NHL Rumours: Toronto Maples Leafs and Florida Panthers

NHL Rumours

Hello and welcome to a Thursday edition of NHL rumours! The playoffs have begun but eliminated teams are starting to work on their plans for 2020-21. Last Word on Hockey will bring the best news and analysis as it breaks. Today’s NHL rumours feature the Florida Panthers and a double-dose of Toronto Maple Leafs.

NHL Rumours

Toronto Maple Leafs

Rumour: Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas recently explained on TSN1050 that they would be open to moving contracts if they get good value.

Analysis: Dubas is right to consider every contract as worthy of staying on the Toronto roster in the offseason unless the price is right. Yes, the Leafs have one of the tighter salary situations in a flat-cap era; roughly $75.7 million is already committed for 2020-21 but there’s no reason to trade someone just for space.

With that in mind, there are a few contracts Toronto could look at if they wanted to drop some salary while not sacrificing its core players. Andreas Johnsson is one such option. The 25-year-old was fine this season with eight goals and 21 points in 43 games. However, he was injured twice. He also counts as $3.4 million towards the salary cap. The team could easily replace him with someone like Ilya Mikheyev and not lose much production. The Leafs also have Kyle Clifford to re-sign who could permanently slide into Johnsson’s spot in the top-six next season.

Alexander Kerfoot is another player who would free up some salary room via trade. The 26-year-old has been a respectable player in three seasons with Toronto and the Colorado Avalanche but he could fetch a decent return as well. His cap hit of $3.5 million through 2022-23 is a tremendous value for a player who has two 40-point campaigns in his career. The Leafs could move Kerfoot and replace him with someone like Pierre Engvall, who showed a lot of energy in 2019-20. Toronto does not have to trade anyone but they do have valuable contracts to move if they want to.

Toronto Maple Leafs

Rumour: Staying with the Maple Leafs and Kyle Dubas, he recently commented that there was no way the team would trade star forward Mitch Marner in the offseason.

Analysis: The Leafs would indeed be insane to trade Marner. The 23-year-old’s scoring was down this year but he still contributed 16 goals and 67 points in 59 games. Very few teams are willing to spend the assets necessary for a player of Marner’s calibre.

It would also be nearly impossible to justify trading for Marner’s contract. He has a cap hit of $10.89 million through 2024-25. That is a significant amount of money for someone who is very good but has broken 70 points only once in four seasons. The global pandemic halted what probably would have been the second 70 point campaign this year. He simply makes too much money in a world where the salary cap is going to stay flat for at least one season, if not more.

It’s also unclear how good he can be without a dynamic centre. He has looked great next to Auston Matthews or John Tavares but those are two of the best centres in the league. There only a handful of teams that could both afford Marner and put him next to a centre of the same calibre. Marner might never justify his massive salary but it’s hard to imagine anyone trading for him in the current environment. Toronto is the best place for him right now considering his contract and linemates.

Florida Panthers

Rumour: Renaud Lavoie of TVASport recently revealed that the Montreal Canadiens will let the Panthers talk to assistant general manager Scott Mellanby.

Analysis: It was a mild surprise when the Panthers let Dale Tallon leave the franchise earlier this week. Tallon was with the organization for 10 years but they decided a change was needed moving forward. The team spent big in the previous offseason, signing Sergei Bobrovsky to a huge deal but it didn’t work as the team failed to make the playoffs. Florida hasn’t won a playoff series since 1995-96 when it went to the Stanley Cup Finals.

They have targeted assistant Canadiens general manager Scott Mellanby as one of its potential replacements. The 54-year-old had a long career with multiple franchises before he retired in 2006-07. He joined Montreal as Director of Player Personnel in 2012 and became assistant GM in 2014.

Mellanby could certainly help boost Florida’s fortunes in the draft thanks to his experience with the Montreal organization. The Canadiens don’t have the best farm system in the league but it done well in recent years. Mikhail Sergachev, Ryan Poehling, and Jesperi Kotkaniemi are just some of the players drafted while Mellanby was working in the front office. Mellanby wouldn’t have been the only decision-maker in those picks but Florida could certainly use his experience as it tries to battle in a competitive Atlantic Division.

That does it for this edition of NHL Rumours stayed tuned for another edition in the coming days.

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