Another day, another Last Word on Hockey article covering your latest NHL Rumours. Every day, our team breaks down a selection of the latest rumblings from around the National Hockey League. As the trade deadline draws nearer, teams begin to turn their eyes to more specific targets in preparation for this season and next. Today, we’ll look at NHL Rumours from the Toronto Maple Leafs, Boston Bruins, and Ottawa Senators.
Toronto Maple Leafs
Rumour: It sounds like good news for Toronto on the Jake Muzzin front, preliminary reports from both TSN’s Bob McKenzie and Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston suggest he wants to return as the two sides work on a deal.
Chris Johnston said on SN960 today that he thinks both sides have strong mutual interest. https://t.co/OEMMSuTxqY
— J (@Account4hockey) January 30, 2020
Analysis: It should be no surprise both sides are interested here. Since coming to Toronto, Muzzin has been one of the most important players on the team. He brings a very strong defensive game on the backend, something the Leafs otherwise lack at times. He has been a very welcomed addition and it seems obvious that the Leafs would want to keep him. For Muzzin, he is on a highly skilled team and is trusted to play very big minutes for them. A fit between the two is there.
However, the interesting thing to watch will be the price and term. Toronto is dishing out a lot of money to their forward core. This is doable, but it also leaves less money for everyone else. If Muzzin is looking for a massive payday, he may not get it from Toronto. They can’t afford to hand out another massive contract. If it’s more reasonable and maybe slightly less than market value, he seems like a player that Toronto would want to make it work for. Muzzin is absolutely critical to their defence core right now.
The other thing to keep in mind for Toronto is the term. Muzzin is already 30-years-old and plays a very tough style of game. A style that can drop off hard and without warning as players age. For Toronto, there would be great risk signing him to anything above 5 years. They do need to be somewhat cautious as they are trying to win now, but the window should also still be open in four or five years too. You don’t want to be overpaying too many older players when that happens. Regardless, this will be an interesting story to watch develop. If Muzzin is willing to take even a slight discount, a fit feels obvious.
Rumour: It appears as though the Boston Bruins are trying to find a trade for veteran David Backes, who was waived early this year. He is not reporting to the AHL team at this time and this comes from John Shannon.
Backes situation is an interesting one. This appears to be totally mutual.
Team is trying to manufacture a trade before the deadline. DB needs to stay in shape, without being on any roster.
If he’s not moved before Feb 24, I suspect he will play in Providence after that date.
— John Shannon (@JShannonhl) January 30, 2020
Analysis: A trade for Backes may be tough to do for the Bruins. There are not going to be too many suitors lining up for him. He, unfortunately, is not the player that he used to be. Much like Muzzin, he played a hard game and that decline came quickly for him. There are going to be a few hurdles to jump when finding a deal for him.
The first being that there likely are not too many teams who will even want to acquire him. By all accounts, he is a pretty good guy in the room. Last year, he even tried to adopt more of an enforcer role to stick with the team. However, is speed and skill may just not be at NHL levels anymore.
The issue with Backes is the price that comes with him. He still has one more year left at his six million dollar price tag. For a guy who has just 23 points in his last 86 NHL games, that is way too high. The killer will be next year too. Any team looking to compete or who is close to the cap will not be touching him. It just doesn’t make sense. It is possible a team like Ottawa may take him as a bad salary, but that leads to the next issue.
The Boston Bruins would likely have to give up assets to get rid of Backes. It would be a big mistake for any team to give up anything of value to pick him up. However, even for free seems bad. If Boston really wants to move him, they may have to move assets to do so. For a team that is trying to win a Stanley Cup, giving up assets to move a contract is a tough sell. Sometimes you have to do it. Look at Toronto and Patrick Marleau this summer. However, for Boston, they don’t have to do it now if the right deal isn’t available.
Boston may just keep him if they don’t need the space and then when it comes to the summer decide what to do then. Either trading him or buying him out would be an option. It is something to watch on NHL Rumours, but if the right deal isn’t there, don’t expect Boston to take it.
Rumour: Brian Compton of NHL.com said that if Jean-Gabriel Pageau comes available for trade the return will likely be a second-round pick and a prospect, potentially even a first-round pick. He also mentions teams will be lining up to pay that.
Minimum 2nd-rd pick + prospect; likely a conditional first if Sens can’t sign him. Teams will line up to get him. https://t.co/QZU80E42Yd
— Brian Compton (@BComptonNHL) January 29, 2020
Analysis: The Ottawa Senators should be ecstatic there could be a bidding war for Pageau. He is a very solid player but is having a career year he may not match again. Any team picking him up will be getting a very good third-line centre for playoffs who brings it every night. A heart and soul guy that celebrates every goal like it’s the biggest of his career.
For Ottawa, the ability to add possibly another first-rounder would be huge. They are still looking to restock on some talent. Ottawa has a lot of very promising young players. Thomas Chabot, Brady Tkachuk, Drake Batherson, and Erik Brannstrom just to name a few. However, hitting on a few of their picks this year, in what is supposed to be a loaded draft would be huge. Giving yourself the best opportunity to do so is key.
Some fans want to keep Pageau for his leadership, however, at the return price, it seems unwise to do so. Pageau is a solid player but getting top picks for him is something you can’t pass up if you’re a rebuilding team.
That does it for our Atlantic Division based NHL Rumours! Tune in tomorrow for more!