NHL Rumor Mill – January 6, 2023

by | Jan 6, 2023 | Rumors | 36 comments

Is it time for the Canucks to become sellers? What’s the latest on the Panthers? Find out in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.


THE PROVINCE: Patrick Johnston believes it’s time for Vancouver Canucks management to start identifying its trade chips that can be used to rebuild the slumping club. They appear headed toward missing the playoffs for the third straight year.

Johnston believes the Canucks have missed their opportunity to re-sign Bo Horvat. His stellar performance this season combined with his $5.5 million cap hit makes him the most coveted player in this season’s trade market. It’s believed the Colorado Avalanche and New Jersey Devils are interested in the Canucks captain.

Vancouver Canucks center J.T. Miller (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Avalanche definitely need a second-line center and I don’t doubt that they’d have interest in Horvat. I wonder, however, if they can afford to pay what is likely to be an expensive asking price to get him.

The Devils, meanwhile, already have two young stars at center in Jack Hughes and Nico Hischier. There’s no room there for Horvat unless the Devils intend to shift Hughes to the wing.

Johnston wonders if there’s any chance of the Canucks trading J.T. Miller, whose new contract with its $8 million average annual value doesn’t begin until 2023-24. He lacks no-trade protection on his current deal.

The cost certainty of Miller’s upcoming new deal could make him enticing to clubs that were nervous about acquiring him last year before he signed that extension. However, he’s struggling to replicate last season’s 99-point performance, which could hurt his market value.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Those who said the Canucks should’ve signed Horvat before Miller have been vindicated this season. It’s looking more and more like management made a mistake, though it’s easy to judge in hindsight.

Miller had a career-best performance in 2021-22 while Horvat, a reliable 50-60 point two-way center, gave no indication he would be on pace for a 50-goal performance in his contract year. The stalemate in his contract talks seems to have given him additional motivation this season. He’s going to get a big payday, probably more than what Miller got, but it won’t be coming from the Canucks.

Some believe the Canucks should trade Miller and use the savings to re-sign Horvat. While I don’t rule out that possibility, that ship may have sailed.

Brock Boeser has just three points in the 11 games since the Canucks gave his agent permission to speak with other teams. It would improve his trade value if he could pick up his production. He’s carrying a $6.65 million annual cap hit on a three-year contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Boeser’s contract is why I expect he’ll be moved in the offseason instead of by the March 3 trade deadline. Unless they’re willing to retain salary or take back a significant contract in return, there aren’t a lot of teams that can afford to absorb Boeser’s cap hit.

Johnston wondered if New York Rangers winger Alexis Lafreniere is on the trade block. He cited sources saying the Canucks are interested in the 2020 first-overall pick. One NHL observer suggested the Rangers would want size and “win-now assets” in return.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: TSN’s Pierre LeBrun and Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman have recently reported that the Rangers still believe in Lafreniere and don’t want to give up on the struggling 21-year-old winger. Still, that belief could be tested if a rival club made a substantial offer.


DAILY FACEOFF: Frank Seravalli believes the Florida Panthers will soon have to make a cost-cutting trade. Winger Anthony Duclair is expected to return to their lineup soon and the cap-strapped club will have to shed some salary to make room for him. Patric Hornqvist is also sidelined indefinitely with a concussion so they haven’t been forced to deal with the issue of Duclair’s return just yet as both are on long-term injury reserve.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Seravalli doesn’t expect Duclair to be the one who gets traded when he and Hornqvist are ready to return to action. The Panthers would find it difficult to move the aging Hornqvist, who carries a $5.3 million cap hit this season.

Some observers have suggested they could be forced to peddle Carter Verhaeghe, Sam Reinhart or Sam Bennett to free up sufficient room for Duclair. It’ll be interesting to see how they address this situation.


  1. OK FLA, Wings will help you with your cap:
    Verhaeghe for Kubalik at a $1.667 M savings to get Duclair back in the line-up.

    • Johnny Z…

      Isn’t Verhaege a superior player to Duclair? Why not just trade Duclair instead?

      • verhaege is a good player.maurice noted that duclair will be a topic for february after the all star weekend.and really theres no way to gauge how effective duclair will be.zito/ maurice are not very popular in pantherland but theres still enough time and talent in the lineup. but it wont be easy to pass all those teams. we’ll see.

