NHL Rumor Mill – May 20, 2019

by | May 20, 2019 | Rumors | 69 comments

Latest Erik Karlsson speculation, possible free-agent targets for the Avalanche, and seven clubs that could threaten an offer sheet in today’s NHL rumor mill. 


SPORTSNET 960: Chris Johnston last week suggested San Jose Sharks defenseman Erik Karlsson could be “this year’s John Tavares”. In other words, he could garner as much attention in this year’s free-agent market as Tavares did a year ago. Johnston doubts Karlsson will re-sign with the Sharks, though he might fall in love with the area and wish to stay. 

Could Erik Karlsson’s injury history hurt his free-agent value this summer? (Photo via NHL Images)

Johnston suggests the New York Rangers and Tampa Bay Lightning as potential suitors. The latter, however, must shed considerable salary to fit him under their cap. Before this season, it was assumed Karlsson would get a deal comparable to Drew Doughty of the Los Angeles Kings. The blueliner’s recent injury history, however, could affect his value. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Karlsson’s health prompted Frank Seravalli to rank him second among this season’s UFA class, behind Columbus’ Artemi Panarin.

Cap Friendly indicates the Sharks have over $58.2 million invested in 15 players. Karlsson, Joe Pavelski, Joe Thornton, Gustav Nyquist, and Joonas Donskoi are their noteworthy unrestricted free agents. Timo Meier and Kevin Labanc are their notable restricted free agents. 

I anticipate the Sharks will re-sign Pavelski, Thornton, Meier, and Labanc. That won’t leave much for Karlsson, especially if he seeks top dollar this summer.

Karlsson’s spate of injuries dates back to 2017 when he had offseason heel surgery. This season, a nagging groin injury sidelined the 28-year-old defenseman for 29 games in the regular season. It’s also hindered his play in the Western Conference Final. If he hits the open market there will still be plenty of interest in him. However, the suitors could prefer a short-term deal for less than $11 million per season.

Maybe the Rangers kick the tires on Karlsson but their interest could be in younger, more affordable options like Winnipeg’s Jacob Trouba. The Lightning had serious interest in Karlsson last summer. But with center Brayden Point in line for a big raise and over $74 million already tied up in 17 players, the Bolts lack the room for Karlsson now. 


SPORTSNET: Rory Boylen noted Colorado Avalanche general manager Joe Sakic intends to be aggressive in this year’s free-agent market. Boylen lists Dallas’s Mats Zuccarello, San Jose’s Gustav Nyquist, and the Islanders’ Anders Lee as possible UFA targets. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Avs have over $45.9 million committed to 13 players for 2019-20. Several players, including Mikko Rantanen, Alex Kerfoot, and Nikita Zadorov, are restricted free agents due for raises this summer. After re-signing those RFAs, Sakic will still have plenty of cap space to invest in the UFA market.

Lee would be the best of the bunch but I expect he’ll re-sign with the Isles. Same for Zuccarello with the Stars. Nyquist, however, could be available.

SPORTSNET: Luke Fox recently listed the New York Islanders, Detroit Red Wings, Montreal Canadiens, New Jersey Devils, Carolina Hurricanes, Arizona Coyotes, and Buffalo Sabres as seven clubs that could offer-sheet a superstar this summer. He indicates they all have plenty of salary-cap space to make such a move.

Fox noted Isles GM Lou Lamoriello is ruthless. He wondered if new Wings GM Steve Yzerman might consider an offer sheet as a means to quickly put his stamp on the team. Given the Canadiens’ difficulty in attracting top UFA talent to Montreal, Fox believes the offer sheet must be considered.

Devils GM Ray Shero could make a splash this summer after failing to do so last year. Hurricanes owner Tom Dundon is seen as a wild card. The Coyotes are in dire need of scoring punch. If the Sabres fail to re-sign Jeff Skinner they’ll need a new winger for center Jack Eichel. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Lamoriello is ruthless but he’s never gone the offer-sheet route before. Given his cap space, I expect he’ll stick to the trade and UFA markets to bolster his roster. Yzerman has a reputation for bold moves but he’s also never attempted to sign a player to an offer sheet. He could take this season to evaluate the Wings roster before deciding on a major deal.

Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin doesn’t rule out using an offer sheet. However, he’s on record that you only go that way if you’re sure you’ll get the player you want. There’s no certainty Bergevin will find that player this summer. I expect Shero, Coyotes GM John Chayka, and Sabres GM Jason Botterill will also stick to trades and UFA signings.

Dundon favors aggressive moves but I’m not convinced he’s going to push GM Don Waddell to pursue a player with an offer sheet. Waddell did a good job since last summer going the trade route, bringing in Dougie Hamilton, Nino Niederreiter, and Micheal Ferland. He could stick to trades and free agency this year. 


  1. Perhaps COL & TB can swing a trade. COL is looking to add and TB needs to subtract. Maybe there is a fit for these two clubs to make something happen that benefits both teams.
    If TB is able to do that I can certainly see them trying to sign EK and solidify their D for the next 6 years. Hedman, MacTruck, EK, Sergachev and 2 young guns is a nice back end.

    i also still think SJ should let Thornton go, along with EK and try and sign Panarin. Re-up Pavelski and have a stellar top 9 .

    • The Sharks will let Karlsson move on. After all his injuries, Karlsson is nowhere near the draw he was before. Spector, you didn’t mention Nyquist among players the Sharks will try to retain. I think he has played well in the playoffs and will be retained. Thorton has also played surprisingly well, though he and Pavs are slowing down appreciatively. I’d actually prefer if they freed up some cap space and try and trade Kane for a solid Dman. Kane has been less than stellar these playoffs and he takes dumb penalties. I think Donskoi is a goner. While I thought Melkar Karlsson did well in the playoffs, the Sharks really need more scoring from their fourth line. It will be interesting to see what they do with Pavs, Thorton and Sorenson (who really got tossed around in the playoffs).

  2. EK is damaged goods right now , not saying he won’t heal up in the future but I would not offer a contract of more than 3 years. The Senators made the right move trading him to the Sharks when they did. I can see the Canucks making a pitch for him. However he may be looking to play for a contender which may narrow down the list.

    • Fergy22
      Click. That’s the sound of EK’s agent hanging up on you when you offer 3 years!

      • that’s ok Slick , any GM signing him for north of 10 mil + 6 years will regret it . A coupe of years back he was top 3 in the league, wear and tear has taken it’s toll

      • When has the potential for regrets stopped the group of nhl gms from doing stupid 💩?

      • Click. And that’s the sound of GM’s hanging up on EK when he asks for more than 3 years.

      • Chrisms and I have a bet going
        He thinks he will get 7×10
        I am under 70 mil for EK.
        I think he will not be as sought after for as long a term as people think…
        You sign him for 70+ and he has health issues the rest of the way? That’s how GMs kill their own legacy…

      • Still think that I win that bet evilyeehawdaniel. Renember the stakes?

      • Something about me being the smartest guy on the board…?

    • They knew he was damaged goods when they traded him. They played him when they shouldn’t have in the 2017 playoffs. Over compensated and wrecked his groin. Hasn’t been as good since.

      • Players “play injured” all the time – especially in the playoffs. You don’t think there are guys skating out there now who would be sitting it out if this were the regular season?

    • Fergy, when you (by that I mean “us” as well as Karlsson) look at the teams that would be considered a “contender” for next season (and that can change in a couple of blinks over the draft/summer), I daresay all of them have serious cap issues of their own which, short of some serious juggling, pretty much rules them all out.

      • excellent point George, that narrows down the field for sure. But some teams may decide to clear cap by trading away current contracts to sign on talent. He may have to decide do I sign somewhere for a chance to win a cup or do I sign where they offer the best contact in term and dollars.
        Carolina proved one thing to me this year, spending to the cap does not greatly improve a teams chances. If you have a core group of players that gel, combined with a solid coach and good goaltending , it can be a recipe for success.

      • You got that right!

  3. Hard to see SJ keeping EK. Besides losing another 1st round pick, they’re already paying 34 year old Burns 8M per for next 6 years.
    Rangers need to do something on defense. The younger Trouba would make sense but what will it cost in assets? Even if Rangers sign Panarin, it wouldn’t surprise me if they pursued EK. This will require them trading Shattenkirk and probably buying out Smith. They most likely will be looking to move Namestikov as well.

