NHL Rumor Mill – April 13, 2023

by | Apr 13, 2023 | Rumors | 21 comments

What next for the Penguins after being eliminated from playoff contention? Could this season’s playoffs affect Auston Matthews’ future with the Maple Leafs? Check out the latest in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.


PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE/THE ATHLETIC: Matt Vensel and Rob Rossi looked at the offseason issues facing the Penguins after their streak of 16 consecutive playoff appearances came to an end this week.

Pittsburgh Penguins general manager Ron Hextall (NHL.com).

The new ownership group will have to decide if they’ll bring back general manager Ron Hextall and president of hockey operations Brian Burke or replace one or both men. Rossi observed that Hextall and Burke were hired by the previous ownership.

Vensel noted that Hextall made several savvy trades and signings. However, there were also crippling mistakes, including the blueline being worse than last season and trade deadline acquisition Markus Granlund failing to pan out.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’ll be very surprised if Hextall and Burke are back for 2023-24. They seemed like deer in headlights this season when it came to addressing their team’s on-ice woes.

Head coach Mike Sullivan is signed through 2026-27. Rossi doesn’t see them paying Sullivan for the next five seasons not to coach. Vensel observed that ownership thinks highly of him.

Both writers believe Sullivan will return. If so, Vensel believes he must make changes to adapt to his personnel and figure out why a veteran-laden club lacked composure this season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sullivan’s contract pretty much ensures he’ll be behind the Penguins’ bench next season. I agree that he must evaluate what he can do to remedy his club’s on-ice issues but management must provide him with a better roster than the one he had to work with this season.

Venzel doesn’t expect the Penguins will trade Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang after re-signing them last summer. He believes pending free-agent goaltender Tristan Jarry should not be re-signed, though the other goalie options in this summer’s unrestricted free-agent market are a bit underwhelming. He suggested the Boston Bruins’ restricted free agent Jeremy Swayman could be worth considering.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Vensel didn’t indicate if the Penguins should attempt to acquire Swayman via trade or offer sheet. The Bruins face more of a cap pinch than the Pens so perhaps an offer sheet might work provided Swayman is willing to sign one.

Along with Jarry, Rossi pointed out that their other notable UFAs included Brian Dumoulin and Jason Zucker. Rossi observed the Penguins have over $63.2 million invested in 15 players for 2023-24. Vensel doesn’t expect Dumoulin and Zucker will be back unless the Penguins can free up some cap space to re-sign the latter.

Vensel speculated the Penguins could attempt to trade away a high-salaried player. It could cost them a draft pick to move Granlund and his $5 million average annual value. Jeff Petry has a partial no-trade clause and the Penguins would have to find a suitable replacement.

Jeff Carter has a full no-trade clause. He’s on a 35-plus contract meaning the Penguins get no cap relief if he retires or is bought out. Short of somehow sending his contract to a team like the Arizona Coyotes, Carter will likely remain on their books next season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: They don’t have many good options here that won’t cost them a draft pick or a prospect as a sweetener in the deal. Teams could prefer they retain some salary.


TORONTO STAR: Nick Kypreos observed that the Maple Leafs can open contract extension talks with Auston Matthews on July 1. However, he wondered what impact the coming playoffs will have on Matthews’ future with the Leafs.

Matthews is slated to become an unrestricted free agent next July. He’s earning an average annual value of $11.6 million on his current contract.

Kypreos suggests a successful first round by the Leafs could go a long way in convincing Matthews to remain in Toronto for the long term. Another early postseason exit, however, had Kypreos wondering if that will decrease Matthews’ odds of signing a lengthy extension, especially if the Leafs end up replacing general manager Kyle Dubas.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kypreos believes the Leafs will triumph this time over the Tampa Bay Lightning in the rematch of last year’s first-round series. If Matthews isn’t convinced to sign long-term, he envisions the Leafs star inking a three- or four-year deal to take advantage of the salary cap rising over that period.

