Welcome back to another edition of NHL Rumours from the crew at Last Word on Hockey. The Second Round is coming to a close meaning we’re one step closer to crowning a winner of the Stanley Cup. With that, we continue to get more and more rumours as teams get eliminated from contention. In today’s NHL rumours segment, we will focus on rumours surrounding the Montreal Canadiens, Toronto Maple Leafs and Minnesota Wild.
All NHL Rumours come from their original sources and are subject to change.
Rumour: While speaking to the crew from TSN 690, The Athletic’s Arpon Basu states that he doesn’t expect to see Max Domi back with the Canadiens next season. (Quote from Basu on Domi starts around the 5:50 mark of the clip)
Analysis: Rumours have been swirling about Domi ever since the season ended for the Canadiens. And rightfully so. Max did not have a good playoff and took a step back from the outstanding year he had during the 2018-19 season. He certainly didn’t earn the long-term deal he was certainly hoping for and giving the Canadiens needs, Domi becomes expendable.
This, of course, is not a knock on Domi. Max Domi is a very good hockey player. He’s an exceptional playmaker who has great speed and has shown the ability to score goals. He plays with an edge and with a fire that you want to see in a player. However, the Canadiens like him better as a centre. With the emergence of Nick Suzuki and Jesperi Kotkaniemi to go along with Phillip Danault, there is just no room for Max in the middle. The Canadiens also need to get bigger on the wings and could use a more proven goal scorer for their top-six and Domi hasn’t provided that scoring punch, especially this past season.
When asked about Domi’s play, Marc Bergevin said, “he’s better suited to answer regarding his performance. Max has a lot of potential. I can’t speak for his future.” To make things even more interesting, Domi fired Pat Brisson, who is close friends with Marc Bergevin and hired Darren Ferris to represent him. While we shouldn’t automatically assume this means Domi has played his last game in a Montreal uniform, the signs are all pointing towards that outcome.
Toronto Maple Leafs
Rumour: In a recent article for The Athletic, James Mirtle states that he believes the Leafs have a legitimate interest in Robin Lehner, based on what he has heard from around the league.
ICYMI: Examining 12 different options for the Maple Leafs in goal next season, from upgrades to gambleshttps://t.co/p41NDEALew
— James Mirtle (@mirtle) September 1, 2020
Analysis: Mirtle states that there is no guarantee the Leafs move on from Frederik Andersen. However, if they did, Lehner is definitely an excellent option to replace him. Robin Lehner has been outstanding over the last two seasons. He had an incredible bounce-back year in 2018-19 with the New York Islanders. Lehner posted a 25-13-5 record with a goals-against-average of 2.13 and a save percentage of .930 to go along with six shutouts. This earned him a one-year deal with the Chicago Blackhawks. Although his goals-against-average was high at 3.01, it’s mostly because he played for a bad team. His save percentage was still outstanding at .918 and has been playing extremely well for the Vegas Golden Knights in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. There is a possibility Vegas will look to retain his services, however, that won’t stop the Leafs from throwing their hat in the ring.
The Leafs are looking for answers after yet another disappointing end to what was looking to be a promising season. This has had general manager Kyle Dubas questioning all aspects of his lineup and looking to shake things up, including his starting netminder. Andersen has been good throughout the years for the Leafs, however, he can’t seem to get the job done for them in the playoffs. The Leafs have yet to win a playoff series despite having very successful regular seasons and a potent offence.
Bringing in a goaltender as dialled in as Lehner has been could be the answer for the Leafs. He will most likely come at a higher cost than the $5 million they’re paying Andersen at the moment. However, with the way he is playing, he is certainly worth it. With Andersen becoming an unrestricted free agent at the end of next season, it’s best to move their asset to try to get something for him rather than risk him walking in free agency. Especially when there is a goaltender of Lehner’s calibre on the market.
Part I: https://t.co/fTihzcvXOk
Part II: https://t.co/JtGzUscJtL
— The Athletic Minnesota (@TheAthleticMIN) September 2, 2020
Analysis: The fan question comes in light of the upcoming expansion draft. If the Wild decide to protect seven forwards, three defence and a goaltender, one of Brodin or Dumba would be left exposed. This is because Ryan Suter and Jared Spurgeon both have no move clauses so they need to be protected. So if the Wild were going to move one of them, this would be the offseason to do it. According to Russo, Brodin would most likely be the player that is moved.
Brodin is a year older than Dumba and doesn’t have as much upside. He’s not a player who creates a whole lot of offence, however, is outstanding defensively. Dumba, however, has the ability to rack up points. In addition, Dumba is currently under contract for another three seasons. Brodin becomes an unrestricted free agent at the end of next season. He will certainly be looking for a raise from the $4.1 million he is currently making. This may make him too rich for the Wild. And if they don’t move him and they end up having to let him walk or get selected by Seattle, they’re letting go of a massive trade chip. With so many teams in the market for a top-four defenceman, the Wild should be able to get a nice package for a defenceman of Brodin’s calibre.
The same could be said for Dumba as well. Dumba would fetch even more on the trade market due to his ability to score. As Russo mentions, a team like Toronto, who is in desperate need of a right-shot defender and is looking to shake things up, would certainly pay the premium for Dumba. While it’s a tough spot for Bill Guerin to be in, at least he has options. Guerin has to look out for the best interest of his club long-term. Trading either of these two players helps him with that.
That does it for today’s edition of NHL Rumours. Check back daily as we continue to bring you the hottest rumours from around the league.