NHL Rumor Mill – March 21, 2023

by | Mar 21, 2023 | Rumors | 23 comments

Some possible blueline targets for the Blue Jackets and a look at how the Sabres’ Mattias Samuelsson and the Kings’ Mikey Anderson set the market for defensive defensemen in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.


THE ATHLETIC: Aaron Portzline believes the Columbus Blue Jackets will be in the market for “a left-shot defenseman who can average 18 minutes per game, is strong defensively and kill penalties.” In other words, someone to replace Vladislav Gavrikov, who they traded to the Los Angeles Kings at the trade deadline.

New Jersey Devils defenseman Ryan Graves (NHL Images)

Portzline suggested the Boston Bruins’ Dmitry Orlov, New Jersey Devils’ Ryan Graves, the Pittsburgh Penguins’ Brian Dumoulin or Dmitri Kulikov, the Tampa Bay Lightning’s Ian Cole or even perhaps Gavrikov as potential free-agent targets.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Portzline listed his pros and cons of each defenseman. In my opinion, Orlov or Graves would be the best options. Gavrikov, too, if he doesn’t find any lucrative offers via free agency. Cole, Dumoulin and Kulikov are aging with the latter two hampered by injuries in recent years.


DAILY FACEOFF: Scott Maxwell believes the Buffalo Sabres and Los Angeles Kings created a new market for defensive defensemen in Mattias Samuelsson and Mikey Anderson when they signed them last fall to long-term contract extensions.

On Sept. 10, the Kings signed Anderson, 23, to an eight-year contract with an average annual cap hit of $4.125 million. A month later, the Sabres inked the 23-year-old Samuelsson to a seven-year deal with an AAV of $4.285 million.

Maxwell believes these two are examples of how defensive blueliners have evolved over the past decade into better all-around rearguards. He noted that teams often failed to recognize the value of such defensemen until later in their careers.

There is risk involved for the Sabres and Kings investing in Samuelsson and Anderson based on their limited NHL careers thus far. However, they’re confident in their evaluations of both players that they’re willing to invest long-term in them on affordable contracts during their playing prime.

Maxwell suggested Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Cam York could fit the same mold.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Granted, this isn’t a trade or free-agent rumor but I think Maxwell’s on to something here. Eyebrows were raised briefly when Anderson and Samuelsson signed those contracts but they’ve since been forgotten as the focus shifted to other free-agent stories over the course of the season.

There is always a risk involved for a team to invest long-term dollars in any promising player who hasn’t yet reached their projected potential. If it works, however, the Sabres and Kings will each have a very good defensive blueliner on a cost-effective contract until they reach their early-30s.

Other general managers could attempt similar moves with comparable defensemen during this summer. It could be worth following York’s contract negotiations with the Flyers to see if they do the same thing.


  1. No matter what offence you possess you have to be able to defend for stretches. Especially in the playoffs.

    That’s why the Oilers took Ekholm over Karlsson
    Shaky Campbell is not improving and they had better hope Skinner can carry the mail. There is no 3 on 3 post season.

    • The Oilers are second in the NHL in regulation wins and are 3-4 at 3on3 and are 0-4 in the shootout. The Oilers have no issues winning in regulation. As long as Skinner can be consistent and a little above average like he has been all season, the Oilers should be just fine. He has been exactly what the Oilers needed, consistent.
      Almost every team has question marks going into the playoffs, even the Bruins.

      • KevJam, if the refs put away their whistles in the playoffs, don’t expect much from your team. They win most of their games with their powerplay. 5 on 5 they are very average.

  2. Columbus has been linked to Kevin Hayes as a potential trade target this off-season… wonder if they may be interested in adding Ivan Provorov as well? What would CBJ send back in return for both players?

    • I do wonder if Provorov may be of interest to the CBJ but agree w/ Paul that there may be issues that limit interest. I also wonder about Hanifin as there are rumors he may be available. Reports back in 2015 were they were high on both Hanifin and Provorov. Given Hanifin is 1 year from UFA I imagine a trade would only occur if he is amenable to having an extension in place and I am skeptical that if Hanifin doesn’t want to re-sign in CGY that he wouldn’t explore the UFA market next summer. Graves would be a nice fit as a “bridge” until the next wave of prospect LD are pushing for NHL time.

      • I have always liked Hanifin, even though he does play for the Flames. Until the Oilers won the 2015 draft lottery, Hanifin was the player I wanted the Oilers to draft.
        IMO it would be a big mistake for the Flames to let this guy go. IMO, he is one of the more underrated d-men in the NHL. Zadorov is the d-man the Flames need to unload, along with a couple more underperforming forwards (Dube and Mangiapane) to free up cap space to do what they need to do in the offseason. Although I don’t know who is in the market for a big, tough, but slow d-man.

