March 28, 2023

In today’s NHL rumors rundown, one insider doesn’t see the Toronto Maple Leafs bejing at a point they’ll fire the coach. But, there are other reports that the team will need to make a change if the struggles continue.

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Meanwhile, there is good news coming out of Boston as Charlie McAvoy looks ready to return sooner than expected. Finally, could the Detroit Red Wings focus on Bo Horvat instead of Dylan Larkin?

Maple Leafs Not Ready to Fire Keefe

Despite rumors that Sheldon Keefe’s job might be on the hot seat in Toronto, Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman noted when speaking with Jeff Marek on 32 Thoughts: The Podcast: “I don’t think they were, as recently as days ago (Friday), they were considering firing the coach. I don’t.” He added, “I’m not sure if it’s changed after back-to-back losses in Southern California. But I don’t believe that’s the road they going down.” What could happen are roster changes, according to other members of the media who cover the team.

Pierre Engvall Toronto Maple Leafs
Pierre Engvall, Toronto Maple Leafs (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

James Mirtle of The Athletic suggests the Leafs could try and make a trade to snap out of their current tailspin. He writes:

Some of the top candidates to go to shake things up could include Justin Holl ($2 million), Pierre Engvall ($2.25 million), Alex Kerfoot ($3.5 million) or Nicolas Aube-Kubel ($1 million). If they keep losing, perhaps some even bigger names are in the mix.

source: ‘Mirtle: Why the Maple Leafs may need a trade to end their latest tailspin’ – James Mirtle – The Athletic – 11/01/2022

Using players like Jake Muzzin, Jack Campbell, Ilya Lyubushkin, and Mark Giordano to prove GM Kyle Dubas isn’t afraid to make in-season trades, he believes there’s some money available to Dubas with Mizzin on LTIR. He mentions Jakob Chychrun and John Klingberg as potential targets.

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The biggest name on the team isn’t going anywhere as Friedman believes Auston Matthews will sign a contract extension with the organization. Interestingly, he doesn’t believe it will be a long-term deal and that the Leafs might have to keep convincing Matthews to re-sign.

McAvoy Ahead of Schedule

Like Brad Marchand before him, Boston Bruins defenseman Charlie McAvoy is ahead of schedule in his recovery, writes The Boston Globe’s Matt Porter. While he won’t be as ahead of schedule as Marchand was, this is good news for the team. McAvoy was cleared for contact for the first time this season, and for taking full practice with the team.

Charlie McAvoy Boston Bruins
Charlie McAvoy, Boston Bruins (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Porter explains:

Coach Jim Montgomery said McAvoy is on track to return sooner than that, but not in a Brad Marchand month-early sense. He will not play in the upcoming road games against the Penguins (Tuesday), Rangers (Thursday), or Maple Leafs (Saturday). McAvoy will travel, so he is set to participate in the next full practice, in Pittsburgh Wednesday.

source – ‘Charlie McAvoy is ahead of schedule, but his return to Bruins isn’t imminent’ – Matt Porter – Boston Globe and Mail – 10/31/2022

McAvoy was originally set to return around the first of December and Montgomery said he remains hopeful McAvoy’s return will come before the Thanksgiving break. Speculation is that the Bruins have intentionally projected these player’s returns conservatively on purpose. The idea is to beat a timeline, not fall short of it.

Horvat Over Larkin?

I reported yesterday that there’s some talk in Detroit about the holdup on an extension for Dylan Larkin. Max Bultman of The Athletic believed that Mathew Barzal contract comparisons might be what’s holding things up. Further to that report, Nick Kypreos wonders if the Red Wings will actually shift priorities and let Larkin go to acquire a different forward.

Bo Horvat Vancouver Canucks
Bo Horvat, Vancouver Canucks (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

In a recent Toronto Star article, Kypreos notes that trade rumors surrounding Bo Horvat could lead to him winding up with the Red Wings, especially if Larkin’s long-term extension doesn’t pan out in Detroit. Kypreos writes:

One question that isn’t being asked enough in Vancouver is why the Canucks, who spent the majority of the off-season trying to shop [J.T.] Miller, suddenly made him a priority over captain Bo Horvat, who is two years younger and staring at unrestricted free agency in the summer. The consistent message I’ve heard is that it had to do with Horvat rejecting a low-ball offer that wasn’t even close to what other comparable (centers) earn.

Horvat is entering the final year of his contract with an AAV of $5.5 million. He could be in line for around $7-plus million per season but that’s much less than the $8.5-$9.5 that Larkin might be seeking.

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