NHL Rumor Mill – May 27, 2021

by | May 27, 2021 | Rumors | 55 comments

Are the Penguins facing a roster shakeup? What next for the Panthers following another early postseason exit? What could be in store for the Oilers this offseason? Find out in today’s NHL rumor mill.


ESPN.COM: Emily Kaplan wonders if the Pittsburgh Penguins will face a roster shakeup following their first-round elimination by the New York Islanders. Veteran core players Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang have a year remaining on their respective contracts, with Malkin carrying a no-movement clause.

The Penguins risk losing a young depth forward such as Zach Aston-Reese, Jared McCann or possibly Kasperi Kapanen to the Seattle Kraken in this summer’s expansion draft.

PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE: Matt Vensel also wonders about the futures of Malkin and Letang, as well as that of head coach Mike Sullivan.

Pittsburgh Penguins center Evgeni Malkin (NHL Images).

Based on comments earlier this season by Brian Burke, the Penguins president of hockey operations, Vensel speculates they could try to bolster their goaltending while also adding some size and toughness to the lineup. The shaky performance of Tristan Jarry could send the Penguins into this summer’s trade and free-agent markets in search of help between the pipes.

THE ATHLETIC: Sean Gentille believes Jarry’s goaltending cost the Penguins the series. He wonders if they’ll move around some money to pursue a free agent such as Detroit’s Jonathan Bernier or Buffalo’s Linus Ullmark or look to the trade market for help.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Penguins don’t need to blow up the roster but changes are necessary after three consecutive early postseason exits. Burke and general manager Ron Hextall will likely retool rather than rebuild, bringing in younger players to support their aging stars.

Penguins captain Sidney Crosby isn’t in favor of breaking up the core. His opinion could carry some weight with Burke and Hextall but the final decisions rest with those two.

Crosby isn’t going anywhere and Malkin won’t be traded unless he requests it. The Penguins could shop Letang but it wouldn’t be surprising if he returns. He also has a modified no-trade clause listing 18 preferred destinations. He also carries a $7.25 million cap hit next season.

Goaltending is their weakness. Jarry was supposed to be an improvement over the departed Matt Murray but he couldn’t handle the pressure as a starter. Finding a suitably experienced starter will be top of the list, followed by adding more size and toughness.


ESPN.COM: Emily Kaplan speculates the Florida Panthers could lose a good roster player to the Kraken in the expansion draft. It could be a forward such as Patric Hornqvist or Mason Marchment, a blueliner like Gustav Forsling, Radko Gudas or Markus Nuutivaara, or pending UFA goaltender Chris Driedger.

SUN-SENTINEL.COM: Dave Hyde pondered what promising goalie Spencer Knight’s performance in the final two games against the Tampa Bay Lightning means for Sergei Bobrovsky’s future in Florida. He wondered if general manager Bill Zito will try to move Bobrovsky this summer if someone is willing to take on the veteran netminder’s hefty contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Panthers drafting Knight in the 2019 draft and signing Bobrovsky days later was a topic of recent amusement for some folks on social media. They conveniently overlook the fact that it was former Panthers GM Dale Tallon who made those moves. Zito was left with a headache.

Bobrovksky’s inconsistent play since joining the Panthers, his full no-movement clause and $10 million annual cap hit through 2025-26 makes him difficult to move, especially with the salary cap remaining at $81.5 million next season. As per Cap Friendly, a buyout will be an expensive long-term headache.


EDMONTON JOURNAL: Jim Matheson doesn’t expect Oilers GM Ken Holland to go on a massive spending spree this summer to bolster his roster. While Holland will have $28 million in cap space, a portion will be spent on trying to re-sign pending UFAs Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Adam Larsson and Tyson Barrie.

Matheson considers Larsson the cheapest and most likely to be re-signed. Nugent-Hopkins will be the most expensive while Barrie could be departing after a year in Edmonton because he’ll want a long-term deal.

Holland said he intends to bring back goaltender Mike Smith for another season. Matheson wonders if Mikko Koskinen will be traded, perhaps packaged with a draft pick or prospect to a team like the Columbus Blue Jackets for one of their young goalies.

Buyouts are also possible. Matheson believes James Neal to be the most likely candidate. Holland didn’t rule out trading a prospect such as Evan Bouchard, Philip Broberg or Dylan Holloway for immediate help but he said he’s not doing that for a one-year player.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Holland could try to convince Nugent-Hopkins to accept slightly less than his current $6 million annual average value. If RNH signs elsewhere, Holland will use the savings to bring in a replacement via trade or free agency.

