NHL Rumor Mill – April 13, 2022

by | Apr 13, 2022 | Rumors | 17 comments

In today’s NHL Rumor Mill, a look at five pending unrestricted free agents who could turn strong postseason performances into big paydays this summer.

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Ian Kennedy believes Toronto Maple Leafs’ Jack Campbell and Ilya Mikheyev, Pittsburgh Penguins forward Evan Rodrigues, Colorado Avalanche winger Andre Burakovsky and New York Rangers forward Andrew Copp could cash in big this summer if they have strong performances in the upcoming 2022 Stanley Cup playoffs.

Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender Jack Campbell (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: While regular-season performance is often the benchmark in contract negotiations, a strong postseason effort is also a determining factor in what the final deal looks like.

With an annual cap hit of $1.65 million, Campbell is already underpaid as a bona fide NHL starter. While there’ve been some health concerns, the 29-year-old goaltender could earn a considerable raise if he backstops the Maple Leafs on a deep playoff run.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Campbell is going to earn a significant pay increase. How much he gets (and whether he gets it from the Leafs) could depend on his performance in the 2022 playoffs. Winning their first series since 2004 could earn him $6 million annually on a long-term contract. If he backstops the Leafs to their first Stanley Cup since 1967, he could push for $8 million annually, forcing the cap-strapped club to choose between slashing payroll to retain him or watch him get signed by another club.

Mikheyev ($1.645 million) has shown promise as a potential top-six winger this season. However, he’ll have to carry that over into the postseason. He’s played in 12 NHL playoff games but has yet to register a point.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly shows the Leafs with $73.6 million invested in 15 active players for 2022-23. If the Leafs can sign Campbell to an affordable cap hit (under $5 million annually), they’ll have enough to ink Mikheyev to a decent raise ($3 million?) on his next contract. That would mean shedding salary elsewhere to free up cap room to fill out the remainder of the lineup. Otherwise, Mikheyev will have to seek his raise in this summer’s open market.

Rodrigues is enjoying a career-best with 18 goals and 42 points in 75 games. However, he’s yet to put together consecutive productive campaigns. The 28-year-old forward also has limited playoff action, appearing in just two postseason contests.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Rodrigues is on a one-year, $1 million contract. His biggest annual average value was $2 million on a one-year deal with the Buffalo Sabres in 2019-20. As Kennedy points out, he could cash in on the open market this summer as a middle-six winger with a solid playoff performance.

Kennedy believes Burakovsky could price himself out of the Avalanche’s market if he has another strong postseason outing as he did in 2020 with 17 points in 15 games. The 27-year-old winger is enjoying a career-high performance this season with 20 goals and 53 points in 70 games.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Burakovsky’s annual cap hit is $4.9 million. The Avs have almost $56 million invested in 13 players with Darcy Kuemper and Nazem Kadri also slated to become UFAs this summer and superstar Nathan MacKinnon due for a major raise after next season. It wouldn’t surprise me if he’s skating with another club next season.

Copp is a consistent, versatile middle-six forward with a current cap hit of $3.64 million. He’s played a solid two-way game in the postseason but he’s managed just 12 points in 34 playoff games.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I agree with Kennedy that Copp’s going to get paid. A strong postseason effort with the Rangers will certainly help him in the UFA market.


  1. In addition to the UFAs in the article, I am really curious what the Blues are able to do regarding Perron and Husso!?! Both have had terrific seasons. Can’t imagine letting Perron loose AGAIN, and Husso would be a horrible loss.

    • Hi IP

      Hope most of the snow by-passes you 🤞🙏

    • Its really summer of 2023 that the Blues have to make the tough decision’s. STL has roughly 10.8 million in projected cap space next year with Perron, Husso, Mac Mac, Rosen, Leddy, and Bozak as UFA this summer.
      Perron, Husso, and Leddy would be the guys that would likely be resigned. IF the Blues can move out cap, i.e. Scandella and Binninton.

  2. Re Campbell …. And “ If he backstops the Leafs to their first Stanley Cup since 1967, he could push for $8 million annually”….

    If Leafs win cup… then Avs, Cats, Bolts, Canes, etc etc etc…. Will be chanting…. “Hell has actually frozen over” ….So give Campbell $12 M per in that case… cuz everybody here in the GTA will be in dreamland and amount paid to a starter won’t matter

    I’m just ribbing everybody… as the chances of Leafs coming out of ATL are already slim; winning East, much slimmer still… winning Cup…. Meaning likely having to win 3 series against the US SE (or Bolts, Cats, then Rangers) then beat Avs….. very very slim chances

    I do believe with some good off-season moves this summer, that Cup in ‘23 or ‘24 is certainly a fair chance

    • Pengy,

      Be fair now. Im sure the Leafs odds of winning are greater than you imply.

