NHL Rumor Mill – October 5, 2022

by | Oct 5, 2022 | Rumors | 40 comments

In today’s NHL Rumor Mill: trying to guess what Auston Matthews’ next contract will look like plus the latest on Oilers winger Jesse Puljujarvi and Arizona Coyotes defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere.


SPORTSNET: Rory Boylen looked at how the projected rise of the salary cap to $88 million by 2024-25 could affect the Toronto Maple Leafs’ efforts to re-sign Auston Matthews. The 25-year-old center is signed through 2023-24 and carries an average annual value of $11.64 million.

Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews (NHL Images).

Boylen examined several scenarios regarding Matthews signing for a certain percentage of the Leafs’ cap payroll up to the maximum of 20 percent as managed by the collective bargaining agreement.

If Matthews signs an extension for five or eight years next season at 20 percent of $83.5 million, Boylen projects the Leafs star will earn an AAV of $16.7 million. If he waits until he becomes an unrestricted free agent on July 1, 2024, (when the cap could be $88 million) he could get an AAV of $17.6 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This isn’t a trade or a free agent rumor but it’s definitely something to keep in mind as Matthews approaches the end of his current contract, especially if he decides to wait until July 1, 2024, to sign his new deal.

Matthews is going to be very expensive to sign. I doubt he’ll accept a “hometown discount” to stay with the Leafs. He’s already a two-time Richard Trophy winner as the NHL’s leading goal scorer, winner of the 2022 Hart Memorial Trophy and the first player in a decade to tally 60 goals in a season. He’s in his playing prime and will remain among the league’s elite superstars when he signs his next contract.

That means Matthews is going to get top dollar, either from the Leafs or another club if he tests the market.


THE ATHLETIC: Daniel Nugent-Bowman believes the emergence of young winger Dylan Holloway could spell the end of Jesse Puljujarvi’s tenure with the Edmonton Oilers, “whether that’s next week or next year.”

Puljujarvi’s been on the trade block for some time and likely would’ve been moved by now if the market hadn’t gone soft. Oilers general manager Ken Holland has been resistant thus far to trading him for futures.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Oilers’ limited salary-cap space could force Holland to accept futures for Puljujarvi if injuries strike the lineup later in the season and he needs cap room to call up players from the minors. The 24-year-old winger carries a $3 million cap hit for this season.

GOPHNX.COM: Craig Morgan believes Shayne Gostisbehere could be traded this season by the rebuilding Arizona Coyotes if he plays as well this season as he did in 2021-22. The 29-year-old defenseman played his way onto the Coyotes’ top defense pairing, finishing with 51 points in 82 games.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Gostisbehere would be more affordable than teammate Jakob Chychrun, who’s been a fixture in the rumor mill since the middle of last season. He could be a solid addition for a playoff contender seeking additional production from the blueline.

Gostisbehere’s contract will also make him attractive. Slated to become a UFA next summer, he carries a $4.5 million cap hit. However, he’s earning $3.25 million in actual salary, of which $2.25 million has already been paid by the Coyotes as a signing bonus.


  1. Ludicrous , as per Auston Matthews projected next contract …
    I am not doubting it’s true , but a team cannot balance out a competitive lineup with a cap of this value
    The cap increase is not significant at all IMO

    • 20% of the cap is ludicrous. No player has ever earned that. I think it was reported tavares (if i’m wrong, sit down, calm down. The point still remains) had the highest percent of the cap and 16 point something. Macdavid being the next. Mackinnon is the highest paid athlete right now and his cap percentage isn’t near 20 using todays cap dollars.

      Matthews will sign and if he wants they highest cap percentage he will be aiming towards 17%. Yet as Mackinnon proves you don’t need to be the highest all time percentage wise to be the highest paid player.

      20% is ludicrous. though 17% will still be one heck of a ludicrous payday in itself.

