In today’s NHL Rumors rundown, all rumors come from TSN’s Insider Trading where Pierre LeBrun, Bob McKenzie, and Darren Dreger bring the latest news. The rumors include optimism surrounding Dustin Byfuglien, how Kyle Turris’ strong play impacts his trade value, and whether the Toronto Maple Leafs can re-sign Jake Muzzin. Plus, just how hot are the seats of Bruce Boudreau and John Hynes.
Byfuglien Leaning Towards Returning?
With the future of Winnipeg Jets defenseman Dustin Byfuglien up in the air, there may be reason to be optimistic about his return to the lineup. Darren Dreger reports that there’s a “growing sense of optimism” that Byfuglien could return this season. He makes it clear that there’s nothing official and that the team has neither confirmed nor denied any reports surrounding Byfuglien. However, his speculation does support Winnipeg Free Press writers Mike McIntyre and Jason Bell, both who feel there’s reason for optimism.
Although the Jets have gotten off to a decent 4-4-0 start, they’ve allowed four or more goals in five of seven games. Their defense is struggling and has allowed a league-leading 274 shots on goal. Granted, their goaltenders, who have an .891 team save percentage, haven’t helped out the defense, but the blue line clearly needs to do a better job at preventing chances. Byfuglien’s return would help with that while simultaneously providing offense from the blue line.
Are the Predators Still Looking to Trade Turris?
Kyle Turris’ Nashville Predators tenure has not gone well. The Predators gave up a lot to acquire him, signed him to a six-year, $36-million contract, and he has not lived up to expectations. This summer, general manager David Poile attempted to move Turris after he had 10 points in 10 games for Team Canada at the World Championships. He has had a really strong start to 2019-20, with four points in six games, but is currently centering the fourth line and averaging 12:30 of ice time per game, his lowest since 2010-11.
Related: What’s Wrong with Turris?
That’s good production from the bottom line, however, $6 million per year is too much to spend on a fourth-line center and it’s unlikely he passes Ryan Johansen, Matt Duchene, and Nick Bonino on the depth chart without injuries occurring. During the preseason, Turris played some on Duchene’s wing, but that hasn’t happened yet during the regular season. Bob McKenzie points out that the current situation is not ideal for Turris or the Predators, but moving him won’t be easy. Yes, Turris has somewhat rebuilt his trade value this season, but his cap hit remains a sticking point.
He’s currently on a 55-point pace over a full 82-game season, so there’s bound to be interest from teams looking to bolster their center depth, however, will Poile break his well-known policy of not retaining salary to move Turris? A bad contract-for-bad contract trade doesn’t seem to be the solution either. So, what would the Predators be looking for in return for Turris? Would it solely be futures, either draft picks or prospects? Would it be for a controllable middle-six winger with Craig Smith being an unrestricted free agent (UFA) next summer? It’s the unknown at the moment, but I think it’s fair to expect the Predators to give Turris the best opportunity to succeed in order to further rebuild his trade value.
Maple Leafs’ Plans for UFA Defensemen
The TSN crew, and specifically Pierre LeBrun, also addressed the Maple Leafs’ defense situation now that the team has extended their core forwards. Jake Muzzin, Cody Ceci, and Tyson Barrie, all acquired within the past year, are UFAs at season’s end. In fact, of defensemen currently in the NHL, only Morgan Rielly is signed through next season. Travis Dermott is controllable, but he is a restricted free agent next offseason and could be costly. With the team only predicted to have $15.9 million in cap space for next season and also needing to re-sign three RFA forwards, the Maple Leafs are going to be cash-strapped.
According to LeBrun, the team has had no conversations with Muzzin regarding his future and thinks that the front office is waiting to see how Barrie and Ceci fit in before moving forward. LeBrun states with absolute certainty that it’s going to be difficult for the Maple Leafs.
They can’t sign all three. They may not even be able to sign two. Prioritize the guy you are going to go after, perhaps in the new year, and go from there.Pierre LeBrun on Muzzin, Barrie, and Ceci’s free agency
Considering that Muzzin ($4-million cap hit) and Barrie ($2.75 million) are due sizable raises, with Barrie reportedly looking for eight years at $8 million per year, there’s little room for the Maple Leafs to sign even two of the players when factoring in other contracts. (from ‘SIMMONS SAYS: Kawhi wanted to be part player, part GM,’ Toronto Sun, 07/06/2019) The team also has to account for Frederik Andersen becoming a UFA after 2020-21 and Rielly reaching free agency after 2021-22 when signing any future contracts. With over $65 million invested in 11 players for next season, it’s going to be a difficult situation for GM Kyle Dubas with little wiggle room.
Wild and Devils Being Patient with Coaches
Finally, the last rumors touched on by the TSN crew were the situations with Bruce Boudreau of the Minnesota Wild and John Hynes of the New Jersey Devils. Neither team has gotten off to a strong start, and in New Jersey fans have already started calling for Hynes’ job. However, LeBrun and McKenzie feel that both organizations will preach patience with both head coaches.
Regarding Boudreau, LeBrun believes new Wild GM Bill Guerin has a high level of patience with the current situation. That makes sense. Boudreau is in a contract year and can be parted with at season’s end. If the team is honest with itself, they’d recognize that this is not a playoff-bound team, regardless of coach. LeBrun further said that Guerin’s patience extends further than the coaching staff.
…in speaking with Bill Guerin on Tuesday, he said, ‘listen, I respect Bruce Boudreau. I’m going to be patient here.’ When he says patient, he means not just with him but with the entire roster before he starts making big changes.Pierre LeBrun
In regards to Hynes and the Devils, McKenzie feels that GM Ray Shero will also be patient. This is in spite of the fake tweets that emerged yesterday that claimed Hynes was fired. McKenzie points out that the team has been terrible in all areas to start the season and not all of that is on Hynes. Instead, he feels that Shero is more likely to make roster changes before a coaching change. I think that is true given Shero’s track record of being patient with his head coaches. However, as I mentioned in yesterday’s Rumors piece, will expectations force Shero’s hand? The Devils play the New York Rangers, a historical rival, on Thursday night. If the Devils win, Hynes’ seat cools. But if they lose, especially via blown lead or blowout, and the calls for his job will only get louder and more frequent.
My name is Kyle, and although I’m from Pennsylvania and grew up a Penguins fan, I cover the Predators here at The Hockey Writers. And while I would consider myself a Predators fan, I really enjoy watching all hockey and try to always take an objective approach to things. In addition to covering the Preds, I write hockey history and some statistical analysis pieces as well as book reviews.