NHL Rumor Mill – June 22, 2023
LATEST “32 THOUGHTS” TRADE AND FREE-AGENT SPECULATION
SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman and Jeff Marek discussed the latest NHL trade and free-agent speculation.
FLYERS OPEN FOR BUSINESS
Friedman believes the Philadelphia Flyers are prepared to do a lot of things. He said a couple of teams told him they believe the Flyers will have one more first-round pick than they already have. They currently hold the No. 7 and No. 22 picks. Kevin Hayes, Travis Konecny, Travis Sanheim and Scott Laughton are out there as trade candidates.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Athletic’s Charlie O’Connor also weighed in on the Flyers, indicating that general manager Daniel Briere is listening on “pretty much every single one of their players”. Daily Faceoff’s Frank Seravalli claims prospect Cutter Gauthier is their only untouchable.
O’Connor includes Hayes among a group of players (along with defenseman Tony DeAngelo) that the Flyers would like to move but lack value in the trade market.
They don’t want to buy out Hayes, who has three years at $7.14 million annually left on his contract. However, they’re having trouble drumming up interest in him. The Flyers are willing to retain some of his average annual value.
O’Connor believes Konecny, Sanheim and Laughton are among the players the Flyers aren’t necessarily trying to trade but they could if they receive a dazzling offer. Carter Hart is also among that group.
COULD THE FLAMES RE-SIGN LINDHOLM?
Friedman thinks the Calgary Flames and Elias Lindholm are discussing a contract extension comparable to what Bo Horvat signed with the New York Islanders. Horvat’s new deal is for eight years with an AAV of $8.5 million starting in 2023-24.
Lindholm, 28, is a year away from unrestricted free-agent eligibility. He reportedly wants to know that the Flames are still trying to compete and won’t stage a full roster rebuild before he commits. He speculates the club is awaiting Lindholm’s decision before turning to their other 2024 free agents.
Friedman also said he’s heard that Jacob Markstrom wants to return with the Flames so that should quell the trade rumors about the 33-year-old goaltender.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Lindholm’s decision could have a domino effect on the other Flames who are a year away from UFA status like Mikael Backlund, Tyler Toffoli and Noah Hanifin. There’s already talk that the Flames are entertaining trade offers for Hanifin.
COULD THE PREDATORS TRADE SAROS AND PURSUE DUBOIS?
Friedman believes the Saros rumors weren’t started by the Predators but by other teams interested in the 28-year-old netminder. He thinks those teams saw the bold moves the Preds made at the trade deadline and wondered if they would be willing to trade their starting goaltender.
SPECTOR’S: Predators general manager Barry Trotz has indicated he’s open to offers for his players. However, it’ll take a significant deal to pry Saros out of Nashville. Unless Trotz is going to rebuild, I think he sticks with his starting goalie.
Michael Gallagher, meanwhile, focused on whether Pierre-Luc Dubois might be on the Predators’ radar. The 24-year-old Winnipeg Jets center is a restricted free agent and multiple reports suggest he’s on the trade block.
Gallagher cited Friedman questioning the feasibility of acquiring Dubois, pointing out that the center reportedly seeks an eight-year deal worth an AAV of $9 million. While the Predators have $15 million in cap space, Gallagher points out a new contract for Dubois would eat up 70 percent of it.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Unless the Predators are moving out a high-salaried player like Ryan Johansen, Matt Duchene or Filip Forsberg to clear the cap space for Dubois, I don’t see them getting into the bidding.
WHEELER’S TIME WITH THE JETS COMING TO AN END?
TSN: Darren Dreger reports the Winnipeg Jets are getting some trade interest in Blake Wheeler. The 36-year-old winger and former Jets captain has a year left on his contract with an AAV of $8.25 million.
Dreger also indicates they could buy him before the end of the current buyout period on June 30 if unable to trade him before then. It would clear $5.5 million of cap space from their 2023-24 salary-cap payroll, leaving a cap charge of $2.75 million for next season and for 2024-25.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Dreger didn’t indicate which teams had an interest in Wheeler. The Jets would probably have to retain some salary in the deal. How much could make the difference between a trade and a buyout
LATEST ON THE BRUINS
BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Jimmy Murphy cited Eliotte Friedman saying the Bruins are still talking with pending UFA forwards Tyler Bertuzzi and Garnet Hathaway in hopes of re-signing both players. Murphy points out the Bruins have just over $4.16 million in salary-cap space next season.
Friedman said Bruins GM Don Sweeney is burning up the phone lines trying to make a cost-cutting move to free up enough cap space for Bertuzzi and Hathaway. Bruins such as Linus Ullmark, Taylor Hall, Matt Grzelcyk and Derek Forbort are being bandied about in the rumor mill.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Bruins’ recent signing of goalie Brandon Bussi to a one-year, $775K contract has fueled speculation that they’ll trade Ullmark and go with a tandem of Bussi and Jeremy Swayman once they get the latter re-signed. Swayman’s a restricted free agent with arbitration rights.
Moving Ullmark would clear $5 million in cap space but the Vezina Trophy finalist has a full no-movement clause that he’d have to waive to make a trade happen.