NHL Rumor Mill – March 4, 2019

by | Mar 4, 2019 | Rumors | 49 comments

Has Erik Karlsson earned a major new contract with the Sharks? How much will it cost the Sabres to re-sign Jeff Skinner? Read on for the latest in today’s NHL rumor mill.


SAN FRANCISO CHRONICLE: Ross McKeon believes defenseman Erik Karlsson has yet to earn a possible maximum-extension contract with the San Jose Sharks. He points out the 28-year-old blueliner has only given the Sharks 29 good games. That’s likely the most they’re going to get from him leading up to the 2019 Stanley Cup playoffs with Karlsson currently sidelined by a nagging groin injury. Unless Karlsson can deliver a Stanley Cup, McKeon feels it would be “a foolish business” to pony up between $88 million to $100 million on a long-term deal. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Can’t argue with McKeon’s take. Karlsson, a two-time Norris Trophy winner, is one of the NHL’s elite defensemen…when he’s healthy. However, another early playoff exit by the Sharks or an injury-hampered postseason performance by Karlsson could make general manager Doug Wilson think twice about an expensive long-term investment in the All-Star blueliner. His long-term future in San Jose will be an interesting sub-plot as the Sharks enter the 2019 playoffs. 

Will the Buffalo Sabres pay Jeff Skinner over $9 million per season? (Photo via NHL Images)


WGR 550: Howard Simon believes right wing Mark Stone’s new contract with the Vegas Golden Knights will have an effect upon the Buffalo Sabres efforts to re-sign pending free-agent left wing Jeff Skinner. Stone recently signed an eight-year deal with the Golden Knights worth an annual average value of $9.5 million, which Simon considers the official market price for comparable players like Skinner. There’s talk the Sabres didn’t want to go above $9 million per season but Stone’s new contract could force them beyond that.

Simon feels it’ll be worth it. He points out only Rasmus Dahlin and Sam Reinhart will be in line for big raises down the road, plus Jason Pominville ($5.6 million) and Matt Moulson ($3.9 million) come off the Sabres’ books after this season. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If the Sabres won’t pony up $9.5 million annually for Skinner, somebody else certainly will. The Sabres have over $54.5 million invested in 16 players next season, giving them plenty of room for Skinner if ownership is willing to spend close to the cap. If he’s willing to stay in Buffalo, the Sabres should pay the man. He’s got terrific chemistry with first-line center Jack Eichel and they’ll need that offense going forward as they build toward playoff contention. 


NBC SPORTS: James O’Brien reports things haven’t gone well for the Columbus Blue Jackets since the trade deadline, dropping three of their last four games. He singles out the lousy performance of goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky, who allowed four goals in each of his last two games and 15 in his last four contests. O’Brien suggests they should think long and hard about relying on Bobrovsky down the stretch. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This isn’t a trade or free-agent rumor but Bobrovsky’s lousy play of late leads me to wonder how much of an effect this could have upon his value in this summer’s free-agent market. Yes, he’s a two-time Vezina Trophy winner but he’s got a lousy playoff record, he’s acted petulantly throughout this season and looks nothing like a Vezina candidate. That screams, “buyer beware!” to me. 


  1. We’ve seen kal el here “touting” for Bobrovski to get huge/long contract.

    He simply isn’t worth it, when he is good- hes real good.

    Far too inconsistent

    • I never liked the idea of NY signing Lundqvist to a long term expensive deal. And he’s had a lot of success in the playoffs and regular season. However, goaltenders simply do not win games period! They are more likely to lose a game than win one.

      People are going to say something along the lines of “stealing games” and sure, it does happen. But when scoring dries up (as I’ve seen a few times in NYs playoff runs) then what? Goaltenders can NOT steal multiple series… again as we’ve seen in NY.

      When these guys can pitch multiple shutouts, and add 60-70 points per season…. then I think 8.5-10+ will be a bargain!
      Until then, it’s just a bad idea.

      • What? If with that statement “They are more likely to lose a game than win one” Then give me one that is less likely to lose one.

        Nyr4life I don’t agree with that statement and as I Bruins fan. I will say this without Tim Thomas Boston doesn’t win a cup in 2011.

        But recalling your previous post, I don’t believe that’s your argument, if I recall it’s more about paying any goaltender over $6.5 or $7m per season. Personally I believe some are worth the Price, But not $10m

      • Caper,
        Thomas was fantastic that year. But he also had goal support. In the finals Boston scored 23 goals in 7 games (3.28 per game average) and Vancouver scores 8. (1.14 per game)

        Goaltenders can’t win games. They can stand on their heads, they can keep you in a game, but they aren’t scoring gw goals. Nobody is winning a cup without scoring support.

