The first full week of August is underway and hockey season is getting closer with each passing day. What makes things even more exciting is the fact the NHL announced its national television schedule for the upcoming season. Fans continue to water at the mouth for news surrounding their favourite team. Today we’ll take a look at some of these NHL rumours surrounding the Toronto Maple Leafs, Minnesota Wild, and Montreal Canadiens.
All NHL rumours are taken from the original source and are subject to change.
Toronto Maple Leafs
Rumour: According to James Mirtle of The Athletic via TSN, the Toronto Maple Leafs have offered RFA forward Mitch Marner between $9 million and $11 million a season on his new deal based on the term. Mirtle writes that the Leafs have discussed three, six and seven-year deals with Marner’s camp, who are thought to be uninterested in the max eight-year term.
Analysis: The Maple Leafs are right in line for what everyone expects Marner to sign for once the season starts. Over the past week, general manager Kyle Dubas got creative with the salary cap by manipulating it in his favor. Reacquiring the David Clarkson contract at the time made no sense if you were a Maple Leafs fan. However, it was all a part of his master plan.
Once the regular season starts and teams have to be salary cap compliant, the Maple Leafs will just move him over to LTIR. This move will essentially give the team extra salary cap space. With Clarkson and Horton on LTIR, the Maple Leafs free up $10.55 million in salary-cap space. At this time it would not be surprising to see Marner and the Maple Leafs agree to a new deal.
Perhaps the Maple Leafs will even find the room with their newfound money to sign defenceman Jake Gardiner.
NHL Rumours: Minnesota Wild
Rumour: With Paul Fenton out as general manager of the Minnesota Wild, the team is in need of a new GM to run the team. Former Philadelphia Flyers GM Ron Hextall is the front runner for the job, but that could change now that Bill Guerin interviewed for the open position according to Matt Vessel of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
Analysis: The Wild interviewed Guerin for the same position the last off-season before choosing Fenton. Unfortunately for the Wild, that decision did not turn out well. The Wild again have interviewed Guerin. Considering the Wild are looking for a leader and “hockey guy,” Guerin fits that mold. He was close to getting the position last year. Guerin has been the assistant GM with the Pittsburgh Penguins under GM Jim Rutherford since 2014.
Prior to that, he was the player development coach from 2011 to 2014. In that role, he helped mold some of the Penguins young players to be contributors on the back-to-back Stanley Cup Championships teams in 2016 and 2017. Not to mention he played a vital role in the 2009 Stanley Cup Championship. Guerin continues to grow into his role as he took over the GM position for the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Penguins.
With such a tough field interviewing for the position, it might be difficult for Guerin to be chosen. With Hextall being the front runner, the Carolina Hurricanes Don Waddell has also interviewed for the job. Not to mention the Wild have talked to Peter Chiarelli and Brian Lawton about the open position. Maybe the one thing Guerin has going for him is that the search is being assisted by Mike Modano. Modano was a teammate of Guerin’s on the 1996 Team USA World Cup of Hockey team. Who better to have in your corner than a Hockey Hall of Famer? Guerin has that hockey sense that is needed to be a GM in today’s NHL.
Rumour: There are still a number of unrestricted free agents on the board. One of those free agents is Jason Pominville. He is looking to extend his career, but won’t just sign anywhere to do so. According to his agent, Normand DuPoont, the one place Pominville would consider signing is with the Montreal Canadiens.
Analysis: It is no surprise that Jason Pominville is still on the market. While he would like to return to Buffalo, there is a reality setting in that the NHL is a young man’s game. With players like Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau still on the market, a lot of veteran players are in need of contracts for the upcoming season. Pominville being a native of Repentigny, Quebec, the Canadiens would make perfect sense for him.
Now that Andrew Shaw is gone, the Canadiens need a little bite to their game. Pominville fits that mold. Not only can he score, but he has a little physicality to his game. Pominville has shown he can still produce even if it is in a bottom-six role. With the Canadiens having trouble scoring goals, Pominville’s 16 goals from last season would be a boost.
If Pominville is willing to take a one-year deal at the league minimum, that would be ideal for both parties. If Pominville shows he can still produce, maybe he gets another contract to keep playing.