When it was revealed this past weekend that Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas was in New York City to personally watch the New York Rangers and Calgary Flames, it set off trade rumor alarms across the NHL. Fans and analysts immediately started to connect the dots between the three franchises, particularly the Leafs and Rangers, in an effort to figure out just what Dubas’ plan is exactly.
NHL insider Bob McKenzie of TSN noted that Lewis Gross, the player agent for unsigned restricted free agent William Nylander, resides in New York so it’s possible that Dubas was simply taking in a game while meeting with Gross in New York. It’s also possible that there’s a trade brewing beneath all the Nylander talk and speculation. At this point it’s pure speculation as to whether or not the Leafs are looking to trade Nylander, but there are some names leaking, particularly from the Rangers side, in a potential swap between the two Original Six franchises.
NHL insider Darren Dreger of TSN believes that the Leafs could be looking at a Rangers defenseman. The Leafs are believed to have been interested in Ryan McDonagh at one point before he was shipped off to the Tampa Bay Lightning, but there’s also the possibility that they’re now interested in Kevin Shattenkirk, despite the offensive blue liner still having two more years on his contract. Dreger believes the Rangers also have interest in Leafs forward Kasperi Kapanen. The 22 year old Finnish speedster has started the 2018-19 season off strongly with four goals and eight points in his nine games so far.
During a radio segment with Toronto’s TSN 1050 Dreger said that the Rangers are “willing to consider just about anything,” with regards to trades and that veteran player like Mats Zuccarello and Kevin Hayes could also be available. Check out these quotes from Dreger’s appearance courtesy of Sportsnet and ESPN’s Chris Nichols:
“I don’t know of that group who automatically is going to help the Leafs. And in saying that, of that group who’s available. I think the New York Rangers are willing to consider just about anything because they’re in the midst of a renovation as well. Up front, I know that they’d be interesting in trading a couple of centers - Mats Zuccarello, Kevin Hayes is another one the New York Rangers would be willing to part with.
“And there is some history between the teams here. The Toronto Maple Leafs were kicking tires on a Rangers defenseman last year - I don’t know if it was McDonagh or who it was - Toronto wasn’t that deep in the negotiation with the Rangers, but there was dialogue. And it pretty much stopped when the Rangers asked for Kasperi Kapanen. So the Rangers wanted Kapanen. Toronto at that point last year said, ‘No, we’re not trading Kapanen.’
“Maybe they’re trying to get something going on that front.”
There’s certainly a lot of smoke surrounding these two teams. Whether or not this indicates a fire though, well we’ll just have to wait and see.