        I can’t help but think all those years NY were heavy favorites, had they had a cheaper goaltender, and had they extra money up front… they may have won a cup or 2.

        It always seemed Lundqvist was spectacular, and lack of scoring and injuries left them without a championship for that window.

        But anyway, I’d never pay a goaltender more than 5.5-7 with today’s cap. And 7 would still make me think twice.

      • Luongo was steller in that mathc vs bostkn. He had two shutouts himself. Yet no goal support. So i guess a goalie can win a game or 2 if you team scores a go but as the boston vs vancouver final proved. With out goal support your goalie will win nothing in the end.

  2. One of these will be among the worst contracts in the league, but which one, Karlsson or Bob? I guess they will likely both be bad.

    • The $64,000 questions are, if Karlsson doesn’t sign in SJ for what he publicly thought he was worth in his address to the media in December of 2017, what DOES he ultimately sign for, for how long, and where?

      • Meanwhile, the Sens have C Josh Norris (SJ’s 2017 19th overall pick), F Rudolfs Balcers, C Chris Tierney, D Dylan DeMelo, SJ’s 1st round pick in either 2019 or 2020 (not lottery protected – if SJ missed the playoff this year it’s a 2019 selection, otherwise, 2020 – so 2020 it is), a 2nd round pick in this year’s draft which will be the higher of the two picks the Sharks currently own, the Florida Panthers and their own – looks like the Florida pick. There is also a conditional pick if Karlsson signs up in SJ, which sees Ottawa get their 2nd round pick in 2021, which would upgrade to a 1st rounder (not lottery protected) if San Jose reaches the finals this year. The other conditional pick only applies if Karlsson was on an Eastern Conference roster (reserve list) during the 2018-19 season – not happening of course.

  3. This summer you have about 10 guys who will get 10 million, who is this team who will give Skinner 10 million? He doesn’t want to play West coast. Most teams will throw money at guys like Duchene first. Cap space is already limited. Skinner won’t play for Montreal or Ottawa. Good luck finding cap space. Every team has young players getting huge raises, these days 50 point guys get 9to 10 million.

  4. the one guy who will get and deserves a big raise is Brayden Point. It is going to be interesting to see how TBay is structured moving forward after this year. Sure they would like to move Callahan’s contract and may be forced to figure a way to move one of Kilorn, Palat and Johnson as well even thought they have NTC clauses… then they need to deal with Vasilevskiy in 2020 and that won’t be cheap.

    • and I realize both Point and Vasilevskir will be RFA’s and could be bridged but the Kucherov bridge was a good break for the organization,he ended up being paid well in the end , who knows

  5. if Stone is worth $9.5 million over 8 years it seems to set the bar for Mitch Marner’s contract as well.
    Marner may get a few more points but Stone will get more goals and is a much better 2 way player.

    • I disagree. Marner is actually worth more. He’s the Leafs leading scorer with 78 points (considerably more than Skinner’s 57), sits among the league’s top-15 scorers, and at 21 has more upside than the 26-year-old Skinner.

      • Exactly. Plus, Stone turns 27 in May and was a UFA. Marner turns 22 in May and will be an RFA

      • don’t agree … Skinner worth more not as good but worth more….can sign Skinner for 9.5 and trade Marner for good assets..

        I would not have signed Matthews for what he got not Marner for Kypreous constantly says he is worth

        Tavares and Skinner are free agents….Matthews and Marner RFAs and tradeable assets…

        Giving guys like Matthews, Marner, maybe Laine the numbers some of the fans here suggest is nutsy to me

        The hype masters on TSN and Sportsnet have lost their common sense in suggesting the difference between a RFA and UFA is so small …

      • Old Blue Dog, I don’t get the Skinner isn’t as good but worth more comment. A 21 year old, while an RFA is worth more because they are young, as well as the fact that Marner is the better player. Getting wrapped up in the well he’s an RFA issue unfortunately isn’t as relevant anymore. Yes you could trade him for assets but it’s a case where an elite player is better than the parts they would get. Draft picks don’t get them where they need to go at this point in the teams development, an elite 21 year old does. plus the fact that 1 elite 40 goal player is worth more than 2 20 goal players, you need elite talent to get anywhere. you can keep trading your elite talent for pieces but you won’t win a championship like that. pay your core what they are worth and fill in the pieces, seems to have worked for Chicago and Pittsburgh. Chicago and arguably Pittsburgh are on the decline now but that is the cyclical nature of a league with a hard cap, another reason you keep your elite players and try to take advantage of the opportunity while you have it.

