NHL Rumor Mill – June 4, 2022

by | Jun 4, 2022 | Rumors | 31 comments

The latest roundup of Penguins speculation plus a look at potential trade candidates on the Panthers and Coyotes in today’s NHL rumor mill.


PITTSBURGH HOCKEY NOW: Dan Kingerski predicts the Penguins and pending free agent center Evgeni Malkin could meet “more than halfway” on a new contract that keeps him in Pittsburgh for two seasons at $7 million annually.

Pittsburgh Penguins winger Jason Zucker (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Seems reasonable, though Malkin would probably prefer three years to finish his career when teammate Sidney Crosby’s contract expires in 2024-25.

However, he expects UFA defenseman Kris Letang will get a four-year deal worth an annual average value of $9 million somewhere else.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Letang has said he wants to finish his career in Pittsburgh with Crosby and Malkin. If he’s seeking a big-money raise, however, this season will have been his last in a Penguins jersey.

Kingerski expects restricted free agent winger Kaspari Kapanen will be shopped, perhaps to add a bit of muscle to the Penguins’ lineup. He also believes they’ll let backup goalie Casey DeSmith depart via free agency and attempt to find a reliable backup. “No chance in hell it’s Marc-Andre Fleury,” said Kingerski. “None.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’ll be surprised if Kapanen or DeSmith return with the Penguins next season. They could decide not to qualify Kapanen’s rights if they can’t find anyone willing to acquire him via trade. Fleury returning to Pittsburgh to finish his career would be a great story but I don’t think we’re going to see it happen if general manager Ron Hextall has faith in Tristan Jarry as their starter.

Finding a suitable backup goalie won’t be easy. Kingerski’s colleague Dave Molinari points out that most of this summer’s cut-rate free agent netminders likely won’t be winning a Stanley Cup anytime soon. They include Louis Domingue, Nashville’s David Rittich and Buffalos’ Malcolm Subban.

Kingerski also looked at possible free-agent targets on right wing. He listed Vegas’ Reilly Smith, Toronto’s Ilya Mikheyev, Carolina’s Nino Niederreiter and Colorado’s Valeri Nichushkin but suggests current Penguin Rickard Rakell would be a better fit.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A trade-deadline acquisition, Rakell fit in well with the Penguins and has expressed a willingness to return. Whether they can reach common ground on a deal remains to be seen. Much will depend on what happens with Malkin and Letang.

PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE: Matt Vensel looked at the Penguins’ potential options for Jason Zucker. The 30-year-old winger has a year remaining on his contract worth $5.5 million and has battled injuries in recent years.

The Penguins could attempt to move Zucker in a cost-cutting deal but his contract would be considered a negative trade asset around the league unless they throw in a prospect or draft pick. They could also try to swap him for a comparable veteran forward and hope the latter will be a better fit in Pittsburgh.

A contract buyout could be another option as it would shave $3.5 million from their books for next season. However, they could be prevented from doing so if he’s still considered injured when the buyout period rolls around.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Another option is that Hextall sticks with Zucker and considers other cost-cutting options. There’s been speculation suggesting he could shed some salary by shopping a defenseman such as John Marino or Marcus Pettersson.


FLORIDA HOCKEY NOW: George Richards recently looked at potential cost-cutting trade candidates for the Florida Panthers this summer.

He noted there was some social media buzz suggesting the Panthers move Sergei Bobrovsky. However, the 32-year-old goaltender’s $10 million annual cap hit and full no-movement clause for the next two seasons make him a tough trade.

Players who could be easier to move include Patric Hornqvist (one season remaining at $5.3 million), Sam Bennett (two seasons at $4.4 million per) and Radko Gudas (one season, $2.5 million).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’ve learned in this business not to dismiss out of hand the possibility of a high-salaried veteran with full no-trade protection getting traded. Yes, Bobrovsky could be shopped this summer. However, finding a trade partner willing to take on his full cap hit for the next four years when the salary cap is only rising by $1 million this summer makes him difficult to move.

