NHL Rumor Mill – August 8, 2018

by | Aug 8, 2018 | Rumors | 47 comments

Latest on the Senators, Maple Leafs and Hurricanes in your NHL Rumor Mill.


THE ATHLETIC: Chris Stevenson reports this hasn’t been a good offseason for Ottawa Senators fans. Three key players – defenseman Erik Karlsson, center Matt Duchene and winger Mark Stone – are eligible next summer for unrestricted free agent status. Karlsson is reportedly on the trade block while Stone’s recent signing of a one-year contract raises doubts over his long-term future with the Senators.

Stevenson suggests the possibility that all three could be moved before the Feb. 25, 2019 trade deadline. He also notes there’s rumors of individuals or groups willing to buy the club from owner Eugene Melnyk but so far that talk appears to be wishful thinking by Senators fans.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The only way I see the Senators retaining Karlsson, Duchene and Stone is if the team enjoys a strong bounce-back performance from last year’s meltdown. That could also be considered wishful thinking.

Karlsson appears to have one foot out the door and Stone’s new contract suggests he could test next summer’s UFA market. If those two move on there’s little incentive for Duchene to stay unless the Senators are willing to overpay for his services. 

Should the Toronto Maple Leafs try to acquire Ottawa Senators defenseman Erik Karlsson? (Photo via NHL Images)


BETWEEN THE POSTS: Former Toronto sportswriter Howard Berger believes the Maple Leafs should look into acquiring Erik Karlsson from the Ottawa Senators. He feels landing a Norris Trophy-caliber defenseman is the lone missing piece in the Leafs’ arsenal, suggesting they cannot win the Stanley Cup with their current imbalance between their forwards and defensemen. Berger proposes offering up William Nylander to the Senators for Karlsson.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I agree with Berger’s take that the Leafs won’t win the Cup with their current blueline depth. Adding a Norris-caliber defenseman could put them over the top. I also concur it could cost someone like Nylander to acquire that type of defender but I don’t believe they can land Karlsson.

As far as anyone knows, the Leafs and Senators aren’t discussing a Karlsson trade. While the two clubs surprised the hockey world with the Dion Phaneuf trade in 2016, I doubt the Sens are willing to move their best player to their biggest rival. Karlsson carries a modified no-trade clause and Toronto might not be on his list of preferred trade destinations.

Having already paid out big bucks to sign John Tavares, the Leafs face re-signing Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner to hefty raises next summer. I don’t believe they can afford to re-sign Karlsson, who could command over $11 million annually. 


THE NEWS & OBSERVER: Luke DeCock recently examined what the Jeff Skinner trade could mean for Carolina Hurricanes’ defenseman Justin Faulk. He considers Faulk’s case to be curious, as he’ll be earning $6 million in actual salary ($4.83-million annual cap hit) this season to play third-pairing minutes and is expected to lose his co-captaincy under new head coach Rod Brind’Amour.

However, the Hurricanes have no financial imperative to move Faulk’s contract as they carry plenty of salary-cap space. Skating on their third pairing could make him the Hurricanes’ blueline version of Matt Cullen, “the matchup nightmare who slices through the opposition’s soft underbelly.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: With Faulk under contract for two more seasons, the Hurricanes aren’t in any danger of losing him to free agency next summer, which they were with Skinner. While there’s no rush to move him, he could still become a trade chip if the Hurricanes struggle to replace Skinner’s offense. 



  1. IF the senators are as dysfunctional an organization as many are alleging, they certainly have to be fully aware of that within the management structure. So, why would they think that going along with a Karlsson for Nylander deal would solve anything? I mean, they would have to know that Nylander himself wouldn’t exactly be thrilled with the trade and would – IF all this is true – just mark time until he, too, could get out of town.

