- While shifting the focus to a bridge deal with winger William Nylander might help get him locked up before the season starts, Maple Leafs GM Kyle Dubas stated in an interview on Sportsnet 590 (audio link) that doing so would be a “sub-optimal” He reiterated that both sides’ preference remains to get a long-term deal done although there is still a sizable gap to be bridged. Dubas also acknowledged that they have received inquiries from other teams regarding Nylander’s availability but emphasized that they are not shopping the 22-year-old.
Maple Leafs Rumors
The stand-off between restricted free agent defenseman Shea Theodore and the Vegas Golden Knights is over and ended in a way that few expected after all this time. Late last night – or early this morning for many – Theodore ended his holdout by signing a seven-year extension worth $36.4MM, per a team release. It is a flat structure without any salary fluctuation or bonuses, but does include a modified No-Trade Clause in the final two years, as reported by TSN’s Pierre LeBrun. Theodore will now re-join the Knights at training camp and is expected to be ready for the start of the regular season.
The new contract carries a $5.2MM AAV, higher than Theodore’s reported comparable contracts of Winnipeg’s Josh Morrissey and Edmonton’s Darnell Nurse. However, those two players each signed two-year bridge deals, whereas Theodore was able to land long-term security, as well as eat into unrestricted free agency years, with five extra years at a salary of close to $2MM more. The cap hit for a long-term deal is also commensurate with Theodore’s experience relative to those two, comparable to recent deals signed by the likes of Toronto’s Nikita Zaitsev, Florida’s Michael Matheson, and the Rangers’ Brady Skjei. It turns out that term was actually the bigger factor in negotiations than salary, according to GM George McPhee, speaking to the media following the Knights’ preseason game last night. “I don’t know that we were ever really far apart; it was more what’s the right term. They were more interested in going shorter, we were more interested going longer,” McPhee said, adding that “When it was all laid out and explained” to Theodore, there was finally a resolution. McPhee stressed the importance of cost certainty when negotiation a long-term deal with a player they see as a major core piece moving forward, balancing cap space with commitment, and stating that he is “confident” with the long-term core they have put together.
Not long ago it seemed there was no resolution in sight between Theodore and the Golden Knights, only for a surprise long-term deal to be announced overnight. Could another contract negotiation break the same way? With Theodore signed, only the Maple Leafs’ William Nylander and the Ducks’ Nick Ritchie remain unsigned and the news out of both cities has been equally pessimistic. Yet, if Theodore can agree to deal with just some small tweaks and some inside information from management, others can too. With the regular season set to open next week, the clock is ticking for these two remaining RFA’s to make a deal.
Maple Leafs winger William Nylander is one of just three remaining restricted free agents and it doesn’t appear as if a deal is particularly close. In an appearance on TSN 1050 (audio link), TSN’s Darren Dreger suggested that there haven’t been many talks as of late between Nylander’s camp and the team. The belief remains that Toronto is hoping to lock the 22-year-old on a long-term pact somewhere in the $6MM range but Nylander is seeking more than $7MM per year to be locked up long-term. Understandably, the Leafs are going to try to hold a hard line knowing that contracts for top youngsters Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner are on the horizon for next season.
The Maple Leafs have inked another one of their 2018 draft picks, announcing the signing of center Semyon Der-Arguchintsev to a three-year, entry-level contract. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.
The 18-year-old was a third-round pick (76th overall) back in June following a much-improved sophomore season with Peterborough of the OHL. In 68 games with the Petes, he put up 13 goals and 38 assists; his 51 points ranked tied for 11th best among under-18 skaters in the league.
Assuming Der-Arguchintsev doesn’t make the NHL club and play in ten or more games this coming season, his contract will slide a year and will still have three years left on it in 2019-20. He’s ineligible to be sent to their AHL affiliate so he will have to go back to the Petes, whose regular season just got underway on Thursday.
When TSN released their off-season Trade Bait List in early July, Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Justin Faulk was ranked #4, among the most likely players to be dealt. A little more than two months later, all three players ranked ahead of him – Erik Karlsson, Max Pacioretty, and former teammate Jeff Skinner – have changed teams, while Faulk remains in Raleigh. But for how much longer? Appearing on TSN Radio 1050 recently, insider Pierre LeBrun revealed that Faulk was a target of the Toronto Maple Leafs this summer and speculated that the team could still move to acquire him this season. LeBrun opines that Faulk, a right-handed shot signed to an extremely reasonable $4.83MM cap hit over two more years, would be a perfect fit for the Leafs. Toronto has long been searching for a top pair defenseman to complement lefty Morgan Rielly and Faulk fits the bill. LeBrun speculates that the Hurricanes are likely asking for a major package in exchange for Faulk, but meeting those demands may not be an impossible task for Toronto. Several Maple Leafs players and prospects could fill gaps in Carolina, such as veteran center Nazem Kadri, promising wingers Kasperi Kapanen and Andreas Johnsson, and young goalies Garret Sparks and Joseph Woll, as well as a full cabinet of draft picks. There have also been some inclinations that the Hurricanes are preparing to move on from Faulk as well, such as acquiring a new top pair righty in Dougie Hamilton and passing over Faulk, a career ’Cane, for their captaincy. The team is under no pressure to deal their long-time stud defenseman, but if GM Don Waddell receives a strong enough offer, he seems likely to pull the trigger.