They could find some takers for Hornqvist or Gudas but Bennett would be the more enticing trade candidate. The 25-year-old is a versatile two-way forward coming off a career-best 28-goal, 49-point performance with a reputation for elevating his game in the postseason.

Those factors would also make Panthers GM Bill Zito reluctant to part with Bennett. He might not have much choice if he’s pressed to free up cap room for next season.

ARIZONA SPORTS: Sam Graveline recently looked at some possible trade chips for the rebuilding Coyotes.

Topping the list is defenseman Jakob Chychrun, who’s been the subject of trade speculation for most of this season. GM Bill Armstrong could seek a return of multiple draft picks and a top prospect.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Armstrong reportedly set a high asking price for Chychrun during this season. He’s not expected to lower it during this offseason.

Defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere’s trade value may have improved following his 14-goal, 51-point performance this season. He’s set to become a UFA next summer. Restricted free agent forward Lawson Crouse could also have some trade value after reaching 20 goals this season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Gostisbehere’s solid bounce-back performance was among the few bright spots for the offensively anemic Coyotes this season. Contenders seeking a puck-moving blueliner could come calling. Unless Crouse’s contract demands are unreasonable I expect the Coyotes will re-sign him.


  1. At first glance I thought 9 million for LeTurnover was way to much, absurd.

    Then I remembered Darnell Nurse is about to go to 9.25.

    Nurse at 9.2 and Tavares at 11 are glaring examples of how to mismanage your cap room.

    • No it’s when your bottom feeding team that’s bumping up near the cap is cap mismanagement. If you have a top ten team and your cap strapped that should be expected not a team in the lower 3rd of the league and can’t make moves they desperately need to make now.

      This unexplainable hatred of players that have proven to someone they are worth more than what you believe is really sad to see.

    • Ron good call there Nurse whi us far inferior is at $9.25..
      Letang had his best season with 68 points and a bit kess Leturover still scares me especially on the power play.

      Fumbles the puck and wont shoot the puck from the poi t on the power play

      4 years @ $8 million ok stay with Penguins let Malkin walk..

      • Anyone signing Letsng longer that two years is itching for a bout of cap hell and this is a big Letang fan talking

  2. So, I’ve been a fan of this site for MANY years, and don’t post often, as I feel like I don’t know nearly as much as most of you about the sport we all love. Although I do LOVE all of your comments and opinions. (and disagreements…haha)

    But I have a hypothetical scenario that I would LOVE all of your thoughts on.

    So, it’s my understanding that when you’re a kid growing up in Canada (or wherever), and you lace up the skates and play as a young child, that your “dream” is to someday win the Stanley Cup. I’m not thinking that at 7 years old, you are skating on a pond or on your own back yard rink thinking, “I don’t care if I ever win the Stanley Cup, I just want to sign an 8 year deal for $10 million per”.

    Also, and I may be wrong about this…most people that make it to the NHL (aside from maybe offspring of NHL family’s, like the Tkachuk’s and others, where they grew up with money) if you were to offer that family $1 million at some point in the kids life, that would be a windfall for the family and would change their life.

    So fast forward to my hypothetical question.

    If a GM said, okay every single player on my team is going to make a base salary of $3 million. With some on ELC’s making less. That would add up to around $65 million to field a team (so to speak)…Then you offer bonuses not to exceed $17 million to stay cap compliant. For example:
    top Point getter receives $4 million bonus,
    2nd in points gets $3,
    3rd gets $2
    and 4th gets $1 million
    Top 2 Defensemen gets $2 million each (not sure what that would be based on, whether it’s +/- or points or Ice Time)
    Goalie can get up to $2 million, depending on GAA

    So here’s where and why I’m asking…and I know this not a real possibility.

