In the first edition of Leafs Links to kick off the silly season, the insiders provide the latest on Jack Campbell, Ilya Mikheyev, the Leafs’ uncertain goaltending situation, Rasmus Sandin, Claude Giroux, and Nazem Kadri.
Friedman on the latest with Campbell, Sandin, and a possible Leafs interest in Claude Giroux (SN590)
On Real Kyper and Bourne, Elliotte Friedman discussed the difficult situation that is developing with RFA defenseman Rasmus Sandin, the apparent lack of contract negotiations with soon-to-be-UFA Jack Campbell’s camp, possible interest from Toronto in soon-to-be UFA Claude Giroux, and where Nazem Kadri might end up if he can’t come to terms in Colorado.
On the lack of offers as of yet from the Leafs to Jack Campbell’s camp:
I don’t know what happened here. By Sunday, we’ll have a better idea of what occurred. With the caveat that this is not over yet — we still have nine days until the beginning of free agency — it has just been really, really slow on the Jack Campbell front.
You know that there are going to be negotiations that are slow-played, but if you take a look at it, Filip Forsberg in Nashville seems like it is grinding its way towards a resolution. Kris Letang and Pittsburgh seems like it is grinding its way towards a resolution. Malkin’s in Pittsburgh has still not gotten close, at least as of this weekend. This Campbell one seems like it hasn’t moved very far.
The one thing I always believed is that it is like dating. It’s he said, she said, and what is in the middle. The Leafs made him an offer a long time ago. I have no evidence there has been anything recent. I am trying to figure out what is going on here.
I think it is very possible [they’re moving on]. I think there is interest out there. I have heard New Jersey and Edmonton. Edmonton knows by now… They haven’t announced anything yet, but I think we all know Mike Smith isn’t playing next year, whether he is retired or on LTIR. That is a team that I am focusing on. I think that is the team, but New Jersey is going to be there, too.
I never like to make absolute statements — you never know what could happen in nine days — but it sure is trending that way.
On how busy the next few weeks might be for Kyle Dubas, the situation with RFA Rasmus Sandin, and the decisions ahead in net:
I think they are considering some things. I think Dubas is trying to keep a lid on it. The Sandin situation — nobody will tell me exactly what they think the outcome is going to be here, but there is no doubt in my mind that Toronto is in a situation that they did not expect they would be in.
I think they felt they would be able to get Sandin signed, and they would tell him that if he plays well enough, there is going to be a spot for him. I think Sandin is resisting that right now. I think he is taking a look at what is going on with the blue line and saying, “There is not really a spot for me here.” Whether he is right or wrong about this, he doesn’t feel that it is set up for him to have a fair shot at his strong side on the roster.
I think Toronto has tried to convince him otherwise, but at this point in time, he is not convinced. I don’t know if that means they are going to trade him. I don’t think that is the preferred outcome here, but I think, at the very least, what it’s done is made them think whether they are going to have to do something they didn’t initially think they were going to have to do.
I think Dubas tries to keep his thoughts quiet, but I do believe they have considered, “What if we have to make a bigger move here? What is that going to be?”
Let’s assume Campbell is gone, as it appears to be trending in that direction. You have to go out and get Fleury, Husso, or Kuemper. What if you don’t get any of those guys? What are we looking at then?
What I think Dubas has said is that the number one thing we have to figure out is where we are going with our goaltending. That is number one, and everything else is secondary.
On the rumblings about the Leafs‘ possible interest in Claude Giroux:
If he hits the market, I wouldn’t be surprised if they called him and said, “What would it take?” He is building a home in Ottawa. He made it very clear last year at the deadline that he prefers to stay in the East. He fits the profile of what they like to do, and he is still a pretty good player.
To me, if they are doing that, they are making a big move somewhere else because they need room to do it, but I think they will call him. I do.
I think they’ll call him, but the only way it is going to work is if someone is going.
On the Nazem Kadri sweepstakes:
I think Seattle will for sure be in on him. Seattle is going to be an aggressive team. They didn’t make the Fiala deal because they don’t have the prospect base to trade a top prospect and a first-rounder. I understand that from their point of view. If Gaudreau, Kadri, or Klingberg hit the market, those are the kinds of players they are going to be after.
Boston, for me, is really interesting. Anything they do… They have to know what Pastrnak is up to. If you are paying Kadri $10 million, what do you have to pay Pastrnak?
For me, I could see Boston being in on Kadri for sure. The issue I have: They have to know about Pastrnak before that.
I would be very curious to see what team we’re not seeing now is in on Kadri.I would be curious… If Washington doesn’t think Backstrom is going to play ever again, I wonder if they take a look at it.
Don’t forget that Kadri has already turned down a trade to Calgary. I have looked into that one because it makes sense, but I don’t know how they feel about it. He turned down a trade there once.
Johnston: Could see Mikheyev ending up above $4 million AAV (TSN1050)
On TSN Overdrive, Chris Johnston discussed whether Kyle Dubas might make major moves to open up cap space and the report of Ilya Mikheyev’s exorbitant salary demand.
On whether the Leafs might make a similar move to the Ryan McDonagh deal to open up space:
I suppose the easiest equivalent would be looking at moving Jake Muzzin, but he also has a no-movement clause. I would imagine if that was going to happen, the wheels would’ve already been in motion before now.
