With the 2021-22 season just weeks away, hockey fans are excited to see their favourite teams take the ice. However, interesting NHL rumours have started to flare up as the season nears its debut, so let’s get right into it. Today’s NHL Rumours feature the Toronto Maple Leafs, Vancouver Canucks and Philadelphia Flyers.
Toronto Maple Leafs
Rumour: Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet stated in his 31 Thoughts podcast that Toronto Maple Leafs forward Ilya Mikheyev requested a trade at the end of the 2020-21 season.
Analysis: What makes this trade request interesting is that the Maple Leafs rejected his trade request. This is likely because they are thin on the left side after losing Zach Hyman and Joe Thornton. Furthermore, GM Kyle Dubas is looking forward to Mikheyev having a big year. During the 2020-21 season, Mikheyev had seven goals and ten assists for 17 points in 54 games. This was a step down from the 2019-20 season for the undrafted forward, who had 23 points in 39 games. Mikheyev has requested a trade due to ice time concerns and his role on the team. He spend a lot of last season playing on the third line and averaged a TOI of 14:13.
Mikheyev has one year left on a two-year, $3.29 million contract. He should play smart and stick with the Maple Leafs to compete for a top-six left-wing spot. If Mikheyev plays with Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, John Tavares or William Nylander, he can improve his offensive production and overall game. Mikheyev can boast good offensive numbers with Toronto and then sign a lucrative contract with the team of his choice during free agency. Nonetheless, what happens to him greatly depends on him playing at his best on the power play. Mikheyev’s advanced stats indicate his game on the power play is underwhelming. Hopefully, for Maple Leafs fans, Mikheyev stays with the team in a top-six role. He is a fan favourite and is a good player, but had a down season. Look out for more NHL Rumours like this!
Rumour: Elliotte Friedman also speculated in his 31 Thoughts podcast that the Vancouver Canucks have progressed more on a Quinn Hughes contract than an Elias Pettersson contract.
Analysis: Both Hughes and Pettersson are cornerstone pieces for the Vancouver Canucks. Yet, they are still unsigned as the season opener is weeks away. The Canucks could be in trouble if Hughes and Pettersson are not playing. One obstacle is the term and the AAV of the contract. The other problem is Vancouver’s cap space. Currently, the Canucks have around $10.66 million left to get both Hughes and Pettersson signed. They can put Micheal Ferland on LTIR to create some more space, but the cap is not in their favour. Since high-end defencemen such as Cale Makar recently signed long-term contracts, a comparison will be easier to make for Hughes. This is more likely as to why the Canucks have progressed more on a Hughes contract. He has great offensive production, but his defensive advanced analytics have been subpar, which may work against him.
As for Pettersson, Friedman states that a reason for less progression on his contract may be due to Kirill Kaprizov. He states that Pettersson is potentially waiting for Kaprizov to sign his contract before coming up with an AAV for his contract. It was recently rumoured that Kaprizov will sign a five-year contract with a $9 million AAV. On the other hand, Pettersson is becoming one of the best centres in the league. If Pettersson’s deal is done after Kaprizov’s, his AAV will be higher than Kaprizov’s, as Pettersson is the better player overall moving forward. In 165 NHL games, Pettersson has 65 goals and 88 assists for 153 points. He struggled with injuries this year, which kept him out over half the season. Despite this, he had 21 points in 26 games and should be on the opening night roster if a contract is signed. For now, Hughes and Pettersson remain unsigned. It will be interesting to see what the Canucks end up doing.
Rumour: Eric Reese of Philly Sports Network explores potential trade candidates for Philadelphia Flyers forward James van Riemsdyk to fill a gap on the right side of the ice.
Analysis: James van Riemsdyk is undoubtedly a great player. In 797 NHL games, he amassed 264 goals and 260 assists for 524 points. This past season, the 32-year-old had 43 points in 56 games. He was tied first for points on the Flyers. Van Riemsdyk was also elite on the power play on a Flyers team with many negatives last season. Flyers GM Chuck Fletcher is not afraid to make aggressive moves, which he demonstrated this offseason. In 2018, van Riemsdyk signed a five-year, $35 million contract. That contract now has two years remaining on it. Philadelphia has almost $400K in cap space left, and trading away van Riemsdyk will help the team with cap issues, especially since players such as Claude Giroux and Rasmus Ristolainen need to be resigned.
The article discusses four potential trade candidates for van Riemsdyk. The first one is forward Andre Burakovsky. They are very similar when it comes to offensive production and Burakovsky is much younger. He only has one year left on his contract. The second candidate is Kevin Fiala. Currently, van Riemsdyk is the better player overall, but Fiala is trending upwards to being able to replicate van Riemsdyk’s offence. Additionally, Fiala is seven years younger and has RFA status at the end of the season. Like Burakovsky, Filip Forsberg only has one year remaining on his contract, so the Flyers could take a chance on him during his prime. Finally, Rickard Rakell can rejuvenate the Flyers. However, the Ducks are in a rebuild and they would more likely look to acquire picks or prospects for him instead of van Riemsdyk.
Be sure to keep an eye out and check back soon for another edition of NHL Rumours!
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