NHL Rumor Mill – March 3, 2022

by | Mar 3, 2022 | Rumors | 58 comments

Check out the latest on the Canadiens, Flyers, Capitals, Leafs and Blue Jackets in today’s NHL rumor mill.


MONTREAL HOCKEY NOW: Responding to TSN’s Pierre LeBrun’s recent report claiming the Canadiens could be aggressive in this summer’s free-agent market, Marco D’Amico listed Pittsburgh’s Kris Letang, San Jose’s Tomas Hertl and Nashville’s Filip Forsberg as potential UFA targets, with Boston’s Patrice Bergeron, Colorado’s Nazem Kadri and Chicago’s Marc-Andre Fleury as honorable mentions.

Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Kris Letang (NHL Images).

D’Amico’s colleague Jimmy Murphy pointed out rumors have linked Letang to the Canadiens for some time. The 34-year-old Penguins defenseman’s former agent is Kent Hughes, who’s now the Habs general manager. Letang, meanwhile, laughed off the speculation though it’s possible the blueliner could be playing his final season with the Penguins.

Meanwhile, D’Amico observed reports of the Edmonton Oilers scouting Tuesday’s Canadiens – Winnipeg Jets game. He wondered if they may have been checking out Canadiens defenseman (and pending UFA) Ben Chiarot.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Stu Cowan reports Jeff Petry could be changing his mind about wanting a trade out of Montreal since Martin St. Louis took over as head coach from Dominique Ducharme. The 34-year-old defenseman struggled under Ducharme this season and openly criticized him. He’s since regained his form under St. Louis. He also acknowledged the Habs’ new bench boss is the type of coach that might make him want to stay in Montreal.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I don’t doubt Canadiens management will aggressively pursue free agents but Habs fans shouldn’t get their hopes up too high. Cap Friendly indicates they’ve got over $79 million invested in just nine active roster players for 2022-23. They’ll be allowed to go over next season’s $82.5 million with the all-but-retired Shea Weber ($7.857 million) going on long-term injury reserve again, and they could get $10.5 million more if the same thing happens to goaltender Carey Price.

However, the Canadiens have long had difficulty attracting top free agents to Montreal. Part of that’s because of the high provincial taxes and Quebec being a francophone province. Part of it is because Montreal is among the NHL’s most demanding markets. Another is they haven’t been very good for a long time.

Letang and Bergeron could be loyal to Hughes, but I doubt that will sway them to sign with the Canadiens. Letang prefers to stay in Pittsburgh but if that’s not possible I see him trying to join a Cup contender. Bergeron will finish his career with the Bruins.

As for Petry, he might be willing to stay in Montreal now but management could have other plans if they need to free up cap space. If there’s a market for Petry, they could explore it.


SPORTSNET: Mike Johnston listed the Colorado Avalanche, St. Louis Blues, Florida Panthers, Tampa Bay Lightning and Minnesota Wild as potential trade destinations for Philadelphia Flyers captain Claude Giroux.

NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: With the trade deadline approaching, could Flyers defenseman Keith Yandle agree to waive his no-movement clause. Moving on to another club could put his Ironman streak in jeopardy, whereas he’d have a good chance of running it to 1,000 games if he remains a Flyer.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Avalanche, Blue and Wild are said to be Giroux’s preferences though recent reports indicate he hasn’t yet approached Flyers management about waiving his no-movement clause. Of the three, the Wild could stand the best chance of landing him given their salary-cap space.

The Panthers are believed more interested in adding a top-four left-shot defenseman. The Lightning has no cap space so it’ll require considerable wizardry on the part of GM Julien BriseBois to bring Giroux to Tampa Bay.

No offense to Yandle, whose Ironman streak is a significant achievement, but I don’t think there’s much of a market for him now. I can see him finishing this season in Philadelphia.


THE SCORE: Capitals GM Brian MacLellan said his club might not be as aggressive in the market leading up to the trade deadline compared to previous years. He acknowledged his roster needs help to return to where they were at the start of 2022 when they were among the top teams.

MacLellan cited his inexperienced goaltending duo of Ilya Samsonov and Vitek Vanecek as needing improvement. He admitted calling around the league earlier in this season but couldn’t find anyone that would get them over the hump.

WASHINGTON HOCKEY NOW: Sammi Silber also reported on MacLellan’s comments about the Capitals goaltending. In addition, she noted MacLellan acknowledging a need for an upgrade among the club’s middle-six forwards.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Capitals have over $3.8 million in projected trade deadline cap space. Finding suitable trade options that fit within that space to address those needs could be difficult.

