Even though the 2014 Stanley Cup Final is still going strong, offseason rumors regarding some of the biggest names in the league have already surfaced around the Web.
Whether teams are looking to make coaching changes, acquire coveted free agents or opt for a blockbuster trade, these rumblings are only the beginning of what promises to be a very active offseason.
So, which names are currently garnering interest around the league?
Let's take a look at a few rumors that have recently sprung up in NHL circles.
Leafs Want Joe Thornton?
This is a rather curious situation.
Thornton is about to turn 35, but the 17-year veteran continues to put up solid numbers from the center position. He finished his 2013-14 campaign with the San Jose Sharks with11 goals and an impressive 65 assists.
Clearly, he has plenty left to offer for a team looking to make a run at the playoffs.
Enter the Toronto Maple Leafs.
According to Mike Zeisberger of the Toronto Sun, the team has already inquired about Thornton's availability:
It should come as no surprise, then, that the Leafs are among at least six NHL teams who have kicked tires concerning Thornton’s availability.
Leafs general manager Dave Nonis has often said that GMs often ask each other about the chances of players being on the block. As he has pointed out in the past, it’s part of a GM’s job to do his due diligence.
That doesn't mean that it has gotten anywhere near the point of offers being exchanged. So, those of you who already have a Thornton deal worked out in which Dion Phaneuf goes to San Jose to replace the recently traded Dan Boyle, slow down.
TheScore reaffirmed the interest in Thornton with this tweet:
The interest in Thornton is there; however, the center has a no-movement clause in his contract, which could make things a little tricky to acquire his services.
Although, as David Pollak of the San Jose Mercury News reported, Thornton's agent—and brother—gave one reason for the veteran to reconsider:
One thing might get the Sharks captain to reconsider his stated intent to remain in San Jose despite suggestions from management that it may be time to move on, according to his brother and agent, John Thornton.
"If he felt the fans didn't want him in San Jose, he might re-think things," John Thornton said when asked if his brother would want to play where it was apparent he was not wanted.
Maybe the fans will have a big role in this potential movement. This is certainly something to monitor going forward.
Dan Boyle to Toronto?
Well, the Maple Leafs sure look like a team ready to make some big moves.
Toronto makes headlines again due to the high interest in defenseman Dan Boyle, according to Darren Dreger of TSN.ca:
The Toronto Maple Leafs are high on Dan Boyle's list. He's expected to alert Islanders GM Garth Snow at some point this week as to whether or not he intends to negotiate with the Islanders with the possibility of staying there after New York made the trade for his negotiating rights. I know that the Islanders have already made an offer but there is no negotiation. Boyle wants a two-year deal, and the money might be more than the Leafs are willing to pay but they definitely have interest.
James Mirtle of The Globe and Mail—among others—is perplexed by this news:
Boyle, whose negotiating rights were recently obtained by the New York Islanders in a trade with the Sharks, played his 2013-14 season with San Jose, scoring 12 goals and recording 24 assists while being a staple of the Sharks special teams unit.
At 37 years of age, he may not have too much left in the tank but is still very serviceable at this point in his career.
If the Maple Leafs are looking to shift to win-now mode—as potential moves for Thornton and Boyle suggest—they could certainly do worse in this department. However, the price must be right.
Dan Bylsma to Florida?
After an early exit from the postseason, the Pittsburgh Penguins fired coach Dan Bylsma.
It didn't take long for the former coach to find a new gig, as shortly after, a report from the Associated Press, via ESPN.com, made it known Bylsma was brought in to work as a studio analyst for the NHL Network.
Well, it looks like things changed again.
According to a tweet from Harvey Fialkov of the Sun Sentinel, Bylsma will be interviewing for the Florida Panthers coaching job:
The move would make sense for the Panthers.
Bylsma found a great deal of success coaching the Penguins franchise, racking up a 252-117-32 record in six seasons, including earning the coveted Stanley Cup in 2009.
In that same time span, the Panthers only reached postseason action once (2012).
Bringing a winning mentality to the organization should pay dividends as this Panthers team attempts to rebound from a 29-45-8 season.