The Leafs and Matthews have plenty of time to negotiate a new deal regardless of length. Nevertheless, his contract status could dominate this summer’s rumor mill if the Leafs make another first-round departure. The longer Matthews goes without a new deal, the more questions will be asked about his future.


  1. Whether or not what the Leafs do in Round 1 will dictate Matthews decision aside, I believe they will knock off Tampa.

    How it goes for them from there will depend greatly upon what teams also advance from Round 1. An upset (or two) – as happened conveniently for the Habs in the last finals won by a Canadian franchise in 1993 – and they could go all the way.

  2. I also believe the Leafs get it done this year and beat Tampa not because I think Toronto is better but because Tampa looks slower to me. Matthews in my humble opinion can’t wait to exit stage right and I don’t blame him. He will say all the right things like Tavares did but when it gets down to crunch time he will bolt. Vasilevskiy could be the difference maker in series but haven’t seen it this year just think T.O wins this year.

    • I am interested to know why you have this opinion – genuinely. What indication has Matthews given that he doesn’t want to be in Toronto, young team with talent around him, an aggressive GM who makes the moves necessary and playing in the biggest market – his endorsement deals are some of the largest in the game and that gravy train won’t stop any time soon.
      I can’t say with any certainty he stays in Toronto, I can just be hopeful.

      • His signing a deal taking him right to ufa isn’t a good sign.

      • Why is it a bad sign? He’s going to get as close to a max contract as anyone has gotten regardless of where he goes, only toronto can give him the 8th year. Or these guys are smartening up and not willing to sign more than a few years at a time based on the cap going up. If everyone is so convinced these guys base decisions on taxes why would anyone sign an 8 year deal? Remember when Nylander was overpaid a few years ago? No idea where he goes but it’s a fact that endorsement deals for hockey players are likely maxed in Toronto, although I imagine NY, Bos and teams like that could come close. Regardless Matthews will go where he wants for the money he wants and term he wants. And don’t forget McDavid will be a Leaf in a couple years.

  3. Looking at the UFA Market for Goaltenders this AM…

    Sens can look at 3 UFA if they think one of the 2 young Sen’s can do some back up can be ready for prime time like Big 22 year old Sweed,
    Mads Søgaard…❓
    but he may need one more year in the minors to devepope his game just like Stewart Skinner did her in Edmonton….🤔 the Ken Holland developing way witch has worked out Fantastic for the Oilers and skinner said it was clearly the Best way for him….👌

    Top 3 UFA Goaltenders, in order they should look at, as others like, Demko, Gibson,would cost to much in the way of 1st rd pick and a couple of prospects…❓

    1/ Anderson a 33yr, Sweed, could be a Prefict Fit…. right in there and would Not have to give up anything as a UFA…….. he couild train young sweed, MS looking for a 3 year deal about $3.m to $3.5M r

    2/ Joonas Korpisalo,..
    a 29 yr old .from the LA King is playing well in his new home, looking in the same range about $3.m to $3.5M range, but would have to be a 3-4 year deal more than lucky 4 years to get him…❓

    but they are very tight for cap Space, and have 23 other Goaltenders in the mix so that makes 3 + Korpisalo
    ➡️Cal Petersen for 2.2 more years @ $5.M⁉️
    ➡️Pheonix Copley $825,000 for 1.2 more years &

    ❓Ready for Back up are these 2 also
    ➡️ David Hrenak’ 24 yr old @ $825,000
    ➡️Matt Villalta, 23 yr old $775,00

    3/ Jarry from the pen’s, wont say for the re-build, he will be looking for a 7 yr
    Deal around $5.5 Mil to $6.% mil range❓

    • Willie if you are referring to Frederick Andersen , currently with the Canes , he is a Dane. In fact I heard on a broadcast the other day that Sogaard ‘s father was Andersen’s goalie coach when he was still playing Denmark.
      I would endorse that signing as long as it is not for more than 2 years and at a reasonable price.
      The other option I would like them to kick tires on is Raanta.