  2. Question or you “east coast guys”—

    Is there any way the Rangers would be want to bring back JT Miller + some top picks (1st and 4th) for Lafreniere (and maybe Blais)??.

    Question for you “west coast guys”—

    Would Vancouver make the deal??

    Stuck in the middle–Iowa Prince

    • Miller and some top picks to the Rangers for Lafreniere and maybe Blais? The Rangers would probably be delighted to make that move but that’s a hard pass by the Canucks. I realize they want to shed salary but not at the expense of what could be a top-10 lottery pick in the Connor Bedard draft.

      • I agree Lyle … I’ve been consistently saying that the only way Lafreniere gets moved by NY is if they’re overwhelmed by an offer.

        That would do it – especially that 1st (which they would, of course, insist not be lottery-protected). But aside from the fact that would be foolhardy for a team possibly getting a decent % chance in this year’s draft, the Rangers just don’t have the cap space to make it happen – not without moving out another sizeable contract.

        If Blais and Lafreniere went together, that’s $2,450,000 going out and, with Miller’s current deal of $5,250,000 coming in (which rises to $8 mil per next season) the different of $2,800,000 wouldn’t be covered by what cap space they have at hand.

      • Van would probably prefer to move Miller and resign Bo. JT next contract is a tough pill for his inconsistence play…..he could make sense in Philly.

        Van yes wont want to trade the Bedard pingpong balls but Rangers better off Horvat rental than any of the Chicago players…but at the expense of a cost controlled Laffy who barely gets 14 mins and 30 seconds of PP time

    • Hi IP

      Can’t see any team trading a 23 1st unless it comes over as lottery protected

      Look at the situation Panthers are in… as at now… 5% chance of hand delivering this 17 year old (absolute best at World Jrs) Phenom , to Habs

      Waaaay to much of a gamble to trade that 1st w/o lottery protection

    • How exactly would NYR fit Millers cap next year?

  3. Why not just let Hornquist stay on the LTIR list until they , possibly make the playoffs? Concussions are tricky and he should be careful…..

    • Hi Kent

      The strategy in principle is sound…. But due to recent years “appearances” in playoffs after being on extended LTIR…. Close scrutiny by league is expected

      Cats making the playoffs is not impossible…. But quite a longshot…. They have to jump over 5 teams (Isles, Pens, Wings, Sabres, Sens) to get in AND Flyers are on their tales; Habs or Yotes catching them; not out of the question

      Cats host Wings tonight; followed by (hosting) Stars, Avs, Knights…. Lose all 4…. “say Goodnight Dick”

      To have a shot at playoffs… I’d think at worst, they’d need 5 of those 8 potential points including a regulation win tonight (Wings)

  4. Cats….

    Prez trophy winner to sitting at 5% chance of handing Habs Bedard… that’s a (from the Austen Powers’ movie) “ a kick in the mommy/daddy button”

    Bobo…. 894 (64th ranking all goalies in NHL) for a mere $10M Cap hit for 3 more years after this ….. AND owed $22.5M AFTER this year

    …. and looking like having to make a move (costing assets) just to keep Duclair

    What a fiasco

    Not impossible to make playoffs ….. 8 points behind Isles with game in hand, and just a tad more than 1/2 season left…. But to make it …. Cats must jump over 5 teams!!!!

    As at now , for 23/24 ~ $11.4 M for 7 spots…. RFAs: White, Giovanni Smith, Mahura.

    “Some observers have suggested they could be forced to peddle Carter Verhaeghe, Sam Reinhart or Sam Bennett”

    Verhague(27) …. 82 G pace… of 39 goals….cap hit 2 more years @ $4.2 M…. Not a player you want to part with

    Reinhardt(27) …. 82 G pace of 13-16-29…. 1 more year @ $6.5 M

    Bennett (26)….82 G pace 9-19-28…. 2 more years @ $4.4 M

    Note… Horny in last year

    Note Bobo buyout…. Cap savings of $3.3 M for 3 years, followed by deadcap of $1.7 M for 3 years after that

    Bobo has an NMC… so must convince him first, then retain 50% AND pay assets if thinking trade

    Not a good state for Cats!!!!

    • Pengy

      I always appreciate your insight with your replies.

      Question about FLA and their current cap pickle when Duclair comes off LTIR.