I like Matheson’s suggestion of packaging Koskinen to the Blue Jackets for Elvis Merzlikins or Joonas Korpisalo. Koskinen’s 15-team no-trade list, however, could be a sticking point if he doesn’t want to go to Columbus. Even then, the Jackets could get better offers for one of those goalies.


  1. The Penguins don’t need to blow up the roster ..

    Wrong, the Penguins need a massive overhaul .. this is essentially the same roster that has been bounced out of the playoffs in the first round for the last three consecutive years … this team was built for the long-haul regular season and not for the playoffs where physicality and heavy play dictates.

    If Emily Kaplan thinks the Pens will expose Kapanen to Seattle then she really needs to find another line of work. That will be the most ridiculous thing that I will read on the internet today and it’s barely past 9:00 am

    As far as I’m concerned they can have McCann … he disappeared in the playoffs and really shrunk when the play got physical …

    Jarry couldn’t handle the pressure so it’s time for a replacement. Good goaltending could have gotten the Pens past the Isles but Boston and/or Tampa would have steamrolled them.

    Bottom line: Pens are Soff (Michel Thierren) and need truculance (Brian Burke)…

    • Ed,

      Going to be interesting to see what Hextall does to the Pens roster.

      • Ron, this is the point at which we find out who’s making the decisions. Hextall has a history of steady, step-by-step improvement of the roster while Burke loves the big move, the headliner, lots of media attention. See Phil Kessell for example.
        I couldn’t see them working together when they were hired and I still don’t – Pittsburgh’s off-season moves will tell us who’s running the show.

      • BC,

        Penguins fans best be hoping that Hextall is calling the shots. If its Hexy there will be a plan in place. Dump/move bad contracts, add picks/prospects. Replenish and restock the entire franchise.
        If its Burke it will be add 3rd line overpaid grunts like Zack Kassian or Kadri for “toughness”.

        Flyers never should have fired Hextall in my opinion.

      • I’m not sure what to say. Hextall has left the flyers in as bad a place as the pens are now. So I’m not sure if I should be happy or sad you wish they’d kept him.

      • One of the first moves that Hextall and Burke made was trading a 1st round pick for Carter. I wonder which one was behind that move?

      • A what for The Who now?

    • All this team needs to get tougher talk and these guys are soft talk annoys me to no end. And somehow that is to blame for losing is even more bizarre.
      The Penguins aren’t soft this year, they weren’t last year either. The Pens don’t and didn’t get intimidated.

      The “toughest” team in the NHL, the big bad caps, just got bounced by the Bruins in Rd 1.
      Last year they lost in the 1st rd to the Isles.
      The year before they lost in 1st rd to the Hurricanes.
      The year before they won the cup. They have had a big physical team the whole time.

      The wins and the losses came because they either scored more than the other guys, or less than the other guys.

      Is it a physical game? Yep. You need to be tough to play it in the NHL especially in the playoffs, but when you talk about teams like the Pens, they didn’t lose because they lack toughness. The core of that team has won 3 cups and it ain’t because they back down when they get hit or need protection.

      Or whatever you guys think toughness means.

    • Pittsburgh didn’t make the playoffs last year. They were bounced in the play in round.

      • Captain-Thinking that you meant Rangers stats are missing. I checked Mika Zibanejad’s stats on NHL, com, as a “f0r instance.” HIs stats say he played 3 playoff games, had a goal and an assist, and was minus-1.

  2. Focus on the positive Pittsburgh fans : the Penguins are only one tank job and fixed draft lottery away from being competitive again.

    Malkin at 9 million and Leturnover at 7 million are virtually untradeable.

    Former GM Rutherford ran Murray and Fleury out of town leaving the Pens with at best AHL calibre goaltending.

    That crushing and humiliating chokejob must have left a sour taste in Pierre McGuires mouth, oh wait…that was Sidney.

    All in all its a great day……. for Flyers fans.

    • I was wondering if the Pens would regret letting Fleury go after Murray missed time with his first concussion. Murray had a great first season, but Fleury was proven and has carried the Knights on most nights. Since then Murray has struggled with injuries.

      • How about Jarry to Edm KevJam?
        He won a Memorial Cup with the Oil Kings, no small achievement, and can play as Smith’s 1B to remove some pressure.

        The kid had some stones back then, he might bounce back.

        Buy low and roll the dice.

        Just need to find a home for Koskinen and eat some $.

      • Holland said in the presser yesterday that he wants to bring Smith back and that there will most likely be a buyout this offseason. Jarry only had one good season last year. His other seasons aren’t that great. When trading for a goalie I like to see consistency. Driedger has two good seasons under his belt. Raanta is a proven good goalie and is a UFA. He’s a little older, but should still have at least 5 good years left in him. Just a couple goalies I have above Jarry.

