Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – May 14, 2023

by | May 14, 2023 | Rumors | 33 comments

The Leafs must determine Auston Matthews’ future, Conor Garland could become a Canucks trade candidate, a look at Sabres blueline targets and speculation linking Penguins coach Mike Sullivan to the Rangers. Check it out in the Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup.


TORONTO SUN: Terry Koshan believes changes are coming to the Maple Leafs following their second-round playoff elimination. However, he doesn’t believe Auston Matthews should be part of those changes.

Matthews, 25, is slated to become an unrestricted free agent next summer. Koshan believes re-signing him should be the priority of general manager Kyle Dubas or his replacement if the Leafs decide not to sign Dubas to a new contract.

NORTHSTAR BETS: The Toronto Star’s Chris Johnston also advocates for the Leafs to re-sign Matthews. He believes the 2022 Hart Trophy winner should be signed to the longest possible extension at the earliest available opportunity.

Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews (NHL Images).

Johnston feels the Leafs murky management situation must be resolved as soon as possible so that Matthews knows who is signing his cheques as well as their plan going forward before he makes any decisions. He has additional leverage thanks to his full no-movement clause starting on July 1.

Letting Matthews get to July 1 without an extension would be a nightmare scenario for the Leafs. Johnston doesn’t believe they want that to happen.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Expect Matthews’ contract status to be the subject of speculation in the coming months. The longer he goes without a deal, the more conjecture will grow over his future in Toronto.

If Matthews is keen to stay then the Leafs must re-sign him as soon as possible and for as long as possible. It will be expensive, costing perhaps a league-leading average annual value between $13 million and $14 million. That’s the likely price tag for a Hart Trophy winner who has also won the Richard Trophy twice and tallied at least 40 goals in five of his seven NHL seasons. If the Leafs won’t pay it, other clubs will.

The real nightmare scenario is losing Matthews for nothing to free agency next July. If he’s noncommittal about staying then the Leafs must peddle him before his no-movement clause kicks on July 1.

I realize that this is easier said than done and not a decision to be taken lightly. Nevertheless, they can’t allow uncertainty over his status to overshadow next season only to see him walk away next July.


DAILY FACEOFF: Frank Seravalli recently reported hearing the Vancouver Canucks have been gauging prices around the league as to what it would take to dump some of their contracts.

Seravalli indicated it’s possible they could find a new home for Brock Boeser despite the winger saying he didn’t want to be traded. Moving J.T. Miller before his new contract (with its no-movement clause) kicks in on July 1 is also an option.

The Canucks have focused on moving winger Conor Garland. However, Seravalli indicates it will be expensive to get someone to take on a contract that’s nearly $5 million annually for several years.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Seravalli said Canucks general manager Patrik Allvin is keeping an open mind regarding possible moves. He speculated Allvin might have to get creative to peddle a contract like Garland’s. Whether that involves retaining some salary or bundling the winger with a draft pick or prospect remains to be seen.


THE BUFFALO NEWS: Lance Lysowski recently looked at potential trade and free-agent options for the Sabres if they wish to add a top-four defenseman this summer.

Trade candidates could include Boston’s Matt Grzelcyk, Vegas’ Alec Martinez, Calgary’s Noah Hanifin, Chicago’s Connor Murphy, Seattle’s Will Borgen, Winnipeg’s Dylan DeMelo, Nashville’s Tyson Barrie and Dante Fabbro and Los Angeles’ Sean Walker.

Free-agent options could be Minnesota’s Matt Dumba, Boston’s Connor Clifton, New Jersey’s Ryan Graves, the New York Islanders Scott Mayfield, Toronto’s Justin Holl and Florida’s Radko Gudas.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Sabres could be in the market for a defensive-minded blueliner as they’ve already got a couple of skilled puck movers in Rasmus Dahlin and Owen Power.

There are several good options for the Sabres to choose from. Most of those trade candidates might not be available but those on cap-strapped clubs could become affordable potential acquisitions.

The Sabres’ improvement this season could make them a desirable destination for free agents such as Dumba, Graves and Mayfield. With a projected $19 million in cap space for next season and 20 active roster players under contract (including all their core talent), they should have sufficient room to bolster their blueline.


NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks mused over what he considers a “somewhat far-fetched” notion that would see Pittsburgh Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan become the Rangers new head coach.

The scenario would see Kyle Dubas leave the Maple Leafs to become the Penguins’ new GM, bringing head coach Sheldon Keefe with him. Dubas would replace Sullivan as the Pens’ bench boss with Keefe, thus enabling the Rangers to hire Sullivan.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Points to Brooks for creativity with this one. While anything’s possible, Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman recently shot down that notion. “I believe Mike Sullivan is the New York Rangers’ wet dream but I don’t believe that’s happening”, said Friedman. He suggested former Washington Capitals head coach Peter Laviolette, Hartford Wolf Pack coach Kris Knoblach and former Leafs coach Mike Babcock as the notable candidates.


  1. Trade Matthews for Kuznetsov, 2 1sts. and Lapierre.
    Trade Sammy and a 1st for Helly
    Jettison Murray, trade Brodie to Detroit for a 2nd
    Then go shopping for adequate D men.

    • Why on earth would Detroit give up a second for Brodie? Is Yzerman trying to get fired.

      • I agree Garth. So, Johnny, Detroit is going to give up a second round pick for an inadequate 32 year old LHD (which is the last thing Detroit needs right now) so we can help Toronto acquire a better one ? That makes zero sense.

    • He is left handed that plays the RIGHT side. OK maybe a 3rd, maybe Trono gives us 3 1sts to take him, are you happy?

  2. What are the possibilities of Joel Quenneville joining the Leafs , or dual additions in Sam Bowman

    Both are under guidance of Kim Davis and Sheldon Kennedy , I believe will be given the green light by Gary Bettman.

    Quenneville , the second winningest coach , but players thoughts , as per Matthews urgency before July 1 has to be considered .

    More than half of the cap going towards 4 players will change .

    Marner is a fabulous playmaker , makes everyone around him better during the regular season , but playoff hockey is another identity , as proven by the Panthers , and you need stellar goaltending .

    Morgan Reilly has reached new heights , Leafs need another elite defenseman , and a goaltender, unless Joseph Woll is that guy .

    The friendly Goudas is a free agent , not in elite status , but a signing that should be given priority .

    How you dispose of Murray’s contract is another nightmare , this was a very high risk signing from the get go .

    The off season will be interesting , there will be lots to talk about

    • Your usual standard, Ken, mind-boggling.
      You just don’t get the Chicago deal, do you?

      • What’s with the usual standard “dumbass” BCLeaf fan

    • Hi Ken,
      Re the Leafs 🍁

      Im a big Joel Quenneville fan, i think he is a Very Good coach and bring the best out in all types of players
      What happened in Chicago he was in the wrong place at the wrong time and him and the GM Bowman got fired…

      Coach Q could well be the Fix it guy in Toronto….❓, they need a Top Notch Coach who has been there and won the cup….
      i think they bring KD back as leafs GM, But let the coach go…❓

      in Goal i think they go with the 2 young guys…⁉️
      24 yr old Joseph Woll & 26 yr old Ilya Samsonov who played very well in his forst full season with the Leafs

      For the defence, yes your right they need one more to top offencive d man to move the puck up ice and shoot from the point

      I would also look at bringing Big tough Steady d/man back Luke Schenn he was on $850,000 pa last year give him 2 years at that….

      the only way to fix the forwards is
      Up front Trade Tavares & his $11M contract for one more year ✔️

      Brining back Ryan O’Reilly…. he look like way more of a leader than JT did and he would cost a lot less
      with the extra $$ you get your top d/man

      Leafs only have $7.5M in Cap Space
      and they have 9 UFA players to replace all lower end apart from Ryan O’Reilly,, that could cost them $4.M pa if he wants to stay there……❓

      • good old q. minutes before he was announced as panthers coach, my car was only several feet away as his motorcade chugged slowly up oakland parl k blvd towards the arena. i knew it had to be him.just an unforgettable moment in time.he had the panthers going.

