NHL Rumor Mill – March 8, 2023

by | Mar 8, 2023 | Rumors | 32 comments

Were the Sharks close to moving Erik Karlsson at the trade deadline? Will the Blue Jackets have another busy off-season? Find out in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.


SAN JOSE HOCKEY NOW: Sheng Peng recently reported Sharks general manager Mike Grier said there were various times throughout this season when he’d had trade talks with different teams regarding Erik Karlsson.

San Jose Sharks defenseman Erik Karlsson (NHL Images).

Grier indicated that there was lots of interest in the 32-year-old defenseman. However, he said the discussions never got to the point where he felt they were close to getting something for Karlsson.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Grier was referring to what he felt would be a worthwhile return for Karlsson, who has matched his career-high of 82 points and leads all defensemen this season in scoring.

The Karlsson trade rumors have faded away now that the trade deadline has passed. However, I expect they’ll resurface in the offseason, especially in late June heading toward the draft. That’s typically when players of his magnitude get traded.

Karlsson’s $11.5 million cap hit through 2026-27 and full no-movement clause still won’t be easy to move, especially if the salary cap only rises by $1 million for next season. Nevertheless, I’m not dismissing the possibility given the high level of interest in him this season.

Grier also mentioned he would spend the remainder of this season evaluating his goaltending. He wants to see if Kaapo Kahkonen or James Reimer can show they’re capable of being the Sharks’ full-time starter.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The focus will be on the 26-year-old Kahkonen. He was acquired from the Minnesota Wild by Grier’s predecessor at last year’s trade deadline.

Reimer, 34, is slated to become an unrestricted free agent this summer. Grier attempted to trade him at Friday’s deadline but couldn’t find a suitable destination for him once Joonas Korpisalo and Jonathan Quick were traded.


THE ATHLETIC: Aaron Portzline pointed out that the Columbus Blue Jackets have one of the youngest rosters in the NHL. He believes they could benefit from veteran leadership that knows how to win and would hold players accountable, pointing out the departure in recent years of veterans such as Nick Foligno, David Savard, Seth Jones, Jakub Voracek and Cam Atkinson.

Portzline also believes the Blue Jackets need to make a trade or a free-agent signing this summer to bolster their blueline after trading Vladislav Gavrikov last week. GM Jarmo Kekalainen anticipates being able to add to his roster this summer as cap-strapped clubs are forced to shed salary through trades or letting players depart via free agency.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kekalainen will be shopping around to improve his defense and leadership core this summer. Finding the right players for the right deal is crucial. They got a superstar in winger Johnny Gaudreau below market value last summer but also garnered criticism for signing defenseman Erik Gudbranson to a four-year, $16-million deal.


  1. I believe that the Jackets will be fine. Just stay the course and build through the draft like all of the current top teams…… with the exception of Boston, of course.

    • If you look at the Bruins roster, a high percentage of their top players were drafted by the organization. I would say they built their team through the draft as well.

      • About half and half, I suppose. 11 drafted. The rest were FA signings or acquired via trade. I guess my point was we didn’t stink up the league and tank for multiple high picks like most others. Looking at you, Edmonton, Toronto, Colorado, Pittsburgh, Tampa, New Jersey, and Florida.

      • The Bruins made several strategic trades and signings and mixed in their own top picks. Although some of their drafts were awful no one can argue with Pasternak and McAvoy as top picks. What is interesting is looking at acquisitions that were number one (or two) picks from their original teams- Hall, Zacha, Coyle,Lindholm,Orlov etc.

      • Still 3:1 there sop. Sounds like for the pens at least that approach wins!

  2. Hey Lyle,
    Any news on how close Laine was to being added in the Quick trade with the Knights? It looked like there were a couple of premature leaks about that trade that had Laine added to it.

    • I can’t prove it, but I suspect that was wishful thinking on the part of a Vegas blogger. While I don’t believe in the concept of a player being untouchable, and I have no doubt that Jarmo would trade anyone for the right deal, it just doesn’t feel right that he’d trade Laine less than a year after Laine signed a 4 year contract extension.

    • As far as I know, Laine wasn’t going anywhere, and especially not to Vegas. They could barely afford to take on Quick and that was with the Jackets retaining half of his $5.8 million cap hit.

      • Thank you sir.
        That was what I was wondering when I saw Laine may be going with Quick. How were the Knights going to fit Laine into their cap? Which had me curious about who the Knights were sending to Columbus. LOL

      • Although Portzline reported they were willing to listen on Laine, but it’s unclear if Porty was speculating or that was informed reporting. Either way it didn’t appear they were in serious discussion on a deal. It will be interesting to see if any buzz from the connected insider sources emerges on Laine around the draft. I personally hope they don’t trade him…I believe he can be a core piece particularly if they get good fortune in lottery and the young players reach their potential.

  3. I have no idea Portzline is talking about. When fully healthy, the Jackets have Boone Jenner, Zack Werenski and Johnny Gaudreau who have had playoff experience. What the Jackets need is a #1C (I love Fantilli for that role) and a defenseman to play a role while prospects like Jiricek, Mateychuk, Cuelemans, etc develop.

    • Paul, It seems you have chosen Fantilli over Bedard. If so you are perhaps thinking like me: Bedard is ripping it up at the junior level, but I am sceptical that he will be a superstar in the NHL. Doesn’t skate well.

