Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – September 15, 2013.

Updates on Derek Stepan, Phil Kessel, Dion Phaneuf, John-Michael Liles and Tomas Tatar.

No progress in Derek Stepan's contract talks.

No progress in Derek Stepan’s contract talks.

NEW YORK POST/NEW YORK DAILY NEWS: report the NY Rangers will be holding their first intrasquad scrimmage of this year’s training camp without Derek Stepan, who remains a contract holdout. Larry Brooks reports “there’s growing doubt that when he comes back — if he comes back — that he can fit right in immediately.”

Rangers coach Alain Vigneault, however, also noted some players can return from holdouts (like Montreal’s P.K. Subban last season) and fit in right away.  Stepan reportedly prefers a long-term deal but is willing to discuss a “bridge contract” of two years, though the dollars remain an issue as the Rangers only have around $3 million in cap space.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That’s why I think the Rangers invited Johan Hedberg to a training camp tryout when they’ve already got backup Martin Biron under contract for this season. If Hedberg outplays Biron, the Rangers could shop or waive the latter to free up additional space to put toward re-signing Stepan. Brooks, meanwhile, remains concerned Stepan could receive an unmatchable offer sheet. Given the reduction in the salary cap and the infrequency of such a ploy, an offer sheet seems unlikely, though it shouldn’t be fully dismissed.

TORONTO SUN: Steve Simmons believes if Phil Kessel wants to remain a Maple Leaf – “and all indications are he does” – it shouldn’t be complicated signing him, speculating Kessel could get between $8.2-$8.6 million per season…Simmons suggests Dion Phaneuf’s contract negotiations could be more complicated, believing Phaneuf would be overpaid if he gets more than his current $6.5 million per season salary…Should the Maple Leafs re-sign Cody Franson and sign Mason Raymond, and if there’s no room for John-Michael Liles, Simmons wonders if the Calgary Flames might be interested, especially with Brian Burke now their president of hockey operations…”Six teams have started training camp over the salary cap: Detroit, Philadelphia, Boston, San Jose, Los Angeles and Pittsburgh.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cue the tiresome “Kessel isn’t worth that much” cries from the critics of one of the NHL’s most under-rated scorers.  Kessel has steadily improved every season, led the Leafs in scoring every season since joining the club, and among the NHL’s top-ten scoring leaders the past two seasons. In his post-season debut as a Leaf, against the Boston Bruins (his former team), Kessel was tied for second in team scoring. Still, his critics claim he’s “not worth that kind of money”. Look, every athlete is grossly overpaid, but the marketplace is what it is.  If the Leafs – the NHL’s wealthiest team – won’t pony up for Kessel, trust me, he’ll have no problem finding another club willing to do so. Good luck replacing Kessel’s offensive production. I believe the Leafs would be making a huge mistake letting Kessel walk next summer, one they would regret for  years.

As for Phaneuf, I agree he won’t get more than what he’s currently earning. The Leafs could offer him a long-term deal but for less money (between $5.5 – $6 million), but he could earn $6.5 million per season, maybe more, on the open market. The Leafs would have to find someone capable of playing big minutes if they intend to replace him, which won’t be easy.

Burke says he’s playing more of a background role with the Flames, leaving the day-to-day with Feaster, who appears keen to rebuild with youth. If the Flames were a playoff contender, maybe they would take a shot at Liles. I don’t see that happening now.

Of those clubs which have to shed cap space, the Flyers and Bruins will do so by placing Chris Pronger and Marc Savard on LTIR to open the season,  briefly demote waiver-exempt players (like Sean Couturier, Brayden Schenn, Torey Krug and Dougie Hamilton) for the opening day, then recall them the following day after Pronger and Savard are officially on LTIR. Those players won’t even have to leave town.  Others will get under via trades, waivers or demotions by the end of this month. If a trade takes place, it won’t be a major deal. 

MLIVE.COM: Ansar Khan reports forward Tomas Tatar hopes to crack the Detroit Red Wings lineup this season. Returning to the minors isn’t a possibility as he’d have to pass through waivers. Khan believes Tatar could be traded if he fails to make the lineup.


  1. I agree that Kessel should get around 8M a season… he is worth that.

    Phaneuf should be paid less than he is now.. but would he agree to that?

    • At one point I didn’t think Dion would take less but it seems like he may have mellowed a bit and does truly like where he is at and wants to stay and be apart of it. I’m not so sure he wouldn’t, take less maybe not much, but I think if term was there with some security he may sign for around 6.

  2. i believe they can sign kessel for 8 mil year a year it seems like the past deals to bozak and clarkson they left money on the table and i believe that kessel is onthe same page willing to leave a little on the table if it means the leafs can add or keep the team intact especially if we are close to being cup contenders on dion worth 6 if franson signs andhas another good yearand gardiner grows into his role i believe dion could be expedible butdion is hiting the point in a dman career where it could just click and he could be a very good dman it just seems dion is just missing somthing sense wise maybe he gets it this year but for now if the leafs got him at 6years 36mil i would be fine with that

  3. As stated before the way you trade Liles or Phaneuf and the money is by sweetening the deal with a very good quality D man that the leafs have way to many of right now …all of whom play a very similiar game more offensive minded…. less body contact ….so for a team that would like a veteran smart player who is a quarter back on the d end of the puck taking a Liles or a Phaneuf along with a Blacker , Finn , Gysberg OR Holzer , it would make sense to do so ….especially if it opens the LEAFS wallet to sign the likes of Raymond , or Franson ( who was… 8TH… in the NHL for defensive points last year ) ….all of the Leafs young D men are not going to make the team over the next 3 years … turn ONE over with a player that has a bit of salary for opening up money to get the NHL guys you need to sign ……almost any team that is looking to rebuild or needs a QUALITY 1A D man and 1A prospect would welcome that deal especially if you are able to resign Phanuef for less money than his existing contract long term again which seems to be viable ! …..

