In today’s NHL rumors rundown, there is all sorts of talk about changes to the Toronto Maple Leafs roster after another disappointing first-round playoff exit. Who will stay, who will go? What needs to be changed? In other news, what will be the offseason plan for the Columbus Blue Jackets and are the Pittsburgh Penguins going to seek out another option for their goaltending woes?
Mitch Marner and Maple Leafs Offseason Changes
Leafs Nation is piling it on pretty thick after a Game 7 loss to the Montreal Canadiens. Talk ranges from the organization moving on from Mitch Marner or William Nylander to how long Auston Matthews will want to stay to what happens with the depth on this team and where there focus will be this offseason?
Adam Wylde of Virgin Mornings and the Steve Dangle podcast notes, “Very likely Mitch Marner’s last game as a Leaf.” When called out by a handful of Leafs fans for his take and possible overreaction, he followed up with, “Don’t believe me? Check his contract structure on cap friendly. Majority of it has already been paid.”
James Mirtle adds in a recent article for the Athletic:
Is it a star who has to go? Tavares has a no-movement clause, so he’s staying. Matthews is, too, given he’s the reigning Rocket Richard winner and how many times he’s delivered in the past.
That leaves you the old hot-take sports radio debate between the two young wingers making big money. William Nylander had a strong series but still sometimes confounds the staff. Marner combined a phenomenal season with a dreadful postseason, his third underwhelming showing in a row in the playoffs.source – ‘Mirtle: How exactly do you fix a problem like the Maple Leafs?’ – James MIrtle – The Athletic – 06/01/2021
Nylander is a much less-expensive option than Marner and for Marner not to be a whipping boy in Toronto, he has to be nearly flawless. His lack of playoff production over the course of his career is troubling and there is, of course, talk about whether or not the Leafs can win with this core.
As for other names on the roster, Frederik Andersen likely won’t be back with the team and the Leafs will try to find a way to add a 1B to Jack Campbell as a 1A. The club will try to re-sign Zach Hyman and it’s unlikely the Leafs look at trading Morgan Rielly. Jonas Siegel of The Athletic writes:
The Leafs may well decide it’s time for a change, that someone substantial has to go after all this. Or, on the other hand, they may feel the need to see it through another, when Tavares isn’t lost to injury. The Leafs captain will be 31 by the time next season starts. Jake Muzzin is already 32. Hyman will be 29 next week.source – ‘Maple Leafs face difficult roster questions after latest playoff disaster’ – Jonas Siegel – The Athletic – 06/01/2021
Penguins to Update Goaltending
According to Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet, it is expected that the Penguins will try to upgrade their goaltending this offseason. This could come in the form of either a veteran to pair with Tristan Jarry or going out and getting a completely different starter.
Jarry allowed at least four goals in four of the six games this postseason. He was badly outplayed by New York rookie Ilya Sorokin and many are suggesting Jarry is the reason the Penguins lost the series.
Blue Jackets Goalies and Laine Talk
After noting he thinks the team will trade defenseman Seth Jones, Friedman noted during his 31 Thoughts podcast that he believes the Blue Jackets will hang onto forward Patrik Laine. Saying there aren’t many players in the NHL who can do what Laine can do, there needs to be some sort of stability in Columbus.
Aaron Portzline of The Athletic also noted that the Blue Jackets may go back to a bit more of a physical style of hockey and may target some bigger players this offseason. Having moved on from Josh Anderson, Nick Foglino, David Savard and Pierre-Luc Dubois, they need to address their size and grit issues.
The Blue Jackets are also expected to move one of their goaltenders and will take trade offers on Joonas Korpisalo and Elvis Merzlikins. Portzline writes:
“…the sense around the league is that they’ll get decent offers (at minimum) for both of them. The secondary issue (beyond what the return might be) is that both of these guys fancy themselves as No. 1 goaltenders. It’s pretty impressive that they’ve both been OK sharing the net to this extent, but it can’t go much longer. They both want a chance to grab a team and go. That’s what it’s all about. I don’t think you’d have two happy campers if they both came back next season in a timeshare.”source – ‘Blue Jackets mailbag, part 2: Keeping Seth Jones, why centers struggle here, John Davidson’s say’ – Aaron Portzline – The Athletic – 05/25/2021
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.”