NHL Rumor Mill – May 31, 2023

by | May 31, 2023 | Rumors | 47 comments

The latest on Auston Matthews and the Leafs, an update on Flyers goalie Carter Hart and more speculation about the Stars in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.


TSN: Chris Johnston reports the recent change in Toronto Maple Leafs management hasn’t adversely affected contract extension talks between the club and superstar Auston Matthews.

Johnston reports the line of communication between the two sides has remained open despite the departure of former general manager Kyle Dubas. While there haven’t been any progress or firm discussions about an extension on July 1, Johnston doubts bringing in a new GM will derail things. He pointed out that Matthews has consistently expressed his desire to stay in Toronto and expects those contract talks will pick up once a new GM is in place.

Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: In other words, both sides are willing to do a contract extension but they’re going to wait until a new general manager is hired. That makes sense but of course, gives rise to conjecture over Matthews’ future.

Unless those negotiations go off the rails during this summer I anticipate Matthews will sign an extension at some point in this offseason. Expect the length of that new contract and the average annual value to be grist for the rumor mill.

Nevertheless, I anticipate that Matthews will end up earning the highest AAV of any NHL player starting in 2024-25. Colorado’s Nathan MacKinnon is currently the leader at $12.6 million. Don’t be surprised if Matthews comes in between $13 million and $14 million. And yes, the Leafs will be able to afford it because the salary cap is projected to jump by at least $4 million for 2024-25.

THE TORONTO STAR: Nick Kypreos recently suggested that whoever becomes the Leafs new general manager will have to have what would be a difficult discussion with captain John Tavares.

Kypreos was no fan of Dubas signing Tavares to his seven-year contract at $11 million annually back in 2018. The Leafs captain said he has no intention of waiving his no-movement clause as he wants to honor the remaining tenure with the club Nevertheless, the Leafs must shed salary and moving Tavares’ contract should be an option.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I understand that a player carrying a no-movement clause can opt to waive it for a certain team if pressured or requested to do so by management. However, I doubt Tavares is going to do that. For better or worse, the Leafs are stuck with his contract until it expires in 2025.


THE HOCKEY NEWS: Ryan Quigley reports Philadelphia Flyers GM Daniel Briere is throwing cold water on trade rumors about Carter Hart. In an interview on Saturday, Briere indicated he’d be willing to entertain trade offers for any player, including the 24-year-old goaltender.

Talking to Broad Street Hockey’s Bill Matz and Kelly Hinkle on Tuesday, however, Briere clarified that while no player is immovable, it’s not a foregone conclusion that he’s trading Hart. Briere indicated that he still sees the young netminder as a part of what they’re trying to build in Philadelphia. “It would have to be a crazy load of a haul to even consider trading him,” said the Flyers GM.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hart’s future could also be determined by his willingness to agree to a contract extension. He signed through next season and becomes a restricted free agent with arbitration rights next summer. If he and the Flyers don’t reach an agreement on a new contract, he can become an unrestricted free agent in 2025.

Briere’s remarks suggest that he wants to keep Hart in the fold for the long term. Of course, there’s plenty of time for the two sides to work out an agreement. Nevertheless, it’ll be interesting to see if they open extension talks this summer or wait until next year to work this out.


THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Joseph Hoyt looked at some key questions facing the Stars as they head into the offseason.

With limited salary-cap space, he wondered if Stars management can find sufficient cap space to re-sign Max Domi or Evgenii Dadonov, who played well after joining the Stars at the trade deadline.

Their estimated $7.3 million in cap space could allow a promising young forward such as 21-year-old center Mavrik Bourque an opportunity to crack the lineup next season.

DAILY FACEOFF: Mike McKenna believes the Stars must bolster their depth if they hope to be a Stanley Cup contender next season.

Unless they can find a way to shed forward Radek Faksa and his $3.25 million cap hit, they’ll have to find some serious value via free agency or trade for a player with a lesser cap hit who’s under contract for several seasons.


