NHL Morning Rumor Mill – August 1, 2013.

Updates on the remaining notable NHL UFAs, the latest on the Avalanche, Oilers GM Craig MacTavish seeks more toughness plus provides an update on Ales Hemsky and wondering if the Capitals should pursue Mikhail Grabovski.

TORONTO SUN: The Ottawa Sun’s Bruce Garrioch provides updates on the notable remaining NHL UFAs. An NHL executive told Garrioch the reason so many remain unsigned is “the money has been spent”, though a “high-profile agent” claims some teams will have to shed some cash to sign UFAs. Garrioch believes Brenden Morrow will have to accept a pay cut but believes a team will bring Morrow in to provide veteran leadership, claims several teams has “kicked tires” on Ron Hainsey (noting the Red Wings are still seeking blueline help), believes Vaclav Prospal can still be a valuable role player, noted Mikhail Grabovski has narrowed his list to three teams (pointing out the Flames and Capitals could use help at center) and expressed surprise Mason Raymond remains unsigned.

Garrioch also cites a league executive who doesn’t believe Tim Thomas or Ilya Bryzgalov will be signed before training camp, but they’ll have to be patient and wait for an opportunity arising from a training camp injury…The Sabres haven’t found any takers for Ryan Miller, who’ll likely start the season with them…The Canucks expect Roberto Luongo to report to training camp…The Senators have held contract extension talks with Colin Greening but aren’t close to a deal. The Senators are also trying to move Jim O’Brien’s contract…The Maple Leafs have tried unsuccessfully to trade John-Michael Liles, who could be bought out later this week.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Of those unsigned UFAs, I expect all to be under contract when training camp opens, except for Thomas and Bryzgalov, who could end up waiting through the start of the season. They’ll all have to accept considerably less than what they earned on their previous contracts…The earliest I see a market for Miller is the trade deadline…Remains to be seen if the Maple Leafs go the buyout route with Liles. We’ll know for sure by Sunday.

Could Ryan O'Reilly be dealt later this coming season?

Could Ryan O’Reilly be dealt later this coming season?

DENVER POST: Adrian Dater responded to questions about Avalanche forwards Ryan O’Reilly and Paul Stastny, saying it’s not a foregone conclusion O’Reilly will be traded later this season, noting he’ll be a restricted free agent next summer, unlike Stastny who’ll become an unrestricted free agent. Dater believes either O’Reilly or Stastny will have to go.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Much will depend upon their respective performances and that of the Avalanche this season. O’Reilly cannot be moved until February 28, one year to the day the Avalanche matched the two-year offer sheet from the Flames. O’Reilly is also younger than Stastny and could prove more affordable to re-sign. Of the two, I’d say Stastny could be the most likely to be dealt, but if he’s willing to accept a pay cut, the Avalanche could keep him.

EDMONTON JOURNAL/EDMONTON SUN: Oilers GM Craig MacTavish would like to add more toughness to his roster, and acknowledged he’s spoken with Ales Hemsky and his agent, expecting the winger could still help the Oilers.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: There’s simply too many factors (injury history, salary, declining salary cap) working against a Hemsky trade this summer, but he could be moved at some point next season. Adding toughness will be easier to do via trade or free agency before the season begins.

CSNWASHINGTON.COM: Chuck Gormley wonders if Mikhail Grabovski might be a good fit with the Capitals, especially if they can get him at an affordable price.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Gormley’s not the only one wondering about that. If they can get him on even an affordable one-year contract, they should go for it. Of course, it remains to be seen if the Capitals are even on Grabovski’s three-team list of preferred destinations.


  1. Nonis should be canned if he buys out Liles causing a cap hit of around $8M over the next six years for a guy who won’t be playing. Everyone was complaining about Tuckers $1M buyout salary still on the books and now the Leafs could be considering adding Liles buyout salary on the books for the next six years just because Nonis didn’t sit down with a calculator and add up what his RFA’s were going to cost him before he went on his spending spree. Nonis better have a rabbit in his hat because if a buyout on Liles or trading Franson is all he has up his sleeve then he’s the one that should be bought out.

    • You can spot the Leafs fans. They either really LOVE the GM, or they really HATE the GM regardless of what happens.

      Reality check: We have no idea what Nonis did or didn’t do before the offseason to plan it out -> because he’s a seasoned professional, my money is on him having a plan.