    • They also have a 32 year old Vlasic at $7M through 2025-26. I agree, just don’t see them bringing him back for the amount he will demand.

  4. unless the Rangers buyout Shattenkirk and deal Kreider, they really only have space for one big contact, and they want Panarin, so I don’t see the Rangers signing Karlsson

    Lamoriello has never signed an offer sheet with another team’s RFA and won’t start now. After losing Tavares, and possibly Lee, Eberle and Nelson, they can’t afford to lose so many upcoming draft picks to get one player such as Marner or Aho.

    Shero has stated he won’t offer sheet either, Devils are still rebuilding and can’t be giving up top draft picks, especially now when they don’t know if Hall will re-sign.

    TB would have to deal or buyout about 4 current big contracts just to fit EK on their roster, and they aren’t deep enough in the minors to fill in. Unless EK takes a 1 year low salary deal (very unlikely) I can’t see how TB gets him.

    And I think the chances are very good that the Coyotes solve their goalscoring issues and acquire Kessel at the draft, as Tocchet can get through to him

    • Rangers won’t buyout Shattenkirk… numbers are terrible. Kreider still has a year left at 4.6M. Guys like Strome and Namestikov more likely to get dealt. For Rangers, defense is more a need than wing. It’ll be interesting couple of weeks from draft to start of FA.

    • Cernak surprise progress & continued Sergechev development + Cal Foote in the wings & cap issues suggest the window for EK in Tampa, if ever open, is closed now.

      • Amen!

  5. Pen’s send Phil the thrill to Coyotes for the their first rounder this year.

    Let’s do it

    • Why would the Coyotes want Phat Fil and his 20 seconds before hes sucking for air shifts?

      2nd rounder at best.

      • Snicker.

      • Word had it today the penguins and Nashville are talking Kessel for PK straight up. That’s a trait that probably would be best addressed both teams’ needs

  6. GM’s don’t do offer sheets. They would create permanent bad blood between GM’s. You invest years/$$$ into draft picks etc. The last guys to do it Bobby Clark (Shea Weber) & Oilers (Dustin Penner)
    It’s an act of desperation. Showing your inability to build a team through normal transactions.

    Lou Lams=Ruthless? wow, can you give me an example?

    • I’m not sure ruthless is the proper word to describe Lou.
      I’d dare say intelligent and calculated are better suited for him. Maybe Firm, or old school perhaps, but not ruthless.

      • ruthless? Or senile?

    • This statement highlights a real problem in the cba. Rfa offer sheets should be considered a normal transaction. You’re right that they are not. You’d hope the players would get this fixed next cba but they won’t. Why stand up for the young guys coming into the league so long as you get yours?

    • I doubt very much that it is fear of bad blood that has prevented the use of offer sheets. Alienate one GM with an offer sheet, you have 29 more to deal with.

      It’s the price in draft picks that is the barrier. Doesn’t make much sense to use an offer sheet for players who don’t command big bucks, and it costs too many good draft picks for the ones who do.

      • non lotto draft picks are over valued by many….for instance if the avs could somehow lure a b point away from Tampa on an offer sheet I’d give up the picks in a heartbeat

  7. Erik Karlsson is a good offensive defenseman but not so much defensively. There is no chance in hell I would sign him for big dollars and long term it would be a huge mistake. If he gets five years at 7 he is doing amazing but some knuckle head will probably pay more. He will need a long time to heal properly and than we can all watch the circus of stupidity.

    • Dorion won’t be one of those knuckleheads. That door was generously open once and rejected – it’s firmly closed now.

      • You’re right he doesn’t have a chance at Karlsson. Look at his trades. For draft picks to pick stars like he traded. Doesn’t make alot of sense. I suspect if you looked up knucklehead there would be a picture of Dorion . Maybe even holding Melnyks hand

      • Your mealymouth vitriol is showing through again Vinnie. Of course, you’ll defend that irritating straw up your ass by claiming it’s just your “opinion.”

        But I’ll cut you some slack and say – OK, perhaps you’re right, but then tell us mere mortals exactly what options Dorion had after Karlsson, Stone and Duchene turned down generous offers that he simply could not go higher on? That is, if you can think without letting your mealy-mouth take over.

