NHL Rumor Mill – May 16, 2022

by | May 16, 2022 | Rumors | 22 comments

The offseason questions facing the Penguins and Stars plus the latest on the Leafs in today’s NHL rumor mill.


ESPN.COM: Greg Wyshynski reports the Pittsburgh Penguins face some big decisions regarding Evgeni Malkin, Kris Letang and Bryan Rust. They are slated to become unrestricted free agents in July and there’s little chance all three will return. Wyshynski predicts only Letang will be back.

Pittsburgh Penguins center Evgeni Malkin (NHL Images).

Other pending UFAs include Rickard Rakell, Evan Rodrigues and Casey DeSmith. Their restricted free agents include Kasperi Kapanen and Danton Heinen.

PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE: Matt Vensel wonders if the Penguins will let Malkin and/or Letang to depart via free agency and what effect that might have on captain Sidney Crosby. He also mused over whether they’ll invest a long-term commitment in the 30-year-old Rust, who missed two chunks of this season to injury.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap space will determine which UFAs return next season. Cap Friendly indicates they have $54.1 million invested in 15 players for 2022-23. Re-signing Malkin and Letang will eat up a big chunk of their available cap dollars. Rust is due for a significant raise over his current $3.5 million.

Of those three, Letang could be the most vital given his value as a puck-moving defenseman. Malkin’s injury history and at times erratic performance in recent years could make him a risky investment unless he’s willing to accept a substantial pay cut.

It might be possible to sign Letang and Rust. However, that will still eat up a lot of cap space, especially if Letang insists on at least maintaining his current $7.25 million annual average value.

The Penguins could bring back DeSmith if they don’t see any suitable backup options in the free-agent market. I expect they’ll re-sign Heinen but Kapanen seems a likely trade candidate given his struggles during his tenure in Pittsburgh.

ESPN.COM: Kristen Shilton believes the Dallas Stars’ offseason priority is signing restricted free agent forward Jason Robertson, who’s coming off his entry-level contract. Having tallied 79 points this season, the 22-year-old sophomore is a star in the making. Goaltender Jake Oettinger is also completing his ELC and looks to be their starter going forward. They’ll have to determine who becomes his backup if Braden Holtby departs via free agency.

Shilton also wonders whether pending UFA John Klingberg stays or goes. General manager Jim Nill didn’t move him at the trade deadline given his value on their blueline and now the two sides must see if they can reach an agreement on a new contract. Nill must also address his roster’s scoring depth issues.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Nill could attempt to lock up Robertson and Oettinger on long-term deals with affordable annual average salaries. Their agents, however, could seek bigger bucks on shorter terms to bring their clients up to their UFA eligibility.

It seemed Klingberg and the Stars were about to part ways in January after he publicly expressed his unhappiness over the pace of his contract negotiations. However, both sides seem to have resolved that rift at least for the remainder of the season.

There was speculation earlier this season that the 29-year-old Klingberg sought a long-term deal worth between $7.75 million and $8.5 million annually. That, however, could prove too expensive for Nill’s liking but we’ll see how things go between now and the start of the free-agent market on July 13.


TORONTO SUN: Terry Koshan doesn’t believe the Maple Leafs should make major changes in the front office, behind the bench or on the roster despite another first-round playoff exit. He points to their 115-point regular season, as well as pushing the defending Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning to the limit in that opening-round series as justification for giving them another chance.

General manager Kyle Dubas will have around $8 million in salary-cap space to work with unless he moves some players. Koshan suggested Alex Kerfoot and Justin Holl as trade candidates. Dubas must also find a way to shed backup goalie Petr Mrazek’s $3.8 million cap hit.

Re-signing pending UFA goaltender Jack Campbell is the priority, followed by defenseman Mark Giordano if he’s affordable. There doesn’t seem much chance of bringing back Ilya Mikheyev. If Jason Spezza’s playing career is over, Koshan recommends hiring him for an off-ice role.

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Mike Stephens also believes Holl could be shopped this summer. It remains to be seen if they can afford to sign Giordano and pending UFA forward Colin Blackwell. It remains to be seen if the aging Spezza fits into their on-ice plans. Stephens suggests there’s a real possibility Mrazek returns with the Leafs this fall while Campbell ends up signing elsewhere.

THE SCORE: John Matisz believes Mrazek, Kerfoot, Jake Muzzin and Pierre Engvall are four Leafs worth monitoring during the offseason.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Leafs could surprise us by making major changes this summer. Like most observers, however, I don’t see that happening following the season they had.

Re-signing Campbell is their priority because they’ll have a difficult time finding a suitable replacement via this summer’s trade or free agent markets. Doing so, however, will eat up a big chunk of that $8 million in cap space, leaving little for the rest of the roster.

Moving out Mrazek, Kerfoot, Muzzin and Holl would clear over $14.9 million from the Leafs’ books. However, that’s easier said than done. Kerfoot ($3.5 million) would be the easiest to move as his cap hit and two-way skills would be enticing in the trade market. Holl ($2 million) might draw some interest from teams seeking affordable blueline depth.

Mrazek’s injury history and inconsistency are a tough sell. Muzzin’s age (33), injury history, cap hit ($5.625 million) and no-trade clause are significant sticking points.


  1. Trade Holl? Trade Mrazek? A pylon and a 3.5 million dollar sieve that any team could have had for free on waivers? Good luck getting anything tangible in return for either of these two.

    The Leafs cant just tinker with the 3rd and 4th lines. Cap space is in desparare need to make any noticeable upgrades in their bottom six, defence and goaltending.

    Only way to do so is to move one of their “core” contracts.