      • Where did you hear that Bedard doesn’t skate well? Everything that I have read says his skating is above average, but not elite.
        From Last Word on Sports. “Bedard is a very good skater, but not quite elite. His agility and fluidity are fantastic, and he skates so effortlessly with or without the puck. He also utilizes his edges very well and can hit top speed very quickly. That acceleration and ability to know when to turn on the jets allow him to catch defenders off, allowing him to beat them. However, his top speed is not elite.”

      • I watched him during the World Juniors. It was there for all to see, and I am not alone in my opinion, not that I depend on others for my thinking.

        I acknowledge he has time to improve but reflect upon how important speed has become.

      • I’ve seen him live a few times now. LJ is correct, but his IQ and release are unparalleled in major Jr hockey.

      • I remember comments similar to the above on Bedard with regard to Gretzky, guys.

        He was never a super-fast skater – in fact looked labored at times. But he had something that very few pro athletes have – and which cannot be taught – and that is, he seemed to be playing the game about 10 seconds ahead of every one else and had this uncanny ability to always be in the right place at precisely the right time.

        Bedard appears to have that.

        Shane Wright dropping 4 or 5 spots is one thing – if that ever happened with Bedard there would be 4 or 5 GMs soon looking for new jobs.

      • I watched him during the WJHC as well. I didn’t see anything wrong with his skating. He certainly doesn’t have the speed, but he does have some great edge work, which he showed on a few of his goals.

      • I guess part of my hesitance is that while Bedard won the scoring title, and is lighting it up in the WHL, he put up one point – a goal – in the semi and gold medal game. Joshua Roy out scored him, and I thought Shane Wright was Canada’s best forward.

        Was the competition paying more attention to him in the medal round? Or did he not fare well against better competition?

      • Oops, that should have read Wright being Canada’s best forward in the gold medal game.

      • “not that I depend on others for my thinking.”

        No, you’d rather make a definitive statement based on just about the smallest sample size you can find.

    • I’d hardly call gaudreau’s playoffs experience. He was non existent in every one.

  4. LJ, Bedard, doesn’t skate well?

    Sure seemed to skate Ok at the recent World Juniors. I recall more than one expert saying the same thing about that Gretzky fella, and he turned out OK!. Just sayin.

  5. Re; Bedard, doesn’t skate well..?
    its a Slow news day in hockey when we are talking Skating…

    McDavid is next level Skating….😇

    A Level skaters, I’m just talking Oilers as that’s who i have seen the most of
    Jarri Kuri
    Glen Anderson
    Paul Coffey
    Wayne Greztky .. but look what he did….🤔

    Now young Connar Bedard is only 17 and not 18 till July 17th 2023… at 5ft 10 & 185lbs he is going to be just fine
    At the Worlds he was Very Good…
    We have Seen some very nice moves in JR, he will only get better guys ……..⁉️
    100% he gos #1 in the draft….to

  6. Pro teams will work on his skating . That be taught to a degree

    Remember this order when it comes to hockey players :
    head, heart , and then legs.

    Lots of slow players in the NHL.
    Nick Ritchie and D Stephan would be an interesting race . They would likely use a calendar instead of a stop watch

    • The slow are going extinct in todays NHL IMO. Is there some, ya, but they better be elite in another area. IE – Krecji in BOS was never “fast”, but his vison and skill are elite. And he isn’t a plodder, just below average a bit with the wheels. Tavares is another good offensive guy that isn’t what you would call fast.

      Slow feet is quickly becoming no NHL. It will keep going that way as it isn’t just about offence, you need it to defend as well. IMO it’s the less offensive guys that have to be able to skate.

      Bedard doesn’t have slow feet, he just doesn’t have fast top end speed, but he is quick and has elite lateral movement and skill. And he can absolutely wire it accurately, form all kinds of positions.

      I would bet a pay cheque the guy scores 50 goals multiple times. He lit up the WJC as a 17 yr old against mostly 19 yr old’s.

      The vets got the most ice time in final and semi final games, as they should have, as they needed to be able to defend as well and make good decisions. Bedard was taking some chances with puck in the wrong parts of the ice, you can’t do that in games like that. Also has never been asked to defend much I am guessing.

      All part of growing up!

      • Yeah, I was in error with my comment. It’s not that he doesn’t skate “well,” he just doesn’t skate fast. His edge work is really good, and he does get where he’s supposed to be. Even if no one else knows that’s where the puck is going to end up. He’s gonna be a star. You can’t teach instinct and desire. The kid is a competitor.

      • Seems like a good team mate as well SOP. He kept trying to deflect to his buds whenever they brought up what his stats were. He seems to get it.

        Make a good Bruin in 8 or 9 years!

      • That comment just gave me a warm, fuzzy feeling, Ray.

  7. I have seen every home game that Bedard has played for the Pats. He skates very well (not McDavid type of skating), but well. His shot is exceptional, he see’s the ice better than anyone. He kills penalties, is totally dominant on the power play, passes are crisp and on the tape. He even demonstrates a wee bit of Kenny Linseman rat as he jabs at the back of legs and pants just enough to annoy the other guy. The only concern I see with him is his size, but other than that he is the total package.

    • Plus, he kills my Tigers every chance he gets.

    • Hey, Raging Romanian

      Re; Bedard
      nicely said… The kid is going to be Just fine…👍👌

  8. CBJ