      • There is a reason ROR didnt sell his home in St. Louis. As a Blues fan I would like to see the Blues move on and get a little younger, but something tells me he signs in St. Louis. I can can also see Luke Schenn landing in St. Louis as well.
        Toronto is going to have to make some tough decision’s in the next few months. Samsonov is going to require a nice raise and Murray is either going to have to be buried, bought out, or Toronto is going to have to pay for someone to take him.
        I can see them getting into a situation where Matthews goes into the season without a extension, they make the playoffs again, whch means they are not going to move him at the TDL, then he becomes a UFA, and goes on that crazy Free Agent Tour that JT did years ago, and the highest bidder is going to land him.

  3. The way I see it, the Leafs second round exit this year is as much if not more of a flop than past years. While there is certainly credit for late game comebacks against Tampa leading to OT wins in games 3 & 4 on the road, the Leafs didn’t win that series as much as the Bolts lost it. The difference in that series was simply that Tampa was banged up and worn down after having played so much more playoff hockey than the Leafs these past few years. Under normal circumstances, the Leafs lose that series.
    I’d re-sign Dubas. I think he’s done a solid job under the circumstances, notwithstanding the Tavares deal which seems in all to have been a mistake. Keefe should be replaced, though. He just doesn’t look like the coach to take them to the next level.
    I agree that the Leafs absolutely must get Matthews signed long term, no matter how much money it takes. I don’t see Tavares being traded, given that he is soon to turn 33 and has another two years at a steep cap hit with a full NMC. But I think Nylander should be traded. That’ll free us some money for help on D and scoring depth in the bottom 6.

    • Howard, you are not quite alone in seeing seeds of optimism in the ashes of repeated playoff flops by the Core 4, there are some fans who are die hard supporters.

      At some point loyalty and optimism has to concede the field to performance and reality. That so, I don’t understand why you and others think Dubas has done a solid job. The records of the teams he has assembled are irrefutable proof of failure. As you note, this year is another flop.

      And if you or others think I am just trolling Leaf fans, show me a professional commentator in the print or electronic media who thinks otherwise.

      Better still, can you or anyone else show me what you see in the playoff performance of the Core 4 that shows promise? While I agree Nylander has been the best of the bunch and is the most tradable, that leaves the underperformance of the other three. You surely see something that eludes me.

  4. Teams pay players for goals. Mathews is that in spades. Elite. Teams also pay to win. He hasn’t done that yet. I would trade him to Arizona. Maybe he saves that market, aka Gretzky in LA . It will be a difficult decision. But he can’t pull a Johnny ! That is far worse . The Leafs can change the whole dynamic of the team. Guenter Soderstrom Crouse and Ottawa’s first this year and Arizona first next year. Something like that You can’t move Tavares and Nylander is still good value.

    • There has always been talk here about Matthews going home to Arizona. Might do him good getting out of the fishbowl in Toronto. Arizona could save some actual money with a deal that includes Smaltz and happens after Matthews bonus is paid out. An extension would have to be in place and structured so most of money would be paid in the middle years. Cap not a problem, but revenue next couple years is.

    • they are not in on Mathews fans are team isnt. not enough pieces in thr cupboard where one guy takes you over the top maybe in two to three years but not before that as it destroys the rebuild

      • Az hockeynut
        Cupboard is pretty stocked and I proposed a trade after Matthews bonus paid out. Which also means this years draft not effected. You say 2 or 3 years. It’ll be 2 years before new deal starts. Next years salary is only $750K after bonus paid. As Lyle mentioned his nmc also kicks in. This all hinges on Matthews wanting out. I also would think Toronto would want roster players that will make them more competitive in playoffs. Smaltz would need to go His contract probably going to get moved anyway. Like Chychruns, the actual dollars go way above his AAV.

      • Slick, i will disagree the cupboard is bare in AZ. do they have assets? indeed. too early to tell if they will be great or just good. no need to rush a rebuild as it has failed then over and over and over. as we see time and again, it takes a steady stream of talent, home grown, yewr after year to make solid runs wirhout a mortgaged future. greedy contracts kill teams

  5. Auston Matthews is a very good hockey player. The part that would upset me, is he could be so much better, if he would use his size more. Matthews is listed at 6’3″ 220lbs. That’s some solid size. If we would throw a few hits like Ovi every now and then, a couple of bone crushing hits, his value would be that much higher. Unfortunately he doesn’t seem to fight thru the tight play.

