NHL Rumor Mill – April 24, 2023

by | Apr 24, 2023 | Rumors | 14 comments

More Erik Karlsson speculation plus an update on Pierre-Luc Dubois in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.


THE ATHLETIC: Corey Masisak examined what next season could look like for Erik Karlsson if the San Jose Sharks retain him or trade him.

Karlsson has indicated he wants to win and enjoys living and playing in San Jose. Sharks general manager Mike Grier enjoyed having the 32-year-old defenseman on the roster and will be happy to have him back next season. However, he’s also indicated he’s open to offers and if he gets a suitable one would take it to Karlsson, who has a full no-movement clause but would waive it for the right opportunity.

San Jose Sharks defenseman Erik Karlsson (NHL Images).

Keeping Karlsson would help the Sharks improve next season. It would also leave them a little shy of $15 million in cap space meaning they won’t be making expensive forays into the unrestricted free-agent market. They have several affordable restricted free agents to re-sign plus a need for a goalie to share the duties with Kaapo Kahkonen.

Grier could open more cap space by shopping Kevin Labanc or Radim Simek rather than buying out contracts. Both players are in the final year of their respective deals.

Trading Karlsson would leave a big hole in their blueline and leave them worse off than they were this season. Finding an eventual replacement will be a priority. They could look toward the 2023 NHL draft for a future potential No. 1 defenseman.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Sharks will obviously be a better club with Karlsson in the lineup next season than without. However, it’s clear that they’re starting to rebuild under Grier. If he gets a suitable offer that Karlsson will accept, he won’t hesitate to pull the trigger.

Karlsson’s $11.5 million average annual value through 2026-27 remains as big an obstacle as his no-movement clause. Assuming the salary cap for next season rises higher than projected, it’s still going to be difficult for Grier to find a trade partner willing to take on that full cap hit. He’ll have to retain a significant chunk or take back a bad contract in return.

I wouldn’t be surprised if Karlsson is traded this summer. It will be interesting to see how Grier pulls it off.


TVA SPORTS: Appearing on The Sick Podcast with Tony Marinaro, The Athletic’s Aaron Portzline said Winnipeg Jets center Pierre-Luc Dubois always wanted to play for the Montreal Canadiens during his tenure with the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Portzline delved into the real reason behind Dubois’ departure from the Blue Jackets, pointing out that he was their top center and had bought a new apartment in Columbus. While the assumption was that Dubois was clashing with then-Jackets coach John Tortorella, Portzline believes that the center was expecting an offer sheet from the Canadiens.

He noted that Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen made two trades in the final hours before the free-agent market opened that year (“two defensemen out the door”) to ensure sufficient cap space to match any potential offer. Portzline thinks that’s what changed the relationship between Dubois and the Jackets’ management.

SPECTOR’ S NOTE: The two trades Portzline is referring to occurred on Oct. 8, the day before the 2020 NHL free-agent market opened.

Cap Friendly shows the Jackets sending Ryan Murray ($4.6 million) to the New Jersey Devils and Markus Nutivaara ($2.7 million) to the Florida Panthers. That move freed up a combined $7.3 million in cap space to match an offer sheet for Dubois by the Canadiens or another club.

Dubois signed a two-year, $10 million contract with the Jackets on Dec. 31 before training camps opened for the COVID-shortened 2020-21 season. Over three weeks later, on Jan. 23, 2021, he was traded to the Jets.

This revelation by Portzline will only stoke speculation that he could be traded to the Canadiens this summer. It’s been rumored since last year that Dubois hopes to join the Canadiens by next summer as an unrestricted free agent. There was conjecture that his appearance at last year’s draft in Montreal was in anticipation of a trade to the Canadiens, though he subsequently denied that was the case.


  1. That whole PLD story is odd.
    So Dubois buys a new apartment but wants an offer sheet from the Habs? Seems counter intuitive to me.

    Why buy an apartment if you want to leave?

    Why get upset if your GM frees up cap space to keep you in CLB if you actually wanted to stay prior to that?

    Odd behavior or we have a couple guys doing some mental gymnastics trying to come up with a theory.

    • The whole PLD thing is just rosterbation in the MSM.
      If the Habs can get Bedard or Fantilli in the draft all of this goes away.

      • Johnny Z. I agree that drafting either Bedard or Fantilli makes PLD obsolete but I’ll go 1 step further and say there is no chance PLD signs a longterm contract in Montreal at Suzuki’s contract so there is no chance he is coming regardless of who Montreal selects in the first round this year

    • This whole PLD thing is indeed odd, including the underlying implication that the Habs are dead keen on getting him.

      He’s a good hockey player at a coveted position, centre. And yes, he is a Francophone. But he has never broken the 30 goal, or 70 point plateau. While there is a case for landing him, debated far too much (timing, contract cost, acquisition costs,) one would think he is a generational player. He’s not.

      I have to wonder if a key driver of all this is the absence of Habs in the playoffs for Quebec media to write about. It’s one reason I keep replying to these ad nauseam reports.

  2. PLD makes 6mil wonder what he wants on his next contract?

    Looking at his production he’s a 6.5-7.5mil player, and another part is he will want a lot of money that could be used towards signing the young core players.

    Smart move is a pass unless the player takes a discount to play for the Habs and no way do you give up any assets to acquire him.

  3. It’s been rumor back in the Columbus day that PLD wanted to play for Montreal.

    That is the reason he was traded to Winnipeg. The headline hasn’t changed just the team he plays for.

    If i’m Chevy i’m trading PLD to the highest bidder. He has no protection.

    See what the best offer is and take it or wait until trade deadline.

    Montreal has Suzuki and after that? PLD would be a solid 1 2 c for Montreal.

    They can definitely wait until he becomes a UFA but that does come with a risk of him really enjoying his new home and deciding to stay.

    • Suzuki on a good team is a third line centre, may a second on an average team and for Montréal he is a number one centre as Desharnais, Hudon, or many others were.If Montreal wants to keep all their supposed good young players Suzuki will be the lowest paid player by the end of his contract.

      • Perhaps you should watch Suzuki more often Don (though these days watching the Habs is asking a lot).

        Suzuki’s numbers are about the same as the Great White Whale: PLD, and that has been on bad teams. To suggest he is a third line centre betrays either a lack of knowledge or a bias.

        Indeed, neither Desharnais or Hudon were never a number one centre in Montreal. Actually, Hudon struggled to get playing time on the 4th line. You should do your homework if you want to be taken seriously.

  4. Dubois is only 25 isn’t he?
    Almost time for the big fella to pull a Tage Thompson?
    He’s a really good defensive center when he applies himself. Offensive instincts are above average. Nice size. Really solid skater. I’d take him at 6-7 per year, but not if I were the Habs. I’d wait and just pay money like the Leafs and Tavares did. No sense in trading assets when you’re fairly certain he’s only gonna cost you cash.

    • With ya SOP.
      He’d make a good Bruin.
      Fit like a glove IMO.

      • He’d make a good Senator as well – as a replacement for DeBrincat.

      • Ottawa has enough good young C’s don’t they George? Save some for the good ole’ Bruins.

      • Yeah, Ray, but he’s a natural LW – if Giroux, also a C, can play at RW why not Dobois at LW with Stutzle as their C?

        With that line, it wouldn’t matter who they tossed out of the face-off circle! 🙂

  5. PLD for Debrincat????