    For this reason, and IF all this crap is true, any deal sending Karlsson to another team would have to involved top prospects and picks coming back – in other words good kids looking for a chance to make their mark in the NHL and not caring one way or another about how that transpires. Then there’s the question of what those prospects and picks entail based upon whether or not Karlsson is prepared to sign on long-term with that receiving team. If it’s a one-season-and-negotiate all over again deal, then the returns won’t be as great.

    • I agree.The usual conditional pick if he re-signs just doesn’t cut the mustard here.
      The logistics of this trade alone is almost an instant deal breaker.
      My gut tells me EK is trying to be patient and maybe even trying to “extort” the sell of the team…wants to stay in Ottawa but play for his old buddy Danny .

    • Yeah Karlson playing for the Leafs is like Crosby playing for the Flyers after over a decade or super rivalry and hatred of that team and it’s fans. It’s not happening.

      Hey Lyle, it’s Mark Stone and Matt Duchene.

      • I seem to recall a certain someone who played for the flyers…

      • What? There are literally hundreds of players that played for the Flyers and each of them regrets it in their own way. But never Sid.

    • Not sure why Howard Berger keeps getting quoted, he isn’t even a reporter anymore. There was an article in the Toronto Star a few weeks ago profiling him and his current job working as a mortician’s assistant in North York. I know that sounds like a bad joke but it is actually true.

  2. The leafs need better defense respectively a defensive minded top 4 d-man.
    Karlsson is not the answer to the leafs problems. The price to aquire him would be to high, they cannot afford to resign him at 11mil and i think resign him for 7 or 8 years will haunt them in the long term.

    • “resign him for 7 or 8 years will haunt them in the long term”

      I believe Dorion is as much aware of that probability as anyone.

    • Juss, fully agreed. Karlsson is not what the Leaf need at the price he would cost for two very important reasons:

      1. His forte is offense, I get he’s a good defender but what he really brings is offense. The Leafs don’t need what he brings on offense at the huge cost of talent and cap.

      2. Given his forte is offense, he is an outstanding PP quarterback. The Leafs have Marner and Nylander that quarterback our PP. I don’t believe Karlsson gives us much of a benefit in the PP to again justify the huge cost of talent and cap.

      I’m positive Dubas is clear on these two points.

  3. The Canes were getting close. The deals made so far have not made them better and in fact I predict a slide next year.

    The Sens will need to look to the future and be the youngest team in the league. A couple of bright spots in a Chabot LBrown and Tkachuk.
    No UFA will want that to be their destination in the next few years

    • Read in interesting article on possible OTT scenarios. I think most agree that the Sens should ship out pending UFA’s for picks and prospects.
      Just for arguments sake, what if these off season trade talks don’t provide a good enough return for Dorian and he waits until the TDL and the Sens actually play well?
      Strome, Duchene and Karlsson are playing for contracts so they have every reason to perform. Anderson wants out and nobody is going to trade for a struggling older goal tender, so he does too.
      What if they don’t suck and are sitting in 7th or 8th at the TDL? Don’t say it won’t happen, because we saw COL and NJ turn it around from last place in the conference to making the playoffs.
      Will the OTT fans support a team that blows it up and sucks for 5 years with Melnyk as the owner? Does Melnyk think they won’t and can’t afford to lose money?
      George O, what do think they WILL do, not what they should do? You know that team better than anybody on here.
      I’m not sure any of us know for sure, will be interesting to watch it play out.

      • Ray, part of the problem in trying to figure out what’s going on from a management perspective is that the normally talkative Dorion is saying nada, and his assistant Lee isn’t saying anything to anybody while his criminal charges are being adjudicated. But from what little you hear around town I truly think Karlsson’s ONLY choice – insofar as getting an extended deal anywhere – is Tampa where his close buddy Hedman resides, and that the hold-up is Yzerman doing what he can to clear the cap decks – which wouldn’t kick in until 2019 anyway. If and when that deal is made, don’t be surprised if Karlsson winds up signing for less dollars and term (rumoured to have been $80 mil over 10 years) offered by Dorion simply because of the immediate tax benefits which, over, say, 7 or 8 years, could wind up putting more money in his pocket. If that deal can’t be swung for whatever reason, it wouldn’t surprise me to see Karlsson decide to start the season in Ottawa and if they did have to swallow that, and then move him out at the deadline, wherever else he might go other than Tampa would be as a pure rental for the rest of the season and playoffs (no non-playoff team will bother getting into the picture) simplu because he intends to land in Tampa by 2020 anyway.