      • Nate Mac will be the highest paid NHL player, not Highest paid Athlete when his extension kicks in.
        Tavares is at 13.3%, Matthews is the highest on the Leafs right now at 14.1%
        Actual salary this season, Seguin, Panarin, Bobrovsky, E. Karlsson, D. Nurse are your top 5, in that order.
        Among the Leafs, Rielly ranks 42nd in the league this season with a sarly of 8 million, Marner is ties for 42nd with 8 million, Matthews is currently has the 48th highest salary for this season at 48th in the league, third on his Team.
        According to Cap Friendly and Sports Track, roughly 24 Teams will have sufficient cap space to sign AM to a 17+ million AAV deal in the summer of 24, obviously a long way to go until then.
        Dude is absolutely going to get 17+ million in UFA.

  2. Puulujarvi’s average play in the NHL is the reason why the Oilers can’t find a good return for him. His $3M cap hit is a hole in the roster that they have to survive with until he becomes a free agent again

    • Arizona will take him and his cap hit plus a first round pick for future considerations lol….

    • What is your definition of an average player in the NHL? For a forward, I would think it would be somewhere around a second and third-line player. Which GM wouldn’t want a player of Puljujarvi’s size, skill set, and cap hit and will still be an RFA after this season, on their second or third line? The only reason why the Oilers are looking at trading Puljujarvi is because of the development of Holloway. I’m thinking the only reason why Puljujarvi hasn’t been traded yet is that Holland wants to make sure Holloway can keep his strong play up against actual NHLers.
      Puljujarvi has had a good training camp. The only reason why he may be the odd player out of the Oilers top 6 is that Holloway has had a stronger training camp and he’s on an ELC.

      • Sums it up KevJam.
        1/2 point per game players make $3M in the NHL.
        That’s what he makes.

        Plus he is a possession beast, and other players score more goals when he is on the ice, to a man.
        He just doesn’t make the fancy plays and struggles to finish for stretches. But he checks well and gets the puck back. That’s his strength.

        But, the Oil are in a cap crunch, and I’m not a fan of starting the season with a smaller roster. So him or Foegele make the most sense to be moved. We’ll see I guess.

      • The Oilers are needing to clear $1.212 million in cap space to become cap compliant after they put Klefbom and Smith on LTIR. Ryan and Janmark each have a cap hit of $1.25 million. If the Oilers put one of those two on waivers, what do you think the chances are that they get claimed? that would clear the needed cap space. Then the Oilers can keep both Puljujärvi and Foegele.

  3. Ken, it’s the new reality of the NHL – i.e., trying to develop a balanced line-up while at the same time paying your top stars top dollar – all within the confines of a hard cap.

    Using the Leafs as an example – and they are not alone in this scenario by any stretch – next year, before they even get to Matthews, they have 7 UFAs (Kerfoot, Engvall, Kampf, Aubé-Kubel, Bunting, Simmonds, Holl) and 3 RFAs (Anderson, Gaudette, Samsonov) to either re-up or replace. With the exception of Bunting, most will likely be replaced – but they still have to find replacements just as good and, if better, that’s going to cost as well.

    Then, the following year, in addition to Matthews they have 5 more UFAs to deal with (Nylander, Clifford, Muzzin, Brodie, Giordano) and 2 RFAs (Liljegren and Sandin again) – same scenario as above – and if they are forced to deal a Nylander, finding someone to replace his offense won’t be easy – or cheap.

    That exact same conundrum is going to be hitting a lot of teams who, by virtue of being among the top third in the standings, are not exactly in “star” range when it comes to the draft. Some could get lucky – a few always seem to do so with each draft by getting a gem in that range – but not enough to maintain the their top echelon status.

    • Hey George, this is why 1st and 2nd round draft picks are becoming more valued and drafting has become more important in the new era. To balance out the high salaries that the top players are demanding you need good young players who are on the ELC. Having one or two players between your top 6 forward groups and your top 2 defence pairings will go a long way to balance out the top salaried players.

    • Another example of a team that were “loaded up” with really good young first round core was Winnipeg, they had the Cap hit them starting with the Trouba subtraction, the CUP window opening became a crack.

      • Good example.

      • I think the Byfuglien situation had more of an effect on the Jets decline more than the subtraction of Trouba.

  4. Will be some interesting AM talks in a few summers. The obvious choices of California could make more sense as the Kings and Ducks are loaded with kids right now.

    Can the Leafs win the Cup in the next two seasons? thats a trolling question i know!

