NHL Rumor Mill – December 23, 2022

by | Dec 23, 2022 | Rumors | 33 comments

Will the Maple Leafs attempt to acquire a notable forward like Ryan O’Reilly, Bo Horvat or James van Riemsdyk at the March trade deadline? Read on to find out in today’s NHL rumor mill.

NOTE: I will be taking my annual Christmas break from Dec. 24 to Dec. 26. The next update to this site will be Tuesday, Dec. 27, 2022.

SPORTSNET: After the Toronto Maple Leafs shipped Denis Malgin to the Colorado Avalanche for Dryden Hunt earlier this week, Luke Fox felt they still needed to address a vacancy among their top-six forwards. “That move should still be coming,” wrote Fox. “It will just need to wait until after the holidays.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: But how long after the holidays will the Leafs need to wait? What vacancy do they need to fill? Which players could they pursue to address that issue? Don’t worry, they’re plenty of answers to those questions. Read on…

Fox believes Maple Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas must be very bold at the March 3 trade deadline. He suggests Dubas follow the example of Tampa Bay Lightning GM Julien BriseBois, whose moves in the last three trade deadlines helped the Lightning win the Stanley Cup in two of their three straight trips to the Finals since 2020.

St. Louis Blues captain Ryan O’Reilly (NHL Images)

The Leafs will have sufficient cap space to make moves leading up to the deadline with defenseman Jake Muzzin and his $5.625 million cap hit on long-term injured reserve until the postseason and perhaps beyond. Fox believes Dubas must address the Leafs’ need for a second-line left wing by acquiring a natural winger or a center and shifting John Tavares or the new center to the left side.

Fox mentioned Vancouver’s Bo Horvat, St. Louis’ Ryan O’Reilly and Chicago’s Patrick Kane among possible options. Others include Chicago’s Jonathan Toews, Detroit’s Tyler Bertuzzi, St. Louis’ Vladimir Tarasenko or Ivan Barbashev, San Jose’s Timo Meier, and Columbus’ Gustav Nyquist.

He also listed potential trade targets to bolster the blueline. The most expensive option would be Arizona’s Jakob Chychrun. Other defensemen who could be available include Arizona’s Shayne Gostisbehere, Anaheim’s John Klingberg, Columbus’ Vladislav Gavrikov and Vancouver’s Luke Schenn.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Most of those players could become available leading up to deadline day. Which ones could the Leafs afford to acquire? Let’s take a look, shall we?

THE ATHLETIC (subscription only): Joshua Kloke and Harman Dayal examined three potential trade proposals the Leafs could make for the Canucks’ Bo Horvat. The Canucks seek a package that includes multiple young players. They aren’t expected to have much interest in a futures-only package.

Kloke’s proposals involve a young player like Timothy Liljegren or a prospect such as Matthew Knies. Ultimately, Kloke and Dayal are skeptical that the Leafs can put together a sufficient offer to land Horvat.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Never say never, I suppose, but the Canucks would have to be desperate for the Leafs to have a decent shot at acquiring Horvat. By that, I mean the Canucks fail to find any teams willing to meet their asking price and are forced to accept lesser offers.

There’s nothing wrong with Liljegren and Knies has NHL potential. Nevertheless, there’s just not enough there in Kloke’s proposals that I believe would put the Leafs over the top in a bidding war.

TSN (stick tap to NHL Watcher): During a recent appearance on Leafs Lunch, Darren Dreger was asked what it would cost the Leafs to land Blues captain Ryan O’Reilly. He doesn’t think they’ll part ways with Knies and would be shocked if he doesn’t sign with them once his NCAA season is over. Dreger also wondered about Nick Robertson and if he could be moved.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Blues are enduring an up-and-down season thus far. If they drop out of the race they could entertain offers for O’Reilly if they can’t get him under contract before March 3. However, I don’t like the Leafs’ chances of landing him if they’re unwilling to include Knies in the deal.

