NHL Rumor Mill – May 23, 2019

by | May 23, 2019 | Rumors | 33 comments

Updates on the Sharks and Capitals plus another list of potential buyout candidates in today’s NHL rumor mill. 


THE SCORE: Josh Wegman speculates the San Jose Sharks roster could undergo “a dramatic transformation” this summer. He suggests re-signing restricted free agents Timo Meier and Kevin Labanc could cost a combined $10 million. That will put a significant dent into their salary-cap space. 

Does Joe Pavelski still have a future with the San Jose Sharks? (Photo via NHL Images)

Wegman doesn’t think defenseman Erik Karlsson’s recent injury history will prevent him from getting top dollar on the open market in July. He doubts the Sharks can afford to re-sign both Karlsson and captain Joe Pavelski. It’s also unlikely they can afford to re-sign pending UFA forwards Gustav Nyquist and Joonas Donskoi.  Nevertheless, they could keep their championship window open if Pavelski and Joe Thornton don’t return and they find a way to retain Karlsson.

NBC SPORTS: Joey Alfieri also looked at what’s next for pending UFAs Karlsson, Pavelski, and Thornton. While the 34-year-old Pavelski is a durable all-around player, Alfieri wonders if they can afford to bring him back at any cost. Still, he expects the Sharks will find a way to keep their captain. As for Thornton, he could be an effective third-line center if he’s up to it. 

Karlsson’s recent injury woes make re-signing him to a lengthy, expensive contract a huge risk. It’s uncertain if he wants to return with the Sharks or not. Alfieri believes there’s no certainty Karlsson will accept a discount to stay in San Jose. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The status of Karlsson, Pavelski, and Thornton will dominate the Sharks’ rumor mill leading up to the start of free agency on July 1. Cap Friendly indicates the Sharks have over $58.2 million invested in 15 players. If the cap reaches $83 million as projected, they’ll have around $24 million in cap space.

Assuming it takes $10 million to re-sign Meier and Labanc (and I agree with Wegman that it could cost that much), they’ll have only $14 million left. That won’t leave much for Karlsson, Pavelski, and Thornton. Of those three, I expect Pavelski will be re-signed. Thornton, too, if he decides he’s got one more season left in the tank.

Of course, general manager Doug Wilson could pull a swerve, cut ties with Pavelski and Thornton, and re-sign Karlsson. But as Wegman and Alfieri noted, the 28-year-old defenseman’s health is now a concern. If Karlsson is intent on a lucrative long-term deal, we’ve probably seen the last of him in a Sharks sweater. 


NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON: In two recent mailbag segments, J.J. Regan addressed questions from Capitals fans regarding the club’s possible offseason moves.  He believes that’ll depend upon the cost of re-signing RFA winger Jakub Vrana.

Regan doesn’t expect GM Brian MacLellan will make an extreme move like trading goalie Braden Holtby to free up salary-cap space. Holtby is slated to become a UFA next summer. He sees defenseman Matt Niskanen as a possible cost-cutting trade candidate. That move could come leading up to next month’s NHL Draft weekend. It could free up space to pursue forward depth in July via free agency. 

Regan doesn’t see the Capitals pursuing big-ticket UFAs like Artemi Panarin or Erik Karlsson. Winger Carl Hagelin is most likely to depart via free agency this summer. Regan wonders if Brett Connolly will consider re-signing him for less than market value. He also suggested the Capitals could decide not to qualify RFA winger Andre Burakovsky’s rights and convince him to accept a lesser deal. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: With over $72.9 million tied up in 16 players, the Capitals will have around $10 million in cap space. Niskanen, 32, is earning $5.75-million per season and carries a 10-team no-trade list. However, he’s also a skilled defenseman with a right-handed shot with just two seasons remaining on his contract. Those factors could make Niskanen enticing for clubs seeking experienced blueline depth. 

With Niskanen’s salary off their books, the Capitals could have room to re-sign Vrana to perhaps an affordable bridge deal. That could leave enough to retain Connolly and Burakovsky if they’re willing to accept less money to stay put. 


SPORTSNET: Luke Fox recently listed 10 potential buyout candidates, examining the pros and cons for each. Anaheim Ducks winger Corey Perry, Edmonton Oilers left wing Milan Lucic and Vancouver Canucks winger Loui Eriksson were the notable names on his list. Carolina’s Scott Darling, Tampa Bay’s Ryan Callahan, Detroit’s Justin Abdelkader, Edmonton’s Andrej Sekera, Los Angeles’ Dion Phaneuf, Montreal’s Karl Alzner, and the Rangers’ Brendan Smith also made Fox’s list. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Fox details the cost for each club of these buyouts and whether they’re worthwhile to do. Darling, Phaneuf, and Callahan seem the most likely to be bought out. The Lightning could prefer trading Callahan. If they can’t find any takers they’ll probably go the buyout route to free up cap space to re-sign Brayden Point.

