NHL Rumor Mill – May 29, 2023

by | May 29, 2023 | Rumors | 47 comments

A look at some recent Leafs speculation plus some free-agent targets for the Capitals in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.


ESPN.COM: Greg Wyshynski recently speculated that NHL clubs could attempt to pull off their version of last summer’s blockbuster trade that brought Matthew Tkachuk to the Florida Panthers.

Wyshynski noted that Kyle Dubas referenced the Tkachuk trade during his final press conference as Toronto Maple Leafs general manager when talking about the possibility of shaking up the Leafs’ “core four” players.

Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews (NHL Images).

The Leafs could be on the other side of such a deal if they go that route with someone like Auston Matthews, who is a year away from unrestricted free-agent status. Wyshynski believes Matthews wants to stay in Toronto but the ground has shifted under his feet with Dubas’ firing.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Calgary Flames got Jonathan Huberdeau and MacKenzie Weegar in exchange for sending Tkachuk to the Panthers. The latter had a career-best performance this season and is a front-runner for the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP. Huberdeau and Weegar, meanwhile, struggled with their new club as the Flames missed the playoffs this season.

This trade could still work out for the Flames. Huberdeau and Weegar are both on long-term contracts and their respective performances could improve under a new head coach. Nevertheless, there’s no question the Panthers are the early winners of this trade. It’s possible that Huberdeau and/or Weegar have already played their best hockey and are on the downside of their careers.

Like Tkachuk, Matthews is in his playing prime and will remain an elite player if he ends up with another team. The Leafs, on the other hand, could get a return that looks great on paper but fails to meet expectations.

DAILY FACEOFF: Matt Larkin recently cautioned that the Leafs might not win any trade involving one of their core four of Matthews, John Tavares, Mitch Marner or William Nylander.

Larkin also cited the Tkachuk trade but pointed out that it’s rare that a contending team as the Panthers were last season can blow up their core and stays competitive in the present.

MLIVE.COM: Ansar Khan wondered if Detroit Red Wings GM Steve Yzerman would attempt to bolster his scoring by pursuing one of the Leafs core four.

Khan considers acquiring Matthews to be a pipe dream as he believes the Leafs will do everything they can to re-sign him. He also thinks they would want Wings defenseman Moritz Seider as part of the return.

Tavares has two years left on his contract with an average annual value of $11 million and a no-movement clause. Khan doubts he’d be of interest to a rebuilding club like the Wings.

If the Leafs extend Matthews, Khan wondered if the Leafs would do the same with Marner at a slightly lower number by the time his deal expires in 2025.

Nylander would be the most sensible acquisition for the Wings. If the Leafs make him available, Khan noted the Wings have the 17th overall pick in this year’s draft plus one or two of their second-round picks to offer up as trade bait.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Yzerman is expected to go shopping for scoring punch this summer. He could look into acquiring someone like Nylander if the Leafs decide to part ways with him. If the Leafs stick with those core forwards, Khan believes Yzerman can find plenty of other options in what could be a busy summer trade market.


THE ATHLETIC: Tarik El-Bashir looked at some possible free-agent targets for the Washington Capitals to bolster their forward lines this summer. He doesn’t expect GM Brian MacLellan to pursue expensive older stars like Patrick Kane, Vladimir Tarasenko or Ryan O’Reilly.

The Capitals have roughly $6.5 million in projected cap space to spend this summer. El-Bashir anticipates they could find a way to shed some salary via a trade, buyout or burying a contract in the minors.

El-Bashir’s proposed targets are (in alphabetical order) Chicago’s Andreas Athanasiou, Vegas’ Ivan Barbashev, Boston’s Tyler Bertuzzi, Toronto’s Michael Bunting, Colorado’s J.T. Compher, Dallas’ Max Domi, the New York Islanders’ Pierre Engvall, and Colorado’s Evan Rodrigues. He also suggested re-signing Connor Brown, who missed this season with a knee injury.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Athanasiou, Brown, Engvall and Rodrigues could be the most affordable options. There could find plenty of competition for Barbashev, Bertuzzi and Domi as they’ve elevated their free-agent value with their solid performances in this postseason. Bunting and Compher could also prove difficult to land because of their regular-season play.


