Well, there sure has been a lot of rumors swirling in Toronto after the Maple Leafs 5 game series loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets. I previous years contract talks of Nylander, Marner, and Matthews have really dominated the talk in this town and not too many media people have bothered with rumors since they had plenty to talk and write about.
But this offseason feels different, rumor mongering like this feels like that there is blood in the water and sharks are starting to circle. The old city of Toronto is back after 4 years of excitement around a young team that has slowly been chipped away by the media having free reign to say and all things ridiculous on the air with no consequences.
First Matthews has the next coming of Howe with a 4 goal game to start his career and ending his rookie season 4 goals shy of Sidney Crosby for the Maurice Rocket Richard Trophy, but eventually settled for Calder.
Then there was the “Cup window is open talk”, which was about 4 years premature.
Let’s definitely not forget the “Unprecedented RFA summer” talk that lead to these contracts:
Brayden Point (TBL) 3 years $6.75M AAV
Kyle Connor (WPG) 7 years $7,142,857 AAV
Mikko Rantanen (COL) 6 years $9.25M AAV
Patrick Laine (WPG) 2 years $6.75M AAV
Matthew Tkachuk (CGY) 3 years $7M AAV
Charlie McAvoy (BOS) 3 years $4.9M AAV
Zachary Werenski (CBJ) 3 years $5M AAV
Mitch Marner (TOR) 6 years $10.893M AAV
But when it was all said and done Bob McKenzie took to the air waves on National TV and said that the unprecedented summer for RFA’s was not really that, the Marner contract is more of an outlier.
There are changes coming. The Leafs need to shore up their defense and augment their bottom 6 players. So here come the rumors…….
As per Elliotte Friedman, we can expect Joe Thornton to sign a $1 million – 2 million deal with the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Would be a surprise if Andersen doesn’t start for the Maple Leafs next season
Luke Fox of Sportsnet: Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender Frederik Andersen has a year left on his deal at a $5 million cap hit. There may not be a big upgrade on the free agent market this offseason. Jacob Markstrom could re-sign with the Canucks. Braden Holtby and Corey Crawford appear to be on the downturn. Robin Lehner is the top UFA goaltender but he wouldn’t come cheap. Cam Talbot‘s numbers are not as good as Andersen’s.
The Minnesota Wild, New York Rangers and Pittsburgh Penguins may have a goaltender available for trade.
It would be a surprise if Andersen and Maple Leafs talk contract extension this offseason and it would be a surprise if Andersen is not their starting goaltender when the 2020-21 season gets underway.
Before the Maple Leafs acquired defenseman Tyson Barrie, there was speculation he was wanting $8 million a season. Barrie didn’t have great free agent season with five goals and 39 points. He wasn’t a good match with the Leafs. On if he’s looking for a short- or long-term deal, Barrie said: “At this point I have no idea what the future holds,” he says.
Murray looking like the odd man out in Pittsburgh
Dan Kingerski of Pittsburgh Hockey Now: Pittsburgh Penguins GM Jim Rutherford needs to figure out his goaltending situation for next season, and it appears that Tristan Jarry will get a new contract and that Matt Murray will be moved.
The free agent market for goaltenders could include Braden Holtby, Robin Lehner, Corey Crawford and Jacob Markstrom. The Vegas Golden Knight could be put Marc-Andre Fleury on the trade block if they re-sign Lehner. The New York Rangers may also be looking to move a goalie.
Murray’s trade value has decreased this season as he posted a .899 save percentage, though he did have a good second half to the regular season.
Given the flooded goalie market this offseason, the trade value for Murray could be a second-round pick and a prospect.
Could the Penguins find a team that is interested in Murray but also in Jack Johnson (three years left at $3.25 million) or Nick Bjugstad (one-year at $4.1 million)?
The Wild may be looking for a new goaltender and Bjugstad is from Minnesota. Could the Penguins take back a big contract of Zach Parise or Ryan Suter (both have five years at $7.25 million) along with another asset(s)?
David Staples of the Edmonton Journal: There has been talk that the Edmonton Oilers should be looking to trade Oscar Klefbom, Darnell Nurse or Adam Larsson this offseason. doesn’t think they should trade any of those three, but should look to move Kris Russell.
Brian Burke was on Bob Stauffer’s radio show and said that their defense needs an upgrade or change, that a couple of guys could use a change of scenery. Stauffer asks about Larsson, Nurse or Klefbom.
“Any one of the three above, I like all of them, so I’m not picking on any one of them. I think Darnell Nurse gives a component that really makes their team different, I think, in terms of the mobility and hostility. But, yes, something. It’s so hard to make trades when you’re in cap trouble but it might be time for a change of scenery.”
Stauffer brings up an Adam Larsson for a Toronto Maple Leafs winger Kasperi Kapanen or Andreas Johnsson. Burke responds with:
“Those might be fits. Those guys are both good players that you mentioned from here (Toronto). I think Larsson is a really good player. He didn’t have a great year, but I think he’s a really good shut down guy. There could be a fit there.”
Brian Lawton was talking with Bob Stauffer as well about the Oilers defense. Lawton would be concerned about Klefbom’s injury history. He’s well thought of around the league and is on a fairly team friendly deal
Mark Spector of Sportsnet expects that Klefbom, Nurse and Ethan Bear will be back with the Oilers, and that trading Nurse would be a bold move. Spector thinks tthe that Oilers will trade Larsson, and the asking price will be high as there are plenty of teams who need a player like him – like the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Spector thinks the Oilers need more defensive defenseman and Stauffer thinks they need more puck-moving defensemen.
Spezza hopes to be back
Luke Fox of Sportsnet: Toronto Maple Leafs forward Jason Spezza is a pending unrestricted free agent. He’s hopeful that he gets the chance to play for the Leafs next season.
“The fire still burns, and I really hope to be back here next year.”
Spezza is back living in Toronto with his family. He has signed a one-year, $700,000 deal last offseason.
“I know I’m not the player I once was, but I do feel like I can help quite a bit,” Spezza said Wednesday. “When you lose, there’s consequences, but I’d really love a chance to come back with this group.”
Maple Leafs GM Kyle Dubas plans on having some contract talks with Spezza. Getting new deals done for restricted free agents Travis Dermott and Ilya Mikheyev would take priority.
Could the Maple Leafs and Penguins swap goaltenders?
Youtube: Nick Kypreos and Doug MacLean talking about what is next for the Toronto Maple Leafs on ‘Real Kyper at Noon.’