Welcome to the Tuesday edition of NHL Rumours! Teams are finally starting to settle into their positions in the standings. While it is too early to see who are sellers come trade deadline time, some teams are looking to make changes. Not only that some teams are looking ahead to the off-season to see if they can fit core players under the salary cap. In today’s edition of NHL Rumours, we look at the Toronto Maple Leafs, Nashville Predators, and Calgary Flames.
Toronto Maple Leafs
Analysis: As we here at the Last Word on Hockey have looked at over the past couple of weeks in NHL Rumours, the Maple Leafs defence is a topic of conversation. Toronto is looking to make a move at the defence position with Holl or Dermott getting moved out. Holl has not been a healthy scratch for seven games this season with the Maple Leafs. And while he has not requested a trade, the Maple Leafs are being proactive. Holl has a $2 million salary-cap hit while Dermott has a $1.5 million salary-cap hit. Dermott has looked like the better player as the team values him more. The play of Rasmus Sandin and Timothy Liljegren has made these two players expandable. But can that continue?
Now the question for the Maple Leafs is do they want to risk depth or cap relief? With injuries always a factor, the Maple Leafs really do not have the greatest of depth on defence. Moving one of those players will certainly hurt that depth even more. However, ownership trusts this management staff and their philosophy, so anything is possible with Toronto. It is never too early to look at your options, but is the risk worth the reward?
Analysis: The Predators have a tricky situation on their hands with Filip Forsberg. He is their best player ever since coming over in that famous trade from Washington. He has fit this team to a T, but for Forsberg he’s always injured. And once again during his free-agent year, he is injured again. Currently, he is week-to-week with an injury. However, the way Forsberg was playing, he was on pace for a nice new contract this season. When contract negotiations come up at some point this season, the Predators will be bringing up his injury history for sure, as they should. Not to say this will play a factor, but why would they increase his salary cap hit of $6 million if he is always injured?
Now Forsberg is due a raise for sure, but how much more than $6 million considering his durability issues is certainly going to be the question the Predators raise? While David Poile has a desire to re-sign the forward, he needs to be careful and not make him the highest-paid forward on the team. Especially with the issues, he was having with Matt Duchene and Ryan Johansen. The best thing for the team is to get him at around $7 million.
Analysis: Three of the Flames core pieces are in need of new contracts. Two of which are restricted free agents in Tkachuk and Mangiapane, while Gaudreau is an unrestricted free agent. It will be tough to keep all three for sure considering there will be a market for Gaudreau’s services as he is having a bounce-back year. And with Tkachuk’s next contract starting at his qualifying offer of $9 million, it will be tough for the Flames to fit everyone under the salary cap. Especially with Gaudreau and Mangiapane due raises as well.
We know the salary cap will rise to $82.5 million. The Flames have $31.2 million in salary-cap space according to CapFriendly.com. If the Flames were to keep all three players they could, but it will hurt their depth. If all three stay, the team would have about $9.9 million to sign five to seven players to fill out the roster. That means the Flames will have to be creative with the salary cap. A player or two will have to be moved out to fit these players in. If management believes these players are the core pieces, then invest in them. But do not be surprised if only two stay with the Flames come the off-season.