NHL Rumours: Toronto Maple Leafs, Philadelphia Flyers and New Jersey Devils

NHL Rumours

Welcome to the Saturday edition of NHL Rumours! The NHL season on the ice is officially in the books with the Tampa Bay Lightning win the Stanley Cup for the second year in a row. Now is when the real fun begins as the expansion draft is a little over a week away. Followed by the NHL Draft and Free Agency. Things are definitely heating up off the ice with all new rumours coming out each day. Keep it locked on the Last Word on Hockey for the latest. Today’s NHL Rumours look at the Toronto Maple Leafs, New Jersey Devils and

NHL Rumours

Toronto Maple Leafs

Rumour: Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman was on Edmonton Radio 630 CHED and stated that it sounds like Zach Hyman and the Toronto Maple Leafs are heading towards a split as of now. 

Analysis: Zach Hyman wants to be a Maple Leaf for life. And the Maple Leafs want him to play there with the rest of the core for a long time. However, in today’s day and age that may not happen considering, he is an unrestricted free agent that could get a lot of money on the open market. Surely, the Maple Leafs will do everything in their power to bring him back. But there is the matter of the salary cap. And they will need to shred some money to do so. They will get some relief from the Seattle expansion draft but it will not be enough.

They already brought back Wayne Simmonds and Jason Spezza. And will need to shred a contract or two to make Hyman work. He has been the workhorse playing alongside Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner. And he brings a presence the Maple Leafs are missing.

There are reports Hyman could get between $5-6 million on the open market. The Maple Leafs may not be able to match that or want to give him that much. If the Edmonton Oilers or Detroit Red Wings are interested, Hyman should listen especially if it is with the Oilers. He would be in a similar situation to the Maple Leafs in a place to win. But will his heart be there? That is the question. Will the team signing Zach Hyman can the full Zach Hyman. Because a piece might be left in Toronto and that is something teams will need to consider.

Philadelphia Flyers

Rumour: Elliotte Friedman on his 31 thoughts podcast says the Philadelphia Flyers may not be able to pull off a Seth Jones trade because Jones doesn’t want to commit to an extension

Analysis: The Flyers are in desperate need of defence this offseason. Seth Jones is the hot commodity since he has requested a trade from the Columbus Blue Jackets. The Flyers have been rumoured from the beginning to be linked to Jones. However, the team wants Jones to commit to an extension before trading for him. And that is something that has been discussed doing a sign and trade for the player. However, Jones will be an unrestricted free agent after next season and wants to see what his worth is on the open market. And if he continues to play the way he has in Columbus, his cap-hit is going to be higher than $5.40 million. Why commit to less money if you know you are worth more.

Again there are other options on the table for Jones and the Flyers. Jones could play a season in Philly and decide to stay. Or play half the season and sign a new deal, but the lure of being a pending unrestricted free agent might be too much to pass up. The Flyers will probably continue to pursue Jones as they try to fill the hole left by Matt Niskanen‘s sudden retirement. Ivan Provorov has been a solid defenceman back there, but to add Jones would give them a solid one-two punch. But if they can’t get Jones to commit long-term they will have to look elsewhere.

New Jersey Devils

Rumour: Corey Masisak of The Athletic writes that New Jersey Devils are in need of a number three centre and mentions Alex Kerfoot as one of many possibilities to fill the role.

Analysis: The Devils are set with their number one, two and fourth lines centres. Barring Michael McLeod does not go to Seattle in the expansion draft. What the team is missing is a good third-line pivot. Unfortunately for the team, Pavel Zacha is not that guy. As we have seen over the past two seasons, he is more suited for the wing position. The Devils could look internally with a guy like Jesper Boqvist who the team is high on. Or they could trade for someone. One of the names being mentioned outside of the usual suspects has been Alexander Kerfoot of the Maple Leafs.

Now the Devils and Kerfoot have some history as they drafted him before he signed in Colorado. And then was traded by Colorado to Toronto for Nazem Kadri. While he might not be the ideal player for this position offensively, the way thing he can do is win faceoffs. Something the Devils need to improve on ever since they traded Travis Zajac to the Islanders at the deadline. Kerfoot won 56 percent of his faceoffs in 2018-19 and 40.8 percent during the 2020-21 season. Every good team needs a faceoff man and if the Devils want to be competitive it does start in the faceoff circle.

You need depth down the middle and the Devils are lacking that. Adding someone like Kerfoot who is a low-buy candidate is a risk the team may have to take to get better down the road.

That does for this edition of NHL Rumours. Stay tuned for another edition on Sunday.

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