      If Duclair coming off LTIR will cause the Cats to need to cast off a player to fit him under the cap why not just trade Duclair? Verhaege is a superior player…why trade his as insiders have suggested?

      RE: Bobrovsky. What type of incentive would FLA have to offer aside from retaining salary to trade him? Either 3 years retaining $5M or a buyout of $6.6M dead space would cripple any team considering themselves as contenders.

      Even paying Bobrovsky $5M for back-up numbers would be a tough pill to swallow.

      • Agree Daryl

        If “forced” to have Horny come off LTIR… and weighing moving Verhague v Duclair…. It’s Duclair

        Re Bobo trade … 50% retained

        1) Bobo full control …. And would lose big chunk of take-home unless moved to one of Krakken, Knights, Stars, Predz, or Bolts….. call that slim to none; and
        2) would also have to add assets in trade

        Vs … buyout….

        1) owner well off…. Cash buyout not a critical issue
        2) save $3.3 M in cap space each of 23/24; 24/25; 25/26 when cap still depressed due to players still owing owners;
        3) Dead cap of $1.7 M in 27/28 and 28/29 when Cap likely at mid $90’s Ms…. and perhaps at that time Cats NOT “in window”

        ….. to me buyout much better option

        In the interim…. Better than trading either Verhague or Duclair…. Retain 50% on Horny and move him ….. he can be traded to23 teams without his say so

        If traded today @ 50% retained; after escrow , new team on hook for ~ $1.2 M cash; at TDL….. ~ $600 K cash….. what would Zito need to give up for that??

        Now…. If somehow Horny remains on LTIR for balance of season (odds low)…. A trade does not have to happen

        If they go 0-4 (all in reg) for next 4 games (note…. All at home)…. Time to throw in the towel

    • Penguin. Zero percent chance Fla hands Montreal Bedard. Puck is top 10 protected. Also, Cats are 8 points out of wild card spot. Havnt even reached halfway point of season.

      • ** pick**

      • @slick
        no Florida has to recourse…there was a complicated issue with the Reinhart deal pick but that did not need to change
        The Habs will get extra balls in play

        ‘There is a small caveat to the first-rounder, in that Florida had a previous trade with the Buffalo Sabres involving a condition on that pick. If the Panthers’ 2022 first-rounder, previously dealt to Buffalo, ends up being a top-10 pick, the 2023 selection goes to Buffalo instead.’

      • Hi Slick

        No matter what… unless Habs trade that Cat pick…. They get it… it belongs to Habs…. Trade was conditional ‘22 or ‘23 ….

        From CapFriendly

        “ Montreal Canadiens Acquire:

        Ty Smilanic (Signing Rights)
        2022 4th round pick (NYR – #127 – Cedrick Guindon) [Conditional]*
        2023 1st round pick (FLA) [Conditional]**

        *Conditions: The 4th round pick is conditional in a previous trade with the Rangers. At the time of the previous trade, the Rangers owned their own 4th, and Winnipeg’s 4th. Florida will receive the lower of the two. In the event that Florida receives the Winnipeg 4th, Montreal will instead receive Winnipeg’s 4th.

        Result: Montreal will receive Rangers 2022 4th round pick.

        **Conditions: The Panthers 1st round pick in 2022 is top 10 protected. In the event that the Panthers retain their 2022 1st round pick, they will no longer own their 2023 1st round pick, and Montreal would instead get their 2024 1st round pick.

        Result: Montreal receives Florida’s 2023 1st round pick.”

      • Sorry Pengy. Too confusing, but I doubt Florida ends up in lottery. I can’t see them not getting in playoffs

      • Hi Slick

        As at now I would say they are much more likely to miss playoffs than get in

        Right now, they have to jump over 5 teams to get in

        No chance they catch Bruins, Bolts or Leafs

        As at right now; I’d think both WC spots in East go to a Metro team…

        So setting aside Cats needing to catch (and pass) Sens (point ahead and game in hand; Wings (point ahead, 2 games in hand); Sabres (2 points; 2 games in hand); Cats ALSO need to catch (and pass) at least one of

        Pens (6 points ahead, 1 game in hand)
        Isles (8 points BUT Isles have played one more game)
        Caps (12 points; but Caps have played 2 extra games)

        and…. Flyers only 1 point behind Cats (same# of games played)

        Right now Cats ARE in lottery … 5% chance of winning…. So 5% chance (on top of their own pick’s chance) extra for Habs to get Bedard; because that pick is now owned outright by Habs

        Without changes or somehow manifesting a surge…. Hard for me to bet on Cats getting in

      • The Panthers are done this season. They’re barely above the Flyers in the standings! They are 4th last in the East and have had disastrous goaltending and coaching this season. This year’s draft pick could haunt them for a long, long time.

