The 2018-19 NHL season is quickly winding down, as the 2019 Stanley Cup Final is in full swing. The Boston Bruins and St. Louis Blues are delivering some excellent hockey, and the Final is shaping up to be a classic.
While the Final is ongoing, the 2019 NHL Entry Draft is quickly approaching. The 2019 NHL Entry Draft will take place in Vancouver on June 21-22. With the Draft taking place in the very near future, the rumors are starting to swirl around the league. There are plenty of notable names in the NHL that could be on the move prior or during the Draft.
Which teams are likely going to make the most noise during Draft season? Which players could be switching teams in a few weeks? Let’s dive in to the latest rumors around the NHL:
The Penguins will likely be an active team leading up to the NHL Draft. GM Jim Rutherford is not shy on making a big splashy trade, and he might have to pull the trigger on something soon. The Penguins are right up to the maximum salary cap, as they only have $3.2 million in cap space and only 5 draft choices in the 2019 NHL Draft.
Phil Kessel’s name has been heavily mentioned recently, and it will likely take a big package of players and draft picks for him to be moved. As crazy as it may seem, Evgeni Malkin’s name has also been in the rumor mill. Phil Kessel has some say in where he potentially where land, as he already reportedly nixed a trade to the Minnesota Wild.
With limited cap space and a poor showing in the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs, the Penguins will likely shake things up a bit and be busy in the next few weeks.
TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS
The Maple Leafs are another team that is in a tough salary cap crunch. Mitch Marner is a restricted free agent, and he will not come cheap as he recorded 94 points during the 2018-19 regular season.
With Marner’s large contract looming, the Maple Leafs are in a bind, as forwards Andreas Johnsson and Kasperi Kapanen also need new contracts. With only $8.7 million in cap space left, the Maple Leafs will need to shed some salary.
Over the last few days, forward Patrick Marleau’s name has popped up in the trade rumors. He carries a cap hit of $6.25 million. Certainly shedding Marleau’s contract will help the Maple Leafs salary cap situation, but they will likely have to give up a decent asset to create cap space.
The Arizona Coyotes have been rumored as possible destination for Marleau. The Coyotes have taken on bad contracts in recent years and have received quality prospects and draft picks in return.
The Maple Leafs need to create cap space quickly, as another club could likely entice one of their young forwards with a large offer sheet.
NEW JERSEY DEVILS
The Devils have the #1 overall pick in the 2019 NHL Draft. There are always rumors surrounding the club that has the #1 overall pick heading into the Draft. Over the last few days, it has been reported that forward Taylor Hall is holding off on signing a long-term deal with the Devils.
The 2018 Hart Trophy winner is a huge piece to the Devils future. While Hall cannot sign an extension until July 1, this is big news for the Devils as they are looking to get out of rebuilding. The Devils are slated to pick Jack Hughes with the #1 overall pick, so it should be interesting to see if that will make Hall change his mind on signing an extension.
If Hall stands pat, it could force the Devils hand into trading him sooner rather than later.
The Jets have a dilemma on their hands. Restricted free-agent forwards Patrik Laine and Kyle Connor need new contracts, and both players will not come cheap. Defenseman Jacob Trouba is also looking for a new deal.
The Jets typically do not spend right up to the salary cap, so they might need to do some dealing at the NHL Draft.
One of the Jets forwards could likely be on the move during the NHL Draft. Mathieu Perreault and Bryan Little have been mentioned in the trade rumors for a little while now.
By: George Foussekis