpack here, so let’s take it one step at a time. Firstly, this is a pretty bold statement as some of the biggest insiders have reported this. Both Bob McKenzie and Elliotte Friedman have made note of the Drouin situation. There have been multiple other reports stating that his name could be out there. While these by no means confirm anything, it is a very bold statement by Bergevin to state that no one with credibility is reporting this.
This also wouldn’t be the first time he said something like this. Bergevin also said that they were not shopping P.K. Subban, and while this may have been true, they still ended up trading him shortly after Bergevin made that comment.
Overall, you have to understand why Bergevin said this though. The tone may be a bit more aggressive than needed but it’s a vote of confidence in his player. Maybe his name has been floated but if nothing comes of it you don’t want a guy playing as if he is going to be traded any second all year. The general manager is taking the players side here and there is nothing wrong with that. It is still a situation to keep an eye on.
Rumour: TSN’s Darren Dreger was on Insider Trading and said that the Wild are looking for a top-six centre. They are very active in the trade market looking to make something happen.
Analysis: The Wild are a team that is somewhat stuck in no man’s land. For a little while now they have been stuck in between too good to tank but also not good enough to truly compete. They either just sneak into the playoffs and don’t make much noise or just miss and fail to get a high draft pick. With an ageing core, they clearly want to take another shot or two at it and adding centre depth is the way to do that.
The Wild have lots of talent still on this roster but down the middle, they are a little weak. Eric Staal is still incredibly solid but is not getting any younger. After that, they have Luke Kunin and Mikko Koivu, not the worst two options, but contenders will want someone a bit more talented on that second line. The problem is that top-six centres are not readily available and if there is a trade for one it will likely cost quite a bit.
Minnesota may have to part with picks and a younger winger or one of their many defenders to get some kind of deal done. Minnesota should be careful with the asking price as their team still needs some big steps to be a contender in the west.
Analysis: With Subban out of the fold it is clear to see why Nashville will want to keep Josi. One of the best offensive defencemen in the game he also leads the team through thick and thin. Josi is on an absolute sweetheart deal at a $4 million cap hit for just one more season. No doubt he will be getting a big raise next summer.
The Predators have had a few players take some discounts for the better of the team. With the way the cap is rising, $8.5 million may not be the biggest discount but it is likely still below market value. The price may still rise from now until next summer but it could be easy to see how both sides could enjoy a long-term deal around that AAV. Josi will get a massive pay raise while the team is competitive. The Preds could keep their captain while in a Cup window. There are likely still lots of discussions to be had but this seems like an encouraging starting point for Predator fans.
That’s all for NHL Rumours, tune in tomorrow for more.