      • I hope Marner asks for more than McDavid. As a Sabres fan I want Leafs contracts as high as they can go

    • And remember stones contract is 9.5 million tax free
      Marner people will I’m sure want 11-11.5 million a year

      • State tax free. Not tax free.

      • State Tax free, and only half the games at that…

    • Wonder if Marner signed a restricted contract how bad the boo birds would be on his TO return

      • Give me $10 mil a year and the boo birds can heckle me until Hell freezes over.

    • Marner is far younger & he is reaching his potential as leading the Leafs in points & is consistently a top 10 forward in the NHL, something Matthews is not.

      Marner is worth more than Stone

  6. How amazing would it be if the Senators finish with the worst record in the league, handing the Avs with the best draft odds to land the top pick…

    …only to have CBJ tank out of the playoffs and the Sens defy the odds to win the top pick with the Jackets pick?

    • That’d be so amazing, I’m now rooting for it… and I’m not even a Sens fan!!

    • Intriguing to say the least. We all have to keep in mind that, having the best chance at winning the pick is 18% – meaning there is an 82% chance you don’t win the lottery.

      • hang on….double checking your math…………yep, 82%. 🙂 that would be pretty amazing. As a Toronto fan i miss the Ottawa-Toronto rivalry from when i was younger, Corson on Alfredsson in the playoffs. in my lifetime Toronto/Ottawa and Toronto/Buffalo have been bigger rivalries than Toronto/Montreal. Now of course Toronto/Boston would be up there as well. Ottawa fans deserve something like this to go their way after the last several years, would like to see Ottawa turn it around quickly.

    • pretty sure there’s a lottery protection on that Columbus pick it gets deferred to next year if it somehow manages to be higher than 4th.

      • Dark G you are correct the pick is top 3 protected this season. With that said still possible that the Sens pick could be higher then Colorado pick.

      • You’re right. Dammit!

      • So, Jarmo’s competence has eliminated any chance that dumb luck could save Dorion from himself…

        No fun.

      • Sen’s pick won’t be higher than Colorado’s.
        The sens do not get a top 3 pick which are the only lottery positions. So if Columbus misses and don’t win a lottery pic they’ll (sens) pick around 13-15, whereas the sens (Colorado) pick will be at worse a 4th if the sens finish 31st.

    • Jackets pick is lottery protected

  7. I don’t see anyone paying Skinner $9m + he isn’t a comparable to Stone. Yes Skinner has more goals but that’s were it ends. He isn’t a 200ft player and not physical. But then again I don’t think Stone is worth $9.5 maybe $7 to $7.5

    I guess it pays to lock them up early Mackinnon, Scheifele, Ehlers, Pastrnak, Forsberg and Ellis all in the $6m range, they all look like real solid deals made by their GM. Certain there is more names that could be added, but you get my point.

    • all those contracts you mentioned are great value now, were at the high end when they were signed, except for Pasternak. when salaries keep going up and up that’s how it goes i guess. Kane is suddently pretty good value now, McDavid will be good value in a couple years. Matthews contract is probably too short to be undervalued at any point, but if they sign Marner for 8 years he should be a good value by years 6, 7 and 8 and worth what he signs for in teh beginning. frustrating thing with Marner is apparently his agent offered 8 years at $9M per going into this season and Toronto said no, they should have known it was a fair offer at the time.

    • Caper, You beat me to it about Stone vs Skinner. Stone is an all around better player. I see Skinner getting no more than $8mill/yr. Maybe a tad over 8.

    • I was blown away by how much Stone got paid.

  8. TB….my thought is the difference between supposed elitism of Marner and the near elitism of Skinner is probably is not worth it if you can get Skinner for pure money then trade Marner for example for Pesce and a 1st ( if you can)

    You fill a real need with a redundant asset and get number 1 draft choice as well

    Leaf fans will rue the day they spend 11 million on Marner….but I am the guy who felt Gretzky was too light too small for the NHL….I think I was wrong…I think the same about Marner…..maybe wrong again

    • Well, as much as I like Marner – Gretzky he ain’t.

    • Old Blue Dog, IMHO Marner is the very last player on that team you would trade. Skinner had several years that it was questioned how good he was, concussion issues, not consistent. Marner is very young but has been arguably the best player on Toronto this year, i wouldn’t give him up for pieces, though admittedly very good pieces and Skinner for just cash. I don’t think his contract will be something anyoen regrets later, he’s an excellent player now and should get bettyer. He is small but there are lots of small players now, it’s the way the league is going. And he is fast and sees the game really well, is able to find space and doesn’t get hit much for a little guy. The game is funny now, was talking about this with some buddies not too long ago, feels like the talent on Toronto and in the league in general is as good and in Toronto’s case better than i remember in my lifetime but there doesn’t seem to be as much character as tehre used to be. You think of the 93 KLeafs and it was all character, teh team now is just super talented vanilla guys. You would never see something like when Potvin fought Hextall, Gilmour sitting on the boards when Hextall went by. Or a player like Danny Markov doing the Jagr salute towards the Pitt bench after Toronto beat them in the playoffs….it was fun. Great hockey now but seems to be lacking something, or maybe i’m just getting old.

