NHL Rumors: Keefe and Leafs, Oilers and Rieder, More

In today’s NHL rumor rundown, there is news on the Toronto Maple Leafs and coach Sheldon Keefe, the Edmonton Oilers will not renew one of their depth forwards, and a few other quick hits around the NHL.

Maple Leafs to Extend Sheldon Keefe

Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet is reporting that the Toronto Maple Leafs are close to signing AHL head coach Sheldon Keefe to a contract extension. We reported earlier that Keefe was set to become the highest paid coach in the AHL and while Friedman didn’t release financials on the new deal, that is still the expectation.

Toronto Maple Leafs General Manager Kyle Dubas
Toronto Maple Leafs General Manager Kyle Dubas (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette)

There is an underlying sense that Dubas is setting Keefe up to essentially be Mike Babcock’s replacement and that perhaps Babcock doesn’t finish out his term as the head coach (not to suggest he’s being let go anytime soon). Having Keefe in the system gives the Maple Leafs a built-in and ready replacement.

Related: NHL Rumors: Oilers, Sabres, Rangers, More

Canucks and Markstrom

Also according to Friedman, there have been no contract extension talks between the Vancouver Canucks and goaltender Jacob Markstrom. Markstrom has a year left $3.6 million and the Canucks are able to talk to him but not sign until after July 1st.

Friedman said this is one of the few times a goaltender has a little leverage as there is need out there on the market and he’ll be interested to see how long the Canucks wait to start talking with him about a new deal.

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Oilers and Tobias Rieder Done

The Edmonton Oilers found a very unsettling way to let one of their players and the fanbase know they were not going to bring back depth forward Tobias Rieder. In what is now being looked at as a major snafu by Bob Nicholson, he said at a season-seat meeting that the club would not offer Rieder an extension.

Buffalo Sabres Matt Hunwick Edmonton Oilers Tobias Rieder
Buffalo Sabres defenseman Matt Hunwick and Edmonton Oilers forward Tobias Rieder (AP Photo/Jeffrey T. Barnes)

It wasn’t so much that the Oilers hinted Rieder wasn’t going to returning, but Nicholson came right out and said they wouldn’t offer him a new deal. “Toby Rieder will not be signed by the Edmonton Oilers at the end of the year,” Nicholson said.

He added, Toby Rieder was a player that other teams wanted so the Oilers went out and got him. Rieder chose the Oilers because he knew he’d get to play either with fellow German Leon Draisaitl (whom he had a history with on the German national team) or Connor McDavid. Nicholson said, “… he’d score 15-16 goals and instead of making two million he’d sign a four-year deal at three and a half million. Toby Rieder hasn’t scored a goal.”

To make matters worse, Nicholson essentially ran Rieder through the mud as he was announcing the Oilers future plans for the forward and said if Rieder had done what everyone expected of him when he arrived, there’s a good chance the Oilers would have made the playoffs.

Nicholson has since apologized to Rieder for his comments and while everyone, including Rieder, seems to know his season has been a disaster, this has put some heat on Nicholson. But Nicholson said when he spoke with Rieder about it, they had a good laugh.

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Quick NHL Rumor Hits

  • Talk of Todd McLellan‘s being connected to the Los Angeles Kings may become frequent now that the Kings are eliminated.
  • There is some belief out there that the New York Rangers are going to target Erik Karlsson in the offseason.
  • Friedman said the Columbus Blue Jackets and Vegas Golden Knights are among the teams interested in Justin Brazeau and Darren Dreger added that at least 10 teams are scouting the Niagara and North Bay game. Brazeau is drawing interest.

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