LeBrun: Leafs, Kings trade talks not dead, but nothing imminent
Each day through the NHL Draft June 21-22 and free agency on July 1, TSN.ca breaks down the latest news and rumours around the NHL.
Something to Talk About
According to TSN Hockey Insider Pierre LeBrun, the Toronto Maple Leafs discussed a potential Patrick Marleau trade with the Los Angeles Kings, but as of now there does not appear to be a fit.
LeBrun notes that Marleau is familiar with Kings head coach Todd McLellan, who he played under with the San Jose Sharks, which could lead him to waive his full no-move clause. The Kings, however, would need to shed salary in order to acquire the veteran, who has one year at a $6.25 million cap hit left on his contract.
Marleau, 39, scored 16 goals and posted 37 points last season. He joined the Maple Leafs in 2017 on a three-year, $18.75 million contract after 19 seasons on the west coast with the Sharks.
Toronto Maple Leafs defenceman Nikita Zaitsev requested a trade on Thursday, citing personal reasons.
With the blueliner under contract for another five seasons at a $4.5 million cap hit, Lance Hornby of The Toronto Sun believes there will only be a limited market for him this summer. Among those options, Hornby believes, could be the Ottawa Senators who need to add salary to reach the cap floor.
The Senators currently have just $47.9 million committed towards the salary cap for next season with three restricted free agents - including right-handed defenceman Cody Ceci - to sign.
The Ontario rivals have partnered together on deals before, most notably when the Leafs traded captain Dion Phaneuf to the Senators in 2016.
Maple Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas stated on Thursday, however, that while the Maple Leafs will try to accommodate Zaitsev's request, there's no guarantee he will be moved.
"It’s not anything definitive that he’s not going to be back," Dubas said. "Especially as the year went on and he was paired with Jake Muzzin, he began to shine through a little bit more. His penalty-killing, he’s a right shot who plays on our top four and was signed reasonably for a long time. He signed for seven years, but I don’t want to speculate on their behalf."
Zaitsev has just eight goals and 27 points over his past two seasons with the Maple Leafs after posting four goals and 36 points as a NHL rookie in 2016-17, when he signed the seven-year deal.
Another Right-Hand Shot on the Market
Prior to the news of Zaitsev becoming available on Thursday, TSN Hockey Insider Darren Dreger reported the market was heating up for another right-handed defenceman in Jacob Trouba.
Trouba is set to become a restricted free agent for the last time this summer and, according to Dreger, there is significant interest and ongoing discussions regarding the Winnipeg Jets blueliner.
Ken Wiebe of The Winnipeg Sun previously suggested that Trouba could be moved this summer, stating the team "would love" to get a first-rounder and a top-pairing defenceman back in a trade. A more realistic option, though, would be to package Trouba as part of a blockbuster trade, Wiebe suggested.
Trouba, 25, was awarded a one-year, $5.5 million contract in arbitration last summer and can become unrestricted free agent in 2020. He scored eight goals and posted 50 points in 82 games this season while averaging 22:52 of ice time, second most on the team.
On a long-term deal, Wiebe speculated Trouba could carry a $7.5 million-$8.5 million cap hit.
Edmonton Oilers general manager Ken Holland told CHED Edmonton this week that he expects veteran Andrej Sekera to remain with the team this off-season and take on a leadership role on the team's blueline.
Sekera, 32, is signed for two more seasons at $5.5 million cap hit and while Holland has suggested he'd like to see the team's defence get younger and faster, he believes Sekera is valuable to the group.
“I went to San Diego to watch the kids down there play," Holland explained. "(Evan) Bouchard was there too so there was (William) Lagesson, (Ethan) Bear, (Caleb) Jones and Bouchard... You can’t move them all in at the same time, but you’ve got to try to move in one and then another. I like to ideally think that one is going to make it in camp, maybe two. And as you work your way through the year, maybe a year from now we’ll see. Certainly we want to get younger.
“I always reflect back on my Detroit days. You know you look at Sekera whose a really good veteran, I look at the impact that Niklas Kronwall had on Dennis Cholowski, had on Filip Hronek. Sekera can have that role. You've got to have some veteran well respected people in the locker room that mentor those young kids. So certainly you want to have youth but you need to have some veterans there, certainly on the back end that they can mentor them. I think we’ve got lots of those different options in the organization. We got to sort it out here over the next couple of months.”
The Oilers currently have eight defencemen on their NHL roster under contract for next season in Sekera, Oscar Klefbom, Adam Larsson, Kris Russell, Darnell Nurse, Brandon Manning, Matthew Benning and Joel Persson.
David Staples of The Edmonton Journal suggests that of the defenceman Holland listed, only Jones appears ready to join the NHL lineup. He suggests the team should look to move either Russell or Benning this off-season to bring a puck-moving defenceman to add to their roster along with Jones for next season.
Russell, 32, is signed for two more seasons at a $4 million cap hit and has a 10-team approved trade list in his contract. Benning is signed through next season at a $1.9 million and is scheduled to become a restricted free agent in 2020.