    • Ron your Flyers moved on to the second round? Oh wait! They never made it to the dance. I guess the lipstick fooled no one but folks like you that you have a pig of a team.

      Good luck next year, maybe then you can troll a fan base then if you have your team make it in and not out like this year’s bunch of losers.

      • Wow,

        Bitter much?

      • As much as you enjoy the Flyers failings (of which there are many) do allow us the privledge of enjoying yet another epic choke by the Penguins:

        Up 1-0 in game 6, choked the lead away.
        Up 2-1 in game 6, choked the lead away.
        Up 3-2 in game 6, choked the lead away.
        Up 2-1 in the series…… choked the series away.

        As I said, its a great day for Flyers fans. Only thing as good as watching Philly win is watching Pittsburgh lose.

        Pittsburgh: Where everything goes when Pennsylvania flushes.

        Have a grate day, lol.

  3. Hi Lyle as a lifelong CBJ fan I am fully in favor of obtaining Rantanen for one of our goalies…I doubt Sakic would agree & it’s too bad he isn’t on EDM for Holland to possibly make that trade 🙂
    Just kidding & not trying to nitpick (likely an autocorrect error). I do believe CBJ will get much better offers than Koskinen for Korpi and/or Elvis (although a top prospect like Broberg or Holloway could make that happen…though I think its very unlikely EDM pulls the trigger on that). It will be interesting to see which one they trade and where they land

    • Thanks for the heads-up, fixed that one error. Cheers!

    • Deacon, considering how many players on the Jackets current roster need to be signed in the next two years and how much of the flat cap Laine and Jones will take up, the fact that Koskinen makes more than both Elvis & Korpi and that goaltending is the one area the CBJ are very deep in, I don’t see Korpi or Elvis being traded for Koskinen or any other goalie. More likely, IMO, is a prospect/draft pick or two, or a forward of some kind.

  4. Just wondering what people think Oilers would have to package with Neal to take on that contract. Could really help Oilers, and teams rebuilding with salary cap room could use the assets. As a Devils fan if the asset was worth it I am all in….

    • I don’t see Holland adding a sweetner in a Neal trade. If he can’t trade Neal with retaining about $1.9 million, Neals buyout cap hit, with taking less than market value back I don’t think Holland will trade Neal. He will just buy him out.

  5. For those of you who think that Jarry’s goaltending cost the Pens the series – not nearly as much as Sorokin’s goaltending did. The UFA options, Ullmark and Bernier, would not be an improvement. No one is trading for Bobrovsky’s huge contract.

    • There are far better UFA G options than Bernier & Ullmark – Dreidger, Mrazek, Anderssen and Dubnyk, for example

      • Gotta disagree with you George. Bernier would have a much better option than Jarry or Samsonov. I have watched a ton of hockey last the last two seasons, and, considering the quality of the team playing in front of him, Bernier was a worthy playoff starting goalie. In the 19/20 season, he was a top 5 goalie for the last 3 months of the season, and this year wasn’t much different after getting back to form following his injury (he was taken out by Mantha). If Detroit comes back with Bernier/Greiss, our goaltending will be just fine. After that, we will need a younger replacement though.

    • If the game load was to much for Jarry, would a 1A and 1B scenario work in Pittsburgh? The Pens probably could get Koskinen for cheap and he is also good in a 1A and 1B scenario. Just a thought.

    • Sabres might take Bob if Florida took Skinner.

  6. The Penguins could probably have Matt Murray for a 2nd round pick 🙂

    • We might even give a 2nd pick for Pittsburgh to take him off our hands. Would be a typical Dorion move.

    • Funny George lol

      But that is the problem with short sightedness right?

      Ride the hot hand but easier said than done when looking at in on Monday morning.

      I would have traded Murray for high picks and kept Fluery but who knew then how it would all turn out.

  7. Gotta wait for the panic and anger to die down in the burgh. Pens outplayed the isles overall. Goaltending on both ends sunk them. I doubt the trade a big three. Crosby will retire a pen. Malkin only goes if he wants to and while he would garner a decent return it wouldn’t be close to as valuable as hoping he returns to a healthy motivated malkin. Letang should get some Norris consideration for his season and had a good playoffs. He would get the best return but I don’t think pens have a suitable replacement. Pens will lose zucker or zar or tanev or hell maybe Jarry in expansion draft. Nothing irreplaceable. Pens will be a playoff team next year with improved goaltending and then it’s a crap shoot.