  1. Dallas should let there UFA’s walk, with 7.3 mil to fill out 5 spots they need to go young.

    Those 2 anchor contracts will be an issue for 2 years and 4 years, lol maybe they should do a Minnesota and buyout both benn and Seguin.

    Just checked both contracts are buyout proof lolz. Why in the heck to do they sign all these guys with NMC in there contracts.

    • its not about going young as much as it is going cheap. often fans equate the two but it is only because young players are by default on cheap contracts for a while. the price you pay is inexperienced players and more. the average salaey slot on each team is around 4 mil. so every player dollar beyond that in a slot means an equal dollar below that in the next slot. sign a bunch of 9-10+ guys and it means you need a bunch more league min guys to offset that. simple math fans emotions can’t do

  2. The Leafs would have to retain at least 50 % of the that huge salary for JT and still who would want him? Don’t expect much in return for a guy past his prime and slow skater.

    • Everyone knows Nylander is the one to move, but somehow people keep coming back to the JT contract, like benn & sequin in Dallas his contract is immovable.

      JT contract is buyout proof also, wtf are these GMs doing?

      Smart GMS don’t hamstring themselves with poorly designed contracts. The last few years of a 7 or 8 year contract should be designed for trade or buyout depending on the players age and skill.

    • If the Leafs ate 50% of JT’s contract they could trade him tomorrow and get a good return.
      Is he overpaid, yes he was a UFA, they almost all get overpaid, especially at the tail end of the deals.

      He had 80 pts last season, including 36 goals. A point per game player. In 11 playoff games he had 4 goals and 4 assists, and is the one Leaf that actually gets to the front of the net for his goals. Which is where you get them come playoff time.

      Ya, he’s lost a step, and he never was a great skater. He should move to the wing other than draws, where he is still very good. The guy can still score goals.

      Problem is you would have to take $$ back as almost every contending team is up against the cap and he isn’t going to a rebuild.

      • Ray, Tavares has said he doesn’t want to move. I don’t think Treliving wants to start his tenure in Toronto by getting into it with a well respected player like Tavares.

      • Agree 100% LJ, highly unlikely he even gets approached. Not how this works as a rule with a guy like Tavares.

        I was just opining on post due to the topic above. I think some folks are under valuing JT as a player.

      • Ray, the Leafs aren’t eating 50 percent of Tavares contract if he doesn’t want to be traded. He has a full NMC and stated earlier this month that he intends to honor the final two years of his contract in Toronto. That means he’s not waiving his movement clause. It’s there for a reason.

    • Let’s not group JT with guys like Benn and Seguin. The only things in common iare the big dollar value and forwards over 30. That’s the end of similarities unless someone can point out more.

      JT is still very productive but paid $2-3m over, maybe. After all how much do almost a PPG player costs (especially as a ufa)? Teams can and have done worse. Plus I still don’t think they have to trade anyone of their core, their cap won’t be much of an issue for upcoming seasons. You don’t throw out the baby with the bath water when you have a perennial +100pt team. Perhaps an easier point to understand and agree with if we weren’t talking about those crappy Leafs.

    • Retain 50 percent? Tavares would still be the number one center on at least 1/3 of the teams in the nhl.

    • “The Leafs would have to retain at least 50 % of the that huge salary for JT and still who would want him? Don’t expect much in return for a guy past his prime and slow skater.”

      Point a game player through the season for $5.5M? Who wouldn’t want someone like that?

  3. Remind me why Mathews is worth more than Mackinnon and Mcdavid ? Because he is in Toronto.
    Does that mean Marner is now worth $13m when his deal is up ?
    Cap goes up 5% but Mathews rate goes up 30%.

    • Matthews won the Hart Trophy in 2022 and is a back-to-back Richard Trophy winner who last season became the first player in over a decade to reach 60 goals in a season. He’s tallied 40-or-more goals in five of his seven NHL seasons, including two seasons when hampered by injury. That’s why he’ll earn more. If the Leafs don’t pay it, another club happily will next summer. Welcome to free agency.

