NHL Rumor Mill – February 1, 2023
What’s the latest on Timo Meier? Could the Canucks peddle Thatcher Demko or Brock Boeser? Are the Islanders done making additions? Will the Bruins pursue a notable defenseman or center? Get the answers in today’s NHL Rumor mill.
THE LATEST MEIER SPECULATION
SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports the New Jersey Devils are very much in the sweepstakes for San Jose Sharks winger Timo Meier. However, their salary structure remains a concern. They’d prefer to have no forwards earning more than Jack Hughes’ $8 million average annual value. That also goes for winger Jesper Bratt, who’s a restricted free agent this summer.
THE ATHLETIC: Corey Masisak speculates the return the Vancouver Canucks received for Bo Horvat (middle-six forward Anthony Beauvillier, a potential “middle of the lineup” player in prospect Aatu Raty and a top-12 protected 2023 first-round pick) may have hurt the Sharks’ chances of landing a huge haul for Meier.
However, Meier is younger than Horvat plus the Sharks can let other clubs talk to the Meier camp about a contract extension. That was something the Canucks refused to do with Horvat.
SAN JOSE HOCKEY NOW: Sheng Peng reports a source outside the Sharks’ organization claimed they’d heard the club will seek three pieces for Meier. They’ll want a first-round pick and either one Grade-A prospect or two Grade-B prospects, or one good prospect and a young, established NHL player.
Peng subsequently reported a source suggesting the Sharks could end up getting a return similar to what the Canucks got for Horvat. Peng admits that there aren’t many teams in this salary-cap era that can afford to acquire a potentially $9 million per season player such as Meier. Nevertheless, he also pointed out Meier is younger than Horvat plus the Canucks didn’t let teams talk contract with the latter before trading him.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Sharks could have a greater opportunity to land a better return if they allow suitors to work out a contract extension with the Meier camp.
Bear in mind that Meier’s RFA status means the Sharks can wait until the off-season to move him if they don’t get any suitable offers leading up to the March 3 trade deadline. However, they will have a time constraint of June 30. That’s the deadline to issue his qualifying offer, which would be one year at $10 million.
WHAT NEXT FOR THE CANUCKS?
SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman wonders about Thatcher Demko’s future with the Vancouver Canucks. The 27-year-old goaltender is signed through 2025-26 with an average annual value of $5 million. He’s been sidelined since early December with a lower-body injury.
Friedman believes teams will want to get a feel for what the Canucks want to do with Demko. He thinks the Buffalo Sabres, Columbus Blue Jackets, Los Angeles Kings and Pittsburgh Penguins make sense as suitors. The Sabres and Blue Jackets can afford to be patient but the Kings and Penguins would need to know if he could make an impact this spring in the playoffs.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: TSN’s Darren Dreger reports Canucks sources are “a little surprised” at all the trade speculation about Demko. It appears the talk of his potential availability isn’t coming from the team.
Pittsburgh Hockey Now’s Dan Kingerski recently listed more affordable, short-term options for the Penguins such as the Dallas Stars’ Anton Khudobin, the Vegas Golden Knights’ Adin Hill, the Detroit Red Wings Alex Nedeljkovic and the Blue Jackets’ Joonas Korpisalo. Maybe they’d be interested if Demko became available but he’d likely cost more than the Penguins could comfortably afford before the March 3 trade deadline.
The Athletic’s Eric Stephens recently listed several goalie trade targets for the Kings. Among them was the Anaheim Ducks’ John Gibson but Stephens saw his contract ($6.4 million average annual value through 2026-27) as a significant obstacle. The same could be said for Demko’s deal. Meanwhile, TSN’s Pierre LeBrun said the Kings aren’t interested in a rental goalie like the Ottawa Senators’ Cam Talbot or the Carolina Hurricanes’ Antti Raanta. “They’re looking for a long-term fit”.
TSN’S Darren Dreger reports the Canucks are still getting a tremendous amount of interest in Boeser. However, those clubs want to know if the Canucks will retain part of the 25-year-old winger’s salary. He’s signed through 2024-25 with an AAV of $6.65 million.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: That’s why I believe a Boeser trade won’t happen until the offseason when teams have additional cap space. As long as the Canucks won’t retain part of his salary, he’s difficult to move during this season with so many teams carrying limited salary-cap space.
The Wild won’t be a destination for Boeser unless it’s a dollar-in, dollar-out trade. They’ve got over $74 million invested in 14 players for next season with $14.7 million of that as dead cap space owing to their buyouts of Zach Parise and Ryan Suter.
Friedman believes there are teams that like the nastiness of Canucks defenseman Tyler Myers but he felt that might have to wait until the summer in this season’s tight cap world. He’s not convinced blueliner Luke Schenn returns to the Tampa Bay Lightning but conversations about him continue.
ARE THE ISLANDERS DONE DEALING?
THE ATHLETIC: Kevin Kurz looks at other potential moves that might make sense for the New York Islanders before the trade deadline. He suggested the St. Louis Blues’ Ivan Barbashev if they’re seeking a winger or the Arizona Coyotes’ Shayne Gostisbehere if they’re in the market for a puck-moving defenseman.
NYI HOCKEY NOW: Stefen Rosner believes Islanders GM Lou Lamoriello isn’t done making moves. He thinks they need to add a scoring winger and wondered if Lamoriello might go all in for someone like the Blues’ Vladimir Tarasenko or the Sharks’ Timo Meier. They could also use a depth defenseman.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Islanders have over $11 million in projected deadline cap space. I don’t see Lamoriello sitting on that. He could pursue someone like Tarasenko or Meier but could also pursue more affordable options such as those suggested by Kurz.
UPDATE ON THE BRUINS
SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports the Boston Bruins are believed in the market for a left-side defenseman. He wouldn’t be surprised if they’ve inquired about the Coyotes’ Jakob Chychrun or the Blue Jackets’ Vladislav Gavrikov among others.
BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Jimmy Murphy wondered if the Bruins might shift their focus toward Detroit Red Wings center Dylan Larkin after losing out in the Bo Horvat sweepstakes. A source told Murphy it doesn’t look good for Larkin to remain in Detroit which was why they’re exploring other options. However, Larkin’s agent Pat Brisson recently said he’s not concerned about negotiation, adding the two sides have been talking more in recent weeks.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I think the Bruins’ priority could be adding that left-side defenseman over adding another center. I don’t doubt that general manager Don Sweeney did his due diligence regarding Horvat but adding someone comparable such as Larkin is going to be just as expensive.
They could also go for more cost-effective short-term options on defense given the expensive asking prices for Chychrun (two first-rounders, top prospect) and Gavrikov (a first and a third-rounder). Granted, this is a “go-for-it” season for the Bruins but given how well the current roster is playing they can pursue more affordable depth targets. Besides, they don’t have a lot of trade capital to win bidding wars for big-ticket players.
LATEST “32 THOUGHTS” RUMOR TIDBITS
SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports the Carolina Hurricanes weren’t going to acquire Bo Horvat unless they could sign him to a contract extension. With Horvat now with the New York Islanders, he wonders if the Hurricanes will pivot toward Isles center Jean-Gabriel Pageau depending on how things shake out with Horvat.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The 30-year-old Pageau is signed through 2025-26 with an annual cap hit of $5 million and a 16-team no-trade list. His age and contract might not be a fit with the Hurricanes.