MacLellan could be seeking more of a hockey trade similar to the deal he swung at last year’s deadline with Detroit that brought him forward Anthony Mantha, who’s been sidelined since November but is expected to return to the lineup soon.

Chicago’s Marc-Andre Fleury is the best rental option but he doesn’t seem keen to waive his no-trade clause. After that, the depth drops sharply in the quality of available goaltenders.


NBC SPORTS: James O’Brien reports there are few decent options to address the concerns over the Toronto Maple Leafs shaky goaltending. While Marc-Andre Fleury is the best of the bunch that could be available, he also has a history of giving up bad goals, something that could be magnified playing in the intense Toronto market.

Others options are either backups (Rangers’ Alexandar Georgiev, Columbus’ Joonas Korpisalo, Vancouver’s Jaroslav Halak, Ottawa’s Anton Forsberg and San Jose’s James Reimer) or past-their-prime starters like Dallas’ Braden Holtby and Philadelphia’s Martin Jones. The New York Islanders’ Semyon Varlamov carries a $5 million cap hit through next season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: In other words, the Leafs could end up sticking with the current tandem of Jack Campbell and Petr Mrazek for the remainder of the season. They could end up trying to shore up their defense.


THE ATHLETIC: Pierre LeBrun reports Columbus Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen has no patience for the trade rumors swirling around winger Patrik Laine. “Yeah, it bothers me because people make shit up, that’s what bothers me,” he said.

Laine’s status as a restricted free agent with arbitration rights coming off a one-year, $7.5 million contract has sparked media speculation about his future in Columbus. Kekalainen said when the time is right he’ll sit down with Laine’s representatives to examine their options in order to keep him with the Blue Jackets.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Gotta love it when general managers let their guard down a little and get salty. Laine has said he enjoys living and playing in Columbus. Nevertheless, it could prove very expensive for the Jackets to sign him. It could make for an interesting summer.


  1. Edmonton is scouting Montreal because they play them on the weekend duh
    Leafs will stick with the current tandem.
    Mantha has been out since Nov 5. A big hole. His return is very soon and will solve the Caps forward issues. Also Oshie has missed significant time

    • Montreal Canadiens also has 16 players under contract for next season plus Weber LTIR and Alzner B.O.
      Cap hit 79,771,309
      Cap space 1,728,691

      • As he explained above, Weber’s cap hit will be gone whether he stays on LTIR or retires. If Price is forced to retire this creates 18.37 in cap space.

        Regardless, I don’t expect MTL will pursue aging/expensive free agents like Letang, despite his comments about possibly joining them in the future. The Habs are more likely to rebuild with young talent.

      • The Canadians and Predators don’t want Webber to retire before his contract is up. If he does then they both will get a recapturing penalty as the Canucks and Panthers did with Luongo.

      • Hi Kevjam

        I think there is very little likliehood Weber actually “retires” (that is formally).

        No incentive to do so on LTIR…. insurance gives him a paycheque right up to the end of his LTIR… he is still owed $6M after this year.

        I suspect he will do the “Pronger et al” move

        Same goes for Price if he is deemed permanently on LTIR… that is less likely as at now… but if he is put on perm LTIR …. not a chance he formally retires (and walks away from $31 M still owed from next year onward)

  2. Suggesting that Letang and Bergeron are loyal to their ex agent and may sign with Montreal; flies in the face that they wouldn’t be loyal to the team they played the entire career with. Letang in his 16 season with Pitts and Bergeron 18th season in Boston. I going to suggest their loyalties are with the organization whom they play, over the ex-agent.

    • The Habs May very well be able to open up cap space as there will be veterans who will be traded. The problem is, top veteran free agents obviously prefer to not sign up for a rebuild. They may sign a mid-tier UFA or two, but the only player listed who I think would be a possibility at all would be Letang. And even he’s unlikely and would only be possible if Petry is traded.
      Speaking of Fleury, there is an interesting article posted on Sportsnet.ca about the state of goaltending. Scoring is up in the NHL, at its highest point in the last 25 years except for the post lockout years of 1995-96 and 2005-06 when the refs were calling everything and the players had to refrain from clutching and grabbing. Of the league’s 8 best teams at the moment, the only team that should be satisfied with their goaltending right now is Tampa. So there is definitely a market now for MAF. He can obviously decide where he goes.

      • I think Calgary is pretty satisfied with their goaltending..

      • They sure are Augustus.
        So are the NYR, FLA, PIT, CAR. Even STL and BOS with the young guys on a roll.

        Vasilevskiy has been the best tender in the NHL over last couple years, especially in playoffs, hard to argue that, but he can’t be the bar as you will never get over it unless you draft him. Or the next him.

