In today’s NHL rumor rundown, the Toronto Maple Leafs have signed a prospect while forward Kyle Clifford discusses the odds he’ll re-sign in Toronto. Could the Calgary Flames take a run at one of the offseason’s top UFA defensemen? And, will the Edmonton Oilers have trouble signing Ethan Bear to the contract they’d like? Finally, what does Canucks forward Sven Baertschi see in his future with the Vancouver Canucks?
Clifford Is In Win-Now Mode
Speaking about his pending free agency, Maple Leafs forward Kyle Clifford discussed potentially re-signing with the team this week. He told Kristen Shilton of TSN, “Toronto is an amazing place to play. [My wife and I] want what’s best for the family, but she said to me to do what’s best for myself.”
The one thing that could take him away from Toronto as an option to re-sign is if another team came calling that was more prepared to win right away than the Maple Leafs. Clifford said, “I’m in a win-now mode.” The good news is, he believes Toronto is on the same page and is in win-now mode too. He explained, “We have a young team, and they’re hungry. They want it for the city of Toronto bad. I don’t think there’d be any greater feeling than to take it down those streets in Toronto for a parade.”
In other Maple Leafs news, the organization has locked up Adam Brooks to a two-year two-way contract extension. The deal will carry an average annual value of $725K in the NHL. Brooks was scheduled to become a restricted free agent this offseason.
Flames to Take a Run at Pietrangelo?
Eric Francis of Sportsnet wrote in a recent mailbag article that the Calgary Flames have five defensemen on expiring contracts so there is the possibility that they could take a run at pending UFA Alex Pietrangelo.
Even if the salary cap is flat, the Flames had the room before these blueliners contracts were coming to an end so they have some money to spend. It has to be considered a long-shot but if Pietraneglo is only after the biggest payday, Calgary is a team that could make things interesting.
If it doesn’t go down that way, Francis believes the Flames blueline will include Mark Giordano, T.J. Brodie, Noah Hanifin, Rasmus Andersson, Juuso Valimaki, Oliver Kylington, and Michael Stone. UFA defensemen Derek Forbort, Erik Gustafsson and Travis Hamonic will likely wind up somewhere else.
He also notes that Johnny Gaudreau’s time in Calgary is likely coming to an end. Francis doesn’t believe the team will trade him this summer, but he doesn’t believe Gaudreau would sign a contract extension and he thinks the Flames will eventually trade the small but skilled forward.
Oilers Could Struggle With Ethan Bear Deal
Jim Matheson of the Edmonton Journal notes that salary cap issues could limit Oilers GM Ken Holland’s options when it comes to different types of contract offers for defenseman Ethan Bear.
They may want to get him signed to a team-friendly six-year deal at Oscar Klefbom money ($4.1 million) because they see Bear as a top 4 defenceman, but the Oilers don’t have $4 million to play with next season.source – ‘Not much room for Oilers general manager Ken Holland to sign players’ – Jim Matheson – Edmonton Journal – 05/10/2020
The good news for the Oilers is that Bear lacks leverage to command a big payday. He’s now a top-four d-man in the NHL and a bridge deal shouldn’t cost a lot to get done.
One way the Oilers could lessen the blow of Bear’s new contract would be to move Matt Benning and bring in the more affordable Evan Bouchard ($894K).
Matheson says the Oilers may have signed Gaetan Haas out of concern they won’t be able to come to terms on extensions for pending UFA forwards Riley Sheahan and Tyler Ennis, both of whom they’d like to keep.
Minors Out for Beartschi
“I don’t want to be back in the minors,” Sven Baertschi told TSN Radio 1040 Vancouver’s Jeff Paterson. “That’s where I’ve set my goal at. It’s up to them really what they’re going to do next. That’s their job and that’s what they do.
Saying he’s now healthy and ready, Baertschi played in just 26 games last season due to a concussion, but he also believes the Canucks did not have him in their plans for this year when he arrived for training camp. “I don’t think Vancouver expected me to come back and play,” Baertschi explained. “That’s my personal opinion. Certain things sink in after a year.
He hinted that he believes the Canucks will move him, even though he knows that’s ultimately not his decision to make.
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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.”