NHL Rumor Mill – March 31, 2023

by | Mar 31, 2023 | Rumors | 37 comments

Is it time for the Penguins to clean house? Will the Red Wings pursue scorers in the offseason? Check out the latest in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.


PITTSBURGH HOCKEY NOW: That’s what Dan Kingerski believes despite the fact the Penguins could make their 17th consecutive playoff appearance. While he doesn’t rule out a possible playoff upset, he felt that they must shake things up after this season’s uneven performance.

Pittsburgh Penguins winger Jake Guentzel (NHL Images)

Kingerski believes head coach Mike Sullivan’s job is safe but the Penguins need a retooling of the veteran players surrounding Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang. “No one should be safe, including Jake Guentzel, Bryan Rust and Jeff Petry.” However, he acknowledged Jeff Carter and his $3.125 million cap hit will be back next season

General manager Ron Hextall and his staff should be questioned by their bosses over the rebuilding side of Hextall’s plan. Kingerski noted he hasn’t had the same success signing NCAA free agents as his predecessor, wondered if they’ll land any European free agents, and why their AHL affiliate in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton is worse now than they were.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This isn’t a trade rumor but I think the Penguins will be worth watching in the offseason. There’s no doubt that they have not improved compared to last season. They’re the oldest team in the league and have played like it on too many nights this season.

Making the playoffs should save Hextall’s job but that’s not a certainty with the Florida Panthers nipping at the Penguins’ heels. He’s been feeling the heat from fans and pundits (like Kingerski) over the course of this season. That should be concerning to the club’s owners.

I agree with Kingerski that Sullivan should be back and that the supporting cast around Crosby, Malkin and Letang must improve, especially the goaltending and their blueline depth.

Whether Guentzel is part of those changes remains to be seen. Carter only has a year left on his contract but the 38-year-old center is coming to the end of his playing days. However, his full no-movement clause should ensure he plays out that season in Pittsburgh.


THE ATHLETIC: Max Bultman recently suggested the Detroit Red Wings should bolster their offense after trading away Jakub Vrana and Tyler Bertuzzi.

Finding it won’t be easy in this summer’s free-agent market. Patrick Kane and Vladimir Tarasenko are both on the wrong side of 30, as are second-tier scorers like Alex Killorn and Jason Zucker. Michael Bunting, 27, will be seeking a big-money, long-term contract.

Another immediate fix would be an offseason trade similar to the Ottawa Senators acquiring Alex DeBrincat last summer. However, it’s too early right now to determine which players could be available.

Bultman also believes they must add a more reliable No. 2 goaltender. Possible short-term UFA options could include Semyon Varlamov or Alex Stalock.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Wings have plenty of projected salary cap space (over $30 million) with all their core players under contract for next season. They also have five picks in the first two rounds of this year’s draft plus a deep pool of promising players within their system to draw upon as trade bait during the offseason.

Whether general manager Steve Yzerman will make a significant signing or a bold trade to help his club remains to be seen. Nevertheless, like the Penguins, they could be worth monitoring this summer.


  1. 🍁Hi Lago,
    A responce to you note yesterday for Sen’s Goaltenders..

    i would try to trade the Alex de Brincat for a Starter in this order and Or trade him for Picks to get this RFA Goaltender as he” Jeremy Swayman” is going to be Very Good, and the Bruins dont have the Cap Room for him….👍👍
    Bruins have
    9 UFA coming up this year..⁉️
    & Swayman as an RFA… and 3 others But only $9.780M in Cap space…for 12 Roster players…..🤔
    if they got him at $5.5 to 6.1M Boston would have to sheed lots of Salary to Keep him

    Hear is my Top 4 we should look at…
    1/ st …Bostons young 24 yr old “Jeremy Swayman”
    who is a RFA,……
    offer Sheet him and then trade the cat for Picks, 1,2,3,..❓
    Cost would be a 1st & 3rd if it was under $6.160M for 7 years & and boston wont be able to match it as they would need to re-sign

    2/nd…Canucks 27 yr old Thatcher Demko, its a Trade there….?

    3/rd… Jets 29 yr old Connor Hellebuyck, he is out of the pegthe the Jets have been ina tale spin now for 3 years…its a trade there too…..

