NHL Rumors: Maple Leafs, Jets, Blackhawks, Subban, Hemsky, More

In today’s NHL rumor rundown, are the Toronto Maple Leafs looking to acquire LTIR contracts? Is P.K. Subban expecting a change in New Jersey? A former Edmonton Oiler great has officially retired and what are the Winnipeg Jets doing about their backup goaltending? Finally, did the Chicago Blackhawks almost trade Duncan Keith back in 2004?

Maple Leafs Looking for Dead Money Deals

Frank Seravalli of TSN suggests the Toronto Maple Leafs could be on the lookout for some contracts that will give them extra cap flexibility next season. Those deals would come in the form of long-term injury reserve contracts for players who will never play and their salaries give the team a bit more room above the cap ceiling.

With both Nathan Horton and David Clarkson’s deals coming off the books at the end of this season, Seravalli believes Leafs management will be on the hunt for replacements.

Ryan Kesler, NHL, Anaheim Ducks
Is it even possible that Ryan Kesler would be moved this season? (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Seravalli notes Ryan Kesler’s contract may be the most suitable for the Leafs as he still has two years remaining on his contract with the Anaheim Ducks. As Seravalli reports, 80% of the salary owed to Kesler is covered by insurance but the veteran forward still carries a cap hit of $6.875 million per season. He also lists Marian Gaborik, Henrik Zetterberg, Marian Hossa, and Brent Seabrook as options.

Sportnet’s Elliotte Friedman doesn’t necessarily agree the Maple Leafs will go this route. He notes, “They knew they were starting last year without Travis Dermott and Zach Hyman. It wasn’t an easy dance for them — or Vegas — last season.”

Related: Top 10 NHL Backup Goaltenders

Backup Goalie Options for Jets

Ken Wiebe of The Athletic took a closer look at some backup goaltender options for the Winnipeg Jets if they don’t re-sign pending free agent Laurent Brossoit. He notes the Jets could try to acquire St. Louis’ Jake Allen and Minnesota’s Devan Dubnyk via trade, or they could go the UFA route and try to snag the New York Islanders’ Thomas Greiss and San Jose’s Aaron Dell.

While the Jets have Eric Comrie in their system, Wiebe doesn’t believe the Jets are banking on him as an option. He writes:

Given all the upheaval from this season, Comrie played the fewest games since turning pro (23, including 20 in the AHL), so that could be a consideration in the discussion as well. It also increases the likelihood a veteran is brought in, at least to compete for the backup job.

source – ‘Backup goalie targets for the Jets in free agency or trade’ – Ken Wiebe – The Athletic – 05/12/2020

Related: Do You Know Your Maple Leafs Trivia?

P.K. Subban Hints At Changes

In my opinion, I’m still one of the top defencemen in the league,” P.K. Subban told Men’s Journal earlier this week. Understanding that this past season was the worst in his career as an NHL star, “When I’m in the biggest games, the biggest moments, I feel that I’m one of the players that teams would love to have on their team and that they can rely on, and that’s always been my game.”

P.K. Subban New Jersey Devils
P.K. Subban, New Jersey Devils (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Subban noted that he was dealing with big adjustments going from Nashville to New Jersey and suggested he’s positive good things will come. He said, “So it’s an adjustment, but I definitely believe that there’s better things to come for me in my career, whether it’s winning a Norris Trophy or Stanley Cup.”

Subban didn’t say that he felt he might leave the Devils but there has been speculation the team might be considering moving his $9 million contract after such a poor season for both he and the team.

Related: 3 Best Devils to Never Win a Stanley Cup

Blackhawks Almost Trade Duncan Keith

As part of an interview with former Blackhawks general manager Mike Smith, The Athletic’s Mark Lazerus discusses how Smith claims Bob Pulford had planned on trading defenseman Duncan Keith.

Duncan Keith Blackhawks
Duncan Keith, Chicago Blackhawks, Nov. 9, 2017 (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Lazerus writes:

Now, Smith calls this a “grapevine thing,” so take it with a grain of salt. But to him, it’s a perfect example of how right he was for the job, and how wrong Pulford was. The way Smith tells it, Pulford was this close to trading then-prospect Duncan Keith to the Flyers, packaging him with three other players to bring 34-year-old Jeremy Roenick and 34-year-old Tony Amonte back to Chicago in the twilight of their careers.

source – ‘‘It was a living hell’: Mike Smith looks back on his time with the Blackhawks’ – Mark Lazerus – The Athletic – 05/14/2020

Keith’s name comes up in trade rumors from time-to-time now, but back then, he was on the verge of becoming a star and a critical component to the many Blackhawks Stanley Cup Championship wins.

Ales Hemsky Retires

In a Q and A with The Athletic’s Daniel Nugent-Bowman, former Edmonton Oilers forward Ales Hemsky admitted that he’s been forced to retire from hockey.

Hemsky said:

“I was hoping I would come back. I was working out for a year, skating. I was thinking I was getting better. I realized I wasn’t. I didn’t want to talk about it. I was just doing really bad – really depressed.”

source – ‘Ales Hemsky on his health, alumni games, tough opponents and the Oilers’ stars’ Daniel Nugent-Bowman – The Athletic – 05/14/2020

He says after trying to come back in Europe, that dream is over and he’s finally at peace with his decision and is going to enjoy the time with his kids.

Catch up on all the latest NHL Rumors