      If things didn’t go according to plan, and he has to readjust and move to plan B or C, does’nt mean he should be fired. That’s a tad drastic considering how much he’s improved the club’s chances this season alread in such a short period of time. Also, if you compliance buy-out Liles instead of Komo, I don’t think there’s any room for Kadri/Franson.

      Expect the Leafs to be a good team for years to come – they’re in good hands.

      • I’m starting to miss Burkie. I hated his big mouth but liked his trades except the Kessel trade and only because I thought we were supposed to be rebuilding not trying to take a short cut. At least he kept the cap from being an issue. Hopefully Nonis has a trick up his sleeve so he can restore some faith but as I said earlier it better not involve buying out Liles and absorbing that crappy cap hit for the next six years or trading Franson for a bag of pucks because other GM’s know he has a cap issue.

        • Liles buyout cap hit
          2013-14 $875,000
          2014-15 $875,000
          2015-16 $2,375,000
          2016-17 $1,250,000
          2017-18 $1,250,000
          2018-19 $1,250,000
          Total cap hit $7,875,000

          • May as well burry him in AHL. LIke NYR did with Redden.

          • I believer, you can’t bury contracts in the AHL anymore if player makes more than $1M. It will still remain on that NHL team’s salary cap..

        • Yah, I like Burke too. He out-right dummies GMs in deals. he’s always criticized, and then years later those deals make sense. even from a rebuild perspective, that Kessel trade looks better each year.

          • I just didn’t get it at the time Burkie made that trade. He had all of Leaf nation ready to wait out a rebuild then turned around and said he can do it faster by taking short cuts. I still wonder about that trade with the lack of centers in the league. Don’t get me wrong Kessel can score goals but the Leafs are still in search for that number one center and look like they may never find it. Don’t forget, Seguin’s path could have taken a completely different turn in Toronto. He could be on track to be the next captain right now or a total bust who knows. I assume Burke would have taken the same approach as he did with Kadri and made him earn his stripes in the AHL under Eakins which may have made him a much better player then he is today.

          • ..and if my aunt had two balls she’d be my uncle.

            totally hear ya.. but I’m betting that Kadri turns out better than Seguin this year again. Kadri took Grabo’s spot out of the gates, expect him to threaten the number 1 spot by Dec.

          • Would be sweet if it happens and he knocks Bozak down to #2 so we can all bitch about the lack of production out of Boz since his bff isn’t on his line anymore making him completely over paid. Then we can jump all over Nonis for also giving him a NTC. LOL

            Actually I think Kadri will look great between JVR and Lupul. That could very well be Toronto’s number one line this year if Clarkson gets thrown on the soft sister line due to his grit.

          • my preference would be to see Kadri with Lupol and Clarkson… Lupol/Kadri seemed to have so much chemistry.

          • it would be crazy to separate Lupul and Kadri since they have all that chemistry. Clarkson would be a fit on that line since he doesn’t need the puck or the Kessel line since he will make up for Kessel’s lack of forecheck

        • Except the Kessel trade. I LOL’d on that.

  2. If Leafs buyout Liles they will obviously have a cap hit. Not be a good start for Nonis.

    • No offence meant to you with the homer comment lol, could be in the same boat with gms here in the next couple days….

      • Homer made two bad choices… Both on goalies. Both were probably forced by owner Snider. My only complain really.

      • lol? what’s so funny? what’s worth laughing out loud about here?

        • Sorry Ed no time to explain it to you maybe you will get it next time.

  3. I really hope the Leafs dont buy out Liles to sign another bad contract, I like Nonis and could almost understand buying out Liles in certain situations or more of a sure thing but to buy out a bad 3.75 mill contract to sign Franson for 4 mill after 1 good (very short) year is a huge gaff. Like Milburry Holmgren sized gaff if Franson doesnt put numbers up similar to last season. If Franson return to form as a good bottom pairing guy playing second unit pp (like he has done his whole career) we have essentially invested over 5 million dollars in a bottom pairing d man, even if he becomes a second pairing guy that is a very steep price to pay, especially when you have Reilly and Gardiner who could be just as good if not better in the next year or 2. If Franson is worth 4 What does that make Pietroangelo, Subban, worth? Karlsson only made 5 this year (hit was higher but still…)

    • Smid, Schultz, and Allen have $3.5M cap hit. All have significantly less production than Franson’s average seasons. Cam Fowler, Zidlicky, Roman Josi (??), Andrej Meszaros, Gleason, Kyle Quincey, and many more have a cap hit around $4M or more and also have much less (not slightly less) production than Franson.

