Another day, another Last Word on Hockey article covering your latest NHL Rumours. Every day, our team breaks down a selection of the latest rumblings from around the National Hockey League. As the trade deadline draws nearer, teams begin to turn their eyes to more specific targets in preparation for this season and next. Today, we’ll look at NHL Rumours from the Toronto Maple Leafs, New Jersey Devils, and Anaheim Ducks.
Toronto Maple Leafs
Rumour: We start with TSN Insider Trading where Darren Dreger reports that the Toronto Maple Leafs are making progress on an extension with unrestricted free agent Jake Muzzin. He says nothing is done yet. However, if they continue this way it will be done around the trade deadline.
Analysis: This will be an interesting deal to watch from Toronto’s perspective. Muzzin is a massive part of their blueline and one of the few Toronto players who play with toughness. However, he has some skill to his game too and is a very useful player. For Toronto, their cap situation will always be tight so they can’t afford to dish out huge dollars. It is likely Muzzin will make more than the 4 million he does now. However, how much more is the question. Something starting with a five may benefit both sides in this case. Muzzin would get a raise and Toronto would be spending a fair amount for a top pair guy.
The term is also something to keep in mind. Muzzin is 30-years-old and plays a style of game that falls off quickly at times. Signing him to six or seven years could prove costly come the end of that deal. But for now, the Leafs should be worried about what their blueline looks like next season. If they re-sign Muzzin, he’ll join Morgan Rielly and Justin Holl. Timothy Liljegren and Rasmus Sandin have both looked good so far and it is expected they have a roll next year. Travis Dermott is a pending restricted free agent and should be cheap enough. Tyson Barrie is likely gone this summer but it will be interesting to see if they try to replace him with a new player, or just internally.
New Jersey Devils
Rumour: Once again with Darren Dreger on Insider Trading, he mentions that the New Jersey Devils will be receiving calls on a number of players. However, one that sticks out is Blake Coleman.
Analysis: Blake Coleman would be a very smart pickup for just about any team around the league. A name that probably won’t cost as much as bigger players, he can be very effective for very cheap. Coleman makes just 1.8 million for another season after this one. However, he is extremely underrated.
He is a guy who can slot anywhere in your lineup and help out. His underlying numbers are pretty strong and while he isn’t an elite offensive threat, he is on pace for 46 points this season. He can play literally anywhere he is needed, left-wing, centre, or right-wing. The definition of a versatile winger, Coleman could be a great fit for any playoff team. A team like the Boston Bruins would benefit greatly from adding him. His tough to play against style would fit in perfectly.
The return for Coleman will be interesting to watch on NHL Rumours. He isn’t a very known player but given that he is cheap, having a career year, and also has another year left, the Devils have every right to ask for a fair price. He is 28-years-old so he may not fit the Devils long-term plan. Overall, it feels like a natural fit for him to get moved.
Rumour: Our final piece in NHL Rumours comes from Sportsnet and Elliotte Friedman’s 31 Thoughts where he mentions the Anaheim Ducks don’t want to move off their core, however, Ondrej Kase is a name they would think about moving.
Analysis: This is another very interesting and possible low-cost forward that may be on the market. Kase makes 2.6 million for another season after this one, however, he is only 24 years old. Ondrej Kase is an interesting player because he has had the potential to breakout, but opportunity and injuries have stopped that.
He has widely been considered an analytics darling for a few seasons now, with many suggesting if he was given a bigger role he may be able to take advantage of it. However, that is partly why is point totals are so underwhelming right now. The other issue is his injury history. This would likely be the concern for any team picking him up. This is Kase’s fourth season in the league. His previous three he has played 53, 66, and 30 games. Missing time in all three years. This season, he has missed eight of the team’s 57 games. Including a stretch right now. His injury isn’t supposed to be long-term but his history may be concerning.
If a team can pick him up at a low cost, it may be worth it. He is a skilled player who has shown flashes of brilliance. He hasn’t been on a very good Anaheim team lately and getting him a fresh start besides more skilled players may go a huge way in kickstarting his offence. Given his age Anaheim won’t be trading him away for peanuts, however, a younger player or possibly picks may convince this re-tooling Anaheim team to give him up.
That’s all for NHL Rumours, tune in tomorrow for more!