        Oh, and while you’re at it, why not answer my point elsewhere about players “playing hurt” all the time in the playoffs (two classic examples from the past – likely WAY before your time which probably runs to about 2006 – Bobby Baun playing on a broken leg and Doug Harvey sawing the cast of Geoffrion’s arm on the train en route to Chicago).

      • More recently, Patrice Bergeron played with a separated shoulder, broken rib and punctured lung in Boston’s run to the 2013 Finals.

      • Great example DoubleMinor. There are likely lots more over the years – Rocket Richard coming back in a game against Boston where he’d been knocked cold to score the winning goal against Sugar Jim Henry whose eyes were almost swollen shut after getting hit in the face by a Doug Harvey shot – Richard could not remember scoring that goal to the day he died.

        I think Vinnie is just one of those quick to defend what he considers the definitive opinion but doesn’t like it when someone offers a differing view.


      • Is Pierre your relative, seems like you like to resort to name calling when someone don’t agree with you. As for my age I remember about 10 years of the original 6. I would assume by your knowledge you are retired public servant and British. lol

      • Nah. Just educated Vinnie. And “British” could not POSSIBLY be further from the truth.

        “Name calling?” Well, if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck …. I call it a duck. Besides, is that how you really see this exchange – me resorting to name calling when someone doesn’t agree with me? Really? All you’ve ever done in here in terms of contribution is to degrade Dorion and the Sens without offering any basis in fact. I asked you what you think he could have done after those contracts were rejected. No response. He’s just a knucklehead whose hand has to be held by Melnyk. Brilliant insight.

        And if you do go that far and you still can’t grasp the fact that players play “hurt” all the time in the playoffs (unless your name is Hasek) then arguing any point with you is an exercise in futility as your knowledge of the game is about as deep as a petri dish.

      • I didn’t know you were british George! Some tea your majesty?

      • LOL. The only thing tea is good for is watering the pot. Adds some necessary tannic acid to the plant.

        As for “royalty” I find it amazing that the Yanks, who have produced umpteen movies, not to mention songs, about the war of independence ,,, and are now kissing royal butt at every turn now that they have a bona-fide “royal princess.”

      • Who are the yanks? Are they like a family of singer / move stars kinda like the walburgs?

        I’ll bet that acidic pot makes the sens a bit more entertaining though.

        I wonder how many ottawaeans got toasted and said out loud… “gee. That Melnick ain’t all bad.”

  8. Colorado for the most part was a one line team. Toronto needs to shed salary and Kadri name keeps coming up as the best chip to move; would a move to Colorado own 1st round pick be to much of an ask? Kadri would be a nice addition to the Avalanche with a quality 2nd line center; Maybe the leafs have to throw in a 3rd or 4th round pick. Say Toronto add something because Kadri only has two years remaining on his contract.

    I believe Karlsson will get his money, I’m not convince most GM look 7yrs out, maybe 2 or 3 years out because they are looking for immediate success and the hopes of putting their team over the edge (just not sure what edge it will be).

    GM are more worried about today then they are about 7 or 8 years out, as they might not be there when them years arrive.

    Lots of talk about offer sheets, sound exciting, as long as it’s not Charlie Mac or Carlo i’m all in. Wonder if it’s more media talk then anything else, we’ll find out soon enough if there is any substance to it.

    • Caper, it makes sense but I still think Kadri stays because they need depth at center. One of the RFA’s not named Marner is more likely to be moved – Carolina still sounds like a reasonable trade partner.

    • I would take kadri in a heartbeat…I also think av’s are in a position to offer sheet someone as well

      • I’d take him in Ottawa as well. 30-goal C (twice) don’t grow on trees. He’ll learn to temper his reactions.

    • Old man Karlsson is tied for 3rd in playoff scoring. Not bad for a broken down defenseman.