    KESSEL …. I hate this topic !!!

    I am one of the guys who loved this trade and still do for the time it has served ….however I am not a huge Kessel fan for the way he plays an overall game ….hes Vanek like to compare great hands good speed but after that it de rails for me !

    Pros ….Scores goals ( lots of goals ) GREAT!

    Cons …. Very soft player… does not finish checks , doesn’t battle for pucks in corners, is so – so on shoot outs…. not very good leadership qualities….and is too streaky ….goes 10 games or more with very little production and will eat up a tremendous amount of cap space long term.

    Do I wish I was Phil Kessel …SURE ….Id be a millionaire and playing in the NHL ….!!

    Is he the right fit for the Leafs long term …I am not so sure even after 4 seasons at this point…..Shouldn’t we be saying YES keep him 100 % but no most are like …wellll …..Iam not so sure, so that to me says at this point it may be better to look at other options ……if there was a QUALITY DEAL out there that worked for both clubs and the Leafs got what they wanted out of a trade both short term and long term and got a player with some tooth in his game along with skill & scoring in his PRIME Id make that trade instead of signing him!

    Is a Kessel, Kulimen and Blacker a good deal for Kane – Wheeler and 2nd rounder Id like that
    gritty players highly skilled & young and play physical quality games and can create more offensive output as a whole ??

    Right Winger for Right winger left winger for left winger….. Leafs get great speed up the wings to play with Kadri and Bolland along with size and grit…… Jets get top tier goal scoring a quality 1 A prospect d man and a great 2 way player who can put up points and plays specialty teams……IMO

    ….just saying !!

    • here’s a thought for all the Kessel stuff, Without him the Leafs don’t make the playoffs.

      • LMAO GIVE ME A BREAK !!!

        It was a half season and they never played a Western Conference Team the whole season which would have most likely played against there chances …and OH YEAH they haven’t made the playoffs in a regular season since hes been on the team !!
        Give me a break ..yeah hes the only reason !!! Come on !

        • hes bout 1/3 of the teams offense alone. 52 pts in 48 games, closest was kadri at 44. after that, last season he was over 20 pts ahead of anyone else on the leafs. Imagine not being able to score and pass like Kessel can on your team. there’s a reason why elite players get paid and stay on teams. fuss about him all you want but who’s going to step up? Lupul who plays 5 games a year? Van Remsdyk who played well because of Kessel? guys like Keseel make room and open up ice because they are a focus. Without Kessel the leafs lose Bozak’s Credibility because without kessel hes at best a 2nd, but mostly a third line guy.

          Luckily your not gm because anyone else in the league looking for a proven scorer would happily trade you scraps for him specially going in to his prime. all leafs fans would be left with is a player nowhere near as good and some potentially decent draft picks.

        • Please stop using ALL CAPS and !!!!!. It makes your posts much more difficult to read. I understand your intention but the human eye has been trained to recognize patterns and typography has developed as it has to to maximize retention of written language. If you point is clear and well written it will have greater impact.

      • And with him at 8 plus per means they will never win a Cup.

    • Sweeten the pot to trade Phaneuf?? Again if they are out of the playoff race by the deadline (the only way I could see them even considering trading him) Phaneuf would bring at the very least a very good prospect and a high pick as a rental, why would you add more than that? He logs 30 minutes a night top 10 in scoring for D-men and is in the top 20 of just about every defensive stat. All d men make mistakes look at how often Subban Letang give pucks away (or Franson who you rant about resigning) plus they dont play a defensive type game he does. No way do you add prospects to try and trade your top D man

  4. Kessel and Phaneuf will be UFAs by the end of the year and one team will give them the 8.5 / 7.5 M a year they want. Unless the Leafs believe they are a Cup contender, they better trade them than lose them for nothing.

    Tatar was outstanding during the AHL playoffs. If Detroit can’t find him a spot I ‘m sure they’ll get some calls. The could get a top 4 D-man. They need a better puck moving d-man.

  5. i think kessel proved his worth in the playoffs when it mattered most he came through and did his job it wasnt his fualt they blew the lead that he built worth the money hands down i dont think toronto has had aplayer that thefans have backed since gilmour an god knows we never appreciate what we have till its gone ie larry murphey as an example

  6. I 100% agree that the Flames could/should go after Lisles but not because he’ll help the team (they’re doomed this year anyway) but because the Leafs would probably compensate the Flames for taking him off the books. I could see something along the lines of Lisles + Colborn (who probably won’t make the team and would have to pass through waivers) + a third to the Flames for a decent prospect and maybe a fifth round pick. Maybe not that exactly but something along those lines.

    • Along those lines could work

  7. Give kessel 7.75 and phaneuf 5.5. Try with all your might to trade liles. Even if it costs a mid level prospect. Calgary can, in fact eat salary as long as they get something else. Liles and blacker for a forth?

  8. Salary cap situation in Toronto could be much easier next year if Kessel and Phaneuf simply walk away….

    • The goal is to win a cup or atleast go a few rounds in the playoffs, not to get under the cap the easiest way possible if this was the case we could just throw the Marlies out there and hope for the best. Letting Dion and Phil walk just to make the cap easier is ridiculous.