NHL Rumor Mill – January 4, 2023

by | Jan 4, 2023 | Rumors | 19 comments

The potential effect of top prospect Connor Bedard upon this season’s trade market, the latest on the Blackhawks and Blues, updates on Alexis Lafreniere and Jakob Chychrun, the Predators could consider shopping Mattias Ekholm, and much more in today’s NHL rumor mill.


TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports top prospect Connor Bedard’s unbelievable performance at this year’s World Junior Championship could spur clubs considered sellers in this season’s trade market to start shopping players sooner rather than closer to the March 3 trade deadline.

WHL forward Connor Bedard of the Regina Pats (NHL.com).

Doing so could help those bottom-feeding clubs improve their chances of winning this year’s draft lottery. Potential buyers, however, could prefer waiting until March given the limited salary-cap space around the league.

Chris Johnston believes the asking price for this year’s best assets at this year’s deadline will be at least a first-round pick in return. That goes for the high-profile forwards as well as defensemen like Montreal’s Joel Edmundson and Columbus’ Vladislav Gavrikov.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Every club with a shot at winning the 2023 draft lottery will be trying to dump pending free agents that they can’t or won’t re-sign as quickly as possible. However, Cap Friendly indicates there are only seven teams with more than $3 million in salary-cap payrolls right now. Several of those clubs will be sellers.

Most playoff contenders will be trying to accrue as much cap space as they can leading up to March 3. That means most of the buyers will likely want to wait until within a week or two of the deadline to start making moves when they’ve got the cap flexibility to do so.


Darren Dreger believes St. Louis Blues general manager Doug Armstrong has a decision to make regarding Ryan O’Reilly and Vladimir Tarasenko when the two return from injury next month. Armstrong will have to consider the trade value of O’Reilly, who would be a hot asset in the trade market. There will have to be a conversation with O’Reilly, and maybe with Tarasenko, regarding contract extensions, and then make the call nearer the trade deadline.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Everything I’ve read or heard about Tarasenko’s future is that the Blues won’t be part of it. They reportedly could re-sign O’Reilly if he’s willing to accept a pay cut on a short-term deal.

Dreger also reports the Chicago Blackhawks still have to determine if pending UFAs Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews want to be traded. If they do, the pair will have to determine who the contenders will be. He also believes they would have to decide whether to accept a trade and then test their luck in this summer’s free-agent market or consider a trade-and-sign scenario.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Pat Brisson, who represents Kane and Toews, is expected to meet with Blackhawks management later this month to discuss their futures.

Speaking of Gavrikov, Johnston said a lot of teams like him but so do the Blue Jackets. He doesn’t believe they’ve decided yet if they want to move the blueliner.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That decision will depend on how much Gavrikov wants to stay in Columbus. He could seek to double his salary from its current average annual value of $2.8 million.

Pierre LeBrun reports there were teams that looked into the availability of Alexis Lafreniere after the 2020 first-overall pick was a healthy scratch last week. However, the New York Rangers still believe in him and have also told that to the young winger.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That should quiet the media trade chatter about Lafreniere for the time being. However, I wouldn’t be surprised if it surfaces again before the March 3 trade deadline, especially if the Rangers decide to pursue a big-name player (hello there, Patrick Kane).


THE ATHLETIC: Michael Russo reports Arizona Coyotes GM Bill Armstrong is sticking to his asking price of two first-round picks plus another asset as part of the return for defenseman Jakob Chychrun. He indicated Chychrun still wants to be dealt to a Stanley Cup contender. If the assets are there, said Armstrong, he will certainly make that trade.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Considering how well Chychrun’s played since returning in November from offseason wrist surgery, I daresay Armstrong feels confident that someone will meet his price by March 3.

Russo also noted that Anaheim Ducks defenseman John Klingberg’s full no-trade clause changed to a modified one on Jan. 1 that’s limited to 10 teams. He pointed out that Ducks GM Pat Verbeek scouted the Edmonton Oilers during two games last month. There’s been chatter they could have an interest in Klingberg, though they seem to have more of a need for a left-side defenseman.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Oilers’ preference would be for Chychrun but they could lack the assets to make that deal happen. The Oilers have also been linked to Gavrikov.

DAILY FACEOFF: Frank Seravalli added Nashville Predators blueliner Mattias Ekholm to his list of trade candidates at No. 7. He’s been told that Predators GM David Poile has some uncomfortable decisions to make as his club has regressed this season to a likely non-playoff team loaded with expensive contracts. Seravalli also wondered if defenseman Ryan McDonagh might be available.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ekholm lacks no-trade protection and is in the first season of a four-year contract. However, he’s also turning 33 in May and carries an annual salary-cap hit of $6.25 million. Good luck moving that contract during a season under a flattened salary cap.

