NHL Rumor Mill – April 11, 2023

by | Apr 11, 2023 | Rumors | 36 comments

What could be in store this offseason for the Senators? What next for the Flames following their elimination from playoff contention? Check out the latest in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.


THE ATHLETIC: Ian Mendes reports Ottawa Senators general manager Pierre Dorion yesterday told TSN’s 1200 that his club will be a salary-cap team for 2023-24. He admitted they might have to be creative with some bridge deals and long-term signings.

Ottawa Senators winger Alex DeBrincat (NHL Images).

The Senators are already carrying a $68.25 million salary cap hit for next season, leaving them with around $15 million available should the salary cap increase to its projected $83.5 million. Alex DeBrincat, Shane Pinto and Erik Brannstrom are restricted free agents this summer.

Dorion confirmed his club will exercise the $9 million qualifying offer for DeBrincat at the end of this season even if there isn’t a contract in place before then. It’s a means to maintain his rights while continuing to negotiate a new deal with his agent. DeBrincat is also a year away from unrestricted free agent eligibility so he’ll have a lot of leverage in contract talks this summer with the Senators.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: There was never any question of the Senators qualifying DeBrincat’s rights for next season if a contract extension wasn’t in place before the end of June. Given how much they traded to Chicago last summer to acquire the 25-year-old winger, they won’t risk losing him to this summer’s UFA market.

Plenty of time remains for Senators management and the DeBrincat camp to hammer out a long-term deal that keeps him in Ottawa well beyond the end of next season. However, it will be an expensive signing. Perhaps it’ll be a front-loaded deal that keeps the annual average value between $8 million and $9 million on a seven or eight-year contract.

The Senators GM also sounded pleased with Brannstrom’s performance this season, indicating they’ll be bringing the 23-year-old blueliner back. Mendes expects he’ll get a healthy raise over his $900,000 salary for this season but the number of years could be a sticking point. He’ll also have arbitration rights this summer.

Mendes thinks Brannstrom, Pinto and Jake Sanderson could receive bridge contracts. He also noted that Dorion told pending UFA blueliner Travis Hamonic at the trade deadline that he would keep the door open for a contract extension.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Brannstrom’s raise could be as high as $2.5 million annually. Pinto is coming off his entry-level contract and lacks arbitration rights while Sanderson has a year left on his ELC. Those two won’t have much leverage and will likely have to settle for affordable short-term deals with the promise that they’ll get significant raises down the road.


CALGARY SUN: Wes Gilbertson looked ahead at the offseason questions facing the Flames following their elimination from playoff contention.

He wondered if general manager Brad Treliving will be signing a contract extension or if someone else will be doing his job this summer. Treliving garnered praise last summer for making the best of a tough situation last summer.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That tough situation was Johnny Gaudreau departing as a free agent and Matthew Tkachuk declining to sign a long-term contract. He shipped Tkachuk to Florida for Jonathan Huberdeau and MacKenzie Weegar and signed free-agent center Nazim Kadri.

Nevertheless, the Flames struggled on the ice this season. Huberdeau never came close to last season’s career-best of 115 points while Kadri’s production was also down this season.

Gilbertson wondered what the future holds for head coach Darryl Sutter. He’s under contract for two more seasons but couldn’t seem to get the most out of this underachieving roster.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Huberdeau and Kadri seemed to chafe under Sutter’s demanding ways. Maybe they all need another season to better adjust to each other or perhaps they need a coach that can do a better job of bringing out the best in those two and the rest of the roster.

There will likely be plenty of speculation in the coming weeks over what the Flames’ roster will look like for next season. However, those issues cannot be suitably addressed until we know what the future holds for Treliving and Sutter.


  1. The bigger question for Dorion is, how does he approach the goaltending position?

    We, of course, are not privy to the minute, detailed film analysis of the performances of the rookies Sogaard, Mandolese and Merilainen, nor do we know if Forsberg will come back healthy to resume his primary role of back-up.

    It could wind up being Sogaard-Forsberg to start the season … or, Dorion could pursue a veteran starter on a 2-year deal to give Sogaard more AHL time. We just don’t know. And that’s why the coaches get the big bucks and we sit at home sniping at their decisions as if we could do better. That’s the fun of being an armchair GM/coach.

