The rumour mill is heating up just five days away from the expansion draft, a week away from the NHL entry draft, and 12 days away from free agency. In today’s Leafs Links, we have updates on Zach Hyman, Frederik Andersen, Nick Foligno, Tyler Bertuzzi, Gabriel Landeskog, Darcy Kuemper, Alex Kerfoot, and much more.
On Oilers Now with Bob Stauffer, Elliotte Friedman provided updates on pending UFAs Zach Hyman, Jaden Schwartz, Tomas Tatar, and Nick Foligno.
Friedman on the Zach Hyman sweepstakes:
There are a lot of us in this business who are hearing rumours of 6×6 or 7×6 for Hyman out there. We do suspect that Edmonton is one of the teams that could potentially do that. I think there are other teams in it. I am not convinced Calgary is doing that. I don’t think Vancouver can do that unless someone else is going.
The one team I am kind of wondering about is Detroit. I do think they like Hyman, but I am just not sure if they are going to do that. Does it make sense for them to do that now?
I have also wondered about the Rangers, but I don’t think they’re going to be able to do that.
We will see where this goes, but I think the Oilers are definitely in on Hyman, and I think he is someone who is definitely high on their list.
Friedman on Nick Foligno’s future:
I don’t think he’ll be back in Toronto. There are a couple of considerations there. He could go back to Columbus. It is also possible and I wonder — it would have to be a tighter number — if he goes to Minnesota with his brother. I know they have talked about that and he has been on Minnesota’s radar.
Friedman on Jaden Schwartz’s situation in St. Louis:
He is not signed yet. I do think if Landeskog hits the market, St. Louis is a team that is going to be all over him. He fits what they like. He is tight with O’Reilly. There is a lot of circumstantial evidence there. If Schwartz doesn’t go back to St. Louis, I do think Vancouver has had some interest in him, but they would have to clear something out to do it.
I think if Landeskog leaves, Schwartz could potentially go to Colorado. There is LA and potentially Seattle, too. There is some interest in Schwartz out there, for sure.
Friedman on the latest with Tomas Tatar:
I haven’t heard a lot about Tatar. I know that among the analytics crowd, he has a lot of fans. Someone is going to take probably a short-term gamble on him. I have not heard a ton on him.
A team that needs some scoring and is a little bit tight — I could potentially see that, but I don’t have any real names for you right now in terms of who is interested.
On Leafs Hour, Frank Seravalli provided his latest intel on the likelihood of a Frederik Andersen return to Toronto and a Morgan Rielly trade this offseason, the goaltending market, the Leafs‘ interest in Arizona goaltender Darcy Kuemper, and whether Gabriel Landeskog could be a fit in Toronto if he goes to market.
Seravalli on whether there is any possibility of a Landeskog fit in Toronto:
With all of the concerns that the Leafs have on their cap front, I have a really hard time seeing Toronto as a destination if Landeskog makes it to market. By all accounts, the two sides are not close, and I think that this is coming down to the wire now 13 days away from free agency. For someone who is dam near a point-per-game player over the last three-plus seasons — all of the intangibles, the skating, the production, everything else that comes with him — you can understand why the interest would be there.
The fact that it has gotten to this point is a little bit surprising. It’s a little different with Landeskog being a UFA, but keep in mind that things did go to a pretty dark place with Rantanen and the Avalanche before they got a deal done. There is a back and forth and a long way to go between now and free agency opening.
Seravalli on whether the Leafs are considering a Morgan Rielly trade this offseason:
I don’t see the Leafs taking calls on his availability. I think the reason for that is a lot of what we talked about with Zach Hyman. You have a guy who is probably playing at a cap hit lower than what he is producing for you. He would be really difficult to replace in any sort of equal-value proposition.
The best part is that you don’t need to make a decision right now. If you get into a position where the wheels fall off and you are going to miss the playoffs, you can move him at the deadline if you wanted to. I don’t think anyone foresees that happening.
You could also get to a point in the season where you realize the value and worth of Rielly and you can extend him. I don’t see any reason to rush to do anything. Not doing anything gives the Leafs the ultimate flexibility. I’d imagine that they try to suck every last dollar of value out of Rielly this season and see where things stand.
Seravalli on the likelihood of Frederik Andersen returning and the team’s interest in Arizona goaltender Darcy Kuemper:
It is not out of the realm of possibility that [Andersen] comes back, but I would be really surprised. The Maple Leafs have done a lot of work on the goaltending market in recent weeks. Darcy Kuemper has emerged as a primary target for the Leafs on the goaltending front. That is a trade that would need to take place given that Kuemper has a year remaining on his deal at $4.5 million.
There are lots of goalies on the Leafs’ list, and Andersen is just further back on the list. That is not a knock on Freddy, and I don’t think it has anything to do with what they are looking for money-wise. Last year, they were considering a potential change in net with Andersen, and a year later, with the down year and the injury issues and Campbell taking the reins and running with it…
Among the guys on the Leafs’ list — Linus Ullmark, Petr Mrazek, Marc-Andre Fleury, Chris Driedger, Jaroslav Halak, Joonas Korpisalo — Kuemper would make a lot of sense to play in tandem with Jack Campbell next season if they can pull a trade like that off.
There are other teams in the mix. The Avalanche also have Kuemper as a primary target. Moving forward, it is a team they are going to have to compete with. The Kraken are also rumoured to have interest.
I wouldn’t be surprised to see something happen from the Coyotes’ front potentially before the expansion draft. If they are able to move Kuemper, it would allow them to keep Adin Hill going forward. They also have Antti Raanta as a pending UFA.