- Columbus Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen has been clear that he does not want to trade either Artemi Panarin or Sergei Bobrovsky, but as both remain unsigned and approaching free agency and trade calls continue to come in for Panarin, there has been rampant speculation as to where the star winger may land. After recent comments from Bobrovsky that could be read as implying that his time in Columbus could soon be over, many have begun to predict where he may land as well. In a recent segment for TSN Radio 1200 in Ottawa, Darren Dreger stated his belief that the New York Islanders would be the front runners in a Bobrovsky trade scenario. Dreger adds that there will be more than a few suitors should the two-time Vezina winner hit the trade market or, better yet, the open market. However, Dreger feels that the Islanders and new GM Lou Lamoriello feel more pressure to add a true No. 1 goaltender in their hopes of soon returning to contender status. The Isles currently roster unpredictable Robin Lehner, on a one-year deal, and failed starter Thomas Greiss, as well as two prospects overseas in Ilya Sorokin and Jakub Skarek. Lehner and Greiss do not instill much hope and Sorokin may never make the jump to North America. The Islanders are without a solution in net in the immediate future and could target Bobrovsky at any cost to solve that problem.
- How long will the Anaheim Ducks and New Jersey Devils wait on contract resolutions with Nick Ritchie and Miles Wood respectively? The restricted free agents continue to hold out for better contracts and miss valuable time in training camp, despite underwhelming numbers through their first three seasons to support their absence. At this time last year, Columbus Blue Jackets RFA forward Josh Anderson – a similar power forward-style player – remained unsigned and was the subject of numerous trade rumors. Yet, Anderson had just 34 points through 96 games in his first three seasons, whereas Ritchie and Wood have more experience and production through the same amount of time. Ritchie, a first round pick in 2014, has 59 points in 186 games. Wood, one of the Devils’ top scorers last season, has 49 points through 137 games. One would think that either team could drum up interest if they began actively shopping their respective RFA, but it hasn’t happened to this point. Wood is not without flaws to his game, but has exceeded expectations and played a major role for New Jersey last season and with more play time has the potential to be even better. In contract, Ritchie has his strengths, but has not lived up to his first-round billing. Between the two, it would be less of a surprise to see Anaheim part with Ritchie.
Hindsight is an amazing thing, and allows us to look back and wonder “what could have been.” Though perfection is attempted, scouting and draft selection is far from an exact science and sometimes, it doesn’t work out the way teams – or players – intended. For every Patrick Kane, there is a Patrik Stefan.
Our look back at the 2006 NHL Entry Draft is now in full swing as we poll the PHR community to see who would have been selected in the first round and in what order knowing what we know now. Through the first dozen picks, we’ve already seen potential Hall of Fame players switch teams, and multiple captains move up and down the draft board.
Here are the results of the redraft so far:
1st Overall: Jonathan Toews (St. Louis Blues)
2nd Overall: Claude Giroux (Pittsburgh Penguins)
3rd Overall: Nicklas Backstrom (Chicago Blackhawks)
4th Overall: Brad Marchand (Washington Capitals)
5th Overall: Phil Kessel (Boston Bruins)
6th Overall: Jordan Staal (Columbus Blue Jackets)
7th Overall: Milan Lucic (New York Islanders)
8th Overall: Kyle Okposo (Phoenix Coyotes)
9th Overall: Erik Johnson (Minnesota Wild)
10th Overall: Derick Brassard (Florida Panthers)
11th Overall: Bryan Little (Los Angeles Kings)
12th Overall: Nick Foligno (Atlanta Thrashers)
In a fairly close vote, Foligno is off to the Thrashers, who initially picked Little with this pick. While Little plays a more premium position as a full-time center, Foligno certainly isn’t a bad consolation prize and would have fit in well with a now-Winnipeg roster that features some size and grit on the wings. Meanwhile, it’s a nice bump up the draft board for Foligno who initially went 28th to Ottawa.
Now we’ll move on to the thirteenth overall pick in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft, which was originally held by the Toronto Maple Leafs.