    The D is another position to keep an eye on as it keeps getting deeper and deeper in terms of depth. Heading into next season they have

    LD – Chabot, Sanderson, Kleven

    RD – Zub, Bernard-Docker and possibly Hamonic if re-signed as a UFA, Lassi Thomson

    LD/RD – Chychrun, Brannstrom

    • I still think with all that d they are short a top rhd, maybe a walker or roy from LA for pinto or brannstrom plus picks.

      • mp, not to put a knock of any sort on Roy or Walker, but if Ottawa is going to deal a 6′ 3″ 200 lb C who scored 20 goals and gives every indication of being a top 2 C and is about to become just an RFA, the return is going to have to be a lot better than that. Brannstrom? Yes. But not Pinto.

    • George. Did you know Freddie Andersen was a Dane too…? Just like Soggard? And and he’s a UFA …hmm….how about that tandem?

      • Yes I knew that Dark G – in fact, Sogaard was ultra-exited at facing him last night as Andersen was his idol in his early minor years.

        Now THERE’S an intriguing thought – Andersen-Sogaard. And if Forsberg regains full mobility he could become a valuable trade chip to a team needing a veteran back-up.

        And the wheels keep turning!

    • This is where things really get interesting for a GM like in Ottawa. I think the most important thing is deciding who’s going to be a staple part of the team or core and who’s not. If that still isn’t clear, which I don’t think it is simply because the team is still relatively new/young and haven’t really carved out their identity, these players must be signed to a tradable contract regardless how we feel about that particular player.
      At this stage, the team at the start of the season could and probably should look very different come playoffs time. A team will need the cap flexibility to continue its progress to become a contender before they have cap issues that could derail their plans/hopes and fans dreams.
      It’s just a really cool time to be a fan of the Sens or Sabers or any other team in a similar situation as them.

      • Ron that is far too logical and level headed to ever be seen as a good idea by a professional sports gm. It is the correct way though

    • Ottawa is moving in the right direction.

      Personally if I was them and the rumours are true I would be talking to Philly about getting Carter Hart as a goalie.

      • Carter Hart would be a fantastic addition Great Gonzo … but in his case they could wind up in a robbing Peter to pay Paul situation. In other words, the cost will be steep in a trade scenario.

        Frederik Andersen, on the other hand, is a UFA who has proven his ability in Carolina after being called into question – and blamed – for some of the Leafs 1st round woes.

      • Carter Hart….has a tough road ahead with Hockey Canada me thinks. And according to Talbot, Hart is the main reason he left Philly. The kids a poisonous bully apparently.

        And Ron. You’re absolutely right but HUGE BUT, Dorion’s biggest weakness is his inability to judge pro-talent. Amateur scouting he’s an A-. Pro-level, he’s barely a D. If not worse

      • Which, Dark G, is probably one of the reasons why Pierre McGuire was axed soon after Melnyk’s death – the second-guessing had likely already begun on Dorion’s choices for the roster.

        I remember our group discussing the possibilities for GM once Murray was no longer there … and the consensus then was “let’s hope it isn’t Dorion …. great scout, BUT ….”

    • I think going into the season with Forsberg and Soogard would be Ill advised. Soogard shows he has what it takes but is still a couple years away. Forsberg is a decent back up. No starter.
      I don’t know that they will make a play via trade for a good starter but they could opt for stop gap like Varlamov on a two year contract.
      Dollar wise he makes the most sense as he’s unlikely to command the dollars that a Jarry would. Plus he’s not injured all the time.

    • Hey George,

      The Sens are in a good spot going forward,
      Regarding the D parings,

      1st–LD-Chabot & RD Zub
      2nd LD -Sanderson & RD Chychrun
      3rd Ld -Brannstrom & RD ( Hamonic on a 1 yr deal at less$$

      7th & 8th d/men..
      some of these young guys may get a look…??
      21 yr old Kleven,
      22 yr old Thomson
      I think they will sign an older guy with expeerince to be the 7th d/man, more than likely a LD man as Chabot is hurt a LOT…..⁉️
      Chabot has played an average of 62 games a season over the past 4 years

      Regarding the Goaltending,

      100% they need a #1 starter…. low cost route would be UFA goaltender 27 yr old Tristan Jarry,
      bye low cost, i mean no picks and prospects, the
      Jarry Contract would be about $5.5M to $6.M PA❓
      if they had to Trade for a Goaltender…. 🤔
      you would be looking at 1st Pick in 2024 draft and maybe a couple of Good d prospect like 21 yr old Kleven,
      22 yr old Thomson or Forward prospect’s like a Tyler Boucher, or A Roby Järventie or 2 prospects

