In today’s NHL rumors rundown, Auston Matthews of the Toronto Maple Leafs is on the cover of the EA NHL 22 video game again. Does he deserve the honor for a second time? Meanwhile, reports are GM Kyle Dubas didn’t even talk with a former teammate of Matthews in Joe Thornton about returning to the team this season. In Florida, the Panthers aren’t worried about a contract extension for Aleksander Barkov, while the Boston Bruins might still be looking at moving Jake DeBrusk. Finally, is there a chance Zdeno Chara winds up playing for the St. Louis Blues this season?
Maple Leafs Didn’t Speak to Thornton, Plus Matthews News
As per Steve Simmons of the Toronto Sun, the Maple Leafs never informed Joe Thornton that they had any intention of bringing him back for the 2021-22 season. In other words, it sounds like they had decided to move on at the end of the season and it was a one-and-done trial with the veteran that didn’t pan out as either side likely would have hoped.
Thornton is the sixth Leaf to leave since the playoff disappointment versus Montreal. Gone from last season: Zach Hyman, Thornton, Nick Foligno, Frederik Andersen, Zach Bogosian and Alex Galchenyuk, who has yet to catch on anywhere in free agency. The Leafs never informed Thornton they had any intention of bringing him back …source – ‘SIMMONS SAYS: Much ado about ‘All or Nothing” – Steve Simmons – Toronto Sun – 08/15/2021
In other Maple Leafs news, it was announced on Thursday that Matthews is, once again, being chosen for the cover of the EA Sports NHL 22 video game. Matthews wrote, “Pumped to be back on the cover.” Some fans are wondering how Matthews got the cover twice when the Maple Leafs haven’t won a playoff round and there are plenty of players who haven’t gotten the cover but are deserving.
What do you think?
Panthers Not Worried About Barkov
Greg Wyshynski of ESPN reports that when asked if the Florida Panthers have set their own internal deadline for either trading or signing forward Aleksander Barkov, GM Bill Zito said he’s confident they’ll get a deal done. Barkov has a year left on his contract so it’s important the Panthers have a plan for their star so as not to potentially lose him for nothing in free agency.
ESPN asked GM Bill Zito if there was a date when he’d have to consider trading the star center. He said there isn’t one, because “I’m confident we’ll be able to work something out.” Zito said an extension will “probably” come before the 2021-22 NHL season begins in October. Barkov’s agent Mark Gandler wouldn’t comment on the negotiations.
Blues Interested in Chara, Chara Not Interested in the Blues
Jeremy Rutherford of The Athletic reported this week that the St. Louis Blues are looking for options to improve their blue line after losing Vince Dunn to the Seattle Kraken in expansion. He writes the Blues spoke to Ryan Suter before Suter signed with the Dallas Stars and that they could have interest in veteran Zdeno Chara.
While Rutherford acknowledged that it could be a long shot, he wrote:
Like Suter, Chara could provide a veteran to partner with Parayko, not to mention that the 6-foot-9, 250-pound defenseman could give the Blues the presence in front of their own net they’ve been desperately lacking… It would be a reunion for Chara and Krug, who spent nine seasons together with the Bruins. They would essentially be switching roles, with Krug logging the top-pair minutes and Chara backing him up in the top four.source – ‘The offseason isn’t over, but is it time to be concerned about the Blues’ defense?’ – Jeremy Rutherford – The Athletic – 08/18/2021
After that report came out, Blues’ insider Andy Strickland quickly posted on social media, “Told the #stlblues are not an option for future Hall of Fame Dman Zdeno Chara. His focus, if he plays, will be to stay in the East to remain close to his family.”
Teams Still Interested in DeBrusk
Fluto Shinzawa of The Athletic took a look at the odds Jake DeBrusk still gets traded out of Boston and wrote there are still teams kicking tires on the winger. That said, he doesn’t believe the return will be all that strong if the Bruins elect to move him.
I have heard Edmonton remains interested in DeBrusk. Calgary to a lesser degree. Combine that with the cluster of left-shot forwards and the shortness of cap space, and trading DeBrusk remains a possibility. A No. 2 center would be the ideal return. But they are not in a great spot to trade picks. It would have to be someone of DeBrusk’s profile: an underperforming player with potential to play better elsewhere.source – ‘What’s Charlie McAvoy’s next deal? Could David Krejci return? Will center-by-committee work? Bruins mailbag’ Fluto Shinzawa – The Athletic – 0816/2021
Jim Parsons is a senior THW freelance writer, part-time journalist and audio/video host who lives, eats, sleeps and breathes NHL news and rumors, while also writing features on the Edmonton Oilers. He’s been a trusted source for five-plus years at The Hockey Writers, but more than that, he’s on a mission to keep readers up to date with the latest NHL rumors and trade talk. Jim is a daily must for readers who want to be “in the know.”