    • Look to Calgary, they need cap space, and Wolf needs to be on the roster next year with Markstrom or Vlader. Make an offer for Markstrom or Vlader, I bet they listen. May the Force be with you!

      • Hey Johnny
        Your Right about Wolf he should be on the roster next year….. ✔️
        There is going to be lots of changes coming up in Cowtown this coming season for sure ether the GM is back❓ and or the Coach is back but 100% Not both….

        if its sutter they move him to GM as he has Lost the dressing room Now….
        ALL they player Dont look or Sound Happy at All

        But im not sure that will even happen…⁉️

        it could well be a New Managment team, GM & Head Coach….
        Maybe its Iggy & his best buddy Ass GM Craig Conroy who will be the New GM & iggy moves into some Managment Role like Assistant GM….🤔

  4. If players are concerned about signing long term in the face of a rising cap, can the player and team sign a contract for a percent of the cap?

    • Nope

  5. Wow, 30 + years ago and still the tired refrain that the Habs were lucky in 1993. I am surprised the non-call high stick on Gilmor wasn’t brought up as well. Move on already. The Leafs have had over 50 years to get lucky but….? Oh and yes I know the leafs would have won in the final IF they had beaten LA!

    Leafs are the better team vs Tampa this year but I believe it all comes down to who wins the contest in net

    • Who mentioned the Leafs? I was referring to the fact top seeded Pittsburgh (119 pts) and Boston (109 pts) were both conveniently upset by much lower seeding teams in the East (NYI 87 pts) and Buffalo (86 pts), while out West top-seeded Chicago (106 pts), Detroit (103 pts) and Vancouver (101 pts) suffered the same fate by teams like L.A. (88 pts) – who the Habs face in the final.

      Slice it any way you like, but all those top teams being eliminated before the Habs had to possible face them didn’t hurt their cause.

      • Don’t forget they had to beat the 104 points Nordiques and that opened the door to that cup run. Quebec was favorite to win that series, the rest was pure luck, but by beating them, they made their luck.

        Habs didn’t have a bad team with Damphousse 39 goals and 97 points, Muller 37 goals and 94 points, Bellows 40 goals and 88 points, Lebeau 31 goals and 80 points, John LeClair was starting and he had excellent playoffs, Do I have to mention Patrick Roy ? They had excellent defensive fowards in Carbonneau, Kean (who also had 60 points) and Skrudland. Desjardins, Schneider, Odelein..

      • Completely agree, Mike Pilon, and nowhere did I use the word “lucky.”

        I did use the word “conveniently” since I’m sure even the Habs, at the time, weren’t bothered at all by the fact that the top teams, east and west, were all eliminated on their way to meet the 88-points Kings in the final.

        For the Leafs to enjoy a similar run, they would have to knock off Tampa Bay while Boston, Carolina, Colorado, Edmonton are dumped by the likes of NYI, Florida, Winnipeg and Seattle.

  6. Pens have a lot of rearranging to do!
    Petry, Carter, Zucker, Jarry and all the other UFA’s…GONE!
    Make a deal for Markstrom, Gibson or Demko.
    Trade Petry + 2nd to Detroit for Chiarot.
    Buy out Carter.
    See if there is a trade to be made to jettison Granlund for a cheaper C.

    • Can’t buy out carter. It provides no relief due to his age. Petry isnt an ufa and I’d take him over chariot.

      • I don’t like Chiarot here in Detroit, but I would take him over Petry all day long. Petry is the worst of the worst, and is paid $1.5M/yr more…and is 5 years older.

      • The 2nd would be the equalizer. And besides, it is 1 less year than Chia-rotten!

      • Nope. I’ll take the odds petry improves over chariots. Plus at 1 less year he has more value.

      • Trade Petry if you can…to anyone except Detroit.