Perry may look like a buyout candidate but I wonder if Ducks GM Bob Murray is willing to go that route. The former Hart Trophy winner’s production has declined in recent years but, as Fox points out, injuries took a toll on his performance. Murray could give him one more season before deciding if a buyout is justified. 

I have my doubts the Oilers will buy out Sekera. Injuries sidelined him for long periods over the past two seasons. Still, new GM Ken Holland might prefer keeping him around to buy time for some of their younger blueliners to crack the lineup. 

The contracts of Lucic and Eriksson are structured in such a way that buyouts won’t result in much savings in the short term. I don’t rule out a buyout for either guy but their respective clubs could instead try to trade them. 

The length of a buyout is another sticking point. Lucic and Abdelkader have four years remaining on their respective deals, Eriksson and Alzner each have three. At twice the remaining tenure, their buyouts would be on the books for six or eight years. 


  1. Greybeard will need to be told to retire. Meier would take a bridge. An excellent young player.

    Caps D is thin as it is . I believe a mistake to trade Niskanen. You can always pick up a forward. It might be time for Burakovsky to move.

  2. Any chance Niskanen to the Leafs could work?

    (and I’m not a Buds fan who thinks every trade happens with the Leafs, he just seems like he fits a need)

    • While Niskanen, a RD, could certainly fit into the Leafs D corps, I’m not sure how a trade would work if the reason is for Washington to fee up cap space (he costs $5,750,000 to 2021-22). First of all, what do the Leafs have to offer who is good enough to land him and who would cost Washington nothing more than an ELC contract or thereabouts, and secondly, how do the Leafs take on that hit when they are already faced with some big contract decisions of their own?

      • Yeah, those are great questions, and probably mean the trade wouldn’t happen.

        I wonder if the Leafs would trade a good Marlies prospect for him, then swap out Nylander for a cheaper winger/prospect.

        They could obviously swap Nylander for the RD they need, but that requires finding a team with a cheap RD willing to take on his salary. Might be easier to do as two separate swaps, as some teams (e.g. Caps) also don’t want more salary.

        Again, just spitballin’ 🙂

  3. The only way that Lucic will be bought out is if the Oilers need the roster spot, otherwise it makes no sense as the cap saving will be minimal.
    As for Sekera, again it makes no sense to to buy him out as well. He was looking good last season when he came back from injury. Plus this is the first offseason in 2 years that Sekera is healthy and able to train for the new season. Give him at least one more year. If cap space is needed then look at trading Russell (retained salary will probably be needed) and/or Benning. That will make at least 2, if not 3, spots on defence open for competition between the 4 young guys. That will be a first time in years that the Oilers will have competition for roster spots on defence.

    • I could see the Oilers sending Lucic to the minors for the rest of his career saving them 1 million per year on the cap
      I don’t see any other alternatives, the buy out option is, as they say “buyout proof”

      • I believe his NMC removes the option for demotion

      • Fergy22

        Oh I forgot your right.
        Looks like he will become the most expensive popcorn maker

  4. IMO SJ is better of it they let EK, Nyqvist and Thornton go.

    Sends a pick/player to WSH for Niskanen to replace EK on the right side (more affordable)

    signs Pavelski

    and if good space remains after signing Meir & Lebanc….then see what Panarin wants… to come to a cup contender.

  5. i certainly hope NYR do not go free agent happy this off season till they see what their young picks from the last 2 season and this upcoming 1 can produce.

    • What is free agent happy? Kravtsov is only pick from last year that should be in lineup next season. Kakko/Hughes should be. Waiting and hoping others turn team into a playoff contender while passing on some elite talents available, and not knowing if you’ll get a chance in the future, doesn’t sound like a plan. Plan every year going forward should be to get in playoffs without sacrificing future. With 2 firsts this year, and possibly 2 next year, there’s no reason we can’t start winning while working in younger players every year. I have no problem signing Karlsson. I don’t think they do it unless they trade Shattenkirk. Right D is a position of need. Pionk isn’t that good. You don’t know how Fox is yet and although I like AdA, that kids got issues.

      • Free Agent happy would be going for EK, Panarin and Duchene sort of signings.

        That is what I mean by free agent happy.

        Waiting to develop IS a plan. Rebuilding the next core.