        Flames are really good.

      • I’m not sold on Markstrom. The guy has 8 shutouts, 5 more than the two goalies ahead of him in save percentage. Markstrom has 3 more shutouts than the second place guy, Soroken. How is Markstrom not have the NHL’s top save percentage?!
        Shesterkin – .940 save%, 3 shutouts, 6 games with a save% below .900
        Andersson – .930 save%, 3 shutouts, 12 games with a save% below .900
        Markstrom – .927 save%, 8 shutouts, 16 games with a save% below .900
        Saros – .922 save%, 2 shutouts, 13 games with a save% below .900
        Sorokin – .922 save %, 5 shutouts, 11 games with a save% below .900
        Vasilevskiy – .921 save%, 2 shutouts, 8 games with a save% below .900
        The Flames have also allowed the second least HDCA in the NHL.
        With his 8 shutouts and the Flames only allowing second least HDCA Markstrom should be running away with the NHL’s best save percentage. But out of those top 6 goalies, he also leads the way with the most games with a save percentage below .900. He is still an inconsistent goalie who is benefiting from Sutter hockey.

      • That’s fair KevJam

      • Hi Ray

        I would agree wholeheartedly that those teams are satisfied with their STARTERS; but not necessarily their “goaltending”

        Some of those teams are one injury (to a starter) away from a potential disaster.

        There are some questionable/Unreliable? back ups

    • DAN – you are correct.

      KEVJAM – you are wrong.

      PENGY – the team pays players on LTIR. Insurance repays the team.

      • Thanks Pete

        Greatly appreciated, didn’t know that

        The net effect is then …. aside from cashing the cheques from Ins co’s and remitting the same amount to the players (I’m sure it is lump sum in after the fact, and monthly/bi-weekly cheques to player) …. nil being paid by team while on LTIR

        Player gets paid… no incentive to retire early (if on LTIR) as no cheque from team (who get no cheque from Ins. Co’s)

        Pronger and others have taken this route; I expect Weber to do the same….

        a certain Duck had been hosting a show from his home (and reaping big $’s) and receiving nigh $7M per while on LTIR last year.

        Oddly his contract is still showing as active (on it’s own) on CapFriendly but NOT showing against Sharks…. does anybody know what went down on this?

      • Hey KevJam are you saying Markstrom would be just as bad as Koskinen and Smith if he had to play behind the Oiler’s terrible team defense?
        I know you sure pump their tires lol.

  3. Imagine what the Leafs would look like if they had only dropped 11 million on a couple of defencemen or a goalie instead of a forward they didnt need.

    • Choosing Scooby Dubas over Lou Lamoriello torpedoed any chance of the leafs successfully rebuilding.

      What a completely irrelevant organization. Its a shame they’re owned by Canada’s two sports networks who overhype them daily at the expense of other worthy Canadian teams.

    • Yep Ron, paying $11M for that forward solved a problem they didn’t have, and kept them from solving the real problem in their own end ever since.

      • Sure KevJam, everyone knows the oilers have the best goaltenders. 😂

    • Very anti-Leafs way of looking at it.

      1) Who predicted the Plandemic would freeze the cap?

      2) $10M for Price and Bob worked out sooo well, eh? Let’s spend $11M on a goalie.

      3) Leafs are such a disgrace and over hyped… Yet they are in 5th place in the league.

      The Leafs certainly have their problems, have made mistakes, and are hard to cheer for most nights, but listening to anti-Leafs spew sh!t from their pie holes on a consistent basis just for spite is the hardest thing about being a Leafs fan.

      • WBK, I hear ya man and share your pain.

      • Westbrant, that is HILARIOUS that you’re busting on the Panthers and Canadiens goalies, while pimping your regular season positioning!😁 Leaf goaltending is a joke, everyone knows that. Its extra funny that Price actually handed your team their most recent first-round embarrassment. I guess that irony is lost on you? Its been 18 years since you’ve won a playoff round, and every year you add to your own record setting 55 year Cup drought. Win something…maybe get out of the first round…and you’ll actually have something to crow about.

      • Sorry WBK, but signing JT just didn’t make sense. The prior year, the TML’s were a top 3 goal scoring team, but middle of the pack defensively. It was obvious they needed to get better at keeping the puck out of their net. But, since they spent big on Tavares, they haven’t had enough cap space to improve their D, which is what they needed to do. No Toronto hate here, just stating the obvious.

    • The Leafs are 5th in the league, shouldn’t you be talking about how “Leafs fans are planning the parade!” Yuk Yuk.