With their original pick, they selected winger Jiri Tlusty out of Kladno in the Czech Republic. While his offensive numbers weren’t anything to get too excited about, the fact that he was able to play a regular role in their top league as a draft-eligible player was certainly encouraging. He spent one year after that in junior hockey before making the full-time jump into Toronto’s system in 2007-08 where he spent the bulk of the season with the Maple Leafs. However, he spent most of the next two years in the minors and in the final year of his entry-level deal, he was dealt to Carolina for Phillipe Paradis, a 2009 first rounder that ultimately didn’t make the NHL.
While that was essentially the end of Toronto’s journey with that pick, Tlusty went on to carve out a respectable career. He spent parts of six seasons with the Hurricanes before being dealt as a rental to Winnipeg at the trade deadline in 2015. He then spent a year in New Jersey before heading to Finland in 2016. However, an injury with Karpat in December of that year ended his playing days. Tlusty wrapped up his career with 177 points in 446 games, a respectable career but not a great return on a lottery selection.
With that in mind, who should Toronto take with the thirteenth selection? Make your pick in the poll below:
Mobile users, click here to vote.
Even while NHL clubs trim the fat off their training camp rosters, minor league teams are adding talent for the upcoming season. We’ll keep track of the minor moves right here.
- The San Jose Barracuda have signed Keaton Middleton to an AHL contract, meaning he’ll join his brother Jake Middleton in the organization. The younger of the two Middleton boys, Keaton was selected by the Toronto Maple Leafs in the fourth round of the 2016 draft but failed to sign a professional contract with them and became an unrestricted free agent this summer. The towering defenseman has served as the captain for the Saginaw Spirit for the past two seasons and can be an absolute physical force on the ice when on his game.
- The Binghamton Devils have also added an interesting player on an AHL contract, inking Brian Ward to a one-year deal. Ward was a dominant offensive player for the Adirondack Thunder of the ECHL the past two seasons, and could make the jump to the AHL this year if given a chance. A former standout at St. Lawrence University, he’s still quite a distance from ever challenging for an NHL job but should give the Devils some added depth in the minor leagues.
The Athletic’s NHL Draft and prospects guru Scott Wheeler has released the first definitive list of candidates for the Calder Trophy in 2018-19, and the order may surprise some people. Admittedly, the list is in the context of fantasy hockey, but Wheeler’s rankings are true to how he thinks Calder voting will unfold if each rookie hits their stat projections. As such, it’s not this year’s first overall pick, Buffalo Sabres defenseman Rasmus Dahlin, at the top of the list, but presumptive top-six center for the Vancouver Canucks, Elias Pettersson. Pettersson will be put in a much better position to rack up points than will Dahlin, the next-best candidate, as potentially one of the three best scoring forwards for the Canucks and traditionally productive forwards have a better shot at the Calder than (relatively) equally productive defensemen.
Coming in at number three is Boston Bruins forward Ryan Donato, who led both the NCAA and Olympics in goals last season and will look to win a top-six role for Boston and continue to find the back of the net at an alarming rate. Playing alongside either Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron or David Krejci and Jake DeBrusk is an easy way for Donato to quickly become an elite scorer at the NHL level. The fourth-ranked candidate is second overall pick Andrei Svechnikov of the Carolina Hurricanes, who – like Pettersson – will be given an immense amount of responsibility right away as a top-six winger who is arguably already one of the three most skilled forwards on the team. However, Svechnikov is one of three Hurricanes rookies on Wheeler’s list, which could take away from his case. Rounding out the top five is Dahlin’s fellow rookie in Buffalo, center Casey Mittelstadt, who scored at nearly a point-per-game pace in the college ranks and in a brief stint with the Sabres to end the year. Mittelstadt should face favorable match-ups this season with the lines anchored by Jack Eichel and Patrik Berglund drawing considerable attention from the opposition.
Wheeler’s top twenty Calder Trophy candidates are as follows:
- C Elias Pettersson, Vancouver Canucks
- D Rasmus Dahlin, Buffalo Sabres
- RW Ryan Donato, Boston Bruins
- RW Andrei Svechnikov, Carolina Hurricanes
- C Casey Mittelstadt, Buffalo Sabres
- RW Filip Zadina, Detroit Red Wings
- C Dylan Strome, Arizona Coyotes
- C Henrik Borgstrom, Florida Panthers
- C Martin Necas, Carolina Hurricanes
- D Miro Heiskanen, Dallas Stars
- RW Dylan Sikura, Chicago Blackhawks
- RW Eeli Tolvanen, Nashville Predators
- C Filip Chytil, New York Rangers
- LW Brady Tkachuk, Ottawa Senators
- LW Valentin Zykov, Carolina Hurricanes
- RW Kailer Yamamoto, Edmonton Oilers
- C Anthony Cirelli, Tampa Bay Lightning
- LW Kristian Vesalainen, Winnipeg Jets
- C Sam Steel, Anaheim Ducks
- RW Vitaly Abramov, Columbus Blue Jackets
Honorable Mentions: C Vladislav Kamenev, Colorado Avalanche; LW Jordan Greenway, Minnesota Wild; C Robert Thomas, St. Louis Blues; LW Andreas Johnsson, Toronto Maple Leafs; C Michael Rasmussen, Detroit Red Wings; C Lias Andersson, New York Rangers; D Sami Niku, Winnipeg Jets; D Evan Bouchard, Edmonton Oilers; RW Daniel Sprong, Pittsburgh Penguins
What do you think? Who will be the NHL’s Rookie of the Year and take home the Calder Trophy at the end of the season? The favorite? The first overall pick? Another top candidate? Or a name not even mentioned here?
