Welcome to another edition of Full Press Hockey’s NHL Rumors! The 2022-23 regular season is over and players as well as front offices will be evaluated. Now, with the season completed, the focus shifts toward deals that may go down this summer. What about free agency?
Clubs are always working to improve their rosters for next season. Teams who were eliminated from the postseason need to assess what happened and make adjustments. Some teams are having difficulty creating enough cap space to make moves. Others are experiencing severe injuries to star players. Trade rumors/signings are over for now, while teams are competing in the playoffs. In this Wednesday edition of NHL Rumors, we will look at the Toronto Maple Leafs, Winnipeg Jets, and the Los Angeles Kings.
Toronto Maple Leafs – What the future may hold
Rumor: Per – Steve Simmons -torontosun.com. Who takes the fall if (when) the Leafs get eliminated again? Will it be Shanahan, who hired Dubas, who hired Keefe? Better yet, what about Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, William Nylander, and John Tavares who have gone scoreless in the Florida series?
The $40 million invested in four core players has not paid many dividends. It becomes a vital question what to do with Matthews and Nylander since their contracts are ending after next season. If this team that Dubas assembled can’t get past the second round, is it time to break it up and re-tool? It seems that either Nylander or Matthews will be re-signed, but not both of them. Good judgment means you keep Matthews over Nylander. Yet, after so many failures to be the elite team they should be… will Matthews want to return?
Dubas has his contract ending as soon as this series ends… and that could be in the next game or the game after that. Will Shanahan be gone, or will Dubas take the fall? One thing is certain, and that is that this team has underperformed once again. In the end, someone must pay for that failure. It almost always trickles down to the head coach, so Sheldon Keefe may join the list of unemployed bench bosses in the NHL.
Losing to the eighth-seed team will certainly cause a stir throughout the Toronto organization. To state that changes will be forthcoming is a certain NHL rumor you can bet on… and probably win.
Winnipeg Jets – Connor Hellebuyck
Rumor: Per – Ryan Dixon – sportsnet.com. With Hellebuyck turning 30, his goal is to win a Stanley Cup. His time may be running out on a Jets’ team that was banished from the playoffs in five games.
HIs $6.2 million contract expires after next season, and if he walks the Jets get nothing. He doesn’t particularly want to stick around while the Jets retool. Mark Scheifele, Blake Wheeler and Pierre-Luc Dubois could all be moving on, and that doesn’t leave a competitive team who can compete for a Cup. Thus, Hellebuyck will be a player many teams will pursue. The Vezina winner from the 2019-20 season could land in a number of locations.
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- Los Angeles Kings – After two first-round exits courtesy of the Edmonton Oilers, the Kings could look to add Hellebuyck. They have Pheonix Copley under a deal through next season. Could the Kings offer Calvin Petersen and a prospect for Hellebuyck?
- Ottawa Senators – With Cam Talbot not coming back, the upstart Sens need a goalie to help out prospect Mads Sogaard. Hellebuyck could really elevate the level of play in the Ottawa net. Could he be the missing piece to move the Sens forward?
- Buffalo Sabres – Another team who is on their way up is the Sabres. Hellebuyck has played alongside Eric Comrie in Winnipeg before. The Buffalo club has Devon Levin showing he may be NHL caliber, but would the Jets take back Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen? That would allow Levi to get some AHL experience.
Others may include the Pittsburgh Penguins, Detroit Red Wings, Carolina Hurricanes, New Jersey Devils, and yes even the Toronto Maple Leafs.
It goes without saying that wherever Hellebuyck winds up, he will add some tough netminding to that team. He just knows his time is running out to win a Cup.
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Los Angeles Kings – Vladislav Gavrikov
Rumor: Per – Eric Stephens – theathletic.com. Among the top offseason items for GM Rob Blake is the ability to re-sign defenseman Vladislav Gavrikov.
The Kings desperately desire to keep Gavrikov on their blueline. If they lose him to free agency, they will be right back where they were before they acquired him… looking for a left-shot defenseman. In order to overcome their lack of cap space set at about $7.9 million, they will need to trade someone. They need to try to re-sign Gavrikov, Gabriel Vilardi, Rasmus Kupari and Jaret Anderson-Dolan. Sean Walker earning $2.65 million through next season seems to be the odd man out. With Jordan Spence and Brandt Clarke waiting in the wings for an NHL job, Walker’s days seemed numbered.
While Gavrikov may seek more than his current salary of $4.2 million, his cap hit is just $2.8 million. According to doberhockey.com he could command $3.9 million as a free agent. He was in NHL rumors before the trade deadline and was moved. Needless to say, Blake will have to crunch some numbers in order to keep Gavrikov who played well in a Kings’ uniform. He even got some support from Drew Doughty who joked about pledging some of his salary to help get him re-signed. It will be an interesting off-season for the Kings.
That concludes this edition of NHL rumors. Be sure to catch our next article, and thanks for reading!
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