    Players like Claude Giroux, Max Paicioretty, or Erik Karlsson who have already had their “payday” and you would think desperately wants to win a cup….or Marc Andre-Fluery who would like to win another Cup, or Malkin for the same reason…or maybe even Patrick Kane that doesn’t want to play his last few years for dumpster fire of a team. And I know I’m talking about older guys here, but what about McDavid or Johnny Hockey, or Austin Matthews who could go play for this team, win the cup, and then get paid.

    So if you compile a team like this, wouldn’t every player want to play on it? I mean if you’ve already signed a big contract and never made it past the first round, this seems like a dream. And then you have a legit shot at winning the cup and you might get paid even more depending on your performance. And if you’re a young guy like a McDavid, Draisaitl or McKinnon, then you go win your cup and and sign somewhere else for the $11/per

    And again, I guess this question goes back to…can I live the rest of my life making about $20-$30 million over my career but got my name on the cup or “Hey, I made $97 million over my career but only made it round two of the playoffs, and never won the cup. I would think that if you’re not Evander Kane and actually make smart investments and don’t throw your money away, that this might be appeal to older players and younger players alike.

    So the big question…name on the cup? or making $90 million over your career compared to $25 million?


    • Hoisting the cup trumps everything else…….or at least it used to. There’s nothing quite like the absolute joy and satisfaction of winning the hardest trophy to obtain in all pro sports.(or so I’ve been told) Many of us have had that dream since we were old enough act it out on the pond, harbor, dugout, street or driveway.
      I still daydream about it on occasion.
      Nowadays, money appears to be the mitigating factor in all pro sports……. At least in this man’s opinion.

      • It’s hard to believe winning the cup is that important to these guys anymore or else McDavid would have demanded his team sign a real goalie, or else trade him.

      • You just need to look at Malkin’s comment recently to answer your question: good players sign good contracts. Would you take a pay cut to do the same job you’re doing currently just so your office team could do well?
        I get your thinking but sportspeople don’t generally sign for less than they are worth.

    • Boy, that’s some deep thoughts to muse over Starsfan. No, I think you’re absolutely right that a 7 year old is not thinking “what I really want is an 8-year deal at $10 mil per …” – but by the time he hits 18 and if he’s lighting up Major Junior, for example, you can bet – thanks to agents and media speculation – that thought is now solidly on his mind. And then there’s the NHLPA which would definitely frown on an emerging McDavid settling for a smaller deal.

      That scaled-down points bonus idea would also have strong opposition due to players feeling they’re being misused in terms of ice time, pp time etc. And so the internal dissatisfaction would grow. And if a coach decided late in a season to reduce the ice-time of so-and-so because he’s not paying satisfactory attention to, say, the defensive side of the game and that player falls a few points short of bonus levels, the you-know-what would hit the proverbial fan.

    • The NHLPA won’t let guys sign for six or more million dollars less than they could be making.

    • If you asked every kid getting drafted this season, cup or $90 million? They’d be liars if they said cup!

    • I just think priorities change over time, once they get to the NHL they want to get paid first and hope to win. I can see some players taking less once they have made their money, the precedent would be when Karyia and Selanne signed with the Avs around 2000 for a one year contract well below market value. Didnt work though. The problem with the model is that you need to have a good TEAM, teams win and that is proven year after year

    • That is why Toronto is the big attraction right now. And I hope they don’t win one until their core is GONE, along with Doobee and Shanny! LOL

    • The players I. The nhl arnt 7 anymore. The money trumps the cup every time.

      • Thank you to everyone that is replying to my crazy scenario….

        So you don’t think King Henrik would give 20-30 million dollars back (he made over 98 million throughout his career) and sign a 5 year, 3 million per contract so that he can have his name on the cup?…at 98 million, I bet he would, if he could go back and do it again with this option.
        And think back to when the Hawks won there first of 3 cups in the 2010’s and Jeremey Roenick was crying during an interview. Not because he was soooo happy for them, but because he was never able to get his name on the cup.
        But I do agree that MOST players are money first nowadays. Too bad, McDavid is going to make like $150 million when it’s all said and done and he may NEVER hoist the cup…I bet if he could see the future and that was really it, he’d be ALL in for this sort of team for 5 years of his life. Just sayin’

      • 20-30 mil for that? Nope. Not a chance. Name on cup… cool. Engraved in history. Nifty. 20-30 mil invested? Your childrens childrens children are set. Bigger more personal legacy.

