NHL Rumor Mill – April 8, 2023

by | Apr 8, 2023 | Rumors | 7 comments

Is Erik Karlsson playing his final games with the San Jose Sharks? What’s the latest on the Capitals? Find out in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.


THE MERCURY NEWS: Curtis Pashelka wonders if Erik Karlsson’s home game on Saturday against the Edmonton Oilers will be his last with the San Jose Sharks. Eliminated from postseason contention, the Sharks wrap up their season with a three-game road trip ending in Edmonton on Thursday.

San Jose Sharks defenseman Erik Karlsson (NHL Images).

Karlsson, 33, has said multiple times that he wants to play for a contender. However, the Sharks have missed the playoffs for the fourth straight season and are years away from Stanley Cup contention.

Once this season is over, Karlsson said he’ll meet with management to evaluate where they go from here. Sharks general manager Mike Grier said last fall that he was willing to listen to offers for the two-time Norris Trophy winner. There was speculation prior to the March 3 trade deadline of discussions between the Sharks and the Oilers but Grier said nothing came to fruition.

Karlsson carries an $11.5 million salary cap hit through 2026-27 and also has a full no-movement clause. Nevertheless, the list of possible suitors could grow this summer, especially if the salary cap rises by more than the projected $1 million for next season. Even so, Pashelka believes the Sharks would still have to retain part of Karlsson’s salary to facilitate a trade.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Karlsson’s age, cap hit and the remaining years on his contract are significant obstacles in the path toward a trade. Nevertheless, he’s enjoying a career-best performance that could see him become the first defensemen in 31 years to reach 100 points in a season. He’s also the favorite to win the Norris Trophy for the third time in his career.

Karlsson will remain a hot topic for trade conjecture once the playoffs end in June. The most likely window for a move is the last half of June when teams have more salary-cap space and willingness to invest in big-name talent. The more the Sharks are willing to retain in salary, the more interest they’ll get.


THE ATHLETIC: Tarik El-Bashir recently looked at which members of the Washington Capitals will be staying and those that will be going during the upcoming offseason.

He feels the Capitals might be willing to listen on Evgeny Kuznetsov and Anthony Mantha. Kuznetsov was recently the subject of a rumor out of Russia claiming he requested a trade. He shot it down but his situation could bear watching this summer.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As I’ve noted before, this isn’t the first time Kuznetsov has popped up in the rumor mill but he rebounded from a disappointing 2020-21 season to put up solid numbers last season. With two years remaining on his contract at an annual average value of $7.8 million, he’s probably not going anywhere unless the Capitals retain some salary in the deal.

Mantha’s disappointing performance could see his future linked to that of head coach Peter Laviolette. El-Bashir doesn’t see a contract buyout happening.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Mantha’s stock has likely plummeted in the trade market. Signed through next season at a cap hit of $5.7 million, he’ll be tough to move unless there’s salary retention involved on the Capitals’ part.

As for Laviolette, it felt like he would get a contract extension. However, the situation feels much more tenuous now after two no-show losses to the Tampa Bay Lightning and New York Rangers.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I think a coaching change is coming. On the one hand, the Capitals were walloped by injuries to key players this season. Laviolette can’t be faulted for that. On the other hand, if he was going to get a contract extension, it probably would’ve happened by now.

Conor Sheary is slated to become an unrestricted free agent in July. It’s hard to know whether he has a future in Washington. At this stage, it seems like he’ll be playing elsewhere next season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: El-Bashir’s colleague Eric Duhatschek believes the Capitals will look to retool this summer rather than rebuild. He expects the four extra draft picks they received in their trade deadline deals (two third-rounders in 2024 and two second-rounders in 2025) will be used as trade chips this summer.


  1. Isn’t the term “retool” a safe way of saying rebuilding? It’s the same thing really with the exception of retaining some talent in the event things turn around (spoiler alert: it only delays the inevitable) vs doing a scorched earth approach ripping off the band-aide and endure years of hope by that unfortunately leads to disappointment?

    • Ha! Excellent.

  2. Two trades I’d make that makes sense for all 4 clubs

    To sJ Petry and Grandlund
    To Pit Karlsson

    Sj by doing this is off the hook in 2 yrs versus the 4 yrs of Karlsson. Can also flip Grandlund in offseason if desired to a team who needs a player under contract

    Pitts goes all in next 4 years. Karlsson better option than Petry and Doumolin. Also takes pressure off Letang on the back end especially if he has another episode with his health. Really gives Pitts more options to keep the puck out of their end.

    To WSH Provorov and Addison
    To PHI Mantha a 2nd this year and 1st next year

    WSH now has a rebuilt top 4. Carlson with Provy and Sanding with Jensen. Better use of Mantha cap

    Philly can flip Mantha at deadline and clears cap to take on contracts for additionally picks in their rebuild. Provy being sold high.

    • To WSH Provorov and Addison
      To PHI Mantha a 2nd this year and 1st next year

      We dont have an addison, we have an allison but no way mantha and a 1,2 gets you provorov and allison while taking on that contract.

      • Typos on spelling
        What else does WSH add? They can’t “§rebuild” during Ovi yrs

        Philly needs to clear cap and actually rebuild.

    • WSH now has Sandin.

      • Oh chill, he told you his phone doesn’t know how to spell! 😁