        But then what if, as you say, the performances of the kids likely to be on the roster (Batherson, White, Brown, Formenton, Jarros, Harpur – and maybe even Tkaczuk), and a retunt to form of Anderson (big big IFS I know, I know) have them in the playoff hunt do they still move him out?

        In essence I just can’t see that playing out. Oh, I believe a couple or 3 of those kids could have decent rookie seasons – but not enough to lift them anywhere near a playoff spot come the trade deadline, so barring an earlier deal with Tampa, they’ll ship him to whatever contending team makes the best offer at that time.

        Stone (not Strome :), I think, has no intention of being in Ottawa beyond this coming season and, quite frankly, I don’t want him even at what he got for this coming year. Others will disagree. That’s fine. I just don’t think he’s worth that kind of money over a long term and certainly NOT his initial reported demands of $8 or 9mil. If, as I expect, they are well out of the playoff picture by the trade deadline, he too will go to the best offer – then let that team sort it out. Duchene is a riddle wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma (to borrow from Winston Churchill) insofar as his future intentions are concerned. He, in fact, might well bring back the biggest return at the trade deadline IF he’s personally having a good season.

      • Thanks George, if they go the full rebuild route and have the actual patience to do it right, do you think the fans still attend games if Melnyk still owns the team?
        Agree 100% on the Tampa scenario with EK.

      • Ray, In all the years I have been following sports, if I had a dollar every time I heard “if they trade – or because they traded – so-and-so I’ll never go to another game” – and then attended later games because they had latched onto someone else to fawn over, I’d have retired a lot sooner than I did.
        Sure, some will remain pissed at Melnyk – and rightly so until he decides enough is enough and sells the franchise, but they will come back as they see the new players develop.

        BUT – and I don’t know how many times I can say this – that idiotic Phoenix pay system STILL sees thousands of public servants not receiving regular pay, and to shrug that off as non-consequential in attendance woes shows that some don’t know their ass from their elbow.

      • Ray.

        There will always be surprises and exceptions. I was surprised that Col & NJ made the playoffs but had them making significant improvements in both goals for, goals against, being competitive and hanging in the playoff battle coming up short.

        Both made significant changes late in the 2016-17 seasons acquiring players for 2017-18 and signing or promoting numerous players that summer following the 2016-17 season & the vast majority weren’t raw rookies but older players who played college hockey or had spent several seasons in the minors.

        NJ. Johansson 27, Boyle 33, Hischer 19, Butcher 23, Coleman 26, Noesen 25, Bratt 20 & Vatanen 27.

        Col. Wilson 28, Andrighetto 25, Nieto 25, Bourque 27, Kerfoot 23, Compher 23, Jost 20, Nemeth 26, Giradi 20, Bernier 30.

        Those additions coupled with the development of the youth already on their rosters provided each of these teams with significantly better depth, shockingly so as has Buf this summer, making just shutting down 1 line was an option for opposing teams. By creating 3 scoring lines as opposed to 1 or 1 with a player or 2 left over on a 2nd line. Both also added significantly to team speed and the revamped defences gave each team a solid top 4 and enough depth to cover for injuries.

        We still have 2 months till the season starts but what has Ottawa added especially at D to help this team? The players we are talking about are solid young players and prospects but just kids in Ottawa for the most part. George hits it perfectly, 2 or 3 may well have decent to solid rookie seasons but Ott hasn’t added anywhere near the same mix of assets that Nj & Col did. Both these teams brought in players with decent years of NHL experience.

