In today’s NHL rumors rundown, there is a lot of talk connecting the Toronto Maple Leafs to Claude Giroux of the Philadelphia Flyers. How realistic is the chatter? Meanwhile, the Edmonton Oilers and Washington Capitals await the NHL’s decision on Evander Kane, with most insiders believing the deal is all but done with Edmonton. Finally, if it came down to Marc-Andre Fleury having to play for the Washington Capitals or declining a chance at a Stanley Cup, would he avoid playing for an old rival?
Flyers Going the Rebuild Route, All Eyes on Giroux
Flyers GM Chuck Fletcher spoke with the media and said that the team is heading towards an aggressive rebuild. That means Fletcher will actively seek trades and has deemed themselves unlikely to make the playoffs. The Flyers are officially sellers.
Now, questions will turn to Giroux’s situation as there were already rumors the team might consider trading him if team’s showed interest, which they undoubtedly will. He’s now easily the highest-profile rental available, but Fletcher said that any decision to be moved will be made by Claude himself. Giroux has a full NMC and is a UFA at the end of the season.
Maple Leafs to Target Giroux?
A couple of sources have noted the Maple Leafs might have kicked tires on Giroux already. It’s not clear what the offer is or how the Maple Leafs would make the cap situation work, but salary retention would clearly need to be part of the deal from the Flyers’ end and Toronto’s first-round pick would be going the other way in the deal.
It will be interesting to see if the Maple Leafs shift gears towards targeting a defenseman and focus instead on a player like Giroux if he’s interested in the Maple Leafs. It’s not realistic to assume the Leafs can land both Giroux and a blueliner, even if the teams trading these players retain 50% of the salaries.
Pierre LeBrun of TSN and The Athletic wrote that he spoke with Pat Brisson, Giroux’s agent, and relayed: “Claude and I will be spending time together within the next few weeks exploring his best options while having discussions with Chuck.” It’s not clear if Toronto is on Giroux’s list of teams he’d be willing to join.
Flyers Talking With Ristolainen About Extension
As per Adam Kimelman of NHL.com, the Flyers have begun initial conversations with defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen about a new contract. The team would like to extend the blueliner and Fletcher said, “It’s difficult to get physical defensemen, never mind physical right-shot defensemen.” He added that Ristolainen could be a big part of the six-man defense corps and bring an element that not a lot of people have.
Fletcher said the team didn’t trade for Ristolainen just to trade him again. “He’s a pending UFA and he will control a lot of that discussion, and we’ll work with his representation to see what makes sense.”
Oilers Close on Evander Kane
There’s nothing official yet on Kane’s status with the NHL or the Oilers but insiders are starting to post that a decision is imminent and it looks like Edmonton is the team. Ryan Rishaug of TSN wrote on Wednesday, “Assuming a decision comes tomorrow, sounds like Kane could be ready for games as early as the weekend, or early next week. Sources say he has been skating for a week or so in Vancouver. Contract details need to be buttoned-down, but strong sense Edmonton will land him.”
Meanwhile, both Darren Dreger and Kevin Weekes weighed in too and said it was likely Ken Holland who was giving Kane a chance. Weekes wrote, “Sources tell me that Evander Kane’s Camp have notified interested clubs, that it’s down to two teams. Bearing any last-minute changes as of now the @EdmontonOilers are the likeliest destination for Kane.” Dreger noted:
As Evander Kane awaits word from the NHL on further suspension or not, the Oilers interest in the power forward remains strong. Sources say Kane met with GM Ken Holland and head coach Dave Tippett earlier this week to discuss his fit on the team. Oilers, one of two teams in mix.
Fleury Prefer Penguins Over Capitals?
After signing Jeff Carter to a new two-year deal, some of the talk in Pittsburgh is now focused on goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury who was rumored to be a trade target for the Washington Capitals this week. What’s interesting about Fleury and the Capitals is that Friedman reports the goaltender’s heart is still very much connected to the Penguins organization and Friedman doesn’t believe Fleury would want to play for his old team’s rival.
Friedman added, “I’m not persuaded Fleury would be comfortable doing it. He’s still very much a Penguin, and I think we forget how intense these rivalries can be at times.” This won’t stop the Capitals from being interested.