We’re deep into the offseason, and the NHL Rumour mill is still churning hard. There’s certainly an avalanche of news coming soon. Let Last Word On Hockey prepare you and keep you informed of the latest NHL Rumours around the league. Settle in, because we’re talking about the Winnipeg Jets, Toronto Maple Leafs, and Edmonton Oilers on this fine Sunday.
All NHL Rumours are taken from the original source and subject to change.
Analysis: When you hear Patrik Laine, you typically wouldn’t associate him with “odd man out.” However, the former second overall pick made it clear that he has not heard much from the Jets’ camp this past summer.
According to Marek, the leadership group in Winnipeg runs a tight ship. The feeling seems to be that Laine can’t get with the program. After being regarded as the heir to Alex Ovechkin‘s throne, his 30-goal season left something to be desired from the protege.
While he gathered 70 points in the 2017-18 season, Laine still saw a career-low with his 30 goals last season. If Marek’s narrative is correct, it’s not a stretch to think that the Jets could be ready to move on. The team gave the three-year veteran more responsibility and more ice time at full strength.
What he did with it was rather lack-luster. Laine had an upswing in the middle of the regular season. Otherwise, he was a disappointment. Is that fair to say about a player who cracked the 30-goal mark last year? No, not really.
Laine is still young at 21-years-old. This was more than likely just a fluke of a year for him. Winnipeg has almost $17 million left in cap space, and the only other big deal they have weighing on them is Kyle Connor. If they’re smart, the team will keep him.
He is not the best on the defensive side. But he is an undeniable elite goal-scoring talent. He has the ability to get to the open ice and find the goal. He struggled, but he still has a lot of growing to do.
There’s no reason the Jets should let him go at this point. At the very worst, his “down-season” was still successful. If the club can generate just a little bit more chemistry with his linemates and encourage him to create his own chances instead of waiting for his surrounding players to develop them, they’ll get more than their money’s worth out of Laine.
NHL Rumours: Toronto Maple Leafs
Analysis: If a day goes by that someone doesn’t bring up Toronto’s cap space, did the day really happen? Here we are again. The Leafs theme for this off-season seems to be “Can the team afford the player?”. It’s repetitive, but the conversation around it is endless.
Gardiner is officially an unrestricted free agent. He’s been open about his willingness to be patient with the team, but numerous sources report that his future is tied to Mitch Marner.
Gardiner is a confident, fast defenceman that is responsible with the puck. Despite what an asset he could be to the team’s defence, the money remains a huge issue. Marner is the club’s first priority, and rightfully so. But what is left after he inks his deal? Is there room for Gardiner?
Realistically, if Gardiner is waiting for the Leafs to finalize a deal with Marner, he could turn blue holding his breath. He is the top blue-liner without a contract at this point. Although he suffered a few injuries in the past season, he avoided any surgeries and still put on a Norris-Trophy worthy show.
Cap Friendly shows that the Coyotes currently have seven defencemen on their roster. With their close to $178,000 in cap space left, the likelihood of them locking him down is slim. The Sabres have nine guys packed on their blue line, eating upwards of $29 million. Not to mention they have zero dollars left to play with.
While it’s honestly a slight chance that either team lands him, nothing is impossible. Laine’s future is still up in the air. Either way, whichever organization he lands at next season will be lucky to have him.
Rumour: Jim Matheson tweeted that Oilers GM Ken Holland regrets not getting Derick Brassard to sign with the team. He still believes Riley Sheahan could find himself in the orange and blue next season.
Analysis: The Oilers seemed to have at least MOST of their eggs in the Brassard basket. He opted to commit to the New York Islanders, which was a blow to Edmontons plans. Brassard is long gone and the team is still left searching for a quality bottom-six center.
The team needs to build around Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl. Adding some scoring depth should be a top priority. Brassard would’ve filled a massive gap for the club, but that opportunity has passed.
Sheahan is a solid bet for Edmonton. In his 82 games last season, he tallied nine goals and 10 assists for 19 points. His history with Holland might open the door and make him willing to go to Edmonton. However, the interest around him seems to be sparing.
If the Oilers could bring him in, Sheahan would be an immediate asset to the team. He’s a big body with a minimal history of injuries. After eight seasons, that’s impressive.
Sheahan isn’t going to be a high goal scorer. But when you look at Edmonton’s needs, he would slot in beautifully. He can contribute to the team’s penalty kill. He has settled into the centre position but can be utilized on the left-wing also. That is the most attractive part of his history to the Oilers.