      If you go by how other GMs value less productive dmen than Franson, I’d say Franson at $4M is a steal. I’d still say $3.5M is where I’d pay him.

      Don’t talk about this one fluky year when a)he’s still a kid, his ‘entire career’ is 4 seasons and b)his first three seasons are better than the dmen mentioned above.

      • He is 26 that is not a kid is Dion a kid?

        • Show me anything that proves that was not a fluke his ppg jumed 75% in 48 games always been 20-30 points in 4 years in the NHL then 1season a short one at that he is on pace for 60 it screams fluke if its not good for him but Id rather not tie up 5 million bucks betting that it wasnt.

          • i would point you to his first 3 seasons… which are beyond better than most dmen making $4M per year today. if you want to talk about who’s worth money and who’s not, at least do your comparables homework.

            is Franson going to produce to the same pace as last season? probably not. will he finish 4th overall in assists, 8th in points, again? maybe not. but him producing more in his 4th season was predictable because every seasons he out performs his last.

            flukey is what jim carey did. what Franson did last year is what the rest of the world calls a “break out” year.

          • My biggest know against this kid is that he coughs up too many chances to the opposition in his own end. That should improve with maturity and development.

            The other piece to his performance has nothing to do with points,but something you need to see – the way he moves with the puck. His confidence with the puck is so unrecognizable compared to two seasons ago in Nashville. This guys turns good dmen into fools with his dangler-esque moves. His ability to carry to puck across the opposing blueline is fantastic stuff. Stuff that he’s developing and using that wasn’t with him in Nashville.

          • I create the most typos on this site than anywhere else. I most get too excited as I’m typing.

            My biggest know against = My biggest knock against…

      • Smid is a to pairing guy who is pretty good in his own end been around for years. Nick Schultz most Oiler fans will say he isnt worth it, lets look at others in that prce range and see who you would rather have Hjalmersson, Letang (pre-extension) Willy Mitchel, Scuderri, Orpik, Boychuck, etc etc etc all guys with rings and much more of a track record then Franson

      • Josi is young and the Preds bought up UFA years, Mezaros when not hurt is by far better 2 way guy again has a track record of being top 2pairing Marc Stall, Josh Georges, Zidlicky has some expeirence I could go on and on guys that make that kind of money have been or are top 2pairng D men, Franson besides this year has always been a bottom pairing D man. you say do comparable homework? There done Franson after 1 good year is not worth any of those guys. I showed you 10 guys that play top 2 pairing the only guy you showed me was Nick Schultz. Before Franson was promoted he was + 12 once promoted against better competition he went – 8 to finish the season + 4. great guy to have on the powerplay but not top 2 d line pairing.

        • just because you put a player’s name down and then write a sentence, doesn’t mean you addressed anything. eg. Zidlicky has some expeirence. Not certain how that relates, but he’s not worth more than Franson.

          You listed the elite of the $4M group. I’m talking about the majority, and only Franson’s first 3 seasons – so you can drop his ‘fluke’ season, as predictable as it was. Franson’s first three seasons, he’s still better at $4M/yr than the vast majority of dmen in the NHL being paid at that same level.

          BTW… not fair to include Letang.. .isn’t he a $7.2M player now?

          • Since you are a big ppg stat fanatic look at Zidlicky who has been around awhile 618 games 325 points .552 you use ppg over 1 short season to tell me why Franson is worth 4 mill then dismiss someone with years of better production as not as good as Franson? I used elite guys? I use the majority of guys making 3.5-4 you use Nick Schultz to say he is worth 4 mill? You keep calling him a kid like he is in his third year or something he is 26 going on his 5th season on his 3rd coach if he was such a diamond in the rough why didnt any of the 3 coaches realize it before the shortened season? Im not saying he doesnt have talent Im saying he is not worth over 3million dollars let alone 4 million plus buying a guy out to sign him…lol

          • Kris letang signed his extension this year that kicks in after the up coming season so we will throw out his numbers for this year, .49 ppg over 4 seasons again top 2pairs not bottom pair playing 3rd and 4th lines Franson up till this year .35 even adding in this year only takes him to .41ppg there is no kind of argument to suggest he should make that kind of money that makes any sense.

