Rumor Roundup: The top trade targets in 2015-16

Dustin Byfuglien (Jared Silber/NHLI via Getty Images)

With another NHL season underway, here’s a look at the NHL players most likely to be dealt by the Feb. 29 trade deadline.

Eric Staal, Carolina Hurricanes. The 30-year-old Hurricanes is an unrestricted free agent next summer. His production’s declined in recent years and the club is rebuilding. If there’s no progress in either the Hurricanes’ performance or Staal’s contract talks, he could agree to be dealt to a contender at the deadline. Read more

Five things we learned from the Canadiens-Maple Leafs season opener

Matt Larkin
Jake Gardiner and Max Pacioretty. (Photo by Graig Abel/NHLI via Getty Images)

We’ve said it time and again in the THN office in the weeks leading up to 2015-16: this is the most anticipated hockey season in years. From Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel’s arrivals to Phil Kessel in Pittsburgh to 3-on-3 overtime to the beginning of the Mike Babcock era, the NHL has exciting storylines coming out the wazoo. And the Montreal Canadiens’ season-opening tilt against the Toronto Maple Leafs gave us an accurate snapshot of what to expect from the game’s maddest markets in 2015-16.

Here are five takeaways from Game 1 of the NHL season:

Read more

Brad Boyes took a very long road back to Toronto

Ryan Kennedy
Brad Boyes (Photo by Graig Abel/NHLI via Getty Images)

It has been 15 years since the Toronto Maple Leafs drafted right winger Brad Boyes 24th overall in the draft. Before this season, the native of the city’s suburbs had only played in a Leafs sweater with “St. John’s” on the logo – but now he’s come full-circle and will play on the franchise’s top line for opening night. Good thing he bought a condo in town all those years ago. Wait, what?

Read more

Former HNIC montage maker’s new Maple Leafs video will give you goosebumps

Jared Clinton
Screen Shot 2015-10-07 at 11.31.00 AM

During the late years of Hockey Night in Canada on CBC, Tim Thompson’s video montages were works of art.

Set perfectly to bands like The Foo Fighters, Tragically Hip and Smashing Pumpkins, Thompson’s montages were awe-inspiring and produced goosebumps on the arms of even the most hardened of hockey fans. With a new hockey season right around the bend, Thompson, who didn’t join the Hockey Night in Canada crew at Rogers, has produced a brand new video titled Maple Leafs Forever.

Even if you’re not a Maple Leafs fans, the video is worth watching: Read more

Rumor Roundup: Zajac doesn’t make sense for Maple Leafs

Travis Zajac (Andy Marlin/Getty Images)

Last week, Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reported of talk around the league suggesting Toronto Maple Leafs GM Lou Lamoriello might be keen to acquire center Travis Zajac from the New Jersey Devils.’s Rich Chere weighed in on the speculation, suggesting Lamoriello could be discussing several options with Devils GM Ray Shero. Chere believes Leafs center Nazem Kadri could be part of a trade scenario, and feels the Devils “would undoubtedly consider a package deal” involving Leafs winger James van Riemsdyk.

Chere didn’t tie Zajac with Kadri or van Riemsdyk, though it’s easy to understand why the Devils might wish to move him. Since his career-best 67-point effort in 2009-10, his production has steadily declined, reaching a career-worst 25 points last season. Zajac’s also carrying an annual average salary of $5.75 million for six more seasons, plus he carries a full no-trade clause.

Acquiring Zajac, however, makes absolutely no sense for the supposedly rebuilding Leafs. Nor does peddling Kadri before they’ve had an opportunity to fully evaluate his play in the upcoming season. And unless the centerpiece of a package offer is Adam Henrique, there’s really not much the Devils can propose to convince the Leafs brain trust to part with van Riemsdyk.

Toronto Sun columnist Steve Simmons said it best: if the Leafs acquire Zajac, it will be the first sign that their great rebuild plan won’t take place.


When it was announced last week that Boston Bruins defenseman Dennis Seidenberg would miss eight weeks following back surgery,’s Joe Haggerty suggested it could spark another round of rumors linking the Bruins with Winnipeg Jets blueliner Dustin Byfuglien.

