We are one day into free agency and many of the biggest names have signed. However, there are still quality players available to be signed. Off-season trades have not stopped either. It’s time for another batch of NHL Rumours as we move on in free agency. Today, we have NHL Rumours from the Montreal Canadiens, Tampa Bay Lightning, Toronto Maple Leafs, and Vegas Golden Knights.
All NHL Rumours are taken from their original source and are subject to change.
Montreal Canadiens and Tampa Bay Lightning
Rumour: Pierre Lebrun of TSN and the Athletic reports that the Montreal Canadiens were considering sending an offer sheet to Lightning centre Brayden Point before signing Sebastian Aho. Point and Aho have the same agent.
Hearing that the Habs first discussed the offer sheet scenario involving Brayden Point but then shifted gears to Sebastian Aho after thinking they'd have a better chance to get the player. Both Point and Aho are represented by agent Gerry Johansson.
— Pierre LeBrun (@PierreVLeBrun) July 1, 2019
Analysis: General manager Marc Bergevin made a bold move with the first offer sheet in six years. Bergevin has emphasized that in making an offer sheet, he looked for a team that was vulnerable and opted to go after the Carolina Hurricanes with an offer that maximized the amount of signing bonuses due to Aho.
Most Analysts believe that the Hurricanes will match the offer sheet, but will wait until the full seven days are up to do so. In waiting seven days, most of the good unrestricted free agents should be signed by then. What will Bergevin do with his cap space at that point? It would not be a surprise to see Bergevin circle back to Point and put pressure on a division rival who is lacking cap space this off-season.
Toronto Maple Leafs
Rumour: Jonas Siegel of The Athletic is reporting that free agent defenceman Jake Gardiner will not return to the Toronto Maple Leafs. Michael Russo of The Athletic is reporting that Gardiner’s back injury has some teams concerned about term.
Somewhat lost in the aftermath of tonight’s trade is that Jake Gardiner’s career in Toronto is (likely) over.
He sits 11th all-time among Leafs D in games, 10th in points, and 10th in assists.
— Jonas Siegel (@jonassiegel) July 2, 2019
Nothing yet to report on free agent Jake Gardiner. Highly-skilled #mapleleafs defenseman has multiple options, but term seems to be biggest issue coming off a back injury that has actually healed quite nicely since the season
— Michael Russo (@RussoHockey) July 1, 2019
Analysis: Gardiner is the biggest name still on the free agent market. He is likely the best defenceman to make it July 1st as an unrestricted free agent. If the puck-moving defender is healthy, he can play in the top four of almost any team in the NHL. While some have criticized Gardiner for a penchant for giveaways, the fact is that his team controls possession when he is on the ice. Teams that have cap space and could use Gardiner include the Canadiens, Anaheim Ducks, Detroit Red Wings, and New Jersey Devils.
Vegas Golden Knights
Rumour: Jesse Granger of the Athletic is reporting that negotiations between Nikita Gusev and Vegas are not going well. The Golden Knights are tight against the cap and if they can’t sign the Russian RFA to a reasonable deal, they could be forced to deal him.
Breaking: Golden Knights looking at trade options for Nikita Gusev
A source told The Athletic the sides are far apart in negotiations, and Vegas could deal the Russian star if they can’t fit him under the cap.
— Jesse Granger (@JesseGranger_) July 2, 2019
Analysis: Gusev, 26, played in the KHL last season putting up 82 points in 62 games with SKA St. Petersburg. He led the league in both assists and points. In 2018, he was the best forward in the tournament, leading Russia to Olympic gold. He also led the KHL in assists that year and was named league MVP. Other players with his resume have thrived in the NHL and he could be a star in the waiting.
Gusev is a bit undersized and is forced to make up for that with excellent skating ability. He has excellent speed and rapid acceleration. Gusev is an absolute speed demon. He is highly skilled. The Russian winger can stickhandle in a phone booth, with the slick, soft hands to make plays. He controls the puck extremely well on both the cycle game and on the rush. He is able to extend plays and find openings. Gusev has excellent vision. Once he does find that opening, he will feather a tape-to-tape pass to his teammate. He also has a good release on his wrist shot. He gets that wrister, or a hard slap shot on the net regularly.
Main Photo: TORONTO, ON – APRIL 21: Jake Gardiner #51 of the Toronto Maple Leafs warms up prior to action against the Boston Bruins in Game Six of the Eastern Conference First Round during the 2019 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Scotiabank Arena on April 21, 2019 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The Bruins defeated the Maple Leafs 4-2. (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)