In today’s rumor rundown, there is an update out of Toronto on the negotiations with Auston Matthews, a potential plan in place when it comes to the goaltending situation in Edmonton and speculation about the trade plans for the Minnesota Wild and New Jersey Devils.
Auston Matthews Deal Getting Closer?
While it’s been made clear by Mitch Marner’s representation that he likely won’t negotiate or sign an extension until after the season with Toronto, there is the potential Auston Matthews might.
Chris Johnston of Sportsnet, is reporting that Maple Leafs GM Kyle Dubas is saying the team has “made progress” on an extension with their top star. Not only that, Dubas would like the deal done before the trade deadline if possible. Through 34 games, Matthews has 42 points and 174 points in 178 games over his NHL career, including a 40-goal campaign and Calder Trophy as a rookie in 2016-17. That could land him in the $11 million per season range.
Obviously, Matthews will shoot for higher but it is imperative the Leafs not only get him at the best possible number to help with their salary cap issues but also to show Marner that the best players on the team are willing to try and build a roster that is more than just three or four players.
Getting a deal done early also gives Toronto an indication as to what they’ll need to do with players like Kasperi Kapanen and Andreas Johnsson in the off-season.
The Plan for Cam Talbot
When the Edmonton Oilers signed goaltender Mikko Koskinen to a three-year, $4.5 million per season deal on Monday, it suggested the writing was on the wall for their other netminder, Cam Talbot.
Talbot was the starter in Edmonton prior to Koskinen’s arrival but has clearly lost the starting job. Darren Dreger reported on Monday that prior to signing Koskinen to his extension, the Oilers ran their plan by Talbot so as not to blindside him. This may also give the indication that a deal is potentially in place for Talbot and the Oilers wanted to ensure they had a goaltender signed before pulling the trigger on any trade.
My understanding is the Oilers spoke to Talbot about the Koskinen extension a couple of days ago. Didn’t want him blindsided. I suspect Talbot will be willing to accept a trade anywhere at this stage.
— Darren Dreger (@DarrenDreger) January 21, 2019
There have been rumors the Oilers would move a netminder before the Feb. 25 deadline. Unfortunately, the worry was that neither had proved this season that they were a true starter. The Oilers must feel they’ve found their man in Koskinen and that Talbot is expendable.
Side note in Edmonton… the Oilers placed Ryan Spooner on waivers but did not actually send him to the AHL after he cleared. He is scheduled to play on Tuesday against the Detroit Red Wings. Speculation is that Edmonton placed him on waivers simply to see if anyone would pick up his contract and help the team move unwanted salary.
Wild Unsure of Trade Deadline Approach
Chad Graff of The Athletic tweeted that after speaking with Minnesota Wild GM Paul Fenton, there is still uncertainty as to where the Wild will go as the trade deadline approaches. Fenton said, “One day I’m thinking that we have the opportunity to go forward and one day I’m thinking that, you know, it’s not that great of a team.”
There is speculation that going public with this kind of statement is a message to his players that if they don’t want to see a handful of trades, they need to be a more consistent team or prove they are more than just a middle-of-the-road squad that can actually get to and do something in the playoffs. There’s no reason to add players if they won’t be competitive and if they aren’t going to get in, they might as well sell and reshape the team.
The Wild picked up Brad Hunt in trade on Tuesday. He’s not an impact player but he will be playing for a contract and that’s the kind of fire Fenton potentially wants to see lit under some of his other players.
Devils to Make Decision on Taylor Hall Sooner Than Later
Elliotte Friedman said during an interview on Edmonton’s 630 CHED that star forward for the New Jersey Devils and former Oilers, Taylor Hall, is not going to reach a situation like the one fans saw in New York with John Tavares. He explained:
“I think we’re going to know the answer to that well before a year from now… I just think that New Jersey won’t allow itself to be in the same position the Islanders were in with John Tavares. I mean geez, the Islanders are two points behind the Maple Leafs, and whoever would have seen that coming. But I just don’t believe that the Devils will allow it to get to that point… If they feel that Taylor Hall won’t sign with them, that decision will be made – I bet – much sooner.”
That will be an interesting story to watch considering the Devils aren’t a team that’s easy to label as a buyer or seller this season. They have not had the type of season most would have expected but Ray Shero is a fairly aggressive GM.
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Jim Parsons is a freelance writer who covers the Edmonton Oilers and news and rumors posts here at The Hockey Writers.
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