NHL Rumors: Maple Leafs overcrowded at forward may need to make a trade; and Boeser on Canucks RFAs

The Toronto Maple Leafs have seen a lot of change this offseason. Gone are longtime Leafs’ Frederik Andersen and Zach Hyman. Veteran, Joe Thornton also moved on to Florida. Not to retire, but to play for the Panthers.

GM Kyle Dubas, who admitted recently to feeling the heat, has gone out and signed a handful of players at low cost. Nick Ritchie, Ondrej Kase, Josh Ho-Sang, and Nikita Gusev are all competing for spots up front.

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NHL Rumors: Leafs may need to make a trade

James Mirtle, who covers the Leafs for The Athletic, examined the roster and determined that Toronto may have to make a trade. If they don’t they risk losing players like Pierre Engvall for nothing.

He’s not the only one they may lose off waivers, that’s why he poses the question who goes if players like Gusev or Ho-Sang make the team.

One player he mentions is Ilya Mikheyev.

maple leafs rumors
May 24, 2021; Montreal, Quebec, CAN; Toronto Maple Leafs right wing Ilya Mikheyev (65) during the warm-up session before the game three against Montreal Canadiens of the first round of the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Bell Centre. Mandatory Credit: Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports

The Toronto Maple Leafs signed Ilya Mikheyev in 2019 as an undrafted player out of the KHL. Since joining the team, he’s played in 93 games notching 40 points while averaging 14:47 of ice time over two seasons. That doesn’t appear to be enough for the 26 year-old as he asked for a trade at the end of the season for a bigger role.

Dubas has already told him and his agent Dan Milstein that they will not be trading him. Mikheyev is in the final year of his contract that comes with a $1.645M cap hit. He will be a UFA at the end of this season, but if some of the others players can win a spot Toronto’s position could change.

Brock Boeser on teammates Elias Pettersson and Quinn Hughes

vancouver canucks rumors
Jan 25, 2020; St. Louis, Missouri, USA; Pacific Division defenseman Quinn Hughes (43) of the Vancouver Canucks and Pacific Division forward Elias Pettersson (40) of the Vancouver Canucks react during the semifinal against the Central Division in the 2020 NHL All Star Game at Enterprise Center. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

Quinn Hughes, 21, scored 41 points in 56 games last season. Elias Pettersson, 22, registered 21 points in 26 games after an early slump where he scored only 2 points in his first 8 contests. Both players are the cornerstone pieces to the Canucks future but at this rate, could at least miss the start of camp as negotiations continue.

Their teammate, Brock Boeser was on Sportsnet 650 yesterday, at gave his two cents on the matter.

“I think that’s what everyone strives to do, is find a fair deal. So whether it’s in a day or two or in a week I think they’re going to find a deal that’s fair for both sides,” he said. “I’m pretty confident that they’ll be here before the first game of the season so I don’t think we need to worry about that.”

The latest update on contract talks from GM Jim Benning says things are cordial and moving forward.

“We have a good relationship. There’s no angry sides. We’re just trying to work through it to figure out how to make everybody happy,” Benning told Sportsnet. “We’re in constant communication with Pat Brisson and his group. The communication’s good and we’re just trying to figure out how to get to some common ground from their perspective and our perspective.”