Welcome back to NHL Rumours from the crew at Last Word on Hockey. We’re midway through the season and the trade deadline is quickly approaching us. With that comes a ton of NHL rumours. Today, we will focus on NHL rumours from the Montreal Canadiens, Toronto Maple Leafs and the New York Rangers.
Rumour: On TSN’s Insider Trading, Pierre LeBrun said that he spoke to Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin on Tuesday regarding Shea Weber and Carey Price. Bergevin said that he has no intention of moving either of those players and would not listen to any offers on those players before the trade deadline.
Analysis: This should not come as much of a surprise. While fans and media will say that these players’ best years are being wasted as the Canadiens re-tool, the fact of the matter is these are two of the best players in the game at their position. They bring so much to the team on and off the ice that they are key in the success of the Canadiens moving forward. Not to mention, Bergevin already bought into these players long term. First, by trading P.K. Subban for Shea Weber, whose contract doesn’t expire until the defenceman turns 40. Then by signing Price to an eight-year extension worth $10.5 million per season.
As LeBrun mentions, Bergevin values the leadership both Price and Weber bring to the young Canadiens team. With so many young players, this is an irreplaceable aspect for the present and future. A winning team is always scattered with a proper mix of veterans and younger players. Just ask the ask to two most recent cup winners, the St. Louis Blues and the Washington Capitals.
Thinking about the Present and Future
Given that the Canadiens barely missed the playoffs last season and are now again in the thick of things in terms of playoff position, moving either player would be an absolute mistake. Price and Weber will be leaned upon to help carry the team into the playoffs as well as mentor some of the young players the team has coming up. They currently have projected stars in Alexander Romanov and Cayden Primeau on the way and who better to mentor/groom these players than two of the best players of the era?
At the end of the day, Bergevin’s mindset is clear. He wants to be in the playoffs. It’s why he went out and acquired Marco Scandella as well as signed Ilya Kovalchuk to help bolster the roster with all the injuries the club was facing. Price and Weber are needed if this club wants to have any success. It’s a good chance both of these players retire as Montreal Canadiens.
Toronto Maple Leafs
Rumour: Another hit from TSN’s Insider Trading. Bob McKenzie mentions that although they are only in the early stages, there have been preliminary talks between the Leafs and defenceman Jake Muzzin on a contract extension.
Analysis: Muzzin has been an excellent addition to the Leafs ever since he came over before the trade deadline last season. The defence is the weakest position on the Leafs roster. They currently only have three defencemen signed past this season. Morgan Rielly, Justin Holl, and most recently Martin Marincin. This, of course, does not include rookies Rasmus Sandin and Timothy Liljegren, who may potentially win a full-time roster spot next season.
If the Leafs do in fact sign Muzzin, the writing would be on the wall for Tyson Barrie. The Leafs just do not have the cap to keep both players on the roster. Barrie has been rumoured to be looking for somewhere around seven to eight million per season. Muzzin should come in cheaper than that. He also brings a two-way rugged style of play that is more suited to what the Leafs needs moving forward. The Leafs should be able to keep Muzzin somewhere around the $6 million mark which won’t cripple them cap-wise moving forward.
New York Rangers
Analysis: DeAngelo is currently having a career year with 36 points in 45 games. This currently has him on pace to score 66 points by the end of the season. His 36 points has him ranked sixth among defenceman this year. Given that number, DeAngelo will certainly be due a huge raise from his $925,000 salary. The issue with this is the Rangers only have about $15 million in cap space entering next season. Ryan Strome, who is also having a career year, is in need of a new contract as well.
The benefit for the Rangers is that their right side on defence is pretty stacked already. They acquired Jacob Trouba as well as Adam Fox last off-season. They also have Nils Lundkvist on the way up who they drafted in the 2018 NHL Entry Draft. While it’s hard to say DeAngelo is expendable, the amount of depth the Rangers have on the right side certainly makes that the case.
The Rangers have a lot of young, high-end forwards who will also be looking for raises in the coming years. Sinking a ton of money into DeAngelo now would seem like the wrong move for the future. Brooks mentions that the best thing to do with DeAngelo would be to move him for a young, power-forward with controllable contract years. This would be especially true, given the fact that it looks like they will be moving on from Chris Kreider. Kreider is set to become an unrestricted free agent at seasons end. This move would essentially replace what Kreider brings to the table and give the Rangers some more depth upfront.