      Don’t worry, McDavid will regain his top spot as the highest-paid player when he comes up for his next contract.

      • And no, I’m not saying Matthews is a better player than McDavid. I’m merely point out that the market, as always, will dictate what he gets paid based on his accomplishments.

      • Lyle, why the long explanation? I can do it in one sentence. Matthews will get around $13MM/year because someone will be dumb enough to pay him that much.

      • Owners paying big name players to both help the team win and sell more tickets and merch is so lame. No wonder those dummies are only million and billionaires.

    • 100% spot on, why not overpay then cry later about not having cap space to fill out a team.

      Sounds like the same ole story.

      • MP you just stated Vegas’ MO. They target a player, get him and figure out later how to make it fit. Doing that for 6 years now…in the finals for the second time now. That’s seems to be a way that works, no? Better than I can say about my team, or most and probably yours too.
        Vegas ownership or management has big o’brass balls and they aren’t afraid to do these ballsy moves and be very aggressive. Is it the best way? I don’t know or feel it is but with big risks come great rewards! They have the fortitude to risk it and don’t seem to care if they fail which to me, they haven’t done so yet.

    • Another question might be: why would the Leafs – or Matthews – want to find themselves essentially in the same cap trap with a new contract that they have now?

      The cap goes up by several million, Matthews’s salary goes up by several million, and the Leafs have no more $ to spend on upgrading their roster to become more competitive.

      I acknowledge that taking a million a year less on a long term contract is a huge commitment by a player, but one has to ask what Matthews values the most.

      See the Hawks, Kings, and most recently the Avs for examples of what happens to teams who overpay a few key players. And at least those teams had one at least one Cup before they entered cap hell.

      • LJ you’re joking right? Have you not been here for the past, I don’t know, 4 or so years here? The Leafs were always in a cap hell since they signed Marner and then Covid? During the cap hell, they were a top tier team. Can you say that about other teams? It’s far worse to be a team in a cap crunch that isn’t a good enough team to make the playoffs or a bubble team than a regularly better team in the league year after year regardless of their playoff (lack of) success. One team clearly has it better, don’t you think? Winning isn’t easy man, that what makes all this interesting… many ways to win, more and easier ways to lose.

      • This bristling again Ron?

        My comment is not an ad hominem attack on Matthews or the Leafs, it is a comment about top tier players taking a major bite out of the cap. Note I quoted three non Leaf teams as examples.

        It isn’t worth the electronic ink to debate that the more the star is paid the less there is to go around with the rest of the roster, in turn affecting competitiveness and the chance to win the Cup.

        No, I do not think it is fine to repeatedly be a good team in the regular season and a poor one in the playoffs. You are the only one I have heard from that think it is.

        Can you name the last 4 Cup winners? Probably. You are a real trivia fan if you can name the last 4 President’s trophy winners – because most don’t give a rat’s a**, including the players.

        Here is a quote from Brad Marchant in March:

        “It’s not about the regular season. If you win the Presidents’ Trophy but you don’t win the Cup, nobody cares. That’s what we know on this team.” Period, full stop, end of.

        You are welcome to your point of view. But why, I wonder, do you sputter with indignance at even the slightest suggestion that regular season success – for any team, including your Leafs – is not the ultimate goal, for players or fans.

        I have no more interest in discussing this point. The word futile comes to mind.

      • LJ is there a translation issue because I don’t think you understand my point…the presidents trophy is not what I’m talking about, I’m talking about really good teams in the season usually result in good results in the postseason. Some of those really good teams are also deemed to be cup contenders.
        Do you disagree with that? Do you think this years panthers are not a good team, being only one year removed from being the best in the regular season last year?
        You’re the one bringing up the cap issues you think the Leafs have regardless them having over $9m of space (not counting the $5m LTIR) with less than 9 guys to sign including RFAs and promoting a few AHL players. The cap hit is most costly only the first year in the contract because it will occupy an exact percentage of allowed cap space. After the first year, pandemic aside, the cap rises thus resulting in smaller percentage of cap space taken by a large contract.