  1. A signed mathews might garner a seider as part of the return. A 1 year rental mathews would not.

    • “A signed mathews might garner a seider as part of the return.”

      Only if Yzerman is dealt massive head trauma between now and whenever TO’s new GM gives him a call.

      Otherwise, why on EARTH would Yzerman even consider that?

    • “A signed mathews might garner a seider as part of the return.”

      That’s funny.

      Did I miss the news where Yzerman had massive brain trauma this weekend?

      • So one of the top centers in the league signed in his prime wouldn’t garner a young d man who might end up being a legit top pair but after his sophomore slump isn’t a guarantee? I’ve been tricked by sarcasm here before so I’m gonna think that’s what’s happening here

      • Chris I would take it as sarcasm too. I guess the premise is one of the 4, in this case Matthews, won’t want to sign an extension. That’s still a big assumption for anyone to make that a current (star) player would want out of Toronto, when you know how they are treated and facilities allowed to them. Almost any trade from Toronto will be a down grade. For example, non-coaching staff, Toronto has over 100 employees where a team like in Ottawa (and many others) have around 40.

        Why do the Leafs need to trade one of the 4? They will have over $13m to sign less than 9 players and some of those guys will come from the farm, you know, guys you drafted and developed.

      • I wouldn’t want to sign an extension if I was mathews. And that has nothing to do with Toronto. I’m shocked most star players don’t bridge right to ufa. That’s the only chance to sign a long term deal with anybody in their prime. Someone like mathews would be wine and dined by nearly every team. He could get the spiel about staff from Toronto. The pitch on the glamour of nyc. The opportunity to live in a legends mansion in sewickly. I know there is a risk of career ending injury that last year but I’m surprised more nhl stars don’t do this.

      • I can’t see a world where Matthews agrees to an extension prior to July 1 or anytime in July.

        I don’t mean because he is pissed about Dubas and won’t play for anyone but him.

        I sure as heck would want to know who the new GM is, will it be the same coach? If not who? What is the direction the new GM wants to take with the roster? Etc.

        When you have the opportunity to have choices of where you want to play, you do your due diligence. That won’t happen before the draft or before July 1and his NMC kicks in as he has to do the same with Toronto now.

        I also can’t see how he agrees to an extension to go to a team not of his choosing and him deciding on that in the next 5 weeks. So ya, a signed to a long term deal Matthews has massive value, the likely hood of that seems highly unlikely as he already has the leverage.

        Still gets a good return, but not anything close to the value he would bring to a team if he stayed long term, the value is next season and the chance to keep him long term.

        I would take the chance, but not with Seider.

      • Yup. Players with the potential of seider are only in the picture if mathews was signed then traded. Which is highly unlikely. I’ve asked before for the room but what’s the value you all think mathews would return as a one year rental? I’d think he’d get the traditional active nhl player good prospect 1st rounder type of return.

      • Ya chrisms, maybe a bit more because he is such a good player.
        Depends on the prospect I suppose. If it’s Kasper or Edvinsson, plus a 1st. Maybe that gets it done? Probably still need to add something, but that might make up the meat of the deal?

        I would need to feel pretty good at extending him to give up a high end prospect like either of those guys. Not sure Detroit’s the right team, as you would want to be a little closer to contending to take the chance IMO. I suppose you could flip him at deadline and recoup a lot of what you gave up.

        I dunno, that’s a really tough question.

  2. I am sure Stevie Y sees the similarities between when the Wings got Shanahan and the panthers getting Tkachuk. I do not think Nylander is the type player the Wings are looking for.

    • Biloxi Wing, the Senators could still possibly qualify DeBrincat this summer @ $9 million for 2023-24 and I suspect he secretly hopes that that will transpire and that he puts in a solid season sufficient to get a hefty long-term deal.

      But Dorion has apparently indicated he’d like him to sign a long-term deal now – probably 8 seasons in the $8.2 range – and so DeBrincat is taking time to think it over and will let Dorion know by draft time.

      For the team, the best-case scenario for a 1-year qualifying deal is not ideal – i.e., they are out of the playoff picture come trade-deadline day and deal him then for the best return possible.

