NHL Rumors: Maple Leafs, Panthers, Sharks, Canadiens, Red Wings…

In today’s NHL Rumors rundown, goaltender Robin Lehner took part in a social media Q & A and he gave some interesting and honest answers. Meanwhile, there’s speculation the Montreal Canadiens might be interested in Alex Galchenyuk, the Detroit Red Wings in Artem Anisimov and that players are threatening to leave the San Jose Sharks if Evander Kane returns. Finally, former Toronto Maple Leafs forward Joe Thornton has signed with the Florida Panthers.

Lehner Doesn’t Shy Away From Fan Questions

When asked if he’d ever have liked to have been a member of the Toronto Maple Leafs, Lehner said simply “no.” Interestingly, this was one of the least controversial answers he gave to questions asked of him on Twitter Thursday afternoon.

Lehner also said the worst three cities, according to players (not him) to play in are Edmonton, Buffalo and Winnipeg, he said he’d like to go back to Buffalo to make things right if the Golden Knights were to trade him and that Connor Hellebuyck shouldn’t have won the Vezina Trophy over Andrei Vasilevskiy. 

As for the Toronto question, some are saying this really puts a damper on the “every player wants to play for the Leafs” narrative, while others are arguing this just goes to show that not every player wants the pressure of playing in a hockey-mad market — although, in Lehner’s defense, he didn’t say why he’d prefer not to play for Toronto.

Lehner continues to remain one of the most interesting athletes in the NHL and he certainly doesn’t seem to worry about the consequences of speaking the truth as he sees it. This all came just a day after he said in a podcast he was “way underpaid” as an NHL goalie.

Related: Maple Leafs Could have Undrafted Gem in Gogolev

Sharks Players Threatening to Leave

As per multiple reports, things in San Jose continue to boil over when it comes to Kane and his relationships with teammates. One scribe, The Athletic’s Kevin Kurz, some ‘key players’ have apparently told the organization they don’t want to be a part of the Sharks if Evander Kane is going to be back.

San Jose Sharks Evander Kane
San Jose Sharks Evander Kane celebrates with teammates (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

He writes:

Several key players informed team brass that if Kane was going to be a part of the Sharks going forward, they didn’t want to be. That’s how bad it got, and how complicated this situation has become… “The Sharks ignored everything,” said an NHL agent who represents at least one player on the team. “Team turned a blind eye.”

source – ‘Evander Kane’s relationship with Sharks teammates and the organization may be irreparable’ – Kevin Kurz – The Athletic – 08/11/2021

While it seems unlikely players would actually sit out if Kane returned, the pressure is on to move him.

Anisimov to Join Red Wings?

Expect there to be some rumblings that free agent forward Artem Anisimov might join the Red Wings this season. It could be as a signing or on a professional tryout basis, but an Instagram post shows him practicing alongside Red Wings captain Dylan Larkin and fellow forward Vladislav Namestnikov.

This is nothing but speculation right now and the post is nearly a week old with no news of any signing or invitation pending. Perhaps he’s still waiting to see if a team will be interested, and if not, accept a tryout with Detroit closer to the season.

Related: Red Wings News & Rumors: Arbitration, Anisimov & More

Canadiens Interested in Galchenyuk?

According to Luke Fox of Sportsnet, the Canadiens have some level of interest in Galchenyuk, even if it’s not known to what degree they are thinking about bringing their no. 3 overall draft pick in 2012 back to the team. There’s some chatter the Leafs haven’t completely closed the door Galchenyuk returning, but Montreal and, apparently, Anaheim have been linked to him.

As it stands right now, he’s still exploring his options in free agency.

Thornton Chooses Panthers

Thornton will not be returning to the Maple Leafs next season. Instead, he’s choosing to try and make a Stanley Cup run with the Florida Panthers who gave the Tampa Bay Lightning fits last season in the playoffs, but ultimately came up short.

Panthers GM Bill Zito said of the addition: “Joe will bring a wealth of experience to our locker room and lineup.” He added, “His drive to succeed is unmistakable and we are thrilled that he chose to sign with our club and that he believes in what we are building here in South Florida.”

Thornton will likely not be asked to play a top-six role for the Panthers will will be a much better fit for him.