  5. i dont think its fair to say the blue jackets are tanking this season. lets face it they were rebuilding this season anyway and than they got decimated by injuries. they have so many rookies and young players on team that are trying. they just dont have the experience. yes they are hard to watch but at least they are trying.

    • Agree Norman, players and coaches don’t tank.
      Management can throw in the towel by moving quality vets though. An their injuries have been brutal.
      Not sure if CLB will go that route as rumor has it they are trying to resign Gavrikov. No idea on Nyquist the other pending UFA. But they could get decent assets for both guys.

      They are up against the cap too like most teams.

  6. Iowa prince

    Here’s my take on your VAN NYR proposal.

    If VAN is offering an unprotected 1st round pick for Lafrenierre it would need to include a provision for value if it becomes the 1st overall pick. If it becomes 1st overall (Bedard) VAN would gain another top prospect from NYR such as Chytil, Kravstov, or Schneider.

    As much as VAN may want to get out from Miller’s new contract for next season I don’t think they’re accepting Blais for Miller and a 4th.

    If NYR truly believes they’re a player or two away from a long playoff run they do have the assets to get an impact player.

    The big question is…is VAN going full rebuild mode or rebuild on the fly. They’ve been a mess for years. Not sure trading them potential 1st overall pick would speed up the process. If they trade Miller, Horvat, Boeser, etc they’ll likely finish lower than where tgey are now (25th)

  7. Avs need a 2nd line center? That’s odd I thought they had one in Kadri. Oh yeah, thanks Gary for your Cap system, it’s really working.

    On another note, what if Bedard is drafted by the Yotes or another team he doesn’t want to play for and he pulls a Lindros?
    What will be the cost to get him?

    • Bedard probably does not want to play on any Canadian team. 😁😉😉😉

    • Re “ Bedard is drafted by the Yotes or another team he doesn’t want to play for and he pulls a Lindros?”

      Not familiar with his parents, but have doubts that they are anywhere near the dictators that the Lindros’ were. No idea on what his agent would recommend

      Can’t see Bedard at all being happy with being drafted by Yotes… guaranteed 3 years minimum playing in smaller crowds than he plays in front of now in Jrs AND massively lower promotional/ad income than he would get from ANY of the other 31 teams…… unless he has confidence in a Gary retirement… then Bedard would seriously look forward to sellout crowds in Houston

      Kidding and speculation (Gary retirement [we can always hope] ) aside…. This is a generational player… huge return expected…. ‘23 draft is deep…. Would start with flipping Bedard (1st) for another top5 pick (team that just lost out in lottery) , plus another 1st; and two more assets…. Min

      For instance… if it’s Bedard for Fantilli ….. how much better is Bedard (present value over their careers)…. My take is…. Another 1st plus 2 more prospects (and/or equivalent picks)

      The further down (in swap) the picks (1st round ‘23) the swap is…. The greater the extra assets that are required

      Let’s say Habs end up 4th and 10th (Cats); and move Edmunsen for a late 1st

      Those 3 firsts; Habs 2nd (‘23) …. That’s 4 picks in top 37 in this deep draft; plus Dvorak; for

      1st overall (Bedard) AND ‘24 2nd rounder… latest of 3 Yotes havenow( their own; Cats; Habs)

      For Habs to give up just Dvorak off roster now and add a guaranteed rights of 7 years for Bedard…. I’d think it’s worth the extras…. Habs fans … your thoughts?

      For Yotes… getting 7 years rights of Fantilli, 2 more 1sts and a low2nd …. In a deep draft… knowing that even with a bridge (after 3 tears ELC) …. Bedard likely to sign a lucrative offer sheet you can’t match….. to me worth it….. again….

      Unless you have insight into Gary retirement , thus knowing you are moving from a an exceptionally small TV market and at best 4,600 per game for ANOTHER 3 years (minimum)… Toa massively bigger TV market AND minimum of 3 years of 18,000 sellouts in Houston!! 👍👍👍😀😀😀

      • Pengy,

        Bedard looks like a generational player, he doesn’t have the best skills as far as skating, shooting, hitting, grit.