      If he indicates that that is his preference come draft time, then Dorion needs to move fast to find a trade partner where he’d possibly be happy to spend the next 7 seasons. Could that be Detroit” He’s from Michigan.

      Some point to his small stature as a drawback – 5’7″ 165 lbs – but, built like a spark plug, he’s not adverse to the heavy going anywhere on the ice and will give as good as he gets. He’s also a reliable points producers whose 82-game averages over 450 games played is 34g 34a 68 pts.

      Would Yzerman be interested?

      • A little too much boosterism on Debrincat, George. At 5’7″ and 165 pounds he gives as good as he gets? I don’t think so.

        And an extension at 8 million a year? For a player whose scoring declined significantly when not playing with Kane Dorion would be taking a substantial risk. And then there is his – 31 stat, second worst on the team.

        It could be that Debrincate needed a year to adjust from going from one conference to another – some players do.

        But buyer beware at 8 million.

        And yes, I have the same hesitation about Caulfield and an expensive extension. Every playoff year we see how hard the players go at it, shift after shift, game after game. At some point size matters and there is less room for a niche player.

      • I do believe he would.

      • I’ve been struggling with finding any sensible rationale on the Debrincat situation since the trade deadline with Dorion was the darling of Canadian hockey media when he publicly floated qualifying Debrincat at 9m.

        Can a wise Sens fan walk me through how the math works for a team with 11 players signed and 17m of cap space left to sign 12 more roster fixtures for the 23/24 season?

        They’ll address one goalie vacancy on the roster with a 925k hit but after that it feels like there are a ton of magical scenarios that would need to play out in order to retain Debrincat at any salary while filling another 10 additional roster spots.

      • LJ, according to the HockeyWriters he ranks # 1 in a list of the Top 10 “undersized” players.


        Since coming into the league in 2017-18 he hasn’t missed ONE game.

        Clearly, you don’t see him a lot – I do – and rest assured he’s not adverse to hammering someone with a solid check and certainly not afraid to go into the scrums.

      • I am having an issue convincing myself about how much h interest Detroit should have in DeBrincat, because I am unsure if he can be a solid contributor in Cup playoffs. And with the term and money it would take to sign him, he would have to be. A part of me thinks that he might turn out to be a Mitch Marner or John Tavares, who have excellent regular seasons, but tend to disappear at playoff time. For that reason, and the potential cost to acquire him, I would have to pass on ADB right now.

      • Actually, what let the air out of my argument was Marcheseault on the list as small – I had no idea he was that small.

        That said I see the Sens have 4 players on 8 million dollar contracts. Are you sure you want the 5th to be Debrincat?

      • Iago, given who he’s been with since coming into the league 6 seasons ago, he has played in just 9 playoff games (with Chicago) and has 2g 4a 6 pts – nothing outstanding … but he didn’t totally disappear either. And that was when he was a rookie.

      • LeoR – you nailed it. There is NO way he remains with the team for next season at $9 mil. Even signing him to an 8-year $8.2 mil deal presents a nightmare.

        With him as RFAs needing new deals (and their expired ELCs) are Gambrell ($950,000), Gauthier ($800,000) Bernard-Docker ($925,000), Brannstrom ($900,000) and Pinto ($925,000). Only the latter and Brannstrom are looking at raises approaching $2.5 to $3 mil on bridge deals, while the others are in for minimal raises.

        However, what CapFriendly doesn’t show are Kleven ($916,667), Bernard-Docker, and Ridley Greig ($863,333) on the Ottawa roster (they’re shown under Belleville’s roster). But all 3 are likely to stick with Ottawa so they, and their ELCs, are added to the 11, meaning they’ll have 14 committed to with $14,370,953 with which to sign 9.

        Among the UFAs, the only possible returnees might be Brassard ($750,000) and Hamonic ($3,000,000) who, if they do return, won’t be at much more than their expiring cap hits.

        The question is, do they go after an established # 1 goalie? What we don’t know are the results of their detailed analysis which MIGHT prompt them to go with a Sogaard-Forsberg (he’s back skating and is part of the 11) tandem, in which case the cap costs are minimal.