Sure enough, the “Byfuglien-to-Boston” speculation resurfaced, prompting Haggerty to follow up by noting the high price to acquire the Jets rearguard. He thinks the Jets will want a return consisting of a first-round pick, a good roster player and a top prospect. The Boston Globe’s Fluto Shinzawa chimed in by suggesting the Jets could seek one of the Bruins two first-round picks in the 2016 NHL draft, along with help off the roster.

Byfuglien, 30, is eligible next summer for unrestricted free agency, which explains why his name has been bandied about the rumor mill in recent months. Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman claims he’s heard no updates on contract talks between the defenseman and Jets management. While acknowledging the rumors linking Bygulien to the Bruins, Friedman believes they’ll look at more cost-effective options.

It’s rumored Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Luke Schenn could be available, while the Edmonton Journal’s Jonathan Willis believes Oilers blueliner Nikita Nikitin could be a trade candidate. However, Haggerty doesn’t consider them palatable options for the Bruins. For now, the Bruins continue to assess the young defensemen in their system in hopes one or two prove capable of stepping up this season.

Rumor Roundup appears regularly only on Lyle Richardson has been an NHL commentator since 1998 on his website,, and is a contributing writer for Eishockey News and The Guardian (P.E.I.).

For more great profiles, news and views from the world of hockey, subscribe to The Hockey News magazine.

Watch Dion Phaneuf line up and level Sabres prospect Brendan Guhle with huge hit

Jared Clinton
Dion Phaneuf

There weren’t many positive things for the Toronto Maple Leafs to takeaway from Tuesday’s 4-0 loss to the Buffalo Sabres, but if nothing else, at least Dion Phaneuf seems to be in mid-season form when it comes to doling out punishment.

Midway through the second period of Tuesday’s tilt between the Leafs and Sabres, Buffalo defenseman Brendan Guhle, an 18-year-old coming off of his second season in the WHL, got his ‘Welcome to the NHL’ moment when he was lined up and bowled over by Phaneuf.

The hit — which was clean, hard and looked immensely painful — was textbook. You can almost feel the hit on the second slow-motion replay: Read more

Why the Red Wings shouldn’t honor Babcock on opening night

The Hockey News
Mike Babcock (Dave Reginek/NHLI via Getty Images)

By Keith Gave

After reading in a Toronto newspaper that the Red Wings planned to honor former coach Mike Babcock when he brings his Toronto Maple Leafs to Joe Louis Arena to open a new hockey season, I asked Detroit GM Ken Holland for some details.

He offered none because, officially, there is no such plan. Yet.

“I said we’re thinking about doing something,” Holland said before the Wings opened their preseason recently against Chicago.

Good. As long as this idea is in the developing stage, maybe the Wings will consider this suggestion: Don’t. Read more

Brad Boyes makes most of PTO, signs one-year deal with Maple Leafs

Jared Clinton

Earlier this off-season, the Panthers’ buyout of Brad Boyes caught the hockey world off guard. It wasn’t that Boyes was irreplaceable in Florida, but his steady production and decent price tag made him a quality contributor in the Cats’ top-six. But Florida’s decision has turned into Toronto’s gain, as the Maple Leafs have inked the former 40-goal scorer to a one-year deal.

After going through the entire off-season without a contract, Boyes came to Toronto’s training camp on a professional tryout before signing a deal with the Maple Leafs for the 2015-16 campaign. Boyes’ deal will pay him $700,000, which is a healthy dropoff from the $2.5 million he was set to earn had he remained with the Panthers.

With the Maple Leafs, Boyes won’t automatically slide into a top-six role, but he could very well play himself into minutes on the top two lines should he outperform either of Joffrey Lupul or P-A Parenteau. Boyes has spent the past two seasons on a Florida team that was one of the most offensively stunted in the entire NHL, yet still managed 21-goal, 36-point and 14-goal, 38-point campaigns in the Sunshine State. Read more