In today’s NHL rumor rundown, there are questions in Winnipeg about the team’s willingness to move Kyle Connor. One offer is already out there. Next up, there is a lot of talk over the last 48 hours about this “loophole” the Maple Leafs may be able to use with their cap space. Is this a real thing and are the St. Louis Blues looking at it too? Finally, Joe Thornton to the Tampa Bay Lightning is a potential trade that’s making some noise.
Could Jets Actually Consider Moving Kyle Connor?
With the Winnipeg Jets amazingly strange turnover on defense and now their struggles to make the playoffs this season, Mike McIntyre of the Winnipeg Free Press writes that the team is receiving considerable interest in top line winger Kyle Connor. McIntyre writes:
Normally, I’m loathe to play the role of gossip monger, as one of the foundations of journalism is to first attempt to separate fact from fiction, but a specific morsel making the rounds this week, one told to me by a well-connected source who swears “it has legs,” got me thinking of a big-picture type question.
… You have to move talent to get talent, and filling a weakness by dealing from a position of strength — in this case, skilled young wingers is where the Jets are deepest — isn’t as crazy as it sounds.source -‘ Could Connor be a goner? ‘ – Mike McIntyre – Winnipeg Free Press – 02/07/2020
Connor currently leads the Jets with 25 goals and only seems to be getting better. It seems crazy to think the Jets would consider moving him. That said, the Jets badly need a defenseman after what happened with their core and what’s happening with Dustin Byfuglien. Being deep up front might give them the confidence to do something most teams wouldn’t even take a second look at.
Apparently, the Colorado Avalanche are reportedly leading the hunt to land Connor offering 2019 No. 4 overall pick Bowen Byram as the core piece. The Jets might not deem that enough and would have a hard time selling off the season to make such a move but Byram certainly is a significant piece coming back the other way.
McIntyre admits the Jets aren’t shopping Connor and it’s unlikely they pull the trigger on a deal but they are listening to other teams who might have an offer to make. It would be a huge gamble and not a popular decision considering Connor is finishing the first of a seven-year, $50 million extension and only getting better.
Related: Toronto Maple Leafs’ 50-Goal Scorers
Is This “Loophole” a Real Thing for Dubas and the Leafs?
Frank Seravalli has spoken a lot lately about this “loophole” that might exist for Kyle Dubas and the Toronto Maple Leafs when it comes to their salary cap situation. Essentially, because there isn’t a cap in the playoffs, if Morgan Rielly isn’t able to return before the end of the regular season, the Leafs aren’t stuck holding the money freed up by his injury.
With three defensemen down, the Leafs have nearly $9 million in salary-cap space they can spend before Feb 24. This is actually something the Maple Leafs are looking at but they need to know where Rielly is at first.
Don’t expect the Leafs to do anything with this money until right before the Feb 24 date but if they deem Rielly unable to return, the Maple Leafs could be busy on the final day of trade deadline.
St. Louis Might Employ This Tactic Too
The Maple Leafs aren’t the only ones thinking this way. The St. Louis Blues have Vladimir Tarasenko on LTIR and it’s not expected he’ll be back before the playoffs. The Blues can spend around $5 million before Feb 24 and as long as Tarasenko doesn’t come back before the playoffs, there’s no penalty for the team and they’re already rumored to be a team actively looking to add.
Related: Sharks With 100-Point Seasons
Thornton to the Tampa Bay Lightning?
Brian Witt of NBC Sports writes that a Joe Thornton trade out of San Jose is starting to gain steam. He recently cited NBC Sports hockey analyst Keith Jones who believes there’s a likelihood Joe Thornton or Patrick Marleau get traded soon, suggesting Tampa Bay as a good destination for Thornton.
There’s already a ton of talk surrounding Sharks defenseman Brenden Dillon and the Florida Panthers have been rumored as interested. Could the Sharks trade two players from California to Florida?
It’s key to remember that Thornton has a no-movement clause so he doesn’t have to go anywhere should he not want to.
Catch up on all the latest NHL Rumors
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.”