        Add those three and they’re up to 17 with around $7.5 to $8 mil to sign 6.

        We also don’t know how prospects like Sokolov and Jarventie might perform at training camp and if they make the cut, their costs are low ELCs.

        But DeBrincat in the mix? Not a chance. One way or another he won’t (can’t) be in Ottawa to start the season.

      • George, really appreciate the response and the candor that depicts a very realistic and challenging situation with the current Sens roster.

        For the sake of fans like yourself I do hope that the team is able to come out of this summer with increased optimism after the progress they made last year. It’s going to be really interesting to see how Dorion steers through it all with new ownership also in the mix.

      • I guess George, that, looking at the Wings roster, including what they have in their prospect pool, if they were to pursue a RFA and sign him to a long term deal, I think PLD would be a better addition for us rather than ADB.

      • Iago, for sure! But it appears that most feel Dubois wants to finish his career in Montreal.

        I realize the chatter to that end stems from comments made by his agent and not Dubois … but then he himself hasn’t come out with any clarification – one way or the other.

  3. I sort of feel sorry for Toronto. Sort of. Cap friendly shows about 40 million salary for the core four. That is almost half of the cap. The new GM is going to have his work cut out for him. If I’m reading this right it looks like they have 10 free agents coming up. The core four are not getting the job done during the playoffs when it matters most. Especially for the kind of salary they are getting.

  4. Scooby Dubas – nothing is off the table.

    Shanascam – yeah, yer fired.

    The Snore Four arent going anywhere.


    • @RonJull lol i think you have it reversed.
      Dubas wasnt planning on dealing anyone- that’s a load. He was married to those guys- that press conference was just a theatrical performance. He knew he was leaving, he just wanted everyone to think would be his call. I liked Dubas but he didn’t make any impactful trades in 5 years – he wasn’t about to start.
      As for Shanahan, something tells me he was just trying to quell the waters… I think he would have them dealt in a blink of an eye.

  5. Mark my word, if Matthews foes not sign in Toronto, the Rangers will be in play….could be mind blowing for both teams.

    • Dolan will be all in yes if Auston is available. the Rangers bowed out of the playoffs because the top tier skill guys did not produce in crunch time. neither did Auston for the Leafs…..
      more of the same @ MSG

  6. I’m not sure how I feel about losing both Compher and Rodriguez. I don’t like it, don’t think the Avalanche can afford to lose both? Probably, should find a way to keep one of them. Compher is more than likely going to want too much. He did a lot for the team but largely absent in the playoffs. Rodrigues is more consistent, I think. I would try to work out a deal with Rodrigues if I were the Avalanche. The loss of Kadri and Burakovsky really hurt the Avalanche this past year. Those guys were clutch at scoring big time goals when we needed it. To lose more depth won’t be a good thing because the cupboard is bare. The Avalanche should make a trade this summer to address some of these issues. GO AVS!!!!!

    • Plus losing Landeskog Tommy Boy, that was really tough. Then Nichushkin gets blind drunk in his hotel with a girl they had to call for medical help for during the playoffs and gets sent home.

      Tough to win without key guys, or key guys playing hurt.

      Now Landy out next year, and will the cartilage transplant work in his knee? I have never heard of it before, but not a sure thing as it is relatively new.

      Plenty of space, plenty of holes, and plenty of questions.

      Interesting off season for plenty of teams; COL, TOR and BOS to name a few.

      • Yeah, there’s no disputing that Ray Bark. Landeskog is what the Avalanche miss most. Even though MacKinnon, Rantanen and Makar are the big 3, there is no doubt Landeskog is the heart and soul of the Avalanche. Nichuskin loss us huge. Can’t withstand all those losses without it adding up. Despite all that, don’t like the players attitude toward Seattle and other teams like Dallas, Vegas, St. Louis, etc when they approach them in series or games during the regular season? I would like them to find some more sandpaper guys for playoffs. We need guys like Cogliano and Manson, who will do anything to win IMHO!. So, that way, guys like Makar and Rantanen have the right mentality. In my mind only MacKinnon reached that level during the series against Seattle. He left it all out there!