    4/ last but not least, 27 yr old Tristan Jarry A, UFA july 1st $5-6M for 7 years,
    they would still have to trade somone like the Cat to free up space

    if 30 yr old back up Goaltender Anton Forsberg, can come back,… to be the back up for 2 more years,…❓ then that will give young G 22 yr old, Mads Søgaard an other year++ or so in the AHL to round out his game befor he comes up to be a full time back up and to learn the NHL games speed & shot.
    The Biggest mistake NHL team make is Rushing up young Goaltenders…⁉️
    We have seen this in Edmonton for 20 year now….
    But Ken Holland did it Right with Stu Skinner✔️✔️
    The Pens & Caps go into a Full re-build in the next 18 months or so….🤔

    • @WW – I’m curious to know why you think the Canucks would trade Demko? He’s a terrific goalie under contract for 3 more years at $5 million per.

      • Hi Gored1970

        🍁 Hearing from my buddie’s in Vancouver he would be happy with a move, He is Not Thriled and dose not want to go into an other Canuck
        Re-build at this stage of his carrer 27yr old,
        thanks to the owner & Jim Bedding leaving a big mess in Vancouver

        With the folloing players on the trade block..& ZERO Cap Space Next Year⁉️ its time to get out

        ➡️ Brock Boeser’
        ➡️ Connor Garland
        ➡️ T.J.Millar
        ➡️ these 3 add up to almost $20.M

        They Dont have much coming down the pipe line when you look at the Canucks Prospects,

        Poor at Forward Position & VERY Very Poor at the D position, ….‼️

        even if its a Re-tool your looking at 3-4 years and Re-build 6=7 years
        Thats why there Star forward only signed for a few years Elias Pettersson he has 1 more year as a RFA then he is an UFA…….🤔

  2. 🍁Re Sen’s
    The more i look at Alex Debrincat contract situation if the cant get him in the Lower $8.M range..
    I think he could be trade bait for the Starting goaltender
    He would be right in Blues GMs age group he is re-building, GM Armstrong A Trade with the Blues as they have 3 X1st round picks in this draft….

    Same with the Red Wings, they also have lots of picks, 3X 1st round picks and 2nd pick this year..🤔 and Steve Y needs a young Goal Scorer like A
    25 yr old Alex Debrincat and the Wings have lots of cap space $30.M+…he has 6 UFA players 4+ will not be back…

    The other team that Really need Scoring is the Preds,…❓ they have 2-3 players to bring back but a 1-2 M range and 14.M in Cap space and they have lots of picks coming up with Trotts being the new GM he would like to make a Splash….❗️ 2x1st picks & 2X 2nd & 3rd picks in the draft….🤔

    maybe the Sen’s go for a 1st & 2nd and a prospect…❓

    • I would rather the Wings trade for Bratt from NJ than the Cat. NJ will have a great deal of trouble signing both Timo and Jesper.

  3. I think De Brincat signs in Ottawa for 8-8,5 per year long term. They are an up and coming team built for success in a year or two. Swayman to Ottawa is interesting, he could resign in Boston on a short 2-3 year contract at 3m I think. Vancouver has lots of middle 6 wingers for Nashville or Detroit and I dont think they will cost a lot since they just jave to many of them and no cap.

    • The cat is a $7mil player at best. A player making 8.5 plus better be able to drive their own line. Sens are better off trading him for something of need.

    • I think people forget that DeBrincat has already had two 40 goal seasons and was a 1st line winger. NOT a second. He’s only been a second liner with Ottawa. Why? Why hasn’t had the same success? Will he have the same success somewhere else? Those are the questions PD and other GM’s need to ponder. was Kane really the cat-alyst ? I think if PD gets an offer similar to the pick he gave up to get him or for something he needs he considers moving him. Otherwise he does his best to sign him.

      • I agree. When Dorion and Smith decided he’d play LW he immediately became a 2nd line winger since Tkachuk holds down the top LW position.

        The difference in minutes, not to mention pp time, could be the difference between what he’s on line to produce this season compared to his two 41-goal seasons in Chicago where he played on a line with Kane AND was on the first pp unit.

        In those two 41-goal seasons his totals were 41 35 76 and 41 37 78.

        With 25g 36a 61 pts in 75 games so far, he’s on a pace to finish with 27g 39a 66pts – not that far off his peak years, all things considered.

        AND he’s been reliable on terms of games missed due to injury – virtually none – and also has played well on the pk.

        I think he’ll be signed to an 8-year deal at $8.2 mil per.

    • Swayman to Ottawa but Batherson not D cat to Boston

  4. The Penguins should have begun preparing for a rebuild before Hextall was hired by making trades to stockpile draft picks. The worst thing that could happen, this season, would be to make the second round of the playoffs. Doing so would cause their fans to demand a better performance next season.