  6. Every deal here is assigning value to mathews like he’s signed. Until that happens how about thinking along the lines of what’s his value as a one year rental?

  7. How many goals did Auston Matthews score before he got this contract? Just 111 in 212 games

    Tim Stutzle scored a whopping 73 in 210 gamesand gets an 8.3 million contract and it’s a “deal”

    Cole Caufield scored 53 goals in 123 games and he’s going to get a big contract.

    Matthews is a higher scorer on a consistent level and folks complain and want to get rid of him.

    Are you kidding me?

    I’d take him in a heartbeat to the Habs.

    • HF30, I am pleased you are not the Habs’ GM. Marner is undeniably a good offensive player – a point a game player.

      But your affection for him doesn’t match your assessment of him as a higher scorer. Using your numbers as above:

      Matthews scored at a 52% rate.

      Stutzle scored at a 35% rate,

      Caulfield scored at a 43% rate.

      Marner’s regular season scoring rate is 33%.

      Marner’s playoff scoring rate is 20%.

      Marner’s contract is 11 million a year, which would wreak havoc on the Habs cap space and get us a player who, if the Habs were to make the playoffs, is all but non existent. He would cause us to forfeit good young players to make room for his playoff no shows.

      No, thank you very much.

    • LJ,

      I don’t believe I mentioned Marner in my post.

      You’re mixing players and stat lines to make a point that has nothing to do with Auston Matthews.

      For all the hate he gets, Matthews playoff goal scoring rate is 44%.

      In a heartbeat 🙂

      • HF30. Zero goals in 5 games in round 2 against the Panthers (not Boston or Carolina). Not worth the $12-$13 million he will be asking for in his next contract. Toronto can keep him. Caufield won.t get anymore than the $7.8 that Suzuki signed for and at that number he has value.
        LJ, couldn’t agree with you more. Dubas has done some good things, but overall, the team he has assembled has to be viewed as a failure if the goal is to win the Stanley Cup. I can assure you if he is fired in Toronto, he will get another chance somewhere else but his sales pitch to the new team won’t be … “my goal is to invest almost half of the cap space available in 4 forwards and use spare parts for the rest of the roster…”

      • Crap. I misread your post HF30. Apologies. Coffee or new glasses, maybe both.

        And yes I would take Matthews – if he came at no more than his present cap hit. Otherwise the cost just screws up the cap.

  8. Leaf fans would you rather have Matthews signed for 8 more years at 14 million or trade him for one of Adam Fox ,Cale Makar or Charlie McAvoy all signed for about 9.5 ?

    • Makar is going to get more than 9.5, Obe.

      • Makar is already signed for 9 million for like 5 more years

      • Not my day today, Obe.

    • Obe… none of those dudes playing for a cup this year either…

      • I know but all three are world class D men that will be 5 million less than Matthews.Hard to find 30 minute D men and Leaf’s need D use the other 5 left over to bring O,Reilly back or someone else.

  9. failure if the goal is to win the Stanley Cup.

    It means that 13 teams, players, coaches and execs are failures because they have not won a Stanley Cup in more than 10 years.

    It means that 10 teams and their players, coaches and execs are failure because they never won a Stanley Cup.

    • Exactly!! Now you are getting it!!!

  10. What does it take to win the cup?
    1. Good fortune.
    2. Elite goaltending and good defence, or great defence and very good and consistant goaltending. Elite goaltending can be a trump card.
    3. Both special teams at a high level
    4. depth scoring
    5. a reduced injury year or the good fortune of outstanding roster depth.

    One of the hidden Lightning strengths was depth; consider Verhage, Gourde, Marshessault all starring in the playoffs were among the cap casulties of a deep Lightning roster.

    The window for most teams has to be open for a period of years to get that one or two cups; There is a great film on the Russian FIve in Detroit that as a sidebar talks about how long and hard they had to pound at the door before breaking it down; Dallas and Carolina this year are in the midst of a multi year effort. And sometimes good teams never get there.

    Having a generational superstar or two is not a requirement for tournament success, tho it’s not a bad thing. But it’s the rare cup team where the “third Line” doesn’t get a lot of attention.