    • Tom Wilson could be an option for the AVS with Landy on LTIR

      Or to TML with a pick for Nylander

      • Taylor Hall would bea good addition to the Avs.Arrordable contract for 2 years!Stillhastread on his tires!Up tempo player that Colorado would like!Could come fairly cheap as Boston having cap issues!

  7. Matthews and Nylander to Dallas, Glendenning and a 5th to Toronto…Gives Dallas more scoring punch and gives the Leafs some faceoff wins and some much needed cap space…

    Hey look, I can play this game too. 🙂

    • LOL. And 99% of the time, that’s what it is – a game – like fantasy hockey.

    • LOL

      And Dallas has $7,000,000 in cap space.

      And Matthews Nylander combined around $18,000,000. Gee you’re only $11,000,000 over the cap. That’s a great piece of GM work there.

  8. Those who depreciate Weegar have been unmindful of his play at the IIHF world cup. Played very well for Canada and made the tournament all star team.

    • That’s kinda like saying he played really well in the preseason. Except the preseason is a bit more relevant.

  9. When it comes to players like DeBrincat and Caufield folks tend to put too much weight on size instead of production.

    Henri Richard, won more Stanley Cups than anybody (11) and Yvon Cournoyer (10) were the same size or smaller.

    I know the players were smaller then for the most part but they were considered small even then.

    There are always some exceptional players in all eras and todays emphasis on speed, quickness and hockey IQ make these two very attractive.

    • HF30. Please do me a favor and don’t compare legends Yvon Cournoyer and Henri Richard to Caulfield and DeBrincat.

    • Didn’t Wayne Gretzky prove that you don’t need size to play this game? The play style is similar now, just not as open and players produced better than some current players in similar roles plus they had more goons then too!

      The guy that can score doesn’t need to crush a guy in the corners or would ever be expected to engage in the rough stuff, no matter how nice it would be to see from them.

  10. Which Bruins goalie brings more back in a trade ? Trade one goalie sign a vet goalie to backup until the P Bruins goalie is ready in 2024 …I think the Bruins trade 4 players off the roster and possibly sign back 2 UFA …

  11. I don’t get all the hate on Debrincat? I know he’s a small guy but he can put the puck in the back of the net! I was a season ticket holder in 2018 with Avalanche and all I remember was that he was consistently lighting up the Avalanche! Those weren’t the great Black Hawk teams, then . Apparently, he has worn out his welcome with Ottawa? I admit, I don’t see him play as much as when he was on Chicago but the guy has serious speed and skill. I wouldn’t mind seeing the Avalanche show some interest in him! We need more sandpaper but we also lost two skilled guys due to Cup success: Kadri & Burakovsky!

    • To Winnipeg;


      To Leafs;


  12. Teams would line up to make Matthews an offer problem is not many teams can add 14 or 15 million without getting rid of 10 million at least. The Teams that can afford 15 are teams in early stages of rebuild and Austin isn’t signing there.

    • Vegas has proven that you get your man then sort out the rest later. Close to 31 teams would be in on a mathews if he was willing to extend. A mathews who wants to test ufa would only interest those teams that think he puts them in a championship series and that think they have a reasonable chance in one year to sell themselves. So maybe tenish teams

  13. Matthews has said he’d like to stay in Toronto. I don’t see anything happening before July. The ntc doesn’t really matter considering the fact that signing an extension is pretty much the equivalent of having a ntc. His cap hit next year is same no matter where he plays. He’s only 25 so the arguments of going to a contender are kind of ridiculous when you consider he could end up somewhere for next 8 years. Arizona still seems like a good landing spot. Sure he might not make them cup contenders, but could accelerate their rebuild to point maybe they get to playoffs in a year or 2? I mean, he’s only got past 1st round once since getting drafted. Maybe he doesn’t do extension until they have solid plans to stay in Arizona. They’re still a team that can take on his cap hit and could retain 50% at deadline if need be. This is assuming his signing bonus is paid before a trade happens, which will leave him with an actual salary of 750 k next season.

  14. Matthews to ARZ? Not sure they would go for it, but they do have to sell tickets…perhaps deal Keller + Valimaki + Cooley for a signed Matthews?