    Matthews and Marner arent going anywhere, Tavares is untradeable. Nylander is really the option here. Take a reasonable offer that doesnt include taking any dollars back if possible. Add a sweetner to include Mrazek in any deal.

    Dubas has put the Leafs in a limited draft picks, no prospects no cap space dilemma.

    Should he really be allowed to be the one to dig them out of the mess he created?

    • Hi Ron

      I’ve posited for two years now that moving WW is the logical move

      They could try to move MM…. But available (room, need, willing, assts) suitors very small

      WW …. @ $7M…. Way more options

      It’s either that or Leafs go the insane route and say…. “Well ….see what Knights paid for Handsome Jack…. let the bidding start for every team on AM at double that”

      What’s the odds that happens…. you get my point

      • but you’ve spewed a ton of trade proposals that were obnoxious to say the least, hard to take anything at face value who has 2 “favorite” teams

    • Hi Ron

      I’ve posited for two years now that moving WW is the logical move

      They could try to move MM…. But available (room, need, willing, assts) suitors very small

      WW …. @ $7M…. Way more options

      It’s either that or Leafs go the insane route and say…. “Well ….see what Knights paid for Handsome Jack…. let the bidding start for every team on AM at double that”

      What’s the odds that happens…. you get my point

      • We don’t have a WW!

  2. 1. I can’t believe that Dubas acts without input from Shanahan. If Dubas goes, does Shanahan, too?

    2. Tristan Jarry is a UFA after the coming season. I expect he’ll need a healthy raise from his current $3.5M.

    3. Not that anyone else cares, but Oettinger will break the salary structure of my keeper/salary cap roster after he followed a solid regular season with that spectacular playoff performance. It’s a good problem to have, but I sympathize with Jim Nill.

  3. What salary would Malkin need to accept to make sense for the Pens? He still shows flashes but his recent injury history is not easy on him.
    Cannot see him signing with another NHL team but the KHL will come calling.
    Letang still moves like a decade ago-many teams would use him still

    Rust…get the feeling he goes for the first big payday of his career and you cannot blame him

    • Be interesting to see how many players willingly choose to sign in the KHL. Can’t believe it’s a top destination for many considering the current situation…

      • does Malkin dart back to Russia at the end of every season or he is more or less living in the states now?

        Letang @ 7.25 is tough with age+injuries. Malkin to stay in Pitts for more than a 4-5 is nuts

      • Putin’s probably going to put sanctions on most – if not all – non-Russian players in the KHL, so the league will be watered down even more. Malkin could probably pot 50 at half-speeds in that set-up.

    • Rumors :

      Malkin wants ballpark contract 3 years 20 million.

      Letang wants higher than 7.25 million per year.

      Rust wants ballpark contract 6 years 36 million.

      • If that is true, then goodbye. You cant pay players 6-8m a year for only 50-60 games.

  4. DeBoer fired in Vegas. Must be a shiney new object in the window.


    • What a bunch of knobs running that pretentious franchise.

      Stone misses 45 games, Pacioretty 43, Hague 30, Smith 26, Whitecloud 23, Karlsson and Janmark 15 each and Lehner a whole lot – yet, under DeBoer, they finish with 94 points – a solid 0.573 pace – 3 back of Nashville, 4 back of Dallas and 5 back of L.A., while compiling a +/- team aggregate of +18 – 4 better than Nashville, 26 better than Dallas (who were -8) and 15 better than L.A.

      And they fire DeBoer? I hope they sink like a rock from here on and, one day, break Toronto’s Cup drought (whatever that will be when it finally ends).

      Of course I – and everyone in here for that matter – won’t be around to see it happen.

      • George, I am not a fan of the Vegas bunch but DeBoer did an excellent job of throwing his goalie under the bus this year. No way that relationship could be saved.
        Not sure who they hire but he should know he’s heading into a soap opera environment.

      • I didn’t like the DeBoer hiring and not cared much for him as coach as he was handed a good team in NJ and SJ, had a good first season and went downhill every season after. What happened in LV? Exactly the same, given he had issues with roster, but every team does and some manage, some don’t. He has just not impressed me and he doesn’t do a decent job making adjustments, so I am praying he isn’t on Yzerman’s coaching list.

  5. Oh I’ll jump in with the Penguin rumors. Crosby is considering retirement. The other two are waiting to hear what he does. If he comes back Malkin/Letang take one year deals for one more “kick at the can”. Rust is traded, and Casey DeS**t gets let go. (that’s what Penguins fans call him)

  6. Trouba did his best for the Pens cause. Not nearly as good as he and his agent thinks he is. Always seemed to be turning over pucks and for goals . His
    Ione highlight doesn’t even things out. Winnipeg did the right thing

    Oettinger and Robertson are the future of the Stars.
    Won’t watch the Leafs If Mrazek is the goalie

    • We have very different takes on Trouba and Winnipeg could’ve definitely used him

  7. So what would the Leafs do if Yzerman offered Zadina and a 2024 First for Marner at 8 mil?

    • Umm nothing hang up.
      Marner is worth more than that.
      Zadina not a strong player.

      I would take 23 first round pick, Suter & Seider though.

      Makes no sense as Detroit still a few years away – Marner UFA in 2 years – Detroit won’t trade for him.

      Detroit needs a goalie – if I was them I would hunt in Nashville for Ingram!

      • Now asking for Seider+ is a joke, a 20 year old #1 D with potential to be top5 in league, that is a good laugh. Toronto needs cap and 8mil worth is a big chunk, that with Zadina(top 9 still cost controlled) and the first (still going to be lottery but low end) would be a good start. You want Seider you can start with Marner and Matthew’s and still be laughed at…