Welcome to another edition of NHL Rumours from the Last Word on Hockey team. We’re still anxiously waiting on the verdict on the currently paused season. Will it resume or will the league cancel the season altogether? While we await the decision, rumours are still swirling. Today we will focus on NHL rumours surrounding the Montreal Canadiens, Boston Bruins and Toronto Maple Leafs.
All NHL rumours come from their original sources and are subject to change.
Rumour: In a recent article by Kevin Kurz of The Athletic, Kurz speaks about the possibility of the San Jose Sharks moving on from Marc-Edouard Vlasic or Brent Burns. He states specifically that the Canadiens had an interest in Vlasic at the beginning of the 2019-20 season.
So many smart, compelling comments in the comment section on this piece. (And thanks again to everyone who is sticking with us until the Covid bullshit gets sorted out)https://t.co/l7YTcgupiu
— Kevin Kurz (@KKurzNHL) May 10, 2020
Analysis: It’s no secret the Canadiens are in the market for a left-shot defenceman. This has been the case since the Canadiens elected not to re-sign Andrei Markov after the 2016-17 season. They brought in Karl Alzner during the offseason to replace Markov. However, that failed miserably. So the search continues. Ben Chiarot was brought aboard in the offseason and looked great for the Habs. He filled the top pairing role alongside Shea Weber and did not look out of place. However, the team is still short on the left side.
So is Vlasic the missing piece? Currently, the Habs options are Ben Chiarot, Victor Mete, Brett Kulak and recently signed top prospect Alexander Romanov. While Romanov is the future of the Canadiens blueline, expecting him to eat big minutes in his first season is an unrealistic ask. Victor Mete has made strides but hasn’t been able to secure a top-four role. Brett Kulak took a step back after a solid 2018-19 season. Vlasic would certainly be an upgrade to the defence group at this point. However, Marc Bergevin has to be confident that taking on a 33-year-old player who is signed until he is 39 with a large-cap hit is the best move for the future of his club. And does Vlasic turn the Canadiens into a Stanley Cup contender? The quick answer to the second question is no, but it helps.
So what would it take? Is it worth it? That’s the big question for Marc Bergevin. For Bergevin, surely he will want the Sharks to retain some salary on Vlasic, as a $7 million cap hit is just too steep for the Canadiens to take on at this point. Maybe the Sharks can take on the contract of Karl Alzner, who has two years remaining at a cap hit of $4.625 million per season. It’s uncertain how either team would facilitate a deal, however, Vlasic to the Canadiens is certainly an interesting scenario that has some legs.
— Joe McDonald (@JoeyMacHockey) May 11, 2020
Analysis: It would be shocking if Tuukka Rask decided to retire at the end of his current contract. Rask is still playing at an elite level and is considered a top-five goaltender in the NHL. This season, he is putting up Vezina Trophy-like numbers. He is leading the league in goals-against average with 2.12. He’s second in save percentage with a .929 rating. That’s just .001 behind leader Anton Khudobin. And he has five shutouts which tie him for second and just one behind Connor Hellebuyck for the league lead. The only thing that could hold Rask back from capturing his second Vezina Trophy, would be the fact that he did not play as many games as some of the other starting netminders. Rask split duties with Jaroslav Halak this season, so his numbers may slightly differ if given a larger workload.
However, it does not change the fact that Rask is playing elite hockey and is currently chasing his first Stanley Cup as a starter. The Bruins won the cup in 2011, however, Rask was backing up Tim Thomas at the time. He helped lead the team to the Stanley Cup Finals last season, however, came up short losing in Game 7 to the St. Louis Blues. Despite this, the Bruins winning ways continue to fuel the fire for Rask and he will be looking at locking up with the club as soon as he can sign his next extension.
Toronto Maple Leafs
Rumour: The Athletic’s James Mirtle takes a look at some pending UFA forwards who could help the Maple Leafs next season.
— The Athletic Toronto (@TheAthleticTO) May 11, 2020
Analysis: Mirtle lists a ton of names. These include players who are surely out of the Leafs price range given their cap situation. However, one interesting name that comes out of Mirtle’s piece is Pat Maroon. The Leafs are in desperate need of some grit and toughness in their bottom six. They addressed that need a little bit in adding Kyle Clifford. However, adding a player of Maroon’s stature would be significant to the Leafs forward group.
Although he has taken a step back at this point in his career, he is exactly the type of player the Leafs need. Maroon is capable of hitting double-digit goal totals, which would help add some cheap scoring depth to the club. He also possesses a large frame at 6’2” 236 lbs, and is not afraid to use it. Maroon could be used to move up and down the lineup as needed to provide some grit to the top two lines. He could also play a depth role on the bottom two lines for some extra scoring punch or an energy guy to help get under the opposing teams’ skin.
Given the Leafs cap situation, the club may need to move out a player like Andreas Johnson, Kasperi Kapanen or Alexander Kerfoot to save on some cap space. Maroon would be a much cheaper option and would bring an aspect that none of these players currently bring to the lineup.