  3. Sweeney signed Brandon Carlo in July of 21 to a six year contract at a cap hit of $4.1 Carlo is consider a defensive dman and i would say Boston gotten good value out of that contract as of date.

    Maybe Columbus could look at acquiring Derek Forbort? Not likely as Columbus GM is reportedly not happy with Don Sweeney as he felt they had an agreement in place for Gavrikov.

    • Yeah, we also had a deal in place at the ’15 draft with the Jackets for Werenski. We even had a deal in place for Iggy until he decided he wanted to play with Sid. Things happen sometimes. I think a GM’s shelf life is too short to hold grudges, but I’ve been proven wrong on that front by Waddell and Muscles.

      Carlo’s deal is fantastic. Worth every nickel.

    • Yeah KevJam, Mangipane has had a terrible year along with many other players on the roster.

      Dube is having a career yr and has already passed his previous best points totals. He is one of the fastest skaters on the Flames, can play up and down the lineup in any forward position. He kills penalties and plays on the pp. He has a team friendlly cap hit of $2.3 million and will still be an rfa when his contract is up. You must be busy watching your Oilers to say he needs to be traded, or you just don’t get hockey.

      Zadorov has definitely struggled this past month but he reminds me a lot of Darnell Nurse. He throws way bigger hits and has a much cheaper contract than Nurse so I’m not sure he is as much of a drag on his roster. I’m confident his points total would be closer if he got to play the minutes Nurse gets with McDavid and Draisaitl.

      As for who will be in the market for any of these people, who knows? Maybe your Oilers, after all you guys have picked up castoffs like Kulak and Kris Russell and then sworn they were elite (lol)

      • Seems like Kevjam may have hit on some sore spots here.

        Flames have roughly -98,000 in cap space for next year without resigning their 1 cheap rfa and without kylington being off LTIR. With him they are negative 2.6 million. They have 17 players signed with him. They will need a minimum 4 more players probably.

        Who do you trade? Mangiapane? You’re selling really low if you do and you’re definitely taking money back unless you pay a lot to not.
        Coleman? Well he’s producing exactly as advertised, so possibly. Still taking money back probably.
        Dube is the next option up in my opinion forward wise.

        Back end
        Tanev? Partial no trade, getting older and probably taking money back.
        Zadorov probably the next likely since he is the weakest d man between him, Hanifan, Weegar and Andersson.

        A couple have to go for cheaper contracts at minimum.

        Not sure who would have said Kulak or Russell were “elite”. NHL players yes, elite might be a bit of a stretch to say Oilers fans were saying that.

      • No sore spot Travis, An Oilers fan “playing” GM for the Flames posts trade these players.. blah blah blah Get rid of a good young player on a cheap contract yada yada

        Dube needing to be traded “because he is under performing for his contract is ridiculous.

        The Flames should have sold every ufa on the roster possible at the deadline. They should have listened on every player with a year left and sold if the return was decent. Should still listen at the draft.

        The Flames need to get younger and faster not sell our young players.

        The side benefit would be that perhaps Sutter would go back to the farm if he couldn’t have all of his pet veterans.

        You Oiler fans do stick together though, so I’ll give you that, You must be quite sensitive if you have to defend every crazy thing KevJam comes out with.

      • Sparky

        You do understand that the Flames have Lucic as a UFA only right? There was no UFA to trade. The other 2 were brought in at the deadline.

        Being an Oilers fan does not negate enjoying having opinions good and bad on other teams and the fun part is talking about what you would do or think should be done or what realistically can be done.

        Who would have you sent off and what for? That was my point above is that there is not a ton of options because you also need to find a trade partner, not just be willing to trade.

        Dube has enough value to trade and get his cap hit off the books, same thing with Zadorov. Most of the other players either do not or are not going to be traded unless you’re tearing everything down which isn’t really possible with the Huberdeau, Kadri and Weeger deals plus a few others.

        Also making 1 comment providing back up for Kevjam is far from “defend every crazy thing Kevjam comes out with”. You’re being more than a little dramatic.

        When you make a comment attacking someone else at least articulate what you’d do differently rather than just basically “your statement is stupid, you’re stupid”.

        Your idea of peddling off UFA is not an option with 1 UFA. Players with 1 year left are as follows

        Their #1 centre and Toffoli both have value at their contracts I’ll give you that, but you’re probably losing those trades.