        He is the total package a Gretzky light for now.

        He’s worth any combination of draft picks.
        1984 draft Habs offered entire draft class but Pens wanted Habs #1 1985 too.

      • Arizona might be at the top of his list. He immediately becomes the face of a franchise. Sales would be huge as Arizona folks would have something to cheer for. And he doesn’t have all the pressure of playing in front of 18000 plus people and certainly not the pressure of a Canadian city. Sounds like wins.

      • 1984 draft Habs offered entire draft class but Pens wanted Habs #1 1985 too……for Mario

      • Lemieux would have been worth trading 5 first round picks for, maybe more!

  8. Funny isn’t it, the NHL changed the draft lottery to pervent teams from tanking.

    As long as finishing close to the bottom increases your percentage, there will always be tanking.

    Teams who may not tank, is a team who GM contract might be on the line if his team misses the playoffs.

    His concern will be his own pay cheque.

    • It didn’t bother Eddie Johnson in Pittsburgh. Here’s an excerpt from an on-line article:

      “Fast forward about ten years and we get to a more familiar kind of tanking: the Pittsburgh Penguins playing like shit for the right to draft Mario Lemieux. The Penguins were bad, attendance was low, and the team was in financial trouble. There were rumours the franchise would fold. The Pens finished last in the league in 1982-83[2] and were on the way to another terrible, forgettable season the following year.

      But in Pittsburgh’s terribleness, was opportunity. Unfortunately, they just weren’t bad enough. The New Jersey Devils were also dreadful and in last place. So over lunch one day, GM Eddie Johnston and head coach Lou Angotti hatched a plan to lose as many games as possible. Goaltending prospect Roberto Romano was sent down, one of the team’s good players, Rick Kehoe was hurt,[3] and Johnston traded another, team captain Randy Carlyle, for picks at the trade deadline.[4] Angotti remembers a game when the Pens took a 3-1 lead in the first period only to have his GM burst into the dressing room during the intermission to ask what he was doing. The Pens managed to lose that game 6-3. Pittsburgh lost 18 of the last 21 games of the season, include the final six by a goal margin of 36-15.

      Did it work? Yes. The Penguins finished with a record of 16-58-6 and 38 points, three points back of the New Jersey Devils, securing the first overall pick. The Penguins drafted Mario Lemieux and the Devils landed Kirk Muller. Now, Muller was a good NHLer, a captain, and a future Cup-winner. But he wasn’t elite. While Mario didn’t don the Pittsburgh jersey at the draft, he did come to a contract agreement with Johnston shortly after.[5] Unlike recent tank attempts, the goal of this tank was to save the franchise from folding, and drafting Lemieux secured Pittsburgh’s future (he would save them again from bankruptcy in 1999). The Devils protested the Penguins tactics, but to no avail and draft reform was still a long time coming.

      And there were casualties. Pens coach Angotti wouldn’t return for the 1984-85 season and wouldn’t coach again in the NHL. Johnston left the Penguins in 1988. Most importantly, the Penguins still weren’t any good.

      What this tank didn’t do, however, was make the Penguins appreciably better.

      After finishing dead last in the league two years in a row, the Pens finished sixth in the division in 1984-85, and second last in the league. In fact, during the first six seasons of Lemieux’s NHL career, the Pens finished higher than fifth in their division only once (losing in the second round of the 1989 playoffs).”

  9. Back to the situation in VAN…

    If they’re re-tooling and going with Miller, Petterson, and Hughes as their core they can get a few nice assets via trade.

    Horvat should easily fetch a 1st and top prospect.

    Boeser should fetch a 1st, especially with some salary retained.

    Kuzmenko might get a 1st because of his very low salary ($950K)

    Garland a 2nd round pick.

    Schenn possibly a 2nd but easily a 3rd/4th round pick.

    There is a very quick way to te-stock the cupboard for the Canucks.

    However, trading the players mentioned will make for some lean years…

  10. The only way NYR Trade Lafreniere to Vancouver is if Petterson is in the deal.

    • Can’t see VAN trading Petterson for Lafrenierre.

      Also, NYR can’t fit Petterson’s $7.35M cap hit.