  5. Re: the outrage concerning salaries. I remember, when I was a kid and free agency first came to baseball. A lot of kids were outraged that Andy Messerschmitt signed a contract for $1MM/year. What I said, then, applies now, with adjustment for inflation of salaries.
    If someone is dumb enough to give me a million dollars a year to play a kid’s game, I’m dumb enough to take it.

    • Andy Messerschmitt, that’s a ” blast from the past” How about a hockey equivalent: Walt Tkachuk forward for the Rangers, good hockey player!!!

  6. Boylen’s article is a really good read and doesn’t just apply to Matthews. You can ballpark your top dogs salary as a % of the salary cap and predict what they’ll be worth when they re-up. (The 20% figure that Boylen throws out there is kind of just goofing around).

    It’ll be interesting to see if players hold off on renewing until the cap goes up, or if they’re going to force the market to pay the future % of what they think they are worth.

    • It will be interesting Greg V – to say the least – but in the end there will be varying positions taken when it comes to assessing “one’s worth.” And, of course, there’s always the pressure by the collective known as the Player’s Union – if X asks for – and gets – XXX Millions per and Y’s turn comes up and his stats are as good as or even better than those of X, trying to settle for substantially less because he likes the area and is quite comfortable there would go over like the proverbial lead balloon with the “collective.”

  7. Arizona is in a state of perpetual rebuild. When is the NHL going to wake up and let that team move to a city (with an owner) that players want to stay and play for ….

    On that note, I hope LA makes a pitch for Chychrun. Their D could use a boost. Who knows if Edler and Walker can last the season and the young players like Spence & Durzi may need a night off here or there to focus.

    Lyle – Any news from LA regarding a trade?

    • Nothing thus far, Les.

  8. I have a question about the salary cap.
    A player can sign an extension one year before their contract is up. Is the max of the new extension 20% of the current cap, even though that the extension kicks in the following season, or can they exceed that the 20% to what the cap is projected to be?
    I’m thinking we might be heading towards contracts being negotiated in the percentage of the cap instead of dollars in the near future.

  9. For 17,6 you get 3 really good players. I don’t care how good he is, you need those players to to have a good enough team to win. In a vacuum he might be worth it but not in real team economics

  10. NHL player salaries is very unfair the league minimum needs to be way higher. Paying your best players 10 or 15 times more than a third line player is ludicrous. If your best player is twice as good or even three times better than pay him accordingly.

    • I agree but that’s a production of the cap and there’s no way it’s gonna get better, especially when there is more and more average players can’t get contracts and forced to PTOs and signing at or near minimum. The next CBA has to fix this widening pay discrepancy.
      I believe in paying for talent especially as rare as it is but I don’t think it should be at the cost of their fellow players/line mates. Teams will always be forced to (or not) overpay to keep players and the cap hasn’t solved that or controlled the costs to keep talent on the team.

    • Players like McDavid, Matthews, and MacKinnon are extremely hard to come by. Whereas there are a lot of good third-line players and they are easier to find/draft. This makes those top-tier players more valuable than your third-line players.

      • I agree they should be paid more but in today’s world pay a McDavid 10 million and a third liner 2 that’s 5 times less. Sitting in a dressing room make minimum and your scrapping for a guy making 10 can’t be good for morale. Matthews will sign for an American based team in my opinion he said he is not talking about it anymore sounds like Tkachuk.

  11. Arizona is barely above cap floor with full 23 man roster. Regardless of actual salary, trading away Ghost will put them under. His contract is the kind they would want back, not get rid of.

    • Heh, Slick62 – Arizona appears to be a classic example of how NOT to run a pro franchise – in all aspects.

      Showing 23 signed they sit $2,027,959 over the minimum of $61 mil so, yeah, if they deal Ghostisbehere and his $4.5 mil cap hit, at first glance they drop almost $2.5 mil below the minimum – unless a commensurate cap hit comes back.

      But CapFriendly also shows them with 9 D among the 23 and just 1 goalie. So they’ll either have to find one somewhere (part of a deal for Ghostisbehere??) or elevate one from their system. None there cost over $807,778 off the cap so if they go that route likely one of the similar cost 9 D goes down (Moser, Timmins or Dineen).