        Now Dube the untouchable because you do not want to trade him.

        Your ideas work if they are actually possible to do, neither of them are. I’d love to hear what you’d do differently because plan A is a bust.

      • Travis, at the deadline they had Lucic, Lewis, Brett Ritchie, Stone, Dansk,and Philips that were ufas. Looch, Lewis and Ritchie would have had some value to teams looking for depth forwards with size and toughness. Stone was injured, Philips is very skilled but small so likely harder to sell, he may get a better shot with a different coach. Dansk would be a depth goalie.

        They decided not to sell so that is now moot. Zoharna may have drawn some interest but was traded for ufa Hunt at the deadline.

        Lindholm, Toffoli, Backlund, Hanifin, Tanev, Zadorov, Kylington all have an extra year and all would draw interest.

        Yah you are free to make a comment about other, teams as is KevJam, but don’t be surprised if there is pushback when you suggest trades that would make that team worse off, which is what KevJam does regularly.

        You are entitled to your opinion of the trade value of any player on any team, as I am, but it doesn’t mean either of us is right. We won’t know until trades are actually made.

        Someone posted on this site that Matthew Tkachuk had no value at all and that the Flames shouldn’t have qualified him. Some said Sam Bennett was hardly worth a fourth round pick. We know now how much value they actually had.

      • I missed ufa Connor Mackey who was traded along with Brett Ritchie at the deadline for Stecher and Nick Ritchie.

        Not sure how much value if he had been offered for pick or picks?

      • Sparky,
        I guess you don’t know the understanding of a hockey fan, not just being a fan of one team.
        Just because I’m an Oilers fan doesn’t mean I can’t follow other teams. Trust me, I probably know more about the Flames than you know about the Oilers. Firstly about your comment above about the Oilers not being able to score 5on5. The Oilers lead the NHL in 5on5 goals. Since Christmas with a tweak to the roster, the Oilers have been one of the better teams allowing fewer 5on5 goals against. Now with the addition of Ekholm and Bjugstad that has dropped slightly less. So your comment is false.
        FYI, your Flames issues are not Sutter, but Treliving. When your coach’s style is creating offence from defence with the transition game you don’t replace your puck carrier with a puck distributor. Treliving failed Sutter.

  4. SJFlyerFan, regardless of the Hayes situation (and I don’t see Jarmo dealing for him with all the wingers in the system), I don’t think someone as young as Provorov would be on the Jackets’ radar. With all the highly regarded defensemen who should be challenging for roster spots over the next three or so seasons, it would make more sense to acquire someone close to 30 who can help Columbus be competitive as the kids develop and be a mentor, once they make the team.

  5. Pens are on their way out

    Not saying that they should do anything (prob better to ride out; maybe fall into lottery; rid garbage off season; start rebuild/re-tool) but if ownership still wants streak alive…Pens do have options…

    Oulette (WBS) …… waaaay better than Ruhweedel or Dumo

    They also have trade options ….

    Trades now ARE able to be made….just…Players traded then CAN’T play these playoffs…. But with all the D injuries and now freed up Cap space (LTIR)…. These players would help back into playoffs; they are UFAs; no cost next year… minimal Cap hits for balance of year…. If not re-signing with current clubs…. 7th in ‘25 for

    IF Sens go 0-3 next 3 games…..

    Hamonic and/or Holden

    Other Options:
    Beaulieu (Ducks)
    Haag (Wings)
    Wolanin (‘Nucks)

    All above better than Ruweedel and Dumo; come at absolute minimal cost

    Hextall win’t think of this though; and Sully ignorantly will continue to play Ruhweedel

  6. George, as per yesterday’s discussion regarding Orr, you’re pretty good with those links. Got one for Max Bentley? LOL

    I’ve always wanted to see him skate but never been able to find footage. Of course, there wouldn’t be much video in his time, if any.
    “Fred Astaire on ice,” they claimed. I wonder if that would hold the test of time.

  7. Forbert out for Bruins till min start of playoffs. Hall skated today 4” mins fouls start stoo drills with stick handling and shooting drills. Can be activated as early as hab game

    • Wow. That was mumbled 😝

      Hall is fully at practice in non contact jersey today. Foligno skating on his own 1st time Forbert out till at least beginning of playoffs

  8. Curious what the Kings will do with Gavrikov. I feel they’ll want to resign him but as was pointed out they set a market with Anderson. Is Gavrikov more than a shutdown defender? Can they offer Gavrikov more than they offered Anderson (cause I think some desperate GM will) even though Anderson is viewed as a future possible captain who was on a “prove it” contract and then did?