    • Hi Paul

      Making 2nd round ….. very close to 0.000000001 % chance

      Realistically worst case is making playoffs and going 6 or 7 games…. That might be enough for ownership (extremely wrongfully so) to keep HexBurkie…. Where implosion is more than likely to happen… alienating core… and perhaps so much so that Sid wants out (retire? Ask for trade?)

    • Cheering for a team with little to no playoff success has really left you quite jaded Paul.

      • Mmmm – maybe. But what did he say that wasn’t plausible? And shared by a few diehard Penguins fans, by the way.

      • I just calls them as I sees them.

      • The teams core is and was still playing at an high level.. granted not 5-6 years ago level but high. Rebuilding when you have a shot at the playoffs is counterproductive on many levels. Last year the pens made a series out of the rangers while playing a third string goalie against one of the leagues best. Now hextalls failures in fa signings and contract extensions are legit complaints rebuilding years ago makes zero sense.

      • I’d be ecstatic to see the Pens make the 2nd round of the playoffs this year. Those games are extremely fun to go to. Watching Sid, Geno, and Tanger is a treat. I intend to enjoy every moment of it while they still play. Keep tanking in Columbus and Ottawa. We’re not ready for it here in Pittsburgh quite just yet, imo.

      • Uhh, where and how, exactly, is Ottawa “tanking?

        Both teams have played 75 games and both have 37 wins, with the difference of 5 points being Pittsburgh’s 10 OT/SO losses to Ottawa’s 5.

        Both have scored 241 goals while Pittsburgh has given up 243 and Ottawa 244.

        Over their past 10 games each, Pittsburgh is 4-6-0 while Ottawa is 4-5-1.

      • When was Ottawa’s last playoff game?

      • I agree with George on that one. I don’t think Ottawa tanked. They were a strong playoff team what 7 years ago? Then they just sucked. They certainly didn’t try to gift Colorado the 4th pick. Course the owner being a bit cheap didn’t help. But unlike Detroit buffalo Arizona ducks now sharks… don’t think they actually “tanked”. I don’t think Columbus has either btw. Another team that has just been bad/unlucky

      • You still cheer for your team go Paul..don’t listen to Mr. Negativity Crustmus…Lol

  5. Hi Lyle

    Re “ Making the playoffs should save Hextall’s job ”…. If true…. Then tanking is a must

    Hextall has grossly failed (starting with the expansion draft fiasco)…. He must go… or else Penguins will be in free-fall next year…. And with Hextall at the helm… they’ll be older, smaller, slower, weaker than this year….. not good

    With Hextall and Burke gone…. Changes (for the good) will happen

    Re Guentz…. And moving him…. If they do… the return would need to be very very high and/or come with moving out a bad contract or more (Carter, Granlund; Petry; Rusty) in the same trade

    Hard to imagine it ever happening…. But not impossible to see Hextall stay, ruining team further… thus leading to Sid asking for an out (or retiring early)…. That’s how much damage Hextall has done

    Sad but true

    As I posted to Chrisms on Morning coffee…. Perhaps best path/outcome by Pens this year…. Squeak in (5th tie-breaker kind of thing; with Pens losing most of remaining games; accompanied by both Isles and Panthers equally faltering so just luck of draw who gets in)to last WC spot…. Then handily swept (and each game by at least 3 goals) by Bruins…

    Result…streak alive; pick 17th; HexBurkie ousted; major changes in summer…. 23/24 squad… younger, bigger, faster, stronger, better….. getting in top 3 in Metro for next spring

  6. Pens fans cried and screamed to resign Malkin and LeTurnover. Now theyre sobbing because their lineup of dinosaurs is old and slow?

    Its over in Pittsburgh. Time to sink back into mediocrity and bankruptcy.

    • Ron…The core has been really good even with Letang being inconsistent.

      Crosby voted by his peers just last week the most complete player in the game…no one knows better.

      Not Mc david Matthews McKinnon.

      Crosby on pace for 90 points, Malkin has been good [and im quick to jump on him]
      Letang rough year, up and down mini stroke father passing..

      The core is not the problem it is rge supporting cast…the thied and 4th li e useless and the d core iinjured slipping, goalie inconsistent..

      Off season $25 million off the books cap going up at least $ 1 million

      Hextall. Burke need to go along with Jarry and others.