    • I don’t understand a teams need to hold on to players that have value when everyone knows including the Pens fans that it’s time to retool. They can probably trade both Crosby and Malkin and still have the same chance at the cup next year with the players they get back. They would be younger, faster and set up to have way more success in the future. I’m sure both Crosby and Malkin get back a young high end potential NHL player, a top prospect or 2 or and high draft picks. There value will just keep going down year after year. Players are assets and every teams goal should me to maximize those assets with the goal of winning as many Stanley cups as possible. When those assets have run there course it’s time to trade them for other assets with the hope that they will help you win more cups Crosby and Malkin have done there job for Pittsburgh now it’s time for them to move on and help another team.

      • Several counterpoints. One. There is importance in loyalty. Crosby has done great things for this organization and remains the heart of the team. Overall he is a top 10 player in the league still. He might garner that return but pens do not have a better shot at cup next year without him.

        Malkin on no way gets the return you suggested due to his injury history nmc and contract status. He wouldn’t be untradable as some have suggested and the return would be ok but not close to that. Malkins return would doubtfully make them more likely to win next year than hoping he is healthy.

      • Was it not you, Roger, who said of an elite player that as his skating was strong age mattered less in the league now than before?

        Irrespective of whether you did, Crosby and Malkin are still more than a point a game players. They still have a few good years to give. Crosby will — and should – retire a Penguin. There is little room for sentiment in sports but it would be a stain on the franchise were the Pens to trade him.

        As for your “everyone knows including Penguin fans it is time for a rebuild” comment: did you not see Crosby’s position posted above? Is he a nobody?

        Here is a quote from him:

        “As far as what I can see and how I feel, there’s zero doubt in my mind that the group that we have is a really good group.”

        Win or lose change comes to all teams. But it would be shocking if Crosby or Malkin were traded.

      • IMO The issue with Pittsburgh is all of the draft picks they traded away at the trade deadline. This is the same mistake that a lot of GM’s on contending teams make. 2015-18, and 2020 the Pens didn’t pick in the first round of the draft, they also don’t have a 1st round pick in this years draft. Since the 2011 draft the Pens have only picked a player in the first round 4 times.
        This is the issue with the Penguins IMO.

      • Kevjam trading the picks is the cost of going after the cup when you feel you have a great chance. I would trade all those picks and more for those 3 draft picks. Lj I never said Crosby wasn’t an elite player quite the opposite actually The point is it’s time to move on so that you can set yourself up better to win more cups in the future. Crosby will make any team he gets traded to better and increase there odds at the cup. Imagine for example Colorado gets him. There window is now and if for some reason they don’t win it this year why wouldn’t Crosby go there. Pittsburgh has run it’s course and it resulted in 3 cups but just hanging on for the sake of hanging on isn’t in the best interest of the organization and it’s fans. Chrism I get the loyalty thing but it’s a business and the organizations should answer to the there fans. Every team reaches there end date. The great ones like Pittsburgh win a few cups along the way. It’s unfortunate that not every team knows when it’s time to rebuild. If Pittsburgh does it now they can do it without having to tank as they have assets that can get them players back that can help sooner then later.

      • It is a business. That’s why you can’t trade crosby. He is the face of the franchise. Trading him hurts business. Marketing, fan anger, harder to attract free agents due to concerns about unfriendly front office etc. it’s a terrible business decision to trade crosby. It’s a terrible on ice decision to trade crosby. Terrible all around.

      • I disagree with the 1st round draft picks are at the cost of going for the cup, especially to acquire an aging UFA. This season the Penguins didn’t have a great chance at winning a Stanley Cup. It was a toss up to get out of their own division, and Carter wasn’t going to be the piece to get them over the top.
        IMO first round picks are worth more than acquiring an aging rental player at the trade deadline. If you are feeling the need to trade a 1st round draft pick it should be for a player that has a few more years left in their prime. Did the Penguins get the worth of a 1st round pick from Carter’s the 14 regular season games and 6 playoff games? Or would they have been better off paying a cheaper price for a player like Bennett? Or adding to their defence and paying a cheaper price for Brandon Montour?
        If the Penguins hit on 3 of their own 6 first round picks they traded away in the last 10 years they would be further ahead than they are now.
        Carter (2021), Kapanen (Not a rental, 2020), Zucker (2019), Derik Brassard (2018), Ryan Reaves (2017), Kessell (Not a rental, 2016), Iginla (2013) are who the Penguins got for first round picks. Beside the two that aren’t/weren’t rentals, did they actually get a return that is worth a 1st round pick?

