Crier Media NHL Rumor Roundup

Aug 28, 2023

In today’s Crier Media NHL rumors roundup, the Toronto Maple Leafs will need to make tough decisions based on the salary cap. A group of Senators will be getting bought. Edmonton Oilers fans begin to worry about Connor McDavid’s future. Finally, there may not be any good news for Winnipeg Jets fans when it comes to their star UFAs.   


Buying the Senators 


Nope, not the politicians, this time. The NHL’s executive committee has approved Michael Andlauer to buy the Ottawa Senators, according to Bruce Garrioch of Postmedia.



Garrioch reports that Andlauer met with the NHL’s executive committee last week and was given the green light to go forward with his purchase of the franchise for a reported $950 million (USD). The 58-year-old Toronto billionaire’s purchasing group ended up winning the bidding war for the Senators in June 2023, beating out several groups including one fronted by Canadian actor Ryan Reynolds. Andlauer’s group includes Anna and Olivia Melnyk, daughters of former owner Eugene Melnyk, who have opted to retain 10 per cent ownership share in the franchise. 

Andlauer, who is also the owner of the Ontario Hockey League’s Brantford (formerly Hamilton) Bulldogs and has been an alternate governor for the Montreal Canadiens. Garrioch reports that Andlauer will try to complete a sale of his 10 per cent share in the Canadiens to Molson, if the sale doesn’t happen before the next governor’s meetings, his share will be placed in a blind trust. 


McDavid’s Future with Edmonton in Question? 


Mark Spector of Sportsnet: Connor McDavid‘s agent Jeff Jackson took on the role of CEO for the Edmonton Oilers this offseason, and his relationship with the Oilers star will need to be leveraged. McDavid has three years left on his deal before becoming a free agent. When asked by Spector what that meant for his long-term future in Edmonton, McDavid answered: 

“I love playing in Edmonton, and I really feel at home there. Lauren loves being in Edmonton. There are a lot – a lot — of things that check the boxes for us in Edmonton. We’re super comfortable there. But with that all being said, it’s three years down the road. We’ve got to kind of see where our lives are at and kind of go from there I don’t say that to raise eyebrows or cause panic. It’s just the way that it is. But I love playing in Edmonton, I’m 100 per cent committed to winning in Edmonton with this group. And we’re gonna see it through.


Edmonton fans are beginning to be understandably nervous. With Auston Matthews now established as the league’s highest paid player, it isn’t hard to imagine that the Oilers captain will easily surpass that salary when he is ready to become an unrestricted free agent. Mark Spector asked McDavid himself earlier today what he thinks of Matthews’ new contract and how it could affect McDavid when it comes time to negotiate his own deal. 



The Matthews deal points to big name players taking shorter terms to allow them to have more big money contracts, maximizing their incomes, but also causing salary cap issues. This is where Jackson’s relationship with McDavid will be put to use, to convince the star to take a team friendly deal, to allow management to build a championship caliber team around him. 


Toronto and Nylander Must make a Decision Soon 


Luke Fox of Sportsnet: Toronto Maple Leafs GM Brad Treliving on William Nylander contract. 

“We will continue to work at William’s. William is a terrific player. He’s a star, and you want to keep your good players,” Treliving said. “We have time. William’s got a year left on his contract. We will continue to work away at it and, hopefully, when we have good news, we will be sure to share it.” 


The question will be, what does Nylander want more? Does he want to remain a Toronto Maple Leaf, or, does he want to be a $10 million or more player?

It falls to Nylander to decide if he wants fair market value or be willing to leave significant amounts of money on the table to allow others on the team, like Matthews, to get full value. One option is to add significant term to any contract to balance the total payout and the annual cap hit, but in the end, it comes down to Nylander deciding if he is better served to play elsewhere for more money or to chance a Stanley Cup. 


Winnipeg Jets in a Holding Pattern 


Scott Billeck of the Winnipeg Sun lays out the worst-case scenario facing the Jets and their fans. Back in 2019 the Columbus Blue Jackets gambled and kept pending UFAs Artemi Panarin and Sergei Bobrovsky past the trade deadline. At the end of that season, both fled to greener pastures, leaving Columbus with absolutely nothing in return. It was a major gamble, and one they lost as they failed to get any assets in return for their star players. 


The 2023-24 Winnipeg Jets face that very same scenario. Center Mark Scheifele and goaltender Connor Hellebuyck are nearing UFA and the Jets can’t afford to go into next season without them resigned or traded for a significant return. For now, because neither seem open to living through a rebuild, it seems to be unlikely that there will be any contract extensions with them.  



So the question now is, do the Jets trade them now (depending on return) or do they keep them and make a push for a playoff berth?  


If they remain and the Jets make the Stanley Cup final, the fallout wouldn’t be as bad if they left and the Jets got no assets in return compared to if they left after a first or second-round knockout. So many tough questions for the Jets now and potentially at the trade deadline that will make them a must watch team this season. 


Blain Potvin

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