As for McDonagh, Seravalli pointed out he waived his no-trade clause last summer to go from Tampa Bay to Nashville. He believes that requesting the 33-year-old rearguard to waive it again could be a tall ask. Even if McDonagh agreed to be traded again, his age and $6.75 million cap hit through 2025-26 make him very difficult to move in-season.

SAN JOSE HOCKEY NOW: Max Miller cited Seravalli reporting yesterday that Sharks defenseman Ryan Merkley requested a trade. A first-round pick (21st overall) in 2018, he’s spent much of his tenure with the Sharks organization playing for their AHL affiliate.

Merkley spent 39 games with the Sharks last season and was expected to skate with them again this season. Sharks GM Mike Grier declined to comment.


  1. Trade Nedeljkovic (1/2 salary) for Merkley. Detroit are very thin on RD prospects. But he is so terrible with his defense!

  2. I wonder if the Bedard situation may also work the other way. A playoff bubble team may be hesitant to give up a first round pick that has any chance of becoming #1 overall just to sneak into the playoffs and likely bow out in the first round. That may tighten the market.

    • You have to bubble and fizz out in the bottom top ten to have a lotto ball that gets you BossyII-Bedard.

  3. Mattias Ekholm and Hampus Lindholm patrolling the left side of Boston defense. That be nice.

    Matt Grzelcyk would have to be part of any package going back.

    Lol I think i’m starting to sound like someone else keep bringing up the player i want gone.

    Grizz is a +16 last season he was a +22 in fact Grizz been a plus player in the regular season every year this will be his 6 straight.

    Conversely Grizz has been a negative player in the playoffs ever season, that is 5 consecutive season.

    Playoff is a different beast and Grizz can’t handle the physical play.

    top 4 of McAvoy, Lindholm, Ekhlom and Carlo with Forbort and Clifton

    • I like your analogy. Thinking of playoff performances is critical this time of year. Griz ++ might get it done…but probably need another + for salary retention, unless one of the original +’s is Lysell….

    • Might have to compete with EDM on that deal Caper. He is exactly what they need, like to a T, like perfect.

      Methinks the assets gonna be pretty big going the other way, plus he makes quite a bit for his role.

  4. Exactly with Grzelcyk… decent reg season player in playoffs his size which leads to injury hurts his cause ..if somehow they can add a DMan with some size and play both ends of ice well it would help, also like to see them bring a winger like a Flyers Nic Deslauriers for the playoffs

  5. Toss in ex Pred Smith with Griz and a pick. Getter done

    Think Debrusk hurt. Wagner recalled for trip out west

    • Fracture in his left foot. The odd thing is that it happened before his tying and winning goals.
      Tough kid.

      • He had a tough dad too SOP, as you know.
        Pain gets worse when you take the skate off, plus adrenalin. Or simply didn’t want to miss the rest of that game. Boys seemed pretty pumped about the Winter Classic at Fenway.

  6. This glitch is one of my favorite things as of late.

  7. A question for Leafs Nation;

    Would you consider an Austin Matthews trade straight up for Connor Bedard, if the Yotes were to win the lottery pick this year???

    • Not a leaf fan but answer has to be No

    • Matthews is a proven NHL star … Bedard hasn’t proven squat at the NHL level yet.

      If the reason for dealing Matthews in such a bold move is either due to any uncertainty as to whether or not he’ll choose to go to Arizona as a UFA, OR because the Leafs don’t want to be saddled with a $15 mil + cap hit, why would Arizona give up Bedard – who’ll be cost-effective for a while anyway – just to get Matthews a year earlier?

  8. I don’t buy into any of this Kane baloney with regard to the Rangers as a potential destination…and trading Lafreniere isn’t a practical move either albeit the Chicago bloggers love to drum up that baloney.

    I see the Rangers going for utility pieces and would go for Gustav Nyquist as a useful forward good on the PK provided Columbus retains salary or a 3rd wheel is involved.

    • Last year game 6 against Tampa Kakko was scratched, which lead to a bunch of chatter he was on the move. Now it’s Laffrieneres turn.

      I fully believe Drury will chase Kane, but not at the expense of Laffrienere, Kakko or Chytil.

      This is a deep draft, NY holds 2-1st round picks. I don’t even think I’d offer both in a deal for Kane, who more than likely can’t be squeezed in next year.

  9. Crazy over reaction to Laf one game scratch. Seriously doubt NY would trade him for a rental. I don’t doubt they could move him in future, but due to positional overload. Kakko playing well on top line, and so far Kravtsov is handling 2nd line duties. Just gave Vesey an extension and he’s more a bottom 6 winger. No need to overpay for Kane. We’ll see how it plays out. 2 months to deadline. P

    • Laf rookie year was the Covid shortened season. He had 12 goals/ 9 assists in 56 games. Covid season. No training camp. #2 overall pick, Q Byfield has 5 goals/10 assists in 58 CAREER games. Laf had 19 goals 2nd season. None on PP. He’s just 21.

      • Yeah, as I keep saying in here – he ain’t going anywhere unless the return is overwhelming.