      • Hey kev… I’d try picking another year of failed cup runs to try to prove your point. Your kinda making yourself look a little silly right at this moment.

      • Kevjam where do you associate Carter with a 1sr round pick. Carter went for 2 conditional picks a 3rd and 4th. On top of that L.A. paid half the salary. There isn’t a gm in the league who wouldn’t give up a first round pick if it meant they get the cup. Chrism you’re aquianting business with emotion and maybe that’s why teams hang onto these players. Fans want the cup and will quickly forgive the team if trading the player gives them a better chance of winning the cup quicker. Pittsburgh is a declining team with very few prospects in the pipeline. If they don’t trade the assets they have they will be looking at a long and difficult rebuild then watch those fans turn on the team.

      • My apologies. I saw on Cap Friendly that the Penguins didn’t have a 2021 first round pick and assumed it was traded for Carter. However the rest of my post and all the first round picks that the Penguins have spent could have gone to better help the team.

      • Actually Kevjam you made the point. Kessel was a huge factor on 2 of the Penguins cups. He not only led them in points during the playoffs he was in consideration for playoff MVP and some think he should have won. Some of those players you listed were brought in for other tangible then scoring like Reaves. It also shows the other players that management is behind you so there’s a psychological aspect to it. Every team and fan would happily sacrifice a 1st roinder if it helped them even in a small way win the cup. Problem is every team within playoff reach thinks they’re contenders and give up those high picks and prospects with no real cup chance. Pittsburgh’s is getting older and there window is closing fast. They won the cup now it’s Tampa Bay, Colorado, Toronto ect…. Pittsburgh had there time and succeeded. Pittsburgh fans should be proud and happy with the results. They should also realize that there time is coming to an end so you can continue to try and win it all with an older less talented team or you can start the retooling now and be ready to compete again in a few short years If Pittsburgh didn’t win those cups then I can see dragging it on trying to win even is it’s a small chance. Nothing worse then dragging it on and creating a situation where it takes way longer to rebuild. Better 5 years of mediocrity than 10.

      • Fans in Pittsburgh won’t turn on the team for losing as much as they would for trading crosby. The only thing that would turn the fans off worse is if the owners don’t put the effort into trying to win such as spending to the cap. I’ve seen Pittsburgh turn on teams for that cardinal sin. And for the sin of trading franchise faces. Never for anything else.

      • That will be there loss Chrism and they’ll suffer in the long run for it. There main focus should be to win as many Stanley cups as possible. If they would rather simply retain an asset for sentimental reasons then that’s on them. Crosby’s number would be retired in Pittsburgh and he will always be looked at as an icon regardless if he gets traded or not. Not only that but Crosby should want the best chance possible to win the cup and that’s not in Pittsburgh. It’s a sport and business for both the players and owners. Pittsburgh will always be Crosbys home regardless of where he finishes his career. Pittsburgh owes him nothing and he owes Pittsburgh nothing. They both did what it took to win.

  8. Did Pengy jump? Haven’t herd from him in awhile hope all is well. Penguins in my opinion lost because of defense and goaltending but remember forwards play defense to just watch Bergeron play. Not much team can do all I know they were winning when Malkin was out.

  9. Pens lost because of DeSmith injury. It was only Jarry after that.
    Alternatively Panthers used 3 goalies 2 games each. First time in history for a single series.

    Dreidger will be a very hot commodity this summer

  10. To Pens: Holtby & Pearson

    To Van: Jarry & Zucker


    Is Holtby an upgrade over Jarry?

    • Not anymore.

    • Holtby’s save % has been falling since 2017. The Canucks were lousy this year but Holtby’s stats this year were the same as with Washington last year.

      • Hmmmm When did the NHL start to shrink the goalie equipment? I wonder if this is just a coincidence.

    • Of not Holtby then how about

      to CMB: Wilson & Kuznetsov & some pick

      to WSH: Laine & Elvis & some pick

  11. There was a period of a time where the IHL/AHL Chicago Wolves were eliminated for years often in the first round by the eventual Cup Winner. Obviously it stunk the Wolves were eliminated early when they could, could have beaten most any other team in a seven game series….also worth noting the first round was often a five game series, so….

    The Florida Panthers were facing an absolutely stacked roster in Tampa Bay and fought, quite literally, to win. It’s interesting sometimes teams falter after winning a cup, usually due to injuries…in Tampa’s case they were able to stay a better team because of injuries.

  12. There is a zero percent chance that the Oilers trade Holloway. He is far and away the best forward prospect in the system and is quite possibly NHL ready now. He’s also in possession of the skill set and grit that was exposed as missing vs Winnipeg.