In today’s NHL rumors rundown, is it possible the Toronto Maple Leafs are upset enough about an early exit that someone like Sheldon Keefe, Kyle Dubas or Brendan Shanhan could lose their jobs? Meanwhile, what free agents will the Maple Leafs look to retain and who will they let leave? What is the status on talks between the Ottawa Senators and Brady Tkachuk? Finally, will the Edmonton Oilers consider trading Zack Kassian?
Dubas, Shanahan and Keefe Likely Safe
It sounds like their jobs should be secure, but MLSE is expecting something to be done about the disappointing loss at the hands of the Montreal Canadiens. An assistant coach or two could be the sacrificial lamb in this scenario. Siegel writes “Change somewhere on the coaching staff feels likelier than not.”
Multiple insiders are looking at the Maple Leafs and trying to determine if Keefe, Dubas or Shanahan will be back next season. Lance Hornby of The Toronto Sun and Jonas Siegel of The Athletic both took a look at the odds of the three executives returning and noted that the organization will need to make some changes. It just might not be with these three.
“Maple Leafs Sports & Entertainment is going to have to decide if both will return for the 2021-22 season or if a change in philosophy atop the franchise is required after a fifth straight playoff defeat….it’s tough to fault management for Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner, their two best players — two of the best players in the league during the regular season — coming up short at playoff time.source – ‘The Maple Leafs’ 11 biggest offseason priorities: Core questions, management’s future, Zach Hyman and more’ – Jonas Siegel – The Athletic – 06/02/2021
Honrby adds that it might be tough to fire just one of the President, GM, coach or cap guru because they are so tightly connected on their vision. He writes:
But MLSE signed Brendan Shanahan to a six-year extension two years ago, he in turn bought big-time into the 2.0 plan of Kyle Dubas, who is joined at the hip to cap guru Brandon Pridham and head coach Sheldon Keefe.source – ‘HORNBY: 10 burning questions for the Maple Leafs’ – Lance Hornby – Toronto Sun – 06/02/2021
So What Changes Do the Maple Leafs Make?
While Auston Matthews said he doesn’t think anyone inside the room believes the team needs to split up the core four, Hornby took a look at some of the pending free agents on the team and noted which ones he believes the organization will focus on to return.
There are 18 if you count Marlies, but definitely get Pridham to work on keeping Zach Hyman, retain Jason Spezza, and make a commitment to Galchenyuk with the lure of more ice time. Foligno cost the Leafs a first-rounder, but he may not want to come back for family reasons. Time to move on from Joe Thornton, but they’ll need Wayne Simmonds and Hutton for insurance.
Senators and Tkachuk Haven’t Started Talks Yet
Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun is reporting that talks between the Senators and pending restricted free agent forward Brady Tkachuk have yet to really get under way but Tkachuk isn’t worried and is comfortable letting his agents handle things.
The belief is there may be the caveat of being the captain attached to a long-term deal. Melnyk indicated in that interview it would be difficult to have somebody on a bridge deal being awarded the captaincy. It’s either going to be Tkachuk or defenceman Thomas Chabot, who has seven years left on his contract.source – ‘SNAPSHOTS: Tkachuk ‘excited’ about contract negotiations … Borowiecki speaks publicly about struggles with mental health’ – Bruce Garrioch – Ottawa Sun – 06/02/2021
With that in mind, the Senators might come in with a long-term offer and attach the “C” to it, but it could be that both sides wind up doing a bridge deal and the captaincy comes down the road.
Oilers Could Contemplate Moving Kassian
Oilers Now radio host Bob Stauffer spoke of the potential offseason changes the Oilers might make and took a closer look at the future of forward Zack Kassian. Noting there would be trade interest from other teams if the Oilers made him available, GM Ken Holland could choose to hang on to the player.
“Zack Kassian, there will be teams interested in him. I could see Pittsburgh and the New York Rangers, but in fairness to Zack, I didn’t mind what we saw of Zack in the third and fourth game of the (Winnipeg) series.”
Add Columbus to the list of teams that might have interest as they look to add pieces and get tougher to play against. The problem for the Oilers is that Kassian makes $3.2 million per season and doesn’t always bring his “A” game. But, if the Oilers move him, they’ll need some physicality in their lineup and the fact teams might be interested in Kassian means that physicality can be hard to find.
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.”