Maple Leafs News & Rumors: Kapanen, Johnsson, Nylander, Joseph & More

July 1 is rapidly approaching. Not only is it Canada Day, but it is one of the busiest days for NHL news. However, sometimes the expectations trump the real action. In preparing for what might happen, this edition of Toronto Maple Leafs news and rumors tries to bring fans more up-to-date with what’s going on with the team.

Related: Maple Leafs News & Rumors: Qualifying Offers, Marner, Zaitsev & More

Item One: Kapanen and Johnsson Sign Contracts

On Friday, the Maple Leafs announced that Kasperi Kapanen and Andreas Johnsson signed contracts with the team. Had they not signed, each would have become a restricted free agent (RFA) on July 1.

Toronto Maple Leafs Auston Matthews Andreas Johnsson Kasperi Kapanen
Toronto Maple Leafs centre Auston Matthews celebrates with teammates Andreas Johnsson and wing Kasperi Kapanen (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn)

Kapanen, a 22-year-old forward, signed a contract for three-years, $9.6 million, with a $3.2 million AAV. Johnsson, a 24-year-old forward, signed a contract for four-years, $13.6 million, with a $3.4 million AAV. Both young players had career highs last season. Kapanen scored 20 goals, 24 assists, and 44 points in 78 games. Johnsson scored 20 goals, 23 assists, and 43 points in 73 games.

Although earlier it wasn’t clear if the Maple Leafs would be able to sign these two young players, the team created salary cap space during last week’s NHL Entry Draft by trading veteran Patrick Marleau and his contract to the Carolina Hurricanes. On paper, it wasn’t a good deal for the Maple Leafs; however, that trade created the cap space for these two signings.

Related: Kasperi Kapanen and Andreas Johnsson Sign With Maple Leafs

What I find interesting is that Dubas was rumored to have reached tentative agreements with these players a week ago, but was supposed to be waiting for some finalization on the Mitch Marner situation before he finalized these contracts. What might have happened to change that decision? We might know soon.

Item Two: Nylander Weighs in on the Marner Negotiations

For some reason I can’t fathom, Maple Leafs last season’s last-minute signee William Nylander weighed in on Marner’s contract negotiations. He believed Marner doesn’t need to rush into signing a contract with the team. He has plenty of time.

Toronto Maple Leafs forward William Nylander
Toronto Maple Leafs forward William Nylander. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette)

Being interviewed at the NHLPA Golf Classic at Glen Abbey Golf Club, Nylander was quoted as saying, “I’ve talked to him a little bit, but it’s just the beginning of summer, so there’s a lot more time to go, There’s no worries at this point.”

I have two thoughts. First, I’m hoping Nylander’s report isn’t an insight into the future. Nylander obviously doesn’t share the same urgency Dubas has for signing Marner. Second, why would Nylander say anything at all? It makes me wonder what he learned from his own experience.

Related: Maple Leafs’ Dilemma: What to Do With William Nylander?

Nylander’s experience as an RFA was that his prolonged negotiation extended well into the season. And, after he signed, Nylander played poorly all season. That he would not translate his experience as cautionary for a teammate suggests to me how, on a team, players and management could be on such different sides of a fence.

I hope that Marner signs soon. He’s arguably the Maple Leafs best player and has led the team in scoring for two seasons in a row. Last season he scored 26 goals, 68 assists, and 94 points, in 82 games. He’s rumoured to be seeking a contract in the same range as teammate Auston Matthews, whose five-year contract was $11.634 million AAV.

Mitch Marner and Auston Matthews
Mitch Marner (#16) and Auston Matthews with Frederik Andersen
(John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports)

Although it seldom happens, it’s possible Marner might be offer-sheeted by another team. However, as Nylander added: “I haven’t thought about the potential for (Marner leaving on) an offer sheet, but it’s a case of every player just wants a deal that they think that they deserve.”

Item Three: Two Former Maple Leafs Ignored in Hall of Fame Committee Voting

In what to me seemed like an odd Hall of Fame Committee vote, a large group of newer Hall of Fame eligible players were ignored while two players who’ve waited a long time were voted into the Hall. The committee snubbed Theo Fleury, Jeremy Roenick, Alexander Mogilny, and Curtis Joseph and voted in Guy Carbonneau, Sergei Zubov, Vaclav Nedomansky, and Hayley Wickenheiser.

Obviously, fans know that both Mogilny and Joseph were former Maple Leafs players although they also played with other teams.  To me, both deserved Hall of Fame induction in this class.

Related: Maple Leafs News & Rumors: Marner, Zaitsev, Hurricanes Trade, Marleau

Mogilny’s best seasons were with the Buffalo Sabres and the Vancouver Canucks, and he was one of the best players of his era. His numbers are impressive, with 473 goals and 1,032 points in 990 games. He helped to change the face of the NHL hockey by becoming the first player to defect from Russia to come to North America to play in the NHL in 1989. Many fellow Russians have followed his path. Mogilny was also the Sabres’ captain in 1993-94, which was a first for a Russian NHL player.

Curtis Joseph, Toronto Maple Leafs
Joseph became a fan favourite in Toronto for his compete level between the pipes. (Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports)

Joseph, sporting the nickname Cujo, was an iconic goalie with the St. Louis Blues, Edmonton Oilers, Maple Leafs, Detroit Red Wings, Phoenix Coyotes, and the Calgary Flames. He played well everywhere, and his 454 wins are the fifth-most wins for a goalie in NHL history. He had 50 or more wins with five teams, but no more than 138 (Toronto) with any of them.

I am pleased for the selections of Montreal Canadiens’ Guy Carbonneau, who won three Stanley Cups in his 19-season NHL career; Hayley Wickenheiser, a four-time Canadian Olympic gold medalist; Sergei Zubov, who played 16 seasons in the NHL, mostly with the Dallas Stars; and Vaclav Nedomansky, who played six NHL seasons with the Red Wings and was a central player for the Czechoslovakia national team. Still, it’s a shame Mogilny and Joseph were ignored. Both were among the most influential NHL players of their time.

Item Four: No Trade Calls for Marner

In some of the latest Maple Leafs rumors coming out, TSN’s Pierre LeBrun noted on TSN 1050 that Toronto didn’t receive any trade offers for Marner at the NHL Entry Draft.

Related: Maple Leafs vs. Mitch Marner

Elliotte Friedman tweeted that he thinks, “The Leafs are going to offer him (Marner) 2×8, I think they’re going to say, we all believe the cap is going up in 2 years, why don’t you sign then when we have more room and the maximum is higher?” However, Brian Burke disagreed on Tim and Sid and said there was no way Marner would sign such a contract and risk an injury.

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Finally, my THW colleague Jim Parsons noted in his rumor post that the focus now on Marner means Jake Gardiner will be gone. There’s simply not enough money left in the Maple Leafs salary cap space to sign him and he will get paid well by another team after July 1.

Parsons also reported that the Maple Leafs would have looked to someone like Anton Stralman but, after calling his camp, realized the asking price was too high.