      • Westbrand, they were 6th last year. What happened ?

    • PENGY – you are correct. Luongo retired and it hurt the Canucks. Their treatment of him was poor, so he stuck it to them, and I don’t blame him one bit.

  4. Replying to yesterday questions.

    Ray, I’m implying that Debrusk will sign for less, solely based on Lebrun comment of the agent has permission to seek a new deal because some are concerned about the qualifying offer.

    Reading if teams are concerned over a qualifying offer; that must mean they feel its to high

    Reading if agent is willing to work out a new contract knowing this concern; their willing to sign a deal for less then qualifying.

    assumption on my part and we know what they say about assume.

    Why does Debrusk want out of Boston? is it Cassidy who had sent Debrusk to the press box more then once, called him out publicly more then once, reduced his ice time more then once?

    Maybe but Cassidy is just doing his job and trying to find away to get Debrusk to be consistent and live up to his potential on a more consistent base.

    Or is the real answer Taylor Hall?

    Before Hall second line lw was always Debrusk and his to lose not win.

    Enter Taylor Hall after being traded to Boston and signs a 4yr deal. Boston now has Marchand first line LW and Taylor Hall second line LW, neither player is leaving for a few years.

    Debrusk may see himself as a second line LW which is goal production his is; however in point production his is correctly situated as a 3rd line LW.

    Debrusk may see no way to move up the food change (on LW) and get the desire he wants which is 2nd line lw.

    Debrusk has been moved to the top line on his opposite side RW and has shown and increase in his production since that move, at the moment it doesn’t appear that has changed his mind or his doesn’t have the belief that Cassidy will keep him there. Or simply Debrusk prefers to play LW.

    Really i have no idea and maybe one day we’ll find out and it will be because he prefers Tim Hortons over Dunkin Donuts.

    • I agree wholeheartedly that 74 does not see himself as THIRD LINE LW.With 63 and 71, unless he plays the off wing there is no place for him.

    • Ya we don’t know Caper, but if I had to bet it is the 3rd line vs 2nd line thing.
      I don’t blame Cassidy as playing time is the best tool to get players to change, and it’s his job to win and get players to perform. But that also might be the reason, who knows.

      I just know I wouldn’t trade him unless you don’t think he can help you win, or you like the return better.

      Pretty sure DeBrusk understands that too, and it is in his best interests to play well in order to get what he wants.

      Would another team sign him to a 2 year deal between $3.5 and $4M? Maybe, and he might take it as it gets him to UFA. If he keeps producing odds go up.

    • Trade DeBrusk and a 2nd for Zadina + Nemestikov(1/2 salary on both!)
      Only works if Jake agrees to a 1yr x $3M prove it deal

  5. How about caps with 2 young goalies and leafs with 2 older goalies do a 1 for 1. Who knows, maybe a change of scenery works.
    Anyway, if the leafs get Giordano on the blue line, their goaltending and power play improves.

    • I am not a Leafs fan but both these suggestions make sense to me. I had not heard Giordano to Toronto suggested before. I could see him improving their blueline for a run and Toronto being willing to give up the necessary assets for one shot with him.

      • @East Van Fan

        I agree that Giordano would be a nice addition to the Leafs blue line. Not sure Dubas is inclined to use premium assets on a rental after last year’s disappointment with Foligno.

        A better option from SEA would be Soucy. He’s younger and much more affordable ($2.75M) and signed for another year after this one.

        A couple players from SEA that could help TOR are Soucy and Jarnkrok…especially if SEA retains salary to facilitate the trade.

  6. I watched Buffalo kick the Leafs butt last night Toronto quit and their so called stars were invisible and pouting. Sandin is a pylon as are most of their D men but they blame goaltending I see another one and done.

    • You must have missed the Leafs’ game with Washington, Obe. How’d that one go?

  7. the montreal nonsense is pretty comical…they’re in the same world of hurt Minnesota will be in next year…
    I’m in complete agreement about Letang, and Bergeron. I expect 1 year bonus deals…as they retire shortly kind of things.

    I know this is the time of year where Pundit’s just keep paroting the same crap over and over with the same names. Just once though it would be nice if someone could predict an imaginative trade—out of left field—-and get it right?

    I miss Bob McKenzie

  8. Patrick Laine is playing his best hockey of his career

    Does CBJ sell while he is hot or build around the kid?

    • Ds with 14 goals and 23pts in his last 14 games he is hot.

      Laine had personal issues to deal with this year including losing his father.

      I’m a Laine fan and hope he does well. I say you build with him.