      Per Luke Fox of LeafsNet, Toronto not only has the Richard winner on their team but the Selke, the Vezina, the Calder and the Hart winners as well as the 2nd coming of Bobby Orr (Foxes words, not mine). Add on 110 point Marner and perennial playoff stud Johnny Tavares and this team looks unbeatable.

      Im sure the Panthers, the Lightning, the Bruins and Canes are all quaking in their skates with fear over having to face the Leafs juggernaut come playoff time.

      I mean seriously, with their track record of success who wouldnt be?

      • Hi Ron

        Hyperbole a tad on my part…. But if I’m being fair…. I truly believe the odds (not betting odds, as they are just that… bets) of Leafs losing first round , are higher, and probably fairly higher, than Leafs winning the whole Enchilada this summer

        Rationale for above …. again my viewpoint/rationale and NOT balance of bets determining betting odds…

        Leafs chances of beating Cats in a series…. < 10%
        V Bolts…. < 30%
        V Canes …. < 30%
        V Avs …. < 10%

        Beating all 4…. at best… .10 * .10 * .3 * .3……. = Less than 1% chance

        There is not a single team in the East 8 that Leafs have greater than a 90% chance of beating in the first round

        …. at best…. 90% chance over Caps or Pens…. So 10% chance (remember that is v lowest of 8 Eastern teams) chance alone of just those two…. Of losing in first round

        Vs at best 1% of beating Bolts AND Cats AND Canes AND Avs

        So…. Far better chance of golfing after first round than hoisting the SC this summer

        Next year… with some strategic moves in the summer…. Far far better chance of going the distance

        They must do this by June of ‘24… as AM extremely likely saying B-Bye on 1/7/24

        Re Luke Fox and his Leaf trophy mania….RR very likely

        Other than that… I’ve posted many times why Jossi, Shesterkin , and Hoobie are definitely more valuable (“to his team” per Hart definition) to Predz, Blueshirts, Cats than AM is to Leafs; and Johnny Hockey to Flames about on par with AM to Leafs

        If PHWA Voters once again skew their vote to the Leagues best player (vs truly defined “most valuable to his team)…. Then their vote needs to be for the best NHL player…. Who happens to be (as at now) the world’s current best hockey player…. McD

        AM is not even the 21-22 NHL’s most/best pure scorer… That goes to Kreider , second to Leon

        Do I hope I’m wrong re my prognostications on Leaf 21-22 play-off success… you bet your sweet goopy I do

        Alas… logic for me, waaaaaaay supersedes my heart/wishes

  3. The leafs winning the cup. OH please the Kraken will win it before they will. Your killing me I laughed so hard I spilled my coffee.

    • Hi Pete

      My comment was tongue ‘n cheek

      I do NOT think Leafs will win Cup this year

      ‘23 or ‘24 …. If big strat moves done this summer…. Yes possible

      Upsets can happen…. But the two teams right now neck and neck for the Prez trophy have to be the top two candidates (right now) to hoist theCup this summer

  4. I would think an All Star Vezina candidate would merit more than a 6 million dollar pittance.

    • This year will be the most he has ever started in his career and it will be under 50 games. Certainly won’t be a vezina candidate but he did play very well early on. A long term contact with a $6 is way too risky but Dubas likes to overpay. I don’t think even Leaf management knows who they’ll have in the crease next year.

  5. Dumb and dumber. (See above)
    The straw man strikes again. No one will sign Campbell for $6m, period. Even if he accomplishes those feats, he’ll likely get paid $4-5m.

    • Youre most likely correct on that. Why sign Campbell for 4, 5 or 6 million when the Leafs could upgrade their goaltending by signing David Ayres for a mere million.

      • The comment wasn’t geared towards you. No need to comment on the obvious Ron.
        As for goalies, your team could surely use someone that good. At least you’ll know your team will have half a chance on winning nightly.

      • I wish the fish at the lake took the bait as easily as you.

        Too funny.

      • RM

        Hart and Jones havent been the problem(not to say either hasnt had the occassional crapper) but the issue in philly isnt the goal tending.

        It is players finishing checks and playing like hockey players not figure skaters.

        The coaches dont know how to design plays so we dump and chase mostly the whole game.

        And lastly the GM is a waste of life, his retooling is done and we so who the tool is.

      • MP you make some good points but my comment was more mud slinging towards a troll.
        The flyers have a lot to fix…part can be just an off year but there are aspects to the team that really needs fixing. It gonna be a long tough ride.

  6. Lyle, unfortunately you’re probably right about Burakovsky! The Avalanche are up against it when it comes to the cap. Too bad because Burky has that lethal wrist shot and he’s had definitely been clutch in certain situations when other Avalanche are injured, in the playoffs and regular season. The one critique I have of him is he has a tendency to turn the puck over at times and makes some bad decisions in the neutral zone. Despite that, I would take him on my team anytime. He’s very skilled and that wrist shot he has is lethal, good teammate too, works hard. GO AVS!!!!!!!!