        So to recap, I don’t think a great regular season is all that matters but isn’t also nothing. Players will get paid and really good ones will get more and for once I agree, it is futile and not worth anyone’s time when someone is dead set on not seeing or accepting something different than what they believe is right, even when it’s not.

  4. This off season will pretty much determine if Briere has any GM skills. Flyers have crap, so any and all players should be fair game for the right haul of picks and prospects. We will see if he can weaponize the Flyers cap space to gain more assets. Holding money to trade Hayes, Atkinson, should be on the table too.

    Flyers need to tear it down to the ground, the goalie will be old when this team is ready to compete so why not trade him for high end prospect and picks. Hart would look good on Sabres or Sens or Kings, heck even the Devils should look into this too. IF Briere can get them into a bidding war then we can get some good assets back.

    • Well the best thing in Philly right now is having Torts there to weed out players you need to move before Breire starts adding.

      I’d would have preferred he didn’t walk back his statement and double down on it instead. Everything on this Flyers team should be available…not to say for nothing, it’s gonna cost you for a Hart or whoever but first they need to establish themselves first which I feel Torts will be great at during this stage.

      • Ron, if you really feel that way, I don’t believe everyone on the Flyers are available, then I propose the Avalanche make a blockbuster move and acquire Koneckny, Provorov and Hayes/ or Atkinson. and 3rd for Girard, Newhook, and 1st

    • When is the last time a goalie brought back a haul in assets?

      • 24 year old starting goalie who makes 3.9million a year. A lot of teams would line up, but the return needs to start with a 1st round pick and high end prospect(top 4 dman or top6 winger).

        I keep coming back to LA as the prefect trade partner, Flyers send Hart/Provorov to LA for Petterson/Brandt/1st round pick. We could also take another contract back to make the numbers work say arvidsson contract would work. Flyers could flip him at the TD for some picks.

        It just makes sense!!!

      • I understand that’s what you think hart is worth. There is zero precedent for that return in nhl history. The best return I can remember was schneider for the 9th overall. And that stands as an outlier. I’m open to someone pointing out a trade I’m forgetting but I’d temper my expectations for a hart return.

      • What you say is true Chrisms, I can’t think of any example either. And it’s not like Hart is Shesterkin either. He’s an OK starter at this point with room to grow. Or he could struggle again like he has a times in the past. He’s from these parts so folks are rooting for him.

        When you see how important tending is in the playoffs it is kind of surprising they don’t garner a better return. I think a guy like Shesterkin, or Vassy, who have been very consistent over the years might get a good haul. But fact is most tenders are up and down and very few are consistently good like position players.

        So risky to give up quality assets for one when it’s hard to predict how they will play from year to year. Same reason their rarely get drafted early in RD 1.

      • I agree Chrisms – history does not show huge returns for goalies – even The Dominator produced modest returns … here’s an excerpt from one site

        Dominik Hašek is in the conversation for the greatest goalie in NHL history. Yet he still got traded twice. The first time was in 1992 when Hašek was an up-and-comer. He was traded by the Chicago Blackhawks to the Buffalo Sabres for fellow goalie Stephane Beauregard, plus a draft pick in Éric Dazé. Hašek turned into “The Dominator” in Buffalo, where he won six Vezina Trophies and two Hart Memorial Trophies. In 2001, Hašek got traded again, with the Sabres dealing him to the Detroit Red Wings for Vyacheslav Kozlov and a draft pick in Jim Slater. Even though the Dominator was 36 at the time he was still in his prime, as evidenced by the sixth Vezina Trophy he won a season earlier. Both Kozlov and Slater were solid, but were not on the level of The Dominator. Hašek proved as much in Detroit, as he helped the Red Wings win two Stanley Cups. In contrast, Kozlov played just one season for the Sabres, while Slater didn’t even suit up for them.

      • Patrick Roy for Jocelyn Thibault, Martin Rucinsky and Andrei Kovalenko.

      • Good one Saint. 3 good players came back.