      They could offer sheet Young 24 yr old Goaltender Boston Bruins Jeremy Swayman…..🤔✔️
      Sens Cost a 1st, & 3rd pick @6.1M or if they went higher $7.5M….cost would be more picks

      Now Boston only have $10.5 M in Cap space and need to bring back or replace 11 spots on the roster….. they are
      8 X UFA & 3 X RFA players……‼️

      I hear young Shane Pintos name get mentioned in trades and it makes me Cringe…‼️……….
      This kid is going to be Very Very Good and can play All three forward positions but is a Centre 1st….
      its going to be a very exciting Draft june 28th & UFA perion July 1st….👌

      • willie 2 – re Chabot. It’s funny how perception on a player can change … when he went 18th overall to Ottawa in 2015, some were soon saying – me included – that that could have been one of the “steals” of that draft. And he did nothing to cast doubt on that in his first few seasons.

        But then the time lost to various injuries began to climb – and often at the most inopportune time, such as this season when they entered their final 7 games still with a chance to make the playoffs, but that being contingent on having all hands on deck. The fact he was joined on IR by another injury-prone D, Chychrun, did nothing to help the frustration.

        But now that he’s become “a fan favourite” in Ottawa, any move to include him in a deal would be greeted as heresy along the lines of dealing Karlsson.

      • WW

        Sens can’t offer sheet anyone as they have no picks in 1st 3rds of draft

    • I can imagine someone will offer Andersen a longer contract than the sens would want to offer. I don’t know that we wind up with Freddy in ottawa

      • Didn’t the Sens pass on Andersen when the Leafs let him go to UFA? I guess the Leafy stench was too much especially as George has dismissed his post season woes especially when he really hasn’t shown much to dispel his reputation.

        He’s a good goalie but depending on how or where the Sens are there just might be better options like internally if the team is closer to competing. It a risk but with few very good options and a young team, time is on your side to figure it out and develop not only a strong team but a tight net team growing up and going through everything together that should payoff in the long run.

    • Hey George, hope all is well. Although OTT ultimately fell short of the playoffs this year, they took a meaningful step forward and I really believe in their future. Although I am a CBJ fan & long-time CBus resident, OTT is a team I pull for and think they are on the brink of elevating. Hope you guys have a great off-season. I don’t know enough about your G prospects to have an informed opinion but I would offer perhaps signing ex-CBJ Korpisalo could be a solid offseason add to OTT. Also, I still wonder about the RD-forward trade possibilities between CBJ-OTT. Not sure if there is a fit there but I suspect it will be an interesting off season for both clubs. Take care and keep well in the offseason!

      • You too, Deacon. And I’m pulling for Columbus to get that # 1 pick.

        Re a deal between the Blue Jackets and Senators … there is a history there between the two GMs so, who knows? If there’s a RD Dorion likes and Kekalainen is willing to relinquish him, a trade between the two wouldn’t surprise me.

  2. Calgary should consider hiring an independent firm to do player exit interviews. Have a standard set of the same questions for each player and team personnel.
    As much as I like Sutter his methods may have outlived their shelf life.

    • Philly fan here, would not want to be a calgary fan. We are a dumpster fire and we all know it, but the Flames spent all that money and there team played worse than last year. I watched a few games this year and it seemed without Tkachuk there team isnt hard to play against and doesnt have heart.

      My personal opinion is Trevling shouldve been fired when he hung onto Gaudreau instead of trading him at the deadline and getting back top end assets. Just seems like he makes moves to not lose his job, but he never built a winning team for multiple seasons.

      • The Flames were legit cup contenders last season. Even if they knew Gaudreau was going to leave they would’ve kept him as an own rental. Tkchuck leaving was the major blow and kind of shady on his part. All things considered the Flames got a really good return for him.

        A glaring hole in Calgary this year was thier goal tending. They lost a lot of one goal games because of really bad goals.

        The team chemistry was also off, but that could improve with time (or a coaching change).

      • Shredded Red, when you look at the Flames’ record 1st half vis-a-vis 2nd half, they were pretty consistent in performance, with a slight up-tick in the 2nd half.

        In the 1st half they went 19 16 6 44 pts – a .537 % pace, scoring 129 goals while giving up 127.