      • caper- I think he would look good on a rebuilding Habs team (maybe at the draft table it could go down) habs offer a high pick instead of taking a high pick)

        But to be honest any team could use a shot like his just realize you need to look past his defensive game a bit and surround his (line eh ) (<haha)with some defensive minded players (obviously a set up man too)

    • From what I’ve been reading on various CBJ blogs, Jarno prefers to resign him (4 or 5 years & $9MM aav are the numbers I see most often), but if someone gives him an overwhelming offer (like a couple of draft picks, a prospect and a young forward, or some similar combination), something may be worked out.

    • Laine is a difficult player to understand. He goes on these tears but disappears for 6-8 games stretches.

      When he’s on his game, he looks like he should be a top 10 NHL player. But these gaps are confusing.

      I don’t think I’d be comfortable giving him 9 per.

      He’s only 23, I think he needs to show up every game if he wants money and any significant term.

      I would give him a 2 year show me contract. Even hi qo would scare me.

      IMO, Columbus should sell.

      • Sell Laine for Reinhart and a 2023 2nd!

      • Captain, I felt exactly the same way you did about Laine until this year.
        I have changed my mind on him. What he has done this year is impressive, and from what I have read he is becoming a leader in that room. All part of growin’ up I suppose.

        Caper was right about him and agree with the keep him position. Unless of course his contract demands are nuts.

        CLB had 3 firsts last year, I like the guys they picked C’s and D. Plus 2 firsts this year including Chicago’s which could turn out great for them.

        Plenty of cap space they can leverage short term.

        Keep an eye on these guys over next few years.

      • Sell Laine (retain .7M) for Reinhart and a 2023 2nd!

        Edit: Laine and Gavrikov for Reinhart and Forsling and a 2nd

      • I have been wondering lately how he would look in red and white.

      • Johnny Z, it ain’t happening. Especially if you think Jarmo will retain salary to get a lesser player.
        My personal opinion? Laine seems to want to be here and his defense has actually improved. He’s not and probably never will be great on defense. He’ll resign for 4 years to get past the COVID flat cap, looking to really cash in while still in his prime. I’m guessing first year @ $8 million with raises to reach $9.5 million in the fourth year. His big problem, last year, was Torts.

    • build around him.

  9. Kevjam. I don’t think it is a major concern for Mtl (weber recapture penalty) If he retires this summer, 2022, they will be on the hook for 4 years @ 214k/yearlr. See: Alternatively, if he retired in the summer of 2022, the recapture penalties would be:#Preds – $6.1M/year for 4 years#GoHabsGo – $214K/year for 4 yearshttps://t.co/BPJuXT6Do2

  10. DeBrusk and Reilly to Philly for Boston boys Hayes and Yandle

    • Aren’t both the Bruin guys better than both the Philly guys?
      Not unless Hayes has gotten 3 steps faster.

      Giroux would be great in Boston, but not sure where he wants to go, or if he will even agree to go any where?

    • Flyers say yes please.

      Hayes is eggshell soft and Yandle hasnt been in a corner for years.

    • Pass….

      • Yes hard pass

  11. Back to goaltending. I think Jacob Markstrom sets a reasonable bar for cap hit and value to his team.

    The question: should Jack Campbell return to some semblence of respectable form for the rest of the season, what should he and his agent expect to get on his next deal? I can’t see any team seriously thinking he is worth $6m per year.

    • 6 million is a lot for a backup goalie with more holes in him than a chunk of Swiss cheese, lol.

  12. big moves (due to limited space) are likely going to be few at/near TDL but there are always tweak/depth moves….

    Throwing out a low cost depth acquisition that may work for the seller and buyer

    DelZ— costing way too much (to be buried). Doing quite fine in Bellville (more than a PPG) and was not going to bump other LDs on the big Sens

    Option 1: Buyout (if done) will cost Sens (for balance of year, and accounting for escrow on balance of season; and buyout [I’m assuming no escrow on buyouts]) ~ $2.1 M; and Cap hits of $0.5M and then $0.75 M (next year and year after)…. And they get nothing for him.

    Option 2: Trade pre/at deadline , retaining ½…… cost… after escrow ~ $1.2 M…. ; cap hit $1 M next year only; AND Sens get something in return… so save $Cash, Save overall Cap (albeit all in one year); and get an asset in return. Buyer gets a depth D add for just over League min. Next year Cap hit only $1M, and could bury him (again) if need be

    This is absolutely by no way a game/series changing move….. but many teams are looking to add cheap depth; and this is one way it could be done.

    5th to the Sens; Sens save $Cash, and Cap and move on.

    Acquiring team gets depth cheap (and with term) , that can be buried (if need be) next year.