NHL Rumor Mill – March 27, 2018

by | Mar 27, 2018 | Rumors | 33 comments

Updates on John Carlson and Ilya Kovalchuk plus the latest Chicago Blackhawks speculation in your NHL rumor mill.

There’s not much free-agent buzz over Washington Capitals defenseman John Carlson. (Photo via NHL Images)


FANRAG SPORTS NETWORK: Chris Nichols cites Pierre LeBrun’s appearance Monday on Edmonton’s TSN 1260 discussing this summer’s unrestricted free agent market. While acknowledging the growing speculation regarding Toronto Maple Leafs left wing James van Riemsyk and New York Islanders center John Tavares, he was surprised Washington Capitals defenseman John Carlson isn’t attracting much attention.

LeBrun noted there was considerably more buzz last year at this time surrounding blueliner Kevin Shattenkirk. Carlson, on the other hand, is putting together a strong performance this season and LeBrun doesn’t know if the Capitals can afford to re-sign him. He feels Carlson, a top-four rearguard with a right-handed shot, could become the best defenseman to hit the open market since Ryan Suter back in 2012.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Nichols points out one reason behind all the Shattenkirk buzz last year was largely due to his being a fixture in the trade-rumor mill prior to be dealt by the St. Louis Blues to the Washington Capitals. Another was the New York and Toronto media kept up a steady drumbeat linking Shattenkirk to the Rangers before and after last year’s trade deadline.

In Carlson’s case, he and Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan have been largely quiet over the status of the defenseman’s contract status. As per Cap Friendly, the Capitals have over $63 million invested in 15 players for 2018-19. Carlsson could command over $7 million per season, pushing the Caps payroll to over $70 million.

However, there are projections the salary-cap ceiling to rise to over $80 million for next season, giving Washington some much-needed cap room to retain Carlson and re-sign or replace their other free agents. It’s possible they could free up an additional $3 million by buying out the final season of Brooks Orpik’s contract


THE ATHLETIC: Scott Powers looked at what areas the Chicago Blackhawks could try to address in the offseason. While they could add another experienced forward, Powers feels there’s sufficient depth up front if everyone plays to their potential. Defense, however, is another matter. He notes many believe the Hawks must go out and get a top-four defenseman. If starting goaltender Corey Crawford (concussion symptoms) remains questionable to return to action next season, Bowman could also explore the goalie market.

Their salary-cap payroll could be an issue, as their cap hit would be around $75 million if they assembled a roster of returning players. Powers suggests trading away the contract of sidelined winger Marian Hossa. Failing that, they’ll have to place him on long-term injured reserve again. He expects general manager Stan Bowman will make some trades this summer, perhaps to improve the blueline.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I believe Bowman’s priority will be trying to improve the defense corps. With over $69 million invested in 19 players for next season, it won’t be easy to add to the roster, though a possible cap increase to $82 million will certainly help them.

Trading Hossa’s contract, however, will require a sweetener, like a first-round pick or a top prospect. If sufficient cap room can be found I believe Bowman will use it to bring in a top-four rearguard. Of course, if Crawford’s future remains questionable, the priority becomes finding a decent starting goaltender. 


NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks reports former NHL winger Ilya Kovalchuk “becomes an unrestricted free agent upon turning 35 on April 15 and does not have to wait until the pre-July 1 interview period to talk with NHL suitors. Kovalchuk can negotiate with clubs and reach an agreement in principle but cannot sign a contract until July 1.”



  1. Regarding Kovalchuk: I would love to see the NHL as a whole disregard this guy completely. He showed no respect to the team he signed with, no respect to his team mates at the time and I doubt he would in the future. Sounds like a cancer on any team….let his career die in the KHL as it should

    • time heals all wounds. Radulov pulled the same thing, he’s back and all seems to be forgotten.

    • Yeesh Dave!
      You cranky this morning? I was just about to mention Radulov until I saw goodwood 77’s comment. Although, I get where you are coming from. I don’t think Kovalchuk will have trouble finding a spot in the NHL; however, there will be less teams pursuing him then he might expect. A team needing a scoring winger on the PP will come knocking. But he will command a large price.

    • I hooe whatever GM signs Kovalchuk does so to a nice Lonnngggggg 7 year deal and an iron clad NMC…
      Is he 35 now?

      • He will be 35 on the 15th of April. I assume someone will pay him Marleau monies & term. # years in or around 6 mil.

      • 3 years

    • The man exercised his earned right to return home to raise her s family. The comment above is a disgusting example of people objectifying professional sports players.

      • A pretty obscure CBA rule & there are many. He was under contract & he & NJ mutually agreed to terminate & Kovalchuk returned from the NHL. It’s within the rules but that doesn’t mean I have to like it. It circumvents the intent of retiring & the cap.

        Happy to see him return just hopefully not for my team or any others that I like. Never been a Kovy fan, great skills but not my type of player.

      • People forget the money issues jersey had. Kovy owed the ownership nothing the fellow players nothing. The only people who could possibly have any right to be grinding their gears are fans who invested in him. Jerseys etc. I’d say season ticket holders who possibly purchased said tickets when kovy signed… but I believe those have to be renewed each year. So no real beef there. Unfortunately the real issue most people have with kovy stem from dislike of where he is from and a sense of wounded pride. It’s sad

      • I don’t like flakes. 1 of my favourite players of all time is Datsyuk. I’m fairly certain he’s Russian as well so that may be other peoples issues but not mine. I could care less where he’s from.