        So far in the 2nd half, with 1 game left, their record is 18 11 11 47 pts, scoring 128 while giving up 124. That’s a % pace of .588. If they win their final game that rises to .598 – if they lose it, it goes to .573.

        Leading the league in 1-goal losses certainly didn’t help their cause, but they could wind up with 93 points which, in the East, would have them in the top WC slot and, a break here and there in just 2 or 3 of those 1-goal losses and they’re right in the thick of it out west.

    • Hey Fergy
      Thats a Great Idea…….👍

      S**t going to hit the Fan in Calgary…..
      The Player’s are NOT a Happy bunch at ALL….😳

      Sutter has 2 more years on his contract🫢

      The GM Bard Treliving has No Contract after the end of June…..❓

      Could they move Sutter up to GM and get him away from the players….🙈

      only one of these 2 will be back, there could be Lots & Lots of Trade Demands/Requests coming out of Calgary at the End of the week when Season is over.⁉️

  3. The Flames couldn’t buy a save or a goal at the right times this season. No need to panic.
    They were in just about every game all year.

  4. Ya. The flames set a record for losing one goal games this season. Still there’ s something rotten in Calgary. I think the players are very much over and done with the coach. Who seems to have some kind of Mandalorian “this is the way” and “I know better than you shtick. That crap gets old in a hurry.

    • Still seems there will be major movement in Calgary. Thay are right at the cap with 19 players signed and no room to add. At least 1 cap-casualty with over a $3M has to go. Who will that be?

      • Johnny…It seems like no one wants to be in Calgary is it the city or Daryl Sutter?

        I thought Winnipeg was the city no free agents wanted to go or players wanted to stay…

        That team is too good to miss the playoffs…

  5. I think Sen’s GM Peirre Dorion
    Trys to Get Alex DeBrincat signed as close to $8.M as possible….not to mess up the dressing room as there 3 top forward players are

    >Tkachuk $8.2M
    >Stutzle $8.35M
    >Norris’ $7.95M
    Alex DeBrincat,❓$8.1M to $8.3M….🤔

    The 2 Big restricted free agents this summer.

    Shane Pinto, one of my fav young player can see a bridge deal there, i know he is a centre but i can see him moving up to play top 6 on the RW….
    With RD/LD Erik Brannstrom a bridge deal…

    Dorion confirmed he will exercise the $9 million qualifying offer for DeBrincat and hopfully get him signed to a 8 yr deal…❓

    There Number one priority is still to find a #1 Starting Goaltender, they could go after Pens UFA 27 yr old Tristan Jarry….?

    for a back up if Anton forsberg cant go they my need to sign a back up for one year as both the young 22 yr old are not quite ready for next season….🤔

    • willie not sure Ottawa wants to try another Pitts goalie.

      Last one didn’t work out too well.

      Maybe even the guy in arizona, he’s actually a really good goalie.

      • I keep saying Spencer Knight. Give the kid a place to start fresh once he emerges from the program. Offer Florida some players or picks.

      • Hey MP,

        my first choice
        I would love the Sen’s to ” Offer Sheet” 😎
        that young 24 yr old fromBoston J.Swayman He is going to be Very Very Good & Great Numbers playing 41 & 35 Game the past 2 seasons✅

        >2021/2 Season
        Games, 41 GA, 2.41 SV% 0.914👌
        >2022/3 Season
        Games, 35 GA,2.22 SV% 0.921👌
        looking at Age and potential

        2nd would be 27 yr old Demko,
        3rd…would be 27 yr old Jarry as a UFA
        4th Would be 24 yr old Carter Hart……But Hart has been very up playing Great and down inconsistent …⁉️ but he is 24..?

  6. Do you think Fla will trade him though? I thought he is the heir for the no1 job moving forward, I know he has some issues but they would be crazy to move him.

    • They are stuck with Bob for 2-3 years and Lyon is playing well, re-up Lyon and get something for Knight!
      Pinto + Lassi Thomson for Knight

      • Noooooo. If they trade Pinto – a big developing C – the return will have to be a helluva lot better than Knight.

  7. Lucic and Lewis are gone. The Flames never replaced all the goals from last year . Not even close

    In today’s Younger NHL you have to be a communicator and a bit of a coddler Sutter is hardly that. But then again his team is old and that is the basis of their problems.
    That Chicago game last week was a disgrace