Seravalli on the buzz around Tyler Bertuzzi and the Leafs:
The back surgery is so significant. I don’t know that I love the comments that I heard, and I can tell you teams are concerned about Bertuzzi’s back injury and what it means given his style of play. He is that Zach Hyman-type player stylistically.
There is definite concern there with the fact that he hasn’t ramped up. He is still continuing rehab from surgery that was a bit ago. According to Jeff Blashill, he hasn’t gotten back to strength training yet. It raised an eyebrow with me. It is hard to say what that looks like moving forward.
He is an RFA who is arbitration-eligible. He had a really strong season before this last one. Is it a recurring issue? Is it one that is solved? A back can be quite wonky. I don’t know if you can definitively answer that.
On the 31 Thoughts podcast, Elliotte Friedman discussed the breakdown in negotiations between the Leafs and Zach Hyman, the goaltending market, and who the Leafs are expecting to lose to Seattle in the expansion draft.
Friedman on Hyman’s situation:
He has permission to talk to all of these other teams. What I think happened… None of the direct sources will talk about it, but the best I can put together: I think Toronto wanted to keep him and he wanted to stay. I think there is a 6×6 or maybe a 7×6 out there for him. We will see where this goes.
What I think Toronto tried to do — and this is an educated guess — is max term it to bring down the AAV. I just think it is too far from where Hyman is potentially going to go here.
I think it is like a lot of players. There is a willingness to leave something on the table, but I think the gap was too big between what is out there — or they suspect is out there — and what Toronto can do.
Even though I think Toronto tried to max term it, I don’t think they were able to get close.
Friedman on the goaltending market:
Everyone thinks Seattle is taking Driedger from Florida and signing him. Will that happen? I don’t know. People are expecting it.
What about other goaltenders? Seattle is interested in Holtby, but not at the number. They want to see if they can get Vancouver to retain something there.
Seattle is undoubtedly going to take a couple of goalies to see if they can flip them… Montreal thinks it is going to be Allen.
All of a sudden, where else could we be going with this?
Ben Bishop is another one. Mike Smith is not signed yet in Edmonton. I think they are haggling over a second year.
Look else who is available out there: Georgiev from the Rangers, we’ll see what happens with Nedeljkovic, there is Mrazek. We have talked about the Vegas goalies.
Kuemper would be a really interesting one for me. There were a lot of teams that were down on him because of his health, but then he had a massive World Championships for Canada. Arizona is worried they are going to lose Adin Hill. That is why they are potentially trying to move Kuemper.
Friedman on the expansion draft:
I think Toronto is expecting to lose Kerfoot. But it has already been a crazy week, and I don’t think it is going to be calming down at all.
On Leafs Lunch, Kevin McGran shared his latest information on the Hyman sweepstakes and the front-running teams involved in negotiations.
McGran on the offers Hyman is receiving:
I know some teams have offered more than $5 million on an AAV. What I don’t know is what kind of term they are offering. For Hyman, term is going to be key. This is his one big chance to cash in on his name, his reputation, all of that. He would like to get an eight-year deal if he can, and he’d like to get north of $5 million AAV. The Leafs are not biting at that number or term.
Part of what the Leafs are doing by letting Hyman’s camp talk to other teams is let him discover exactly what the market is for his services. Either he will get a deal and the Leafs can’t match it and trade his rights to get something, or reality will strike with the Hyman camp that the grass is not necessarily greener elsewhere and maybe there is a deal to be done.
McGran on whether the NMC demand would be a deal-breaker for Toronto:
If Hyman re-signs with the Leafs, it is because Hyman wants to retire with the Leafs. He wants to be a one-franchise player and go down as a Maple Leaf for his entire career. That is part of the reason why he would give them the hometown discount — in his mind — and part of the way to get that is to give him the no-movement clause.
We all know that players with no-movement clauses can still be moved. They have to waive it. There could be new management and new players. There is always ways to trade a player with an NMC closer to the end of his career, so I don’t think from a Leafs’ perspective that would necessarily be a [deal breaker].
McGran on the teams involved in the Hyman sweepstakes:
The Edmonton Oilers are the frontrunners. He would fit in perfectly with McDavid. He can play with that level of player and did it in Toronto. They are big on him.
I believe the Canucks and Flames are high on him. The Flames are looking for a change in attitude in the room, and I think Hyman would fit that perfectly. The Bruins have an interest, but I am not sure Hyman would have the same interest in the Bruins.
The Rangers would be interested. The Red Wings are definitely interested, and he has ties in Michigan, too, because that is where he played university hockey. There are all sorts of options for him. If Colorado is losing Landeskog, they need a top-six player.
Friedman: Could COL be a darkhorse in the Eichel sweepstakes? (WGR550)
On The Instigators, Elliotte Friedman discussed the situation in Buffalo and the possible destinations for Jack Eichel.
I do think Minnesota is interested. Because of what the Wild did this week with Parise and Suter, it would take a lot of creativity for them to do it. The Sabres may have to help them in some way, maybe taking a contract back to do it. I still think Minnesota is interested. I just don’t know if it’s possible.
I am very curious to see what Vegas is going to do over the next week or so. I still think they are interested. I haven’t heard about Anaheim’s plans, but I believe they are one of the teams that can do it and they’re interested.
One of the teams that makes me wonder if they would ever consider it would be a team like Colorado. Don’t go crazy with that, but they can do it. They have been around the elite of the league. They have been knocked out in the second round the last two years. If they re-sign Landeskog, I don’t think it is going to be possible. I do wonder, if Landeskog does leave, does Colorado do something that is a surprise like that?