        If you retire you should have to retire. It’s not that way so all good but again don’t like it. NJ & Kovy played within the rules but that doesn’t mean I have to like it, both circumvented the cap within the rules.

        NJ was originally penalized for cap circumvention with that contract, they had to forfeit a solid pick. The NHL later rescinded that punishment I assume as Kovalchuk retired.

      • So a man wanting to raise his family at a impressionable age in his home country is a flake now? That’s harsh.

      • Chrism,
        I think their point is he was under contract. First of all, that whole deal was a sham to begin with… what was the 1st one they tried… 147 years 100+ million? I do believe they were punished ( a pick if I’m not mistaken) but once again, this whole thing from start to finish was pure cap circumvention.

        Why should both sides not have to honor a deal? Maybe M. Staal should retire to Canada because he misses home so much? Yay!

      • Maybe Smith feels a sense of homesickness as well?

      • Sounds good to me ny if both player and team agree to it. I doubt anyone one here would turn down that money he was offered. Not his problem lucky Lou decided to pull a fast one

      • For that matter I wouldn’t hold it against letang if he retired for medical reasons, geno to go home, Crosby to join a circus etc. I’d be disappointed and frustrated but wouldn’t hold it against them one bit .

      • Balls…he’s a hack, plain and simple imo. Everytime he scores a goal you swear he won it all for himself.

    • Ive never quite understood how the NHL let him walk away from one deal (with New Jersey) and sign with another league (KHL) without any ramifications. The NHL should ban him, force him to stay “retired”. Sadly someone will fork out a truckload of cash for a 35 yr old quitter.

      • Jealousy is an ugly thing

    • Why the negative view of Ilya, he helped Devils by leaving for KHL… Devils were in financial problems that couldn’t afford to pay him much less anybody else… Him leaving after the Kings crushed them for the cup helped them rebound/sell team… Now at worse they are a legit playoff bubble team w/ an upside to regain their former form… I’m not a fan of Schneider, though Keith Kinkaid has owned the Kings in his 2 starts having shut outs so :)… Ilya was not getting paid what he should w/ much of that money in escrow either ;). HE would play like 30 minutes a night, maybe Devils made a mistake not keeping Parise over him or some other moves… YEt he was a great player for Atlanta on a team that was going nowhere besides that division championship :)… Then I think they got swept in the playoffs if Lehtonen or so was in net at the time not injured hehe ;).

  2. Carlson would plug a huge hole on Vancouvers blueline.

    Dont think he would want to come here but hey…hopefully Benning atleast makes a call

    • No free agent worth anything is going to sign in Vancouver unless the only thing they want is money. Clooking forward to seeing whomDim Jim overpays this year as a FA. Eriksson, Del Saster, Sutter all outstanding moves by Bungking Jimmy.

      • the oh so predictable yaaawwwwnnn dullllll strikes again

  3. How much better would’ve Chicago been with Hossa in the lineup? The trade to bring back Saad for Panarin didn’t work out as well as they thought.
    If Toews is in early decline plus never been a prolific goal scorer or point producer, this team is on a downward spiral.
    Can’t complain about 3 cups but better management of their assets they still be competitive.

    • Caper,
      Toews always brought an element to the game beyond producing points; however, given Chicago’s situation you could be right. And if he is declining that’s a large salary to continue to pay. Chicago could use him as a trade chip to a young team requiring leadership. But having said that keeping him makes sense to help young players they are bringing into their own system. I think in the end Toews will retire a Chicago Blackhawk.

    • Hard to tell. They woulda had other holes to fill with Hossa cap hit

    • I think people are too quick to write off a player simply having a bad year. Humhmmmmm E Staal) He’s 29 years old and has 52 points this year having missed some games. Pretty much what he has produced over his career.
      Sorry, I don’t believe he’s in decline.

      • Just overrated and overpriced as always. Stepan of the West? 🤭

      • Well he’s no Bolland that’s for sure!

      • Right on, NY4life, Staal is a great example and Toews remains a great player – not too good with predictions but I will be shocked if he doesn’t have a big bounceback year in 18/19.

      • I want to come clean. I tried to type bolland and my phone autocorrects to bill and ted. It brought a tear of pride to my eye

    • Caper when have 21M tied into two players Kane/Toews… While Toews is scoring like 58 points a year costing about 181K per point ;). Look at JEff Carter he is a better player than Toews who makes like half his contract ;). Hell he had like that 5 point game at the olympics without needing much ice time to do it too :). Kopitar is another superior player to Toews who should have won Selkes over him in years past… PRoblem is the created toews giving him awards that had no criteria to win like most goals or points ;). Kane at least has scored over 40 points w/ 100+ points to show he is better than Kopitar among others… HE is a fast player that can change the flow of a game… Game got more offensive needing to win 3-5 not 2-1… Which made Toews have less value along w/ any so called defensive player ;)… You need to produce 40+ goals or 100+ points if not both if getting paid 10.5M or more ;). Otherwise there is no way going to be able to compete getting 58 points without even scoring 30 goals or 40 ;).

      • Jeff Carter’s good when he plays – not so good on IR. Kopitar’s really good and he gets paid accordingly. Don’t think, with three Cups, that Chicago regrets the Kane – Toews contracts. And, by the way, hindsight is 20/20. Try a little foresight – which team wins this year?

  4. Francois Gagnon from RDS, mentioned Florida, Los Angeles and St-Louis among the interested in Pacioretty. With interest still being high at this point.