      Some solid moves Penguins right back..
      Goalie, top 4 dman, 3rd line center..

      Who saw Boston this year no one. Mcavoy Marchand on warly ltr some good moves by management lookee

      Can be done..

    • Not a chance brother..your delusional

      • He’s a Philly fan. It’s par for the course

      • Have you ever seen the Flyers win the Stanley Cup?

    • Those core guys brought 3 Stanley Cups to Pittsburgh. It’s worth giving them short affordable contracts so that they can end their careers in Pittsburgh. Many Pens fans grateful to have watched those guys play. Not many fan bases have been this fortunate. Characterize it however you want but you’ve got to pay for that winning eventually.

  7. Hi Willie. There is no doubt in my mind that the Pens and Caps can do enough to make the playoffs next year, but I also seriously doubt they can become Cup competitive. My thinking is that neither should expend resources to make the playoffs,but should begin the painful rebuilds ASAP. If either can add 25 and under guys without giving up first round draft picks, yes, do it.

    And Ottawa / Buffalo should be all over one of the goalies on your list.

    • 🍁 Hey Lago,

      100% they will be all over goaltender’s Both these young Teams need a #1 Starter and there potential goal tenders for both teams are 2-4 years away from being starter and thats still a Question mark for both teams….❓
      Ottawa – Buffalo should be all over one of the goeltenders on the list…..
      I hope we get Swayman for the Sen’s…👌

  8. williew & Iago – where Dorion goes with his goaltending next season will depend a great deal on how Sogaard plays the rest of the way this season, and how Forsberg recovers from his knee surgeries.

    By starting the veteran Talbot last night against Philadelphia, and so keeping Sogaard for the Leafs, shows that that is exactly how they’re looking at it.

    If he closes out strong, and over the summer Forsberg shows full recovery, there is a possibility they could enter next season with a Sogaard-Forsberg tandem. In terms of the cap, that would mean a total of $3,675,000 for the 2 goalies as opposed to the $6,416,667 which was the case to start this season. And by dealing for a “top” goalie that could even be higher.

    Right now, it’s just one possibility and in the end all will depend on detailed off-season film analysis of Sogaard’s game (keep in mind, too, that the team will be without Chabot, Chychrun and Hamonic for the remaining games so that, too, will enter into the analysis), AND the recovery of Forsberg.

    If they are comfortable enough with Sogaard’s development after sifting through the films, but aren’t confident that Forsberg will be ready to go, then the seacrh will be for a strong back-up type.

    On the other hand, should the analysis results deem it necessary for Sogaard to get in more AHL experience, and/or Forsberg’s complete recovery comes into question, then, of course, Dorion could find himself seeking both a starting goalie and an adequate back-up.

    • Hi George. I admit that I have not seen enough of Ottawa’s young goalies, so I cannot offer any sort of informed opinion of them. I will maintain that Talbot should not be considered or paid as a number one goalie for 2023/2024…certainly not at his age.

  9. The longer Pittsburgh and Washington hang on the fringes of just trying to make it into the playoffs, the longer and more painful the rebuild will be. Ask Detroit about that.

    • Yep…lived it…hated it…still suffering from the repercussions since….watch it at every game I attend.

      • Iago and Ed, I agree and the evidence seems pretty clear historically, with BOS kind of the exception, but they did the “retool” earlier in the careers of some of their core guys. Meaning Bergy, Krecji, Marchand. It was 14/15 when they missed the playoffs, and moved some guys for picks.

        But it took some savvy moves by Sweeney to pull it off and be back in the finals in 19.

        I think it’s too late for the Pens to pull off a similar turnaround. Like way too late.

        If Sweeney get’s this team competitive next season they should hang his jersey in the rafters. If you could ever use the term all in for this year, it would be this year’s B’s.

        No pressure!

  10. The Penguins core is still playing elite..Crosby 90 points voted most complete player in the game by his peers last week..his peers

    Not Mc David not Matthews not McKinnon..they are offensive superstars thats it..


    Some solid moves we can get that 4th Cup..
    We have shown we can play with the best teams Tampa Toronto Dallas
    Lost to Boston twice by one goal split 4 with the Rangers…

    With a crap 3rd and 4th line image a competent bottom 6 and a good reluable goalieand defense

  11. Don’t make the same mistake that the Red Wings made hanging on to Datsyuk and Zberg too long. Pitt’s could receive plenty of assets for those top 3 untouchables
    For what? Like Det to keep the streak alive in then have a long rebuild???