Toronto Maple Leafs center Nazem Kadri and defenseman Jake Gardiner were subjects of trade speculation throughout last season. In a recent interview with the Toronto Sun’s Mike Zeisberger, Leafs GM Dave Nonis claims he never actively shopped the pair.
Nonis did say if the right deal came along for a player like Kadri he would trade him. “But there’s a big difference between being willing to trade a player and trying to trade a player. We were never trying to trade Jake or Naz,” he said. Nonis said the Leafs re-signed Gardiner to a long-term deal this summer because they believe in him, and Nonis expects Kadri will also be a special player.
Given the rumors flying around last season about Kadri and Gardiner, Nonis was probably getting calls from rival clubs expressing interest in the pair. If the Leafs struggle again this season, or if Kadri and/or Gardiner fail to improve as projected, the speculation could resurface, but Nonis made it very clear last season he expected to get a comparable young player in return for either guy.
The New York Post’s Larry Brooks is no fan of the current NHL draft lottery system, believing it rewards teams that perform poorly. He suggests some teams could attempt to tank the season in order to better their odds of landing the first overall pick.
Brooks wonders if the Buffalo Sabres, Calgary Flames or Carolina Hurricanes decide at the NHL trade deadline to trade their best player for a seventh-round pick if the league would reject such a deal. Given how lopsided that trade would be, one suspects the league would reject it based on proportionality. Read more
The Buffalo News’ John Vogl observes the Sabres will have considerable cap space for 2015-16 if GM Tim Murray wants to invest in experienced talent to play alongside their promising youth. He points out the Sabres currently have 15 players under contract totalling $37.7 million, leaving them $13.3 million from the cap floor and “a colossal $31.3 million” under the cap limit.
Vogl considers this an opportunity for the Sabres to “dream big,” suggesting they attempt to acquire a notable star like San Jose’s Joe Thornton, Detroit’s Henrik Zetterberg or Washington’s Alex Ovechkin. Read more
Over the weekend the New York Islanders helped the Boston Bruins and Chicago Blackhawks resolve their respective salary cap issues. The Isles shipped draft picks to the Bruins for veteran defenseman Johnny Boychuk, then sent three prospects to the Blackhawks for blueliner Nick Leddy.
These moves provide a significant boost of experience and skill to the Islanders blueline, while the fallout from the respective deals is still being discussed in Boston and Chicago. Read more
Add the Philadelphia Flyers to the list of teams (the Boston Bruins and Chicago Blackhawks being the others) rumored to be shopping defensemen before the season opens next week. TSN’s Bob McKenzie reports the Flyers could trade a blueliner to shed salary. McKenzie claims Luke Schenn and Nicklas Grossmann as possible trade candidates.
That prompted a swift, angry denial from Flyers GM Ron Hextall, telling CSNPhilly.com’s Tim Panaccio not to believe everything we read. A report in the Philadelphia Daily News, however, suggests the rumors are credible, claiming the Flyers hope to move out a veteran or two to make room for younger defensemen. Read more
The contract stalemate between the Boston Bruins and restricted free agents Torey Krug and Reilly Smith ended Monday with the pair signing identical one-year, $1.4 million contracts.
Stephen Harris of the Boston Herald reports Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli had no intention of trading either player. The signings, however, leave the Bruins with about $425,000 in cap space (once Marc Savard is placed on long-term injured reserve), as well as a surplus of defensemen. Harris doesn’t believe the signings remove the possibility of a trade. Read more
NBA superstar LeBron James returning home to Cleveland sparked speculation this summer in the Toronto media suggesting Tampa Bay Lightning center Steven Stamkos could do the same and sign with the Maple Leafs as a free agent in 2016.
The Leafs lack a homegrown star, and Stamkos would be a natural fit. Responding to questions about the possibility, the 24-year-old sniper inadvertently added fuel to the fire by replying, “We’ll see what happens.” However, Stamkos recently clarified his comments, saying he definitely wants to win with the Lightning. Read more
With the start of the upcoming NHL season less than two weeks away, interest is growing over the potential moves by Boston Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli to free up cap space. It’s been speculated for weeks Chiarelli could move one of his nine NHL-ready defensemen, creating additional room to re-sign restricted free agents Torey Krug and Reilly Smith.
Trading Johnny Boychuk ($3.37 million cap hit), who’s an unrestricted free agent in July, would easily remedy the situation, but Chiarelli seems reluctant to move him. Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reports of speculation the Bruins could re-sign Boychuk, but an extension hasn’t been discussed.
During a recent live chat, ESPN’s Katie Strang stated her belief the New York Islanders could be a logical trade partner for the Bruins, claiming the Isles would like to upgrade their defense via trade. Her colleague Craig Custance, however, suggests it might make more sense for the Isles to evaluate their young blueline core and compliment it closer to the trade deadline with an experienced defenseman.
Sports Illustrated Allan Muir feels Adam McQuaid could be a trade option. Muir suggests a swap with the Detroit Red Wings, who need a top-four defenseman with a right-handed shot. He also believes McQuaid’s reasonable cap hit ($1.57 million), size (6-foot-5, 209 pounds) and physical presence would be attractive to the Wings. While Chiarelli might prefer shipping McQuaid to a different division, the Wings could tempt him with their prospect depth.
McQuaid could also be of interest to the Islanders, but the Bruins aren’t the only team that could move a defenseman for cap reasons. The Chicago Blackhawks must shed more than $2.2 million to become cap compliant. Johnny Oduya ($3.38-million cap hit) and Nick Leddy ($2.7 million) are often mentioned as trade candidates. Read more