      • I am strong Leaf fan TB….it just I don’t see the structure of this team being the structure that will win. I agree with the positive things you say about Marner, but how to you re-structure the team when management by giving Matthews huge money over 5 years, seems to be saying there is 5 year window.

        Somehow they need to get at least one big good 1 or 1a D men. It seems to be there are 5 potential tradeable assets. Tavares, Matthews, Marner, Kadri, and Marner. that might get you good D men.

        If they have Marner, Matthews, & Tavares signed at 11 million how do they get the D strengthened and keep to the cap. Do you trade one or both of Kadri and Nylander.??…What do you get in return?

        Somebody needs to get the nerve to trade some significant forward assets for significant D assets. Dubas needs to stop emphasizing skills and turn his attention to a winning formula. That is in my opinion a balance between high skil that he has, and get mean size on forward units and confident talented big D men.

        Referring to Skinner or a similar talent and position, they can be had for $ only and therefore ( in my opinion) are of more value than an RFA or a resign from your own roster ( Marner).

        I don’t like what I see in the Leafs. They are lacking structural elements that most winning teams have. Signing more quick small skills is ok if it is not at the cost of the bigger & harder elements other teams have.

      • Old Blue Dog, it is a valid concern though i think the weak defense thing is overblown. their goals against is pretty solid and their goal differential is good to very good. i think goal differential is more important than it is normally recognized to be. not saying i’m right and you’re wrong, it’s all a matter of opinion…I just think trading away Marner will never get the value that Marner is worth and that Skinner is a significant step down from Marner. I don’t think Matthews at 5 years reflects on their window, i think it was a way to get the value down to help manage the cap now. in 5 years it is what it is, window could still be open, or Matthews might want to leave. they could have nother good centre at that point that would make his loss more palatable, or there could be another big name centre available that they could pick up, and before anyone starts slamming me i am not saying McDavid will be coming to Toronto, i’m saying 5 years is a long way off and if they remain a good team they will have free agent options, trade options and maybe a prospect unknown right now that will be a #1 centre option 5 years from now. You ahve to work in the system you have, and for now a 5 year deal for Matthews is what worked. I like the way the team is built overall, there are always weak spots, everyone said Washington’s D was too weak to go anywhere last year. Timing is everything, and luck. it’s a hard championship to win and there isn’t a formula that gets you there consistently. they are in good shape, they have some D coming up from the Marlies and it’s the berst team they’ve had in aty least 25 years, maybe longer and i’m optimistic.

      • The problem with seasonal stats is just that – they’re seasonal, compiled against both top teams – of which there are only a few – middle-range teams, and bottom dwellers like Ottawa, L.A., Detroit, etc. The ebb and flow of seasonal games, which include a brace of back-to-back encounters, teams experiencing ups and downs, etc., count for nothing when the playoff bell rings. What we need to see published are team/player stats against all the other teams qualifying for the playoffs, with the garbage stats accumulated against the crap discarded. Then, and only then, will see a true picture of a team’s chances as the biggest grind in all pro sports wears on.

  9. Sharks have to sign pavelski, myer, donskoi, Tim heed and maybe Thornton. Karlsson is way down on the list and with two 8mm denfensemen already in play, he is probably the odd man out.

    • Hud..agreed Karlsson is the odd man out plus he isn’t very good in his own end……not for $8 million plus….

      keep him away from Pittsburgh please we have enough turn styles…:)

    • add Labanc (RFA) and Nyqvist (UFA) to that list. A healthy Karlsson is an attractive piece but he seems to be health challenged these days. He may get healthy and help lead the Sharks deep into the playoffs but if the season ended today they would not extend him IMO.

      • So, reading all of the above, is Dorion still an idiot for “letting him get away?”

      • Depends on if sj wins the cup or not.

  10. Whether or not a goalie steals games all the time, consistent goaltending has a huge impact on overall team play. The guys in front of the goalie will take more offensive chances and not play with anxiety over making the odd mistake.

    The perfect example is Jordan Binnington in St. Louis. This guy is playing lights out and not surprisingly, so are the Blues over the same span.