TORONTO SUN: Michael Traikos wondered if Dubas would bring back James van Riemsdyk at the trade deadline. The 33-year-old winger spent the best seasons of his career with the Leafs and said he loved playing in Toronto.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: van Riemsdyk would be a more affordable option than Horvat or O’Reilly. However, he’s at the stage in his career where his best seasons are behind him. “JvR” might not fit well within their current system.

TORONTO STAR: Nick Kypreos wondered if Dubas would wait to sign Knies in the hope that he makes a big splash directly out of college hockey the way Cole Caufield did for the Montreal Canadiens in 2021. If not, Kypreos suggested Arizona Coyotes forward Lawson Crouse or Canadiens winger Josh Anderson would be available at the right price.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I expect Dubas will make a significant move or two by the March trade deadline. His job probably depends on it. The Leafs’ impressive regular-season performance won’t mean squat if they can’t win a playoff round. I don’t see how Dubas keeps his job if the Leafs make another first-round exit.

Again, I’m not fully ruling out the Leafs landing someone like Horvat or O’Reilly but I doubt they’ll get either guy without including Knies and perhaps their first-round pick as part of the return. The same goes for Kane, Toews, Tarasenko, Meier, and Chychrun.

The others shouldn’t cost the Leafs a first-rounder and/or their top prospect. Nevertheless, the asking prices could rise if there are multiple teams bidding for their services. Clubs like the Coyotes and Canadiens will want returns that suit their rebuilding plans. Their respective general managers have been able to get solid returns in the trade market.


  1. And there you go leafs fans! A whole day dedicated to you. Lyle Claus delivered you a wonderful Christmas present.

    • Pengy will be torn. Where’s the Penguins speculation?
      Have a great Christmas, Lyle.

      • I think I just tore my knee up (maybe my groin as well) salting the driveway and slipping all over the place….So yes torn LOL

    • I know!!! On a burins fan none the less to boot! Tomorrow it’s all Habs followed by Rangers.

      I big thanks to Lyle and wishing all a safe and happy festive season.

  2. Happy Holidays Lyle and to all who post on here keep up the “friendly” bantering. It usually makes my day. Thanks for having this site. Although I do not post very often I do read it daily.

  3. Hello Lyle, have a great break and Merry Christmas!

    Dubas has got to make something that gets them to the conference championship or more or he is toast. Reilly would make the most playoff success sense. But he does that for a lot of other teams as well. I sense an overpay on Dubas’s offer, and Armstrong knows it.

    Happy Holidays to all!

  4. Tiz is the season to give but no team is giving the Leafs anything I don’t think they have the assets for a “splash “ (unless they are taking a bath).
    Never seen him skate but I highly doubt Knies is in the same conversation as Caufield

  5. He is not. He’s a decent (2nd round pick 57th overall) prospect having a very good season at the Univ. of Minn. Typically, Kypreos raises unreasonable expectations in some of the gullible fan base – no pressure kid – just come in and repeat what Caufield did in Montreal.

    • I think as a Leafs fan, other than both being Americans who are hockey players, the similarities end there. The big deal with Knies is he’s big, 6’3 and 180+ lbs. he’s a typical power forward that can skate, shoot and is physical…exactly what the Leafs lack. Is he a top 6 nhl player? No. Is he a bottom 6 player? Also no…he’s a mystery box that will be a full time player.

      I guess it’s safe to say all those names in the mill are just for fun and those rumored are not going to be a Leaf.

      • At 6’3 180lbs he going to need at least 400lbs to be considered a power forward. A project at best that’s not getting the leafs Horvat

      • It’s usually the same that are the ones to over-hype that are the first calling for blood when that player never became what they thought he ought to be. I think it’s ego driven in the hockey center of the universe! 😆😆😆

        Players that will stick usually need 100 nhl games before we even get an idea of what type of player one is so a prospect is a mystery box until he plays 100 games if he’s got that in him. So a guy like Knies isn’t going to not be overhyped until you discover his shortcomings that will result in him never (or take longer) to achieve your team’s assessment of what you were projected in the organization.
        Value like beauty are in the eye of the beholder. I don’t know enough about him nor expect much from Knies, like everyone else who cares, will have to wait until the end of the season to see it, if it happens, trade or not.