    • @Caper you wouldn`t get Kadri for the Avs 1st round straight up let alone throw in a 3rd or a 4th and the Avs better sign Rantanen before making any offer sheets to other players that could backfire in a heartbeat

  9. @Caper:
    I agree that Colorade was a one line team for most of last season. And Kadri is one of the Leafs best trade chips because he can play 2nd line center (two 30 goal seasons in that role) and he has a low cap hit ($4.500.000). But imo those are the exact reason why the Leafs won’t respectively shouldn’t deal him.
    They should deal Nylander. Imo he would fetch also a good return. He has very good potential and could be a bargain in a few years (just look at Draisaitl, nearly everybody said he was overpaid when he signed his contract).
    I also believe Karlsson will get his money, may be not $11.000.000 but close to $10.000.000. May be Steve Y signs him 🙂
    I am also very curious if there will be any offer sheets. Some guys here think there will be a few, but i don’t think so. I think many of the players who could receive one will be signed before.

    • @Juss you keep saying Kadri`s Toronto`s best trade chip and then list every reason they should keep him. It would cost Toronto more to replace him than to trade him. If they want to create cap space then Nylanders your boy to trade

      • That’s what i wrote…
        Keep Kadri trade Nylander

  10. I keep reading about offer sheets but I would be shocked if a star player like Marner is offered one because the compensation would be 4 first round picks with the potential for any of them to be unprotected lottery picks. There may be an offer to a good player with potential but most teams are prepared to match those. If offer is so exorbitant that the team that knows the player the best, decides he is not worth the price, then the team that gets him will mess up their salary structure. Those are likely the reasons that players have not been given offer sheets and why it may not happen again.

    • Crushton, if Marner gets an offer sheet it will be from a rival GM knowing Toronto will match and is doing it simply to stick it to Dubas and make his cap management a bit harder.

      • Agreed. I guess there is little to discuss at this time of the season, so offer sheets are the fun topic for writers with not much to say but papers to sell.

      • George, a 5 year offer sheet of 10.5 per year would be an offer Toronto would probably match since the compensation would only be 2 first, a second and a third. Especially if the offer is from a team likely to pick later in round 1. Hopefully Kapanen doesn’t sign an offer sheet from another team at the same time.

      • Mind you, if Dubas then called the other’s guy’s bluff and instead went after, say, a Panarin, that GM may quickly be faced with some tough cap decisions himself. The wheels turn and turn …

      • You’re right George!!

      • Not necessarily. Just my opinion.

      • Leafs don’t have to match, if Marner flat out turns down any/all offer sheet(s).

  11. You say I don’t have any facts about Dorion. The facts are pretty obvious unless you don’t want to see them. They weren’t in 30th place when he took over. They had star players. Now they don’t want to be there. You may be educated George but that just means all you did was go to school. Education doesn’t make you smart. Sometimes you still can’t see the forest for the trees

  12. Doesn’t Brayden Point belong at the top of the RFA list and shouldn’t he be the preferred offer sheet target?

    • He probably should. The Lightning would almost have to buy out Callahan and trade JT Miller to match. As it stands besides needing probably another $6M to get a number 6D and re sign 2 RFA’s in the bottom 6 they currently only have enough to sign Point. The real problem for TB is too many guys with NTC

    • yup I would go after Point big time….Marner 1a

      • Rantanen is the no.1 guy to go after in my opinion especially if it`s a team like Boston or Minny where the picks are bound to be later in the rounds

  13. I would like to see Karlsson offered less then what the Sens did. Factoring year 8 .
    He is not #2 nor is He is not an 11m player.

  14. And get a haircut for crying out load

  15. In hind sight Ottawa don’t know how lucky they are that Karlsson turned down their 80 million dollar offer.
    It seems to me he is damaged goods.

    In a somehow weird turn of events I don’t actually blame Dorion for tearing down his club. They were never going to win the Stanley cup with the players he had so why not tear it down with a restart.
    No guarantees it will work but they could end up with a better team than they started with and if Dorion manages the cap they could be a pretty good team in a couple of years.

    • Right. First he was going for it . All in. Paid big for Duchene. Zibanejad for brassard . On and on . Now he is going to rebuild them. Ha Ha. His dad was chief scout for the leafs for years, we know how that turned out. He is the Gord Stellick of that team. Just a yes man

      • Vinnie, that Dorion straw up your butt is clearly affecting your ability to reason. Now his father is the underlying cause of over half a century of Leafs futility.