          • I’m only counting the kid’s first three seasons, seeing how you can’t compute his fourth due to how intense it was. Doesn’t matter, those three are better than most $4M dmen in the NHL Not all, but most. I’m not saying Shultz is worth $4M.. I’m saying he is being paid $4M. That’s called a qualified comparable. I’m also not saying Nonis should sign him for $4M, but that he wouldn’t be an idiot for doing so. He’s leagues better than Liles. I would suggest spending $3.5M on him, but that would be considered a hometown discount… if you take into consideration the qualified comparables.

            He’s a kid because he’s only 25, and just finished 3.5 seasons. 2.9 if you divide his 243 games by 82. Dion on the other hand has 9 seasons and 547 games. Dion’s reached his potentail, Franson has not. When you’re developing and 25 and have less than 4 seasons under your belt, … you’re a kid.

        • Final word on this for today lol you say he is young and has potential and “if” he continues to develop….What was that you said about “if your aunt had balls…”?

          • ..yah, I like that one.
            Remember, we’re not waiting to see if Franson develops… Franson each year has been developing.. so until he stops, we can assume he still is.

      • Most of these guy play a defensive role in the top 2 pair Orpick and Scuderri also have less production and play more minutes, you sayin Franson is worth more then Orpick or Scuderri as well?

    • Trade Franson let him be someone elses mistake…Franson for Brock Nelson and a second is looking mighty good right about now. The opportunity to get a very good center prospect is finally here and Id rather not watch it go down the toilet.

      • We have other very good pmd prospects Id rather not part with who have consistently showed they will be at the very least 2nd pairing how many top 2line center prospects we have and I will wet my self if you say Gautier because he is a long way off yet.

      • 29 other GMs would love that mistake, and Nonis knows it.

        • I think a reasonable figure for Franson is 3-3.5 over two years.
          Considering his play, stats aside I see it as a bit of an overpayment.

          …But I think it’s a contract that could potentially work for both the player and the team. Franson has developed each year, this puts the responsibility on him to continue to do so if he wants to get into the 4+ range. I’m a big believer in these bridge contracts especially coming off a career year – in a half season.

          • Me too I could live with 3 anything more is an over payment again Delzotto Leddy are comparables

            GP 243 G 23 A 77 PTs 100

            Del Zotto
            GP 250 G 24 A 86 PTs 110

    • Rob
      Your wasting your breath. Shticky thinks Franson is a bum and a bust at 26yrs old and should be paid $2M. He said the same about Gunnar but somehow Dion is the man and gets a pass and in his book should be re-signed for $8M for 5 more years because he has never had a good D partner to help prove he’s the man. Isn’t a top D man supposed to be so good he makes his partner look like a top D man?
      Anyways I think most Leaf fans agree that Franson has the makings of being a #2 D man on the Leafs or a #3 D man on a better squad whether it’s this year or next.

      • Again did I say bum no, because you dont make 4 mill dosent make you a bum, Delzotto is not a bum Leddy is not a bum.

      • bold statement at #2, but i can’t wait to see how this season unfolds. He has that potential, but only time will tell if he realizes it. He’s definitely a Carlyl type player and will be given the opportunity.

        • #2 on the Leafs (which isn’t saying a ton) but #3 on a better squad with better D.

  4. yah… remember when CGY made that blunder offer sheet move? The blunder being that they still wouldn’t have been able to keep OReilly but still lose the picks?

    • I still wish Calgary signed o’reilly and then col claim him on waivers for half price

      • ha, me too

  5. How can the Leafs buyout Liles? They’ve already used their 2 amnesty buyouts with Grabovski & Komisarek.

    • Because they had a player file for arbitration. As a result, they have a 48-hour window three days following either the player re-signing or the arbitration award to buy out a player if they wish. That player cannot be the one who filed for arbitration, must have been on their roster at the last trade deadline, and earn more than $2.75 million per season.

      • Thank you for explaining that.

        • You are mixing up the amnesty buyouts anyways. Those carried no cap hit and were basically forgiven. Buying out Liles will cost the Leafs almost $8M over the next six years, similar to the Tucker buyout that still lingers on the books which is contributing to the cap issue right now. Nonis would be doing it all over again.