        Only seeing some of these guys for 1 season and bypassing them to sign a “star” is not where I think NY should go nor do I think Gorton wants to just yet.

        Not spending unless you are a legitimate playoff team and possible cup contender IS a plan.

        NY has this season and next to clear off cap space before they start signing unless they can get someone to take a few bad contracts.

      • JD yesterday….

        “There’s a lot of work to do here,” said Davidson, who played in goal for the Rangers from 1975-83 and was an analyst on the team’s broadcasts for 20 seasons before joining the Blues as their president in 2006. “There’s no shortcuts. It’s nothing but hard work, and it takes patience and resolve, and I really want to make sure that I used the word patience and I use the word resolve, because we’re going to be in a battle here to get this club to be better.”

        This does not sound like an organization ready to dive in the fa pool.

        This with the hiring of Quinn…. spells build from within.

  6. Leafs don’t need an aging d man with high mileage and not much grit. Their target should be Darnell nurse or an even bigger name that might cost th a package that includes Kadri kappy or both brown and johnsson. Not sure that the jets d men want to go to Canada: maybe josh Manson still in play??

    • You can stop dreaming of Nurse. That will not happen. The only d-men I see being traded from the Oilers defence are Benning and Russell.
      A couple weeks ago I mentioned something about Benning to Toronto, but after thinking about it Benning isn’t the type of d-man the Leafs need, and Russell makes to much for the Leafs to fit under their cap.

    • Niskanen not much Grit?

  7. Tyler Myers would be a nice fit in Toronto.
    Not sure how they make it work.
    Just spitballing.

    New coach for the Sens barely cracks any news service.
    Cheap no-name leaf garage sale item. Might as well make the announcement from Toronto too.

    • They keep going to that AHL or junior well for coaches … and so far it hasn’t worked out very well. Since 2007, their 9 coaches have included Dave Cameron, Paul Maclean, Cory Clouston, Craig Hartsburg and John Paddock with only MacLean having any decent success (including coach of the year once) and Boucher-Crawford plucked from the Swiss League.

      John Shannon thought for sure it would be Jacques Martin while I sort of figured on Patrick Roy after his name suddenly popped up last week.

      Tick-tock … tick-tock …. 2 more seasons and then they’re on their way to Houston.

      • You know they wont move.
        Too many people to step up and buy them here.

      • George,

        You really think the Sens would go to Houston?
        Would Melnyck sell the team and the new owners would buy on condition of moving to Houston?

        It was always rumored that Phoenix was moving to Houston. With Seattle coming in the league Phoenix is moving to the central division with the thought they would be moved.

  8. Would be nice if DJ Smith gets Housley and Boughner as assistants =)

  9. Brock Nelson 6 years 36 million. D J Smith almost became the Islander head coach last year

    • A few Isles fans that frequent this site , don’t recall their handles, that won’t be happy about the Nelson signing …if they lose out on Lee they are going backwards

  10. Pengy, have you seen the story the athletic are reporting? Wild and penguins in talks about a zucker and Rask for kessell and JJ – your dream may be about to come true!

    • Kessel blocked the trade. Gotta love those NTCs. Zucker drives play but has the same amount of points in the last 4 years that Phil has in the last 2 years(174). Rask is useless but not as useless as Jackhole. Zucker is younger at least. I get why the wild want to do it. It’s easier to sell tickets and create a buzz with a star on your team.

      • the wild gm is under great pressure from the fan base to “do something”…it usually leads to more trouble

    • Perhaps GM Rutherford calls MTL and sees if they want to do Kessel and JJ for Alzner and Drouin ??

  11. I do not think Alzner will be bought out this year for the reasons Spector laid. If anyone is to be bought out by the Habs, its Dale Weise, if the Habs need cap room. In an odd circumstance, if Peca’s salary needs to go for cap space, it would be cheaper (capwise) to bury his contract than buy him out

  12. Voynov suspension reduced to 41 games; therefore he will be eligible to play mid season. Question is although he is legally allowed to return to the NHL, should any team sign him? No, but some one will.

  13. If phaneuf gets bought out the Leafs should give him a million to be a third pairing guy. Would give some veteran presence and limited physicality 10 minutes a game.

  14. Who says no – Doughty for Marner?
    LA starts the rebuild and Leafs get a great D.
    Money is probably not too different once Marner signs.

  15. Kessel doesn’t want to go back home ?
    I would think the Wild would be on his 8 team list but maybe not.
    Nothing will happen until the draft . I am sure Calgary’s offer is still in play for Zucker

    • Actually, home is in Wisconsin … but he did play at University of Minnesota, so I guess that qualifies as “home” to some degree.