    • To be fair to Kipper (hard to do, he’s a meathead IMO) he didn’t cmpare them. He said Toronto could hope he does what the kid did for Ottawa right out of university. That isn’t a comparison.

      • tb, he didn’t do it for Ottawa (I wish) … he did it for Montreal 🙂

        And I understand your point … but some of those guys operating out of Toronto have got to shelve those types of “wishful-thinking” comments if only to avoid getting a certain element of a hungry fan base all excited and expecting performances that just might not be reasonable.

        Those that frequent this site are considerably more knowledgeable about the game than the average “rah-rah” fan and, while hoping for good results from their team of choice’s prospects, remain pragmatic until they see those prospects in NHL action. The rah-rah types, on the other hand, get their hopes and expectations all bent out of proportion and when a kid doesn’t live up to the hype he becomes a target for their “get rid of the bum” wrath. And they can be loud.

    • Re Caufield

      I don’t get the hype about Caufield? He’s scored 76 points in 111 GP and is a -31.

      Tell me that St. Louis doesn’t have a soft spot for Caufield because he sees a little of himself in Caufield as a smaller forward that most NHL GMs overlooked. On a better team would Caufield get the same opportunities? Likely not.

      Plenty of top NCAA players don’t amount to much in the NHL.

      Knies is a type of player the Leafs don’t have. Unless they receive a similar player with term in return I don’t see the Leafs moving him.

      Prospects I think would be available are Robertson, Hirvonen, Niemela, Hollowell, Villeneuve, Voit, and DerArguchintsev as well as their 1st round pick and 3rd round pick. Prospects that would not likely be available are Knies and Minten.

      The Leafs seem to be handling adversity on D just fine. They definitely need help at 2LW. VanRiemsdyk is a defensive liability so he’s out. O’Reilly would be a nice addition as he can play 3C on the road and 2LW at home. He would feast on an opposing teams 3rd line Kampf is as solid a 4C as you can get.

      Merry Christmas to all! 🎄

  6. Nicely wrapped gift for the leafs, you appearantly can get any player you want a little or no cost. Boxing day came early.

  7. Here is a thought for you George…..Caufield so far is a success when it doesn’t count….just many Leaf players have been over the years…..and just like many Leaf players he will get knocked off the puck or out of the space he likes to occupy when the whistles are put away and the poor skating big boys come out to play…

    • So the refs run the playoffs, right, OBD?

      • Bcleaffan, the game changes in the playoffs as in any sport.

        There is now something to play for, the imstensity and physical play pickup.

        Not all but some smaller players have a hard time replicating the regular season in the playoffs.

        As a Bruin fan i’m pointing my finger directly at Matt Grzelcyk.

    • Old Blue Dog – first they have to MAKE the playoffs in order for him to be knocked off the puck … and I don’t see that happening anytime soon.

  8. Re Leafs and moves @ TDL

    I have confidence that Dubas at least tries to make a splash

    That said…. He’ll have to outbid…. And more futures will fly out the door

    Can’t see him able to get BOTH a top 6 winger and a Top 4 D…not completely impossible but if so (Both aquistiins) Cupboard definitely bare (as an aside…. Have a booatwhat Cats have left)….And…

    Even with that…. It’s still a longshot they get to ECF let alone SCF

    First round will almost assuredly be Bolts….I I think they (Bolts) are the better playoff team; Leafs better reg season

    Then if they get by Bolts……Bruins….. ‘nuff said

    Bruins ARE the real deal this year; AND will have home ice adv…. Have they not got at least one point in every home game??

