Kasperi Kapanen, Mitch Marner, Nazem Kadri, Toronto Maple Leafs

Maple Leafs News & Rumors: Miller, Marner, Kapanen, Gardiner, Kadri

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Although the Toronto Maple Leafs have not played in almost a month (their last game was Apr. 23), injuries are impacting the team: Travis Dermott is recovering from a separated shoulder; Zach Hyman has a torn ACL; and, John Tavares came home from the World Championships with an oblique injury.

In light of all the injuries the Leafs were playing through during their first round Stanley Cup series with the Boston Bruins, doesn’t it make you wonder if this might have been the Maple Leafs’ year? Although the players did suit up against the Bruins, they obviously were not 100% and that no doubt impacted their performance. In addition, Jake Gardiner’s back injuries made him a shell of himself.

Related: Why Jake Gardiner Will Leave the Toronto Maple Leafs

Given the Bruins’ successful march through their Stanley Cup playoff opponents and how well the Maple Leafs played them, it makes me think next season might be interesting.

Here is some recent news about the team as well as keeping up with the Toronto Marlies Eastern Conference Final against the Charlotte Checkers.

Item One: Are
the Maple Leafs Interested in Defenseman Colin

Bob McKenzie reported on TSN 1050 that the Vegas Golden Knights might trade defenseman Colin Miller and suggested the Maple Leafs could be interested. Because William Karlsson needs a new contract, the Golden Knights are in a position where they probably have to move a regular player to free up cap space.

Vegas Golden Knights defenseman Colin Miller
Vegas Golden Knights defenseman Colin Miller (Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports)

Although Miller has been solid in his two seasons with the Golden Knights, three things make him tradable. First, the Golden Knights have a strong group of prospects on defense. Second, he is signed for three more years at $3.875 million, and that’s a reasonable cap hit. Third, he might be in the coach’s doghouse because he was recently fined $2000 for diving.

Miller was penalized and given a warning for embellishing (diving) on Nov. 23 and was penalized again for embellishing a hook on Mar. 30. What’s interesting about diving is that the third penalty calls for the head coach to be fined. I can’t think that would sit well with Gerard Gallant, who’s a no-nonsense kind of guy.

McKenzie suggested that Miller is an option if the Maple Leafs can clear cap space. As well, because Miller played for the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds, general manager Kyle Dubas should know him well.

Item Two: Might the Montreal Canadiens Extend an Offer Sheet to Mitch Marner?

In his Hickey on Hockey column, Pat Hickey suggested that Mitch Marner would be a solid investment for the Montreal Canadiens and noted that it might be a possibility to extend an offer sheet to the young forward.

Related: Mitch Marner Won’t Get Auston Matthews Money

As Hickey noted:

“There is one long-term, big-money deal that is worth pursuing and that involves an offer sheet for Mitch Marner, who is the Toronto’s Maple Leafs’ best player. Offer sheets are rare and GMs who offer them run the risk of upsetting their peers. But Bergevin noted in his season-ending address to the media that they represent an available tool and Marner is worth the shot,” (from “Hickey on hockey: Mitch Marner is worth offer-sheet risk for Canadiens’ – Montreal Gazette – 5/17/19).

I think Hickey’s belief that the Canadiens could get Marner to sign between $8.54 million and $10.56 million is a pipe dream. I also think it’s something Dubas would appreciate because he would match that salary in a heartbeat.

Maple Leafs right wing Mitchell Marner
Toronto Maple Leafs right wing Mitch Marner (Photo by Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

In my estimation, any successful offer sheet for Marner would cost a team four first-round picks, and that’s simply too much to pay. Sure, Marner is only 22 years old and is an established NHL star, but four first-round picks? Good luck with that.

Related – NHL Rumors: Spezza, Maple Leafs, More

Item Three: Is Kasperi Kapenen a Canadiens’ Target?

The Maple Leafs’ salary cap issues are generating a number of interesting rumors. Another Canadiens source (TVA Sports – thanks to Google Translate) noted that, although using an offer sheet to lure Marner away from the Maple Leafs might be fool’s hope, perhaps Kasperi Kapanen would be an easier target.

Kasperi Kapanen
Toronto Maple Leafs right wing Kasperi Kapanen celebrates with the bench (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn)

Specifically, if the Canadiens offered Kapanen a contract between $4.23 million and $6.63 million for at least three years, the compensation would only be a first and a third-round pick. That, TVA Sports noted, might be worth the chance. I’m thinking Kapanen would sign that contract and the Maple Leafs would be forced to accept the compensation.

Item Four: Is Jake Gardiner a Possibility for
the Canadiens?

In a third rumor involving the Canadiens, Eric Engels of Sportsnet threw out the possibility that the Canadiens are after a top-four defenseman who could help the power play and suggested Jake Gardiner might be an option.

What’s interesting about this rumor is that Engels believes Gardiner might be too costly because he’s expected to command a contract in the vicinity of $6 million on a long-term deal. That’s the first speculation I’ve heard about what Gardiner might be worth. I’m rooting for Gardiner to sign a solid contract somewhere.

Item Five: Marlies Finally Lose to the Charlotte Checkers

Well, it finally happened. The Marlies gave up a 3-0 lead to the Checkers and lost 5-3. The Eastern Conference Final series is now tied 1-1 and heads to the Marlies’ home ice for Games 3, 4, and 5.

Related – NHL Rumors: Stars, Maple Leafs, Canadiens, More

The Marlies started strong with three straight goals, but gave the lead up during the second half of the game. Had they won, it would have been their ninth straight post-season victory. But the Checkers scored five unanswered goals to even the series.

That the Checkers beat the Marlies is not a surprise. The teams are both good. In fact, the Checkers were the AHL’s dominant team during the regular season. The Marlies offense simply didn’t produce in the third period and had only three shots on net. Although the team scored three goals, it didn’t generate much offensive pressure during the game.

I’m hoping the Marlies can leverage home-ice advantage into a series victory.

Item Six: Don’t Expect Nazem Kadri to Be Traded

There have been rumors Nazem Kadri might be traded this summer because of his propensity to lose his cool and get suspended and because the team might need to move his $4.5 million contract. However, that’s not likely to happen. The Last Word on Hockey suggested that, unless Dubas is offered “considerable return,” Kadri is too much of an integral piece of the Maple Leafs’ success to be moved.

Toronto Maple Leafs Nazem Kadri
Toronto Maple Leafs center Nazem Kadri looks up from the ice as he is attended to by a trainer. (AP Photo/Mary Schwalm)

Also, losing Kadri would create a hole in the team’s depth that would be difficult to fill. The post suggested that if the team trades Kadri, it would need a top-four, right-handed defenseman in return. In addition, the current Maple Leafs injuries makes next season’s roster a bit foggy.

Related: Is It Time for the Maple Leafs to Trade Kadri?

What’s Next?

There’s still no news on the Marner negotiations and for me the most interesting action is the Eastern Conference playoffs. Here’s hoping the Marlies can pull off the victory during their next three games at home.

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