        This is some reflection of what I see in Ott today but I assume much more change is coming before the puck drops on Oct. 3rd, as always move players around any way you want as for me its more about trying to identify their 23 man rosters.

        Boedker, Duchene, Stone.
        Gaborik, Pageau, Ryan.
        Smith, White, Dzingel.
        Paarjarvi, Carey, Pyatt.
        Spare McCormick.

        Chabot, Karlsson.
        Wolanin, Ceci.
        Harpur, Wideman.
        Borowecki, ?

        Anderson, Condon.

        Ott does have a solid prospect group, well above average not counting Chabot and White who for me are NHL regulars now and on the development bandwagon with huge upside as they develop but the business side of the game blocks prospects unless Carey, McCormick are waived which I assume Ott would be happy to do if Brown, Batherson, or Fomenton are NHL ready. I have Tkachuk returning to College but he would be smart to opt out now & potentially step in as the #2 LW today replacing the loss of Hoffman as who knows what Gaborik has left physically, an injury waiting to happen.

        with 4 players facing UFA status next summer, Karlsson, Duchene, Stone & they player never mentioned Dzingel who is a solid 3rd line player who appears to have 2nd line potential & Ceci the season following it appears to be getting worse next season than better depending upon the return Ott acquires for all these players or if any choose willingly to stay.

        I have Ott’s goals against increasing next season and they were 2nd worst last season and goals for declining, not sure how that makes them better.

        I’ll take the under.

      • George… my understanding was that woodtchuck was staying in college for another year

      • chrisms, I haven’t heard that definitively – although I’ve read speculation to that end. Did you hear something that points to his staying at Boston?

    • Striker, I didn’t word that part of my post very well. I am not saying that I think OTT makes the playoffs, all I am saying is that they could, simply because their best players have every reason to play well. Duchene, Karlsson should be better but most of it would hinge on Anderson. If he struggles again they are done, if he plays like he did 2 years ago they can win plenty of games.
      I would say that the odds of the missing the playoffs are 90% with the roster they have today. And I would be surprised if they do.
      High shooting % combined with a high save % will win you some games. Not likely but also not impossible.
      With this whole saga, seems about right, as it is the worst thing that could happen to them long term.

  4. It would take more than just Nylander to land Karlsson. There would have to be top prospects and/or draft picks included. Nylander is good but no where near the talent of Karlsson, that is why the Leafs would not do that

    • If Karlsson refuses to sign an agreement then Nylander would be an overpayment.
      If Karlsson agrees to an extension then Nylander wouldn’t be enough.

      Either way, Karlsson to the leafs is never happening.
      Karlsson is a generational defenseman but not the fit the Leafs need at the moment for multiple reasons (cap, style, rivalry etc)

      • Nylander is not signed either. So wouldnt it be an overpayment for the sens?

      • Taz, I think the term generational is often overused. I don’t see Karlsson as the best defenseman in the league right now so I can’t consider him even remotely generational. JMO

      • Nylander is a controlled asset. He will get signed.
        20 years from now when we look back at the 2010’s, Burns, Doughty, Subban, weber will all be memorable but Karlsson will be the guy who everyone remembers as the best from this time – that to me is generational.

      • Taz.

        Doughty will be the #1 Dman of this generation he already is. 2 Stanley Cups, 2 Olympic golds, 1 Norris, 3 other nominations & the best 2-way Dman of his era bar none and only 28.

        No to slight Karlsson an exceptional Dman, 1 of the best of his generation with 2 Norris trophy’s but not in Doughty’s class. Like talking about fruit but not addressing the different varieties.

        Awards are almost a popularity contest with an incredibly eastern bias that weighs far more to points than results. Doughty isn’t sacrificing his defensive player or physical play to pad his offensive 3’s.