  6. Fellas,

    If you put aside the salary, and the cap implications and look purely at the hockey element, Liles is the odd man out. He only played 32 games last year and arguably would have played less if Gardiner had been ready to go at the start of the season. He does not bring size or any grit. He is a puck moving defenseman, and has never had the same hockey sense or speed since he got clocked that year. He has been surpassed by both Gardiner and Reilly on the depth chart for the type of player he can be, and the skills he brings to the team. So unless anyone feels Leafs should keep Liles and trade Gardiner or Reilly, and I am not one of those, he is the one going. If saddled with him, Randy will not play him unless he is totally stuck. At 3.875 million per year for the next three years, is that who you want sitting in the pressbox as your seventh defensman every game for the next 246 games? Because Randy has no qualms about doing that. And after 8 years of missing the playoffs, I would say Randy has a pretty good say about who is gonna play and who is not. And Liles won’t be playing for the Leafs.

    Don’t blame Nonis for this Liles issue. Burkie signed that one, and I cannot believe that not one of Burkies assistants / advisors etc did not say, ” Gee Brian, he got plastered and is still recovering from his concussion, we got Jake Gardiner and we just drafted who we all agree to be the best defenseman in the draft in Morgan Reilly, are you sure you want to give Liles 4 years at 3.875 million and a modified no trade clause?” But Burkie has the last word, and thats one reason why he is no longer the GM.

    Burkie falls in love with players, Nonis does not. Nonis had no qualms about dealing with Connolly, Lombardi and Komisarek, so he will do the best he can with handling Liles, but it appears his only option left is a buyout. For those bringing up Tucker and Armstrong, they will be off the books after this season, and when you review how Liles buyout dollars will be spread (as Lyle correctly showed previously) they will really not be much worse off than they are now. Yes, they have big tickets to sign next year, but the cap is going up too.

    Liles does not fit Randy’s team just like Beauchemin did not fit under Wilson, and went on to have 2 great seasons after departing TO. Franson did not fit under Wilson, but thrives under Carlyle. It happens. Thanks JML, you were well rewarded for your service.Someone will pick you up after the buyout, no worries, but most teams cannot afford you at full pop. Keep going Dave, you are doing great.

    • Can’t argue much there, except that buying-out Liles was certainly not plan A.

      Can anyone here confirm if whether or not Liles can be put on waivers and thus be taken 100% off of the cap hit?

      • Burke and Nonis both have their strengths and weaknesses but don’t kid yourself and think the signing of Liles falls solely on Burke when it was a well known fact Nonis handled all contract negotiations during Burkies tenure. Judging by the poor negotiations (from the Leafs side) with Gunnar I assume Nonis put that crappy Liles contract together too.

        I think someone already wrote under the new CBA Liles cannot be buried in the AHL relieving the cap hit. But here is a question… Wasn’t Komi already buried so if they had of kept him in the AHL wasn’t that cap hit gone for them? I can’t remember.

  7. I don’t know if the amnesty buyout period is completely over, but if it isn’t maybe the Leafs could trade Liles and a pick so another team amnesty buyout him.

    • Didn’t the NHL prevent the Leafs and TB from doing that with Vinny?

      • The NHL prevented a trade that would have the Leafs acquire Vinny, only for the purpose of buying him out and them re-signing Vinny back to TBL. What Brandon is saying, what if the Leafs traded Liles to a team, for the purpose of a buyout, but the Leafs not re-sign him. That isn’t circumventing the cap in that sense. But it is very highly unlikely that a team will do this, maybe only if we took salary back, and we can’t afford that as it is.

        • good point

    • Amnesty is long gone for this year. Now teams have to wait until next year.

  8. Here’s an idea. How about
    Leafs: liles
    NYi: 2nd round pick and conditional pick
    Te leafs pay 75% of the contract, but Nyi takes on 100% of the salary cap hit. My logic s if the lefs are gonna buy liles out they may as well get prospects. The islanders get a puck moving d man to replace street, costs them virtually no real cash and they have plenty of cap room.

    • I would be surprised if anyone took Liles off of the Leafs for a 7th rounder, even if the Leafs paid for the contract. The Ilse have a ton of cap room, but they also have a lot of UFA/RFA due next offseason that they may want that $3M+ for. But I agree, the Ilses are their best trading partner.

      • If you keep salary you keep the cap hit see the Bernier trade with Scrivens and Frattin

  9. Lydman retired…job opening for Liles :-)

  10. I think a market for a goalie of Miller’s ability will open up around December.

    • I think it will be later in the year aswell if he doesnt go before camp, never know later in the summer once all these teams get their cap situation figured out he may go, but if I was a Sabers fan I would hope they deal him later rather then sooner, if they pay more of his salary and deal him closer to the deadline his value will be higher I think.