    I expect a move from Bruins as well….. can you imagine if Bruins got Kane or maybe added on D (or both…yikes) ….they are already something else

    Dubas will make a move (or 2)…. But if out round 1 (not an unreasonable expectation)…. and cupboard bare 🤬💩👎👎👎

    If Bruins had not been so good… I’d say maybe worth the gamble

    It’s almost worth it (forLeafs) to do zip at TDL…. Save assets…. Load up huge for 23/24….. reminder…..seriously high odds AM walks out on 1/7/24

    • They should also consider not bother even playing. I mean you clearly laid out how an uphill and all but certain failure it will be when you consider how amazing the Bruins are, the same ones that didn’t beat the Leafs so far this season, the time when 82 games of pond hockey is played, right?

      Also if AM leaves, it’s pretty obvious it may happen, it should also be noted how obvious McD will fit right in with the Leafs then too, right?

    • @Pengy..Sorry to hear about the mis hap with the leg…heal fast happy holidays..
      ? For you when the Penguins won Cups in 2009, 2016, 2017 we had strong 3rd li e centers. Stahl who is still killing us and Bonino.

      Carters worthless must be moved to wing.

      Of these three centers if the Penguins could get one who would you take

      Adam Henrique having a good season with Anaheim 10 goals. +1

      Ryan Oreilly pure renral 5 time 20 goaL scorer terrific 2 way player Stanley cup champion

      Max Domi. Leads Chicago with 11 goals pending ufa good skater strong shot has some snarl.
      My order

      1.AdaM Henrique
      2. Ryan Oreilly
      3. Max Domi

      Your thoughts Penguins..

  9. Leafs trade bait should not include Knies, Liljegren, Sandin or Robertson especially for aging UFAs who are going to go to highest bidder in the off-season. Unless the cost is low Leafs will have plenty to pick from without overpaying.

    • Contract rxtremsion talks with Matthews and Nylander open up July 1 at the earliest. Good luck with that one. What’s the point of giving away assets and futures adding UFAs that they can’t afford next year let alone giving away players that you need under the cap that can actually play in the NHL.

      Unless Dubas can sign them to contract extensions there’s no players that are likely to bring a cup to Toronto.

      • Agree fully Frank

    • Pretty obvious that Dubas’s job is gone if they don’t advance in the playoff’s at least one round.
      You can expect him to sell the farm at the trade deadline for whatever will help them
      So expect a bare cupboard next summer and some euro free agent signings to fill the squad.
      I’m not against this because it’s his only option left

  10. Thank You Lyle for this site where we all get to spout are “expertise” on the game of hockey, the greatest game there is!!!! GO AVS!!!!!

  11. This year’s Christmas gift to all is very “leafy”. Sorry but I prefer a little more variety in my diet. Looking forward to less about the Leafs in coming days after the Christmas break.

    • Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you all ! Always a pleasure to read the « comments » section, George is right, most of you know WAY more than the usual « rah rah » fan !

  12. 8 BELOW zero AND 48 mph winds in Iowa—be safe and warm everyone!

    Regarding O’Reilly—Whether it’s January or March, I believe an O’Reilly trade would have to include a 1st round pick AND prospect (Knies) or dman (Liljegren).

    ps If you want to talk blockbuster, then Parayko is “in the mix” too.

    MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL, and to all a good night!


  13. I love watching hockey,but after watching Montreal vs Dallas last night turn my stomach.Just give the referees a hockey stick because they determines who win the game not the players on the ice!!!!

  14. I completely forgot about Max Domi

    Max might play his best hockey , as we all know his dad would be very close by – cheering him on .

    Just a thought

    Carter Hart and Van Riemsdyk

    Reilly and Samsonov going the other way ….
    Carter Hart needs a real team to play for , I think he would be absolutely fabulous in Toronto , with Matt Murray mentoring him .

    Toronto hasn’t had a goalie of this calibre since Eddie Balfour

    Murray has played well , but there’s always that injury worry !