In today’s rumor rundown the Maple Leafs are looking at options with defenseman Jake Gardiner, there are some teams that might be front-runners for Artemi Panarin’s services and the Ducks are confident they’ll be getting a former 20-goal scorer back this season.
Leafs Discussing The Future of Jake Gardiner
With potential salary cap issues looming, reports are the Toronto Maple Leafs and Jake Gardiner’s people have gotten together to discuss the future of the defenseman.
After adding John Tavares’ seven-year, $77MM deal, the question became how general manager Kyle Dubas would keep his young core of hockey players intact knowing the team was going to struggle with the salary cap. Gardiner, who quietly had a career-best 52 points from the Leafs blue line became an afterthought. But, with a weaker defensive corps, the Leafs are looking at their options now instead of later.
James Mirtle of the Athletic was a guest on TSN radio on Tuesday and during that interview, he said:
“I think that this new management with [Kyle] Dubas and Brandon Pridham and Laurence Gilman is going to try and not lose good players for nothing in free agency. That would mean deciding right now whether you want to sign Jake Gardiner to a contract extension or moving him and getting something back…”
Because the organization already let Tyler Bozak, James van Riemsdyk, and Leo Komarov walk for no return, the organization would prefer not to repeat history and Mirtle reports the franchise has met with Gardiner to discuss a potential extension. Mirtle explained, “I know that Gardiner’s agent Pat Brisson–the same agent as Tavares–has met with Kyle Dubas and talked about Jake Gardiner’s contract.” The idea behind meeting now is to determine “whether they want to meet that price or not.”
At the end of the day, if Gardiner is looking for a long-term big money deal, it may not be with Toronto and the Leafs will have to know what options are available to them in trade.
Teams Interested in Panarin
Jared Clinton of The Hockey News recently listed a handful of teams that might have interest in Artemi Panarin if the Blue Jackets do pull the trigger on a trade. The Florida Panthers, New York Rangers, New York Islanders, San Jose Sharks and St. Louis Blues are five possible destinations.
Clinton believes the Panthers can afford to re-sign Panarin when he becomes an unrestricted free agent and there were rumors Panarin may have had a previous interest in the Panthers organization. He would fit well with a young core that includes Aleksander Barkov, Jonathan Huberdeau and Vincent Trocheck.
Clinton also thinks the rebuilding Rangers might speed up the rebuilding phase if Panarin becomes available. With a ton of cap room, the Rangers could line Panarin up beside Mika Zibanejad or perhaps Vladislav Namestnikov.
Of course the New York Islanders would love an opportunity at a player like Panarin after losing Tavares in free agency and Clinton believes a combination of center Mathew Barzal with Panarin could effectively replace the lost offense. They too have the cap room with Tavares gone.
Rounding out the five are the San Jose Sharks who are looking to get younger but may be a long shot because of Evander Kane and the St Louis Blues who can offer a chance for Panarin to play with his good friend with Vladimir Tarasenko. The problem for the Blues is a lack of salary cap space.
Patrick Eaves to Play
Anaheim Ducks general manager Bob Murray said this past Saturday that Patrick Eaves could return to play for the team this season after missing all but two games last season. Murray actually said he’s more confident in Eaves playing that he is Ryan Kesler even if Kesler says he’s going to be ready to go when the season opens.
Eaves, 34, was hospitalized with Guillain-Barre syndrome but after trips to see specialists around the country, it turned out Eaves suffered from a different ailment that wasn’t nerve related called post-viral syndrome. Murray had earlier said he thought Eaves would be ready to go by mid-October.
Kesler, on the other hand, may choose to sit out the season to fully rehabilitate his hip.
Jokiharju Looking to Play This Season
A recent report from NHL.com sites Chicago Blackhawks prospect Henri Jokiharju is doing whatever he can in an effort to join the team this season. Hoping to increase his odds of making the team, he’s been chatting up veteran defenseman Duncan Keith.
Jokiharju was drafted by Chicago in the first-round pick of the 2017 NHL Draft. He’s a 19-year-old right-handed defender who could make the jump this year and partner up with Keith. “Duncan Keith is a role model for me,” Jokiharju said. “He can play like 30 minutes in a game and he’s not even tired and every decision he makes is right. He’s one of the biggest guys I talk to and I want to learn from the most.”
Jokiharju had 71 points, was plus-47 in 63 games with Portland of the Western Hockey League last season.
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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