        Karlsson wouldn’t even be 2nd on my list currently for this generation we are discussing. For me my 2nd choice is Hedman. Then I would struggle with several at least 3 at the #3 spot.

      • Karlson will be remembered more because he played in Canada.

      • Striker: To suggest Karlsson may not even be the third best defenseman of his generation is laughable. He won 2 Norris trophies and could/should have won four. Doughty is the only defenseman remotely close plus advanced and traditional stats indicate Karlsson is better. He was elite last year on one good foot.

    • Lol

  5. DeCock thinks Faulk who has played as Carolina’s #1 Dman almost since becoming a full-time NHL player in 2013-14 & last season only played 19 seconds less per game than Slavin due to injuries is all of a sudden playing on a 3rd line pairing? I’d say the chances of that happening are ZERO.

    Carolina may now have the best D in the NHL if they choose to retain everyone & may even have to bury Fleury in the minors as he currently would sit 7th on the depth chart & that doesn’t serve a young developing Dman well. It’s either him sitting or TvR who just signed a 2-year deal with a cap hit of 2.5 at least till injuries hit or a trade is made.

    To much is made of paring assignment when really what is important is TOI/GP. Carolina will have the luxury, barring a trade, of rolling 3 pairings at 5 on 5 & what will really separate the Dman in minutes played will be special teams at least for the top 5.

    This is what I have currently, with either TvR or Pesce playing their offside on the 3rd pairing.

    Slavin, Hamilton.
    de Haan, Faulk.
    tvR, Pesce.

    That is an unbelievable D & may be the best in the NHL on paper. Sure Faulk will lose his 1st unit PP time to Hamilton but he’ll see 2nd unit time & as DeCock states he will see weaker competition 5 on 5 offsetting his move to the 2nd PP unit at least in points.

    Faulk’s shooting % dropped significantly last year, by more than 1/2 his historical average. Much of that related to Peter’s structure & the lack of scoring up front. I have Faulk returning to double-digit goals & in or around 45 points.

    • “Nylander is not signed either. So wouldnt it be an overpayment for the sens?”

      You’ve got to be kidding. You don’t know the difference between an RFA and a UFA? Really?

      • Wrong thread obviously.

      • If he dosent want to sign with the sens it dosent matter what type of FA he is. Thats the bottom line.

  6. How about if the Leafs trade the unsigned Nylander for Karlsson, the sign him to an offer sheet? Ha, ha.

  7. Goaltending and front line star powers are lacking for the Canes. Aho is close . I would keep that defence in tact and work from there. Jake Bean is also in the system along with Fleury

  8. Going to be fun to watch who makes the worse trade…

    Dorian with Karlsson, or Bergevin with Patches.

    • Would a deal centered around Pacioretty to Carolina for Bean or Fleury make some sense? If Pacioretty is willing to extend in Carolina then I think they could be trading partners.

      But even if Pacioretty is not willing to extend right away can it still make sense for Carolina? I think so and here is my reasoning:
      – Carolina need to improve and push for playoffs
      – losing Skinner hurts goal production
      – have Pacioretty from start of season will give them best opportunity to make playoffs
      – they could convince Pacioretty to resign prior to deadline
      – or option to trade him if they are out of playoff picture
      – or keep him as their own deadline rental if they are fighting for playoff spot

      The benefit of having Pacioretty to start the season being weighed against the delta of the cost to acquire him now vs his value at the deadline.

      Bean (or Fleury), 2019 1st Rd pick, 2020 2nd Rd pick (see the 2nd Rd pick as the delta cost of now vs deadline)

      Carolina needs to improve their top 6 and Pacioretty also defensively responsible and great on the PK.


      • Also how would you rate Bean, Fleury against Victor Mete in terms of ceiling and current stage of development?

      • Doesn’t make sense to me from Carolina’s perspective looking at the young players that need roster spots specifically Zykov & Wallmark. I also assume Svenchnikov is stepping straight into the NHL. Mcginn is an NHL regular now early in his development.