If you were heading into the season believing that Jonathan Drouin will be the first-line center for the Montreal Canadiens, you may have to rethink that position. GM Marc Bergevin was on TSN radio today and told Tony Marinaro that he currently projects Max Domi, Phillip Danault, Tomas Plekanec and Matthew Peca as the four centers for the Canadiens to start the year. Drouin obviously still could end up at the position at some point given Domi’s lack of experience there, but it sounds like he’ll be starting on the wing.
The Canadiens have been searching for center help for quite some time, and though there is help on the way with prospects Jesperi Kotkaniemi, Ryan Poehling and Nick Suzuki—though the latter has played quite a bit of wing as well during his junior career—2018-19 doesn’t look like it will necessarily be any different. For Drouin at least the move might be beneficial, given that he struggled to score last season down the middle with just 13 goals in 77 games.
- The Toronto Maple Leafs meanwhile aren’t handing out roster spots at all to their young players, instead expecting them to earn a role in training camp. Chris Johnston of Sportsnet writes that Mike Babcock expects both Travis Dermott and Andreas Johnsson, who are expected to play big roles on the Maple Leafs going forward, to prove that they deserve spots instead of just acting like they’ve “arrived now.” Many Toronto fans are hoping that Dermott will be part of the solution to their perceived defensive woes this season, but he’ll have to convince his head coach that he’s ready before being handed a full-time job.
- Ottawa Senators GM Pierre Dorion was on CBC radio with Robyn Bresnahan today, speaking about the dilemma he faced with the recent Erik Karlsson situation. Dorion admitted that he knew he couldn’t “get nothing” for Karlsson by watching him walk away in free agency next offseason. Contract negotiations quickly broke down between the two sides this offseason, meaning Dorion felt he “owed it to our fans to tell them what the plan was and before the season started.” The team is quite openly in rebuild mode, and are expected to give plenty of opportunities to young players this season.
With training camp fully underway, teams area already making cuts as they send players to juniors or back overseas. Here’s a rundown of today’s moves:
- The Carolina Hurricanes announce they have assigned three players back to their junior teams, including forwards Stelio Mattheos, Luke Henman and defenseman Brendan De Jong. Mattheos, the team’s third-round pick in 2018 will return to the Brandon Wheat Kings where he scored 43 goals last year in the WHL. Henman was the team’s fourth-round pick in this year’s draft and will return to the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada of the QMJHL. De Jong was a 2017 sixth-round pick, who will return to the WHL’s Portland Winterhawks.
- The Toronto Maple Leafs have trimmed their training camp roster from 77 to 46 as they have sent eight players back to their junior teams, loaned one to Europe and sent another 17 to the Toronto Marlies’ training camp today, according to Postmedia’s Lance Hornby. That leaves 46 players in the Maple Leafs’ camp. The team sent Zachary Bouthillier, Filip Kral, Owen Lalonde, Ryan McGregor, Roman Pucek, Ian Scott, Riley Stotts, and Eli Zummack. The team also loaned Jesper Lindgren back to HPK of Finland’s Liiga. The team also sent Matthew Bradley, Sean Durzi, Hudson Elynuik, Giorgio Estephan, Brady Ferguson, Alex Gudbranson, Mac Hollowell, Sam Jardine, Kasimir Kaskisuo, Stefan LeBlanc, Eamon McAdam, Griffen Molino, Ryan Moore, Zach O’Brien, JJ Piccinich, Scott Pooley, Kristians Rubins to the Marlies training camp.
- The Detroit Red Wings announced they cut 10 players from camp today as they now stand at 61 players. The team assigned forwards Zach Gallant and Brady Gilmour as well as defensemen Cole Fraser, Jared McIsaac, Alec Regula and Reilly Webb to their respective junior teams. The team also released forwards Pavel Gogolev, Maxim Golod and Nicolas Guay as well as goaltender Justin Fazio from their amateur tryouts.
- The Edmonton Oilers announced they have cut three players from the training camp roster today and returned them to their junior teams, including forward Kirill Maksimov, defenseman Dmitri Samorukov and goaltender Olivier Rodrigue. Samorukov and Maksimov were the team’s third-round and fifth-round picks, respectively in 2017, while Rodrigue was their second-rounder this year.