NHL Rumours: St. Louis Blues and Toronto Maple Leafs

NHL Rumours
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Hello and welcome back to the Tuesday edition of NHL Rumours! We are a little less than two weeks away from the official start of NHL free agency. Front offices around the league are starting to ramp up in anticipation of one of the more exciting off-seasons in recent memories. Not to mention we are a week away from the 2020 NHL Draft. We here at Last Word on Hockey will bring you the best analysis regarding all the news, trades, free-agent signings, and playoff coverage as the Stanley Cup Final wraps up inside the Edmonton bubble. Today’s NHL Rumours feature news surrounding the St. Louis Blues and Toronto Maple Leafs.

NHL Rumours

St. Louis Blues

Rumour: Jeremy Rutherford of the Athletic speculates what the St. Louis Blues will do this off-season as they wait on Alex Pietrangelo. One of the things the Blues can do to open up cap space is to move centre Tyler Bozak. 

NHL free agent frenzy

Analysis: The biggest story of this off-season is the story between the Blues and captain Alex Pietrangelo. Obviously, the Blues are making him a priority, but the unrestricted free-agent will be tough to bring back if the Blues do not move cap space. As Rutherford speculates the Blues could move Tyler Bozak. Bozak is a serviceable third-line center that is costing the Blues $5 million a season. While he is entering the final year of his contract, moving a player like this will help them with cap space especially if they are able to re-sign Pietrangelo. Not to mention a guy like Vince Dunn who is in need of a new contract. Since arriving in St. Louis, Bozak has been a solid forward, but the production has not matched the price of the signing. But what Bozak is known for is his face-offs something every team needs.

It will be interesting to see if the Blues retain any salary if they were to move Bozak, who has a modified, 10-team no-trade list. But you have to imagine the Blues will if they are desperate to move a contract out like Bozak’s to open up cap space. They may also have to give up an asset if a team takes on the whole salary. The Blues are not in the best position in terms of trades as teams know they are up against the cap. It is not like if the Blues move Bozak it will be hard to replace him. The Blues have depth in their system and even if they look on the free-agent market, they will be able to find a cheaper option.

St. Louis Blues

Rumour: It is a double dose of St. Lous Blues NHL Rumours today as we stick with Rutherford’s piece looking at the Blues off-season. Rutherford believes there is a mutual interest between the Blues and forward Bobby Ryan

Analysis: When the buyout window opened on Friday, the Ottawa Senators bought out Bobby Ryan’s contract. While Ryan is no spring chicken anymore, at 33 years old he is still a player that can score goals in the NHL. In 833 regular-season games, Ryan has recorded 555 points including 254 goals. It is not like he would be an expensive pick up either. In fact, Ryan is not looking for a long-term deal. He would rather take a one-year deal at the league minimum or just above it to join a contending team. After being Ottawa for so long, Ryan wants to win. The Blues have the team to contend for many years to come. And adding a player like Ryan makes them even deeper on offence.

Considering Vladimir Tarasenko is having left shoulder surgery for the third time in 28 months, the Blues can bring Ryan in to compensate for the loss of Tarasenko’s production as he may not be ready for when the next NHL season begins. The Blues power play was not the greatest in the Stanley Cup playoffs and adding a big body like Ryan’s could give them more options with the man advantage. As previously mentioned, Ryan knows how to get to the dirty areas and plays a physical game that matches the Blues style of play. On a cheap contract, the risk with certainly be worth the reward.

Toronto Maple Leafs

Rumour: Pierre LeBrun of TSN notes that the Toronto Maple Leafs and Evan Rodrigues had productive talks and while a contract may still come down the road, the team wants him on their terms.

Analysis: The Maple Leafs acquired Rodrigues as part of the Kasperi Kapanen trade in late August. Last season Rodrigues signed a one-year deal that paid him $2 million with the Buffalo Sabres. He was rewarded for the production he had during the 2018–19 season where he recorded 29 points (nine goals and 20 assists). Unfortunately, he could not replicate that same production this past season and Buffalo traded him to the Pittsburgh Penguins. But what makes Rodrigues an interesting case is that his qualifying offer begins at $2 million — the same contract he had last season. Unfortunately, the Maple Leafs likely cannot sign Rodrigues to that kind of money with the salary cap only at $81.5 million.

Rodrigues is a bottom-six player NHL player. The Maple Leafs have more than enough of those players already in their system and on the roster. While they need to get tougher, Toronto can find a cheaper option on the free-agent market. While they do like the player, they should not like him at $2 million. They want him to stay only on their terms, which are probably less than what Rodrigues was making last season. It is quite possible the two sides work out a deal, but it is best for the Maple Leafs to let this player go to free agency.

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