NHL Rumors: Florida Panthers, Toronto Maple Leafs, New Jersey Devils, and the Vancouver Canucks

Could the Florida Panthers have to trade Aaron Ekblad?

Steve Simmons of the Toronto Sun: If the Florida Panthers are wanting to re-sign pending UFAs Brandon Montour and Sam Reinhart, they might have to consider the idea of trading defenseman Aaron Ekblad.

The Toronto Maple Leafs could be adding an assistant coach soon

First UP (TSN Radio): Darren Dreger said that former New York Islanders coach Lane Lambert could be joining the Toronto Maple Leafs coaching staff.

No talks for Brendan Smith just yet

Ryan Novozinsky: New Jersey Devils pending free agent defenseman Brendan Smith said that they haven’t started contract negotiations yet.

The Vancouver Canucks will have some big decisions to make this offseason

Thomas Drance of The Athletic: Defenseman Filip Hronek is a pending RFA with arbitration rights and will be looking for a big contract this offseason. He fits in nicely beside Quinn Hughes. The Canucks would like to keep him but at what cost?

The Canucks need to add some more offense and there are some interesting names that could be available on the trade market – Mitch Marner (Maple Leafs), Nikolaj Ehlers (Jets), and Martin Necas (Hurricanes). The Canucks should consider moving some of their future assets this offseason.

The Canucks have a list of pending UFAs including Elias Lindholm, Nikita Zadorov, Tyler Myers, Ian Cole, and Dakota Joshua. They’ll need to prioritize them. After free agency opens, they should remain patient and see what value comes their way. They should be a team players want to play for.

Forward Ilya Mikheyev shouldn’t be bought out. He’s got two years left at $4.75 million. Could they trade the contract with some retention? A buyout would save them $3.2 million next year and $2.2 million the following year but cost them $1.55 million against the cap the two following years. The Canucks already have dead cap money with Oliver Ekman-Larsson.

There are some Group VI UFAs that might interest the Canucks for added depth – right-handed Dman Nick Blankenburg (Blue Jackets) and forward Ben Meyers (Ducks).

Some RFAs who may not be tendered could include Eeli TolvanenErik BrannstromJake BeanJacob Bryson and maybe Timothy Liljegren.