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NHL Rumors: Maple Leafs, Penguins, Sharks, Rangers, Oilers – The Hockey Writers – Edmonton Oilers

NHL Rumors: Maple Leafs, Penguins, Sharks, Rangers, Oilers – The Hockey Writers – Edmonton Oilers
NHL Rumors: Maple Leafs, Penguins, Sharks, Rangers, Oilers – The Hockey Writers – Edmonton Oilers

In today’s NHL rumors rundown, the Toronto Maple Leafs lost a key part of their drafting and development as Wes Clark has jumped ship from Toronto to Pittsburgh. How big a loss is this for the Maple Leafs? Meanwhile, there is chatter that John Tavares was almost a San Jose Shark prior to joining the Maple Leafs. Matt Rempe is attending a hockey fighting school in Edmonton with former NHL enforcer Georges Laraque. The rest of the NHL will need to be concerned. Finally, Chris Johnston provided an update on what’s going on behind the scenes in Edmonton where the Leon Draisaitl and Connor McDavid contract talks are both directly and indirectly linked.

Maple Leafs Lose Wes Clark, Taravares Pursued by Sharks

The Pittsburgh Penguins have appointed Wes Clark as Vice President of Player Personnel. Clark will manage the team’s amateur, professional, and college/European free agent scouting departments in this role, reporting directly to Kyle Dubas. Clark, 41, joins from the Toronto Maple Leafs, where he spent the past six seasons. His roles included Director of Player Personnel (2023-24) and Director of Amateur Scouting (2021-23). He successfully led the NHL Draft efforts for Toronto during his tenure.

Needless to say, this is a big loss for Toronto, and Clark’s expertise promises significant benefits for the Penguins. His talent for identifying promising players is evident, with notable contributions to the Leafs’ roster, including Nick Robertson, Easton Cowan, and Fraser Minten.

John Tavares of the Toronto Maple Leafs after the loss against the Boston Bruins in Game Seven of the First Round of the 2024 Stanley Cup Playoffs (Photo by Steve Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images)

Meanwhile, before joining the Leafs in the summer of 2018, John Tavares reportedly received a seven-year contract offer from the San Jose Sharks worth $13 million per season. This would have been $2 million more annually than his current salary with the Leafs. Tavares turning down that deal only goes to show how strong his desire to play for the Leafs was.

Oilers and Leon Draisaitl, Connor McDavid Contract Updates

In other Sharks’ rumors, TSN’s Chris Johnston shot down any and all suggestions that Leon Draisaitl of the Edmonton Oilers would wind up with the Sharks. “He’s not going to San Jose…” the NHL insider said. Johnston added that Draisaitl may not know yet what he wants to do, but he doesn’t get the sense there is real concern yet and a team like the Sharks likely isn’t on his radar.

Related: 8 Worst Contracts Handed Out in Free Agency 2024

Johnston also noted that there is no threat that Connor McDavid will leave Edmonton, at least not until Draisaitl makes his decision. Johnston doesn’t think McDavid is even thinking about leaving, first because he can’t legally decide until next July 1. Second, he needs to watch the Draisaitl situation play itself out. Johnston notes that part of the debate in Edmonton and where not everyone is on the same page internally, is that the team can’t walk Draisaitl to free agency because if they do, as McDavid is making his decision about staying or leaving, Draisaitl is potentially leaving.

Even if Draisaitl were to leave, Johnston believes McDavid would look at the team’s ability to win before making his choice. No Draisaitl in Edmonton doesn’t necessarily mean that McDavid is gone.

Rempe Preparing for a Season of Fisticuffs

Former NHL tough guy Georges Laraque posted that Matt Rempe and Tyrel Bauer attended Laraque’s school of fighting in Edmonton this week. He wrote, “If you thought Rempe was a problem this year in the @NHL, wait till you see him this coming season…”

Rempe is already being viewed as one of the meanest and toughest guys in the NHL. If he learns how to become a better fighter, he’ll be a more legitimate threat, even if fighting isn’t a huge part of the NHL these days.