        Carolina just moved Skinner a younger version of Patches why would they replace him with an older version. Carolina may be a playoff team if their goaltending can provide at least slightly above average goaltending but I don’t currently have them as such.

        Based on what I see today, NJ falls out & Florida slips in the rest all stay in the playoffs but no way I can be right on all 8. Picking 6 is very successful, 7 shockingly so. There will be 1, probably 2 new teams in the playoffs in the east next season.

        Buf may be the surprise team next season they have so seriously revamped their roster very much like Nj & Col did.

  9. I think it was Striker that posted very recently that there is zero chance of Faulk playing on the third pairing. I get that Bill Peters is no longer the coach, but he was on the third pairing last season for stretches. The Pesce/Slavin pairing is set in stone, they mesh too well together. So either Faulk plays on the left side with Dougie Hamilton on the top pairing, or he plays the right side on a very strong third pairing with right shot van Riemsdyk on the left side. The way coaches like to play defencemen on their natural side these days, I wouldn’t be surprised if Brind’Amour kept Faulk there and rolled with three very solid D pairings. Say what you will about Calvin de Haan being on the top pairing, but he and Hamilton will be a really good pair.

    • Pair, pairing, paired, other things with the word pair in it.

  10. what would it reasonably cost for NYR to grab Faulk to pair with Skjei??

  11. pear and pare

  12. Right you are SilverSeven.

    To ihatecrosby, Faulk, at 26, would only make sense for the Rangers if they didn’t have to give up too much of their youth up front to get him. By the time those kids have developed enough to push the Rangers to contender status, Faulk will be around 30 and on a new, probably more lucrative contract, maybe $5.75 to $6m per season if he shows well between now and then.

    With Skjei, John Gilmour, Neal Pionk, K’Andre Miller, Nils Lindqvist, Libor Hajek and Ryan Lindgren all shaping up to be solid NHLers, I feel like Faulk would be better suited for a team closer to winning than the Rangers are. As it stands, the Rangers can ice:

    Skjei – Shattenkirk
    Staal – Pionk
    Smith/O’Gara – Gilmour
    O’Gara/Smith/Claesson/Kampfer potential spares.

    However, to not be a poor sport, I think the Hurricanes could nab one of the Rangers D prospects like Lindgren or Hajek and a 2nd round pick. If I were the Rangers I would not trade one of my young forwards like Buchnevich to land him.

    But again, at the end of the day, I don’t think it makes sense for the Rangers in the early stages of a serious rebuild to make a big trade for anyone over 22 or 23 years old.

  13. Fantasy offer for Karlsson:

    Leafs ship Zaitsev, Carrick, Leivo, Gauthier, Sparks, 1st and two 2nds if he signs long term

  14. Frank when getting one of the best D men in the League you need to give up Marner or Mathews or even Nylander plus more. If I’m
    Ottawa I want a young stud and a 1st and a solid prospect.

    • Right… cannot trade a player like Karlsson and have the best player coming back be Nikita Zaitsev, followed by a litany of maybes.

  15. Come to think of it, Faulk would be perfect for the Golden Knights!

    Maybe McPhee could convince Don Waddle…er.. Waddell.. to take Tomas Tatar! Play up that Tatar/Svechnikov tandem.. It would take an additional piece, which would also mean the Knights would have traded Tomas Tatar, a 1st, a 2nd, a 3rd, and something else for Justin Faulk…. yikes.

  16. For $11 million the Leafs could pay two pretty effective NHL defencemen to complement the stable of offensive puck-moving guys on the yteam and in the pipeline. Give $6-7 million of that to Nylander long term and get a solid $5 or $6 million defender to pair with Gardener or Reilly, or Dermott, or …..
    Also I totally agree that the very worst case scenario for Ottawa would be to help the Leafs get better. They already will have an uphill climb to fill the seats this year without sending their best player to the visitor’s bench for the Battle of Ontario.