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’s edition of NHL Rumors, we will look at the Toronto Maple Leafs, Edmonton Oilers, and the Seattle Kraken.
Toronto Maple Leafs – Could the Maple Leafs trade a core forward?
Rumor: Per – Terry Koshan – torontosun.com. If Kyle Dubas remains the Toronto GM, he is open to trading one of the core pieces, excluding Auston Matthews.
After another disappointing conclusion to the season, everyone can predict that there will be changes made in Toronto. Captain John Tavares and defenseman Morgan Rielly each has a no-movement clause, but Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner and William Nylander do not, yet. Matthews and Marner have no-movement clauses that start on July 1, and Nylander has a modified no-trade clause (a 10-team no-trade list) beginning on the same day.
“I would consider anything with our group that would allow us a better chance to win the Stanley Cup,” Dubas said. “So I would take nothing off the table at all, and I think everything would have to be considered with regard to anything to do with the Leafs.”
Sportsnet’s Jeff Marek is wondering if Nylander would be available. He thinks there would be a huge market for the 27-year-old winger, suggesting the Colorado Avalanche could be a fit with Gabriel Landeskog sidelined next season and uncertainty over Valeri Nichushkin’s future with the club. It seems that Nylander is the logical choice if a trade is to be done. He has the most economical contract at $6.9 million and the Avs may be very interested knowing they must deal without Landeskog. Nylander has gotten accustomed to hearing NHL rumors concerning his future. One thing is certain if he is added to the very talented Avalanche roster, it would give him something he hasn’t experienced yet… a good possibility for a Cup.
Edmonton Oilers – What changes can be expected from Edmonton Oilers GM Ken Holland after a disappointing playoff exit?
Rumors: Per – Jim Matheson – edmontonjournal.com. After another season without a Cup, there will be changes now, but they won’t be blowing it up here. Certainly not the roster. They can’t. The cap dictates that.
Possible player movement might involve winger Kailer Yamamoto and maybe a defenseman like Cody Ceci or Brett Kulak. They’ll also have to determine how much to pay puck-moving blueliner Evan Bouchard and for how long. They could ink him to a bridge deal comparable to the $4 million annually being earned by the New York Islanders’ Noah Dobson or go all-in with a seven or eight-year deal worth $6 million annually. Bouchard certainly deserves it as he tallied four goals and 13 assists in 12 postseason games.
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The Oilers only have around $5.9 million in projected cap space next season with 17 players under contract. They’ll have to shed one or two contracts to free up sufficient cap space for Bouchard and to fill out the rest of the roster. Kailer Yamamoto, Ceci and Kulak could become cost-cutting trade candidates.
Still, it was another opportunity lost this season. “Yeah, you said it,” McDavid said in the post-Game 6 gloom. “It is hard to go take a step back, after going third rounds in 2022, now out in two rounds. It’s frustrating stuff, for sure, but maybe part of the painful process. It feels like every team that wins, that goes through a stretch of winning, kind of experiences this (like Tampa crashing to Columbus before their Cup run),” McDavid said. “Obviously, it’s not what you want to do or want to feel. That being said, I really feel that you’ve got to through some of this to win.”
“Let’s hope it’s the last time.”
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Seattle Kraken – Where do the Kraken go from here?
Rumor: Per – Ryan S. Clark – espn.com. After an excellent run in the postseason, what does the offseason hold for the Kraken?
Who would have predicted that the second-year expansion team in Seattle would go down to a Game 7 in the second round before being eliminated? Or, better yet that they would even make it to the postseason? Seattle played exceptional playoff hockey. With the brilliant play from Matthew Beniers collecting three goals and four assists in 14 playoff contests, it seemed that the Kraken took huge steps. Now, they need to determine how to keep it going.
Vince Dunn, William Borgen and Morgan Geekie are all restricted free agents this summer. Dunn will be the most expensive to re-sign following his career-best 64-point performance this season. Fortunately for the Kraken, they have a projected $18.5 million in cap space for 2023-24. Dunn is ending a two-year deal worth $4 million annually and is a year away from unrestricted free-agent eligibility. Re-signing him could cost around $6.5 million per season on a long-term contract. Borgen and Geekie are ending short-term deals worth under $1.5 million annually but should be affordable re-signings.
The Kraken must also decide what to do with Ryan Donato and Carson Soucy. Both are slated to become unrestricted free agents this summer.
Retaining as many of the key players who made this group so successful will be the focus of GM Ron Francis this summer. This team took two tough opponents (Colorado Avalanche, Dallas Stars) to a seven-game series. That is not an easy endeavor, especially defeating the reigning Cup champion Avalanche. Look for the Kraken to again be an elite team in the Western Conference.
That concludes this edition of NHL rumors. Be sure to catch our next article and thanks for reading!
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