The Toronto Maple Leafs have been operating under the belief that this is their year.
The talent level has increased quite a bit in the last three seasons, and adding free-agent prize John Tavares during the summer has upped the excitement level considerably for an Original Six team that has been yearning for its first Stanley Cup since 1967.
It has been a strange start to the season for the Maple Leafs at 9-5-0, second behind the Tampa Bay Lightning in the Eastern Conference. It’s a strange start because they are 3-5-0 at home and a perfect 6-0-0 on the road.
While the talent level is high, it could be quite a bit higher if William Nylander was in uniform. The forward held out of camp throughout the month of September in a contract dispute, and he has shown a combination of resolve and stubbornness as he has continued to stay away from the team.
Holdouts of this length are unusual in the NHL, and the Leafs could use a 22-year-old right wing who has scored 61 points in back-to-back seasons.
The Leafs need to find a resolution before the league’s December 1 deadline for signing Group 2 free agents, so a trade is a legitimate possibility if both sides remain unwilling to give. NHL insider Elliotte Friedman reported on a Hockey Night in Canada segment that the Carolina Hurricanes are “all-in” when it comes to acquiring Nylander.
Columbus Blue Jackets goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky has made it clear that he does not want to remain with the team, according to a report from Friedman on Sportsnet radio.
Bobrovsky has not been on good terms with the team since the summer, when he blew off a meeting with general manager Jarmo Kekalainen. Friedman reported that Bobrovsky wants out of Columbus, but that is not necessarily what the team wants because he is one of the best goaltenders in the league when he is happy and on his game.
If the two sides can’t figure out their issues, the New York Islanders may be the team that has the best chance of working out a deal for the reigning Vezina Trophy winner.
This looks like another year where the Detroit Red Wings will be rebuilding. If that is the case, the Red Wings could trade some of their bigger-name players for young talent or draft picks.
One of the players who could be traded is forward Gustav Nyquist, who will be a free agent at the end of the season.
Rather than lose Nyquist in the offseason, he could be traded for future assets just as Brendan Smith was traded in 2017 and Tomas Tatar was moved last year.
Nyquist has a no-trade contract, but he could be moved if he agrees to it. “It’s a business and that’s part of the game,” Nyquist said, per Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press. “I’m sure my name will pop up. It will be a little bit new situation for me because this is my last year of the contract. It’s different, but it’s nothing I’ve thought about. Probably more as I get closer to the deadline. We’ll see.”