      • In response to all those. Thanks saint. I did think about Roy but didn’t think it was a great example due to his proven talent and pre cap era aspect but it is an example of good return. Vasy or shest sure would bring back a haul. But goalies like them obviously historically don’t get traded often. Good point on the round 1 draft part too. If I had to guess it might be considered a good return if hart brought a 1st from a contender (likely mid to late) or a lotto protected 1st from a up n comer like a Buffalo.

      • Patrick Roy (I’m pissing myself laughing!!!)

  5. Kypreos is right, and it is time that the Toronto organization and Tavares foce the cold hard facts: Tavares, with his fat contract plus his minimal contributions in the playoffs, is the number one barrier to Toronto’s chances of playoff success. This is the NHL, not the Make-a-Wish foundation. JT was given a long term top dollarcontract and 5 years to earn it, and has failed. The new GM must have the difficult conversation with Tavares, and do everything possible to move him. They won’t be able to get rid of his entire cap hit, but even $7-8 M would help.

    As for Matthews and his potential next contract, Toronto must be leary of overpaying him. If, today AM was making $9.5M, and I had thechoiceof adding him or Tkachuk to my team, I would pick Tkachuk every day of the week and twice on Sunday. Any notion that Matthews should become the NHL’s highest paid player is pure nonsense. He simply has not yet earned that reward.

    • Iago agreeing with Kipper is already a tell-tale sign of an ignorant comment coming.

      Get back to us when you look up the cold facts regarding JT’s performance during this fat contract he signed.

      I think it’s pretty silly to point out a couple of reasons (players/contracts) why a top 5ish team in the league for the past 3-4 years has yet to find success others have in the postseason. That’s lazy thinking in my opinion but what do I know, I’m a blinded Leafs fan who makes no sense.

      • Ron, I probably came down on JT too hard. He is obviously a very good player, althoughI thought Toronto overpaid him by $2M+/season. He has an elite contract, but is not quite an elite player.

        The real issue with signing JT wasthat, at that time, Toronto had few problems scoring goals, and should have anticipated eventually needing to pay Matthews, Marner, and Nylander. They did, however, have problems keeping the puck out of their net, and had a substandard defense. That’s where they should have spent their money and efforts, improving their D. They scored enough, had young excellent goal scorers, and a weak D. Spending $11M/yr. on another scorer was not money well spent.

  6. Wonder if domi would consider Toronto this off season. He has grit and will be valuable in the playoffs. Can play up and down through the lineup at centre or wing. I would they use the money from bunting and give it to domi.

  7. Lyle, my understanding is that Tavares has a full NTC.
    Can the Leafs have a side deal with say the Jackets, where they place JT on waivers? He gets claimed by the jackets. In return the Leafs will then trade a 7th or something for a roster player with salary.

    • Nmc I think. So no waivers.

    • Taz he has a no move clause NMC not a NTC so no. Plus the jackets fans won’t want him, he’s not good enough to be on that bottom dwelling team.

    • As per Cap Friendly, Tavares has a full no-movement clause. So, no side deals, no waivers, nothing without his consent.

      • That clarifies that, thank you.

      • Even if it was just a NTC rather than a NMC, I suspect the NHLPA and the league would throw a fit if a team tried to work around the clause like that.

        And if they did pull it off, I suspect they would have one pissed off group of players remaining and there would be future free agents hesitant to sign with them due to that kind of shady contract avoidance.

        Interesting loop hole concept though. I’ll be sure to dot my I’s and cross my T’s if I ever enter into a contract with you Taz!

  8. I’m thinking Bruins #37 comes back for 1 more year at same contract as this past season and announces it will be his last ..Bruins move … Ullmark,Hall,Grez maybe Forbort and Reilly who they attach to Ullmark for draft picks and affordable young players ..try to sign Bert back resign Sway and sign a vet backup goalie for a year ..thoughts

  9. I had to look up the definition of Grist. Thanks Lyle for increasing my vocabulary. 🙂

    • I’m here to help…;)