      I suppose they could cover that to some degree by placing Little and his $5,291,667 cap hit on LTIR and take advantage of that loophole.

      They also still have Chiasson on PTO so, if he’s signed and an ELC sent down, whatever he signs for (can’t be a lot) factors in.

      What a dog’s breakfast!

      • George, if they trade Ghost, how do they ever accommodate Chychruns trade request?

    • Gostisbehere @ 50% is what will happen later in the season

  12. One factor missing on the mathews comments is the marketability. Toronto doesn’t need to have a mathews to sell out. Most other nhl teams need a player like him. Which is why open market he breaks the bank hence Toronto having to break the bank. Not to mention merch

  13. I think one remedy to the cap could be to allow the teams to designate one “franchise player” that they can pay w/o cap implications. That would cut down on player movement and allow teams to build around a franchise/special player. That way, we won’t have the Austin Mathews with 22 Fred Knipsheers on every team. Of course, trading that player could be difficult, but there is always the option to hold salary back. Oh, I don’t want to hear about small market teams, ether. Every team gets an equal cut of the TV/Media money. The cap numbers are the same for all teams. If you don’t want that aggravation, don’t buy a team.

    • What if the player doesn’t want franchised? Is it like the nfl model?

      • If a team only has one player who can be regarded as a “franchise” type, then that’s a team in trouble.

        Granted, there would be varying degrees of “franchise” player, but if the guy you want to designate objects to being so categorized, then all NM/NT clauses are rescinded, designate someone else, and then trade the other guy’s sorry ass out of town.

  14. The bigger question (than what AM’s contract will be [$s/term]) is where/what franchise it will be with

    Captain of Kraken to start 24/25 season?

    • Side note

      Per Gavin group….

      $15 M per in Seattle has the approx same take home as $20.3 M in Toronto…. Both ~ $9.5 M

      • As per Gavin Group.
        NHL Cities ranked by Cost of living where 1 is the cheapest city and 32 is the most expensive.
        1. Dallas
        2. Arizona
        5. Las Vegas
        10. Ottawa
        11. Edmonton
        14. Calgary
        16. Toronto
        18. Florida (Miami)
        21. Tampa Bay
        29. Seattle
        32. NY Islanders
        32. NY Rangers

      • Classic cluelessness at its best.

        I really just wanted to leave that as my reply to your whatever those words you think they mean…because I really want to get this right.

        So Matthews will leave Toronto, a perennial cup contender/hockey hotbed to the league’s latest expansion team so he can make less money, less exposure and play for a non hockey mad market? You sure got that one.

        For anyone else who thinks Matthews will leave need to understand what team could sign him at what will be the biggest contract when he does? So whatever that contract will be, it won’t be an issue for the Leafs to match, to further that only the Leafs would find a way to insure it will be a very favorable contract for him where he can be paid a larger amount of his cash sooner and insure he receives more of it making it less eligible to escrow, lockouts, etc for example receive all but some min salary as a signing bonus something other teams won’t or can’t do.
        That’s a big point that deflates your high hopes. For a guy who’s said he wants to be front and foremost on the biggest hockey stage doesn’t sound like wants to leave it to go into obscurity.

  15. Hollaway will make the Oilers top Six, watched the game the other night this kid was leading the charge All Night..!!
    then 100% Jesse Puljujarvi’ is avalable for trade…
    he only has 3.8 years in the NHL & still very young if its not a player or prospect he is traded for its a 2nd round pick❓

    The Oilers have lots of forwards they can move, wave Derek Ryan & Janmark each have a cap hit of $1.25 million and Warren Feogele they could trade at $2.75M to move under the cap im sure the next 7 days will be quite busy with movement$

  16. 20% of the cap is ludicrous. No player has ever earned that. I think it was reported tavares (if i’m wrong, sit down, calm down. The point still remains) had the highest percent of the cap and 16 point something. Macdavid being the next. Mackinnon is the highest paid athlete right now and his cap percentage isn’t near 20 using todays cap dollars.

    Matthews will sign and if he wants they highest cap percentage he will be aiming towards 17%. Yet as Mackinnon proves you don’t need to be the highest all time percentage wise to be the highest paid player.

    20% is ludicrous. though 17% will still be one heck of a ludicrous payday in itself.