    • Starsfan the answer should be each to their own. Some money is everything and others want more.

      • agreed, but just a crazy idea about what’s important in life.

      • Good discussion. Professional athletes at the top level are super-competitive. NHL players all want to win the Cup. Thing is, they are just as competitive about money. If they consider themselves to be at the top level in the league, and if their stats are right there to back them up, they want the going rate. If that means they need to move on from their current team, even if they are moving to a weaker team, they’ll move on.
        That’s why so many people think that guys like Connor McDavid and Auston Matthews might change teams when they reach free agency. They want to win in the worst way but they also want to have the highest salaries in the league.

      • There have been in the past – and I suppose always will be – great players with long careers who have never won – and never will win -a Stanley Cup – to name just a few: Bill Gadsby, Dino Ciccarelli, Marcel Dionne, Mike Gartner, Dale Hawerchuk, Phil Housely, Curtis Joseph, Paul Kariya, Pat Lafontaine, Eric Lindros, Cam Neely, Adam Oates, Brad Park, Gilbert Perreault, Jean Ratelle, Borje Salming, Peter Stastney, Darry Sittler, Matts Sundin, Joe Thornton, Norm Ullman, Jarome Iginla, Roberto Luongo, Daniel Alfredsson, Pierre Turgeon

        Most were pre-cap but regardless, I doubt any of them ever settled for less than they thought they were worth and yet felt pangs of jealousy while watching the opposition raise the cup. That’s the essence of being a pro.

      • And Starsfan, please don’t be a stranger.

  3. Wings take Bennett and Horny for Fabri, now go sign Giroux!

    • I have a gut feeling – and I’m not sure I like it – that Giroux will be a Senator come September.

      • 3 x 5 mil for Giroux would be a good signing for Ottawa. No longer in term or higher dollars though.

      • $5M x 3 for Giroux with DALLAS!

      • That’s as high as I’d go Ron and at the same time, him being a right shot, I’d make it clear the top two C positions are for Norris and Stutzle and that he’d be the RW on the 2nd line – with plenty of key face-off opportunities

    • Bennett is easy to move but dont the Panthers need more players like him?

      Was it coaching or personal/leadership issues?

    • Sorry, Fabri is out for a while yet.
      Horny and Weegar for a 4th……now go sign Giroux!
      Wings need a vet LD

  4. play this coming season with what you have Bruins, take the hit try to get the right high draft pick after next offseason…….Foligno,Smith,Haula,Nosek,Wagner,Frederic,Clifton will all be UFA and all be gone…trade if they can Reilly and Grzelcyk this offseason…….

    • Do you believe that Joe? I know Foligno’s history what a waste of time& space stick a piece of belly button lint on the ice you’d probably get a better response than putting Foligno out there. Smith was horrible in the playoffs, Nosek gone as well, but Huala? and especially Frederick, for some reason bruins brass loves this guy, I always thought he was a bust from the very start. I think they keep Trent I’m not sure they’d get much for him if they did trade him. Sweeney and his staff are the worst In The league when it comes to the draft or evaluating talent I just hope for some reason he decides to pack it in. Worst gm in Boston History, Maybe Sweeney and Lurch had a tiff in negotiations that is why this is taking so long.

  5. Trade Letang’s rights to Montreal today for a pick(s). Let them have extra time to overpay as they like to do. They can figure out how to make cap space before the draft.

    People also need to stop speculating that the Penguins will do what the “need” to do and remember who the coach is. Players that play tough get traded/moved away from Pittsburgh, not brought in. Sullivan has no need for ,and will not correctly utilize, anyone designated as tough (not talking about fighters).