There is some thought that Justin Holl could be moved from Toronto, but I don’t think there will be anything too significant. Toronto doesn’t need to create the kind of room that Tampa does to keep a player. They certainly have a pretty narrow window to get their business done this summer, but they don’t have someone like Ondrej Palat coming up and they’re already over the cap. Toronto is not in a position where they have to do that.
I will be curious to see if something does happen with Mrazek, though. That is not an easy contract to trade out. If you do it, it is probably costing you an asset that at this stage, the Leafs don’t want to give up. The Leafs are going into the draft with three picks. I don’t know if you want to be doing that.
The Leafs are going to have to get creative. I don’t see an exact equivalent trade happening [to the McDonagh deal], but certainly, down the line, that is something that will probably have to be looked at. We are only two years away from William Nylander’s contract being up and Auston Matthews’ contract being up. At some point in time, the Leafs are going to have more fundamental decisions to make that might require them to be a little more cut-throat with trading away players they like as people and have given good service to the team.
On where Ilya Mikheyev’s reported demand of $4.75-5 million might land him:
I certainly see it going somewhere else other than Toronto. That has kind of been the feeling around it. An agent’s job at this time is to try to drive up the price on their clients. I think Mikheyev has a lot of fans around the league — in fact, I know he does from other teams with how big he is, how well he skates, and he found a little bit of scoring touch this year and had a 20-goal season for the Leafs. I am not sure if he ends up getting $4.75-5 million a year, but it certainly won’t surprise me if his number comes in at $4 million or a little bit above.
It is going to be too rich for what the Leafs can do. That is why Kyle Dubas sent a note to his counterparts and said he would trade his rights. There has been an acknowledgment on both sides of this equation that the player and the team don’t have a fit.
On where Claude Giroux might end up:
I understand the sentimental choice with Ottawa, but I don’t see the fit right now. I see him as someone who is chasing a Stanley Cup. It was a hard decision for him to waive his No-Movement and move on from Philly this year. All things being equal, he would’ve liked to spend his whole career in Philadelphia, but now he is sort of in Jarome Iginla mode after he left Calgary near the end of his career trying to find a Stanley Cup. That is where Giroux is at.
He would very much like to stay in Florida, but the Panthers have cap challenges, so it is not clear if that could happen. I don’t see Ottawa as a fit there even though he spends his offseasons there and has ties to the city. They are not a Claude Giroux away from winning the Cup next season. Maybe it is a stop along the way at some point in the future, but I think he is more likely to trade with a team like a Toronto or Edmonton or a number of teams that aren’t that far off, in his estimation, of being able to challenge for a Stanley Cup.
The challenge, too, is that I am not sure if he is of a mind that he wants to be giving big discounts to sign those deals. That is kind of where the negotiation lies here: finding the right team, getting paid something close to fair market value to do it, and setting himself up with a chance to win the Cup. I think that is what he and his agent are working through leading up to July 13.
All things being equal, I am confident he wants to remain a Panther. I am just not sure if they can pay him what he is worth and make it work. They have a number of decisions pending on their own free agents and not a lot of cap room.
Friedman: Unlikely Toronto pursues Matt Murray (32T Podcast)
On the latest 32 Thoughts Podcast, Elliotte Friedman threw cold water on the notion of the Leafs’ interest in Ottawa Senators goaltender Matt Murray.
I had some people who wondered if Toronto would look at Matt Murray because Dubas knows him. I think they kind of talked about it briefly when things hit rock bottom in Ottawa, but I don’t think that is the path Toronto is going down.
I do think Toronto has told people that their number one priority is figuring out what is happening in goal. I don’t know what that is at this point in time. I am not convinced it is John Gibson. I don’t know if that is what Toronto wants to do.
Obviously, Anaheim has a new GM now in Verbeek, but in the past, I have heard that there was no match between Toronto and Anaheim. The Leafs didn’t have what the Ducks wanted. I am not sure that would change at all under Verbeek than it did under Bob Murray.
There is Husso… I think Husso wants the chance to prove he is a number one. The goalie coach was in St. Louis for a long time. I wonder if they are going to take a run at him.
I don’t know what Toronto is doing in goal yet, but people were wondering if it was Murray because of the history, and I don’t think that is it.
Dreger: I know Toronto has interest in Ville Husso (TSN1050)
On First Up with Korolnek and Colaiacovo, Darren Dreger conveyed certainty in the Leafs’ interest in pending UFA goaltender Ville Husso.
Not a lot specific to a name. It is just the same sort of individuals. is it possible that Varlamov could be in play again? That sort of thing.
Beyond that, the speculation continues with Marc-Andre Fleury — not just in Toronto per se, but Minnesota, as of [Sunday], was still very interested in keeping a tandem of Talbot and Fleury together. They have to find a way to make the contract work, and that is assuming Fleury wants to go back to Minnesota.
Jack Campbell is causing a bit of a stir, and that is not much of a surprise either. Ken Holland met with Mike Smith to talk about what he wants to do next year. He is a 40-year-old goaltender with a ton of mileage on him. There is no doubt he qualifies for LTI. Maybe he just sits on the sideline for the final year of his contract. That erases 2.2 million off of the books. Maybe Edmonton looks at Campbell as a primary target in goal along with maybe Ville Husso, who I know Toronto has interest in.
Darcy Kuemper, if they don’t get things worked out in Colorado… It is hard to pinpoint one specific goalie.