NHL Rumor Mill – June 23, 2023

by | Jun 23, 2023 | Rumors | 17 comments

The latest on the Flames and Panthers plus updates on Blake Wheeler and Jordan Staal in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.


TSN: Chris Johnston brought up to date on the latest involving Flames stars Elias Lindholm, Mikael Backlund, Tyler Toffoli and Noah Hanifin. They’re a year away from unrestricted free-agent eligibility.

Johnston said there have been contract extension discussions between the Flames and Lindholm’s camp and it’s believed more talks are planned. He thinks the 28-year-old center is open to staying in Calgary depending on the contract. However, there’s no indication one way or the other.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: In today’s Morning Coffee Headlines I cited Daily Faceoff’s Frank Seravalli indicating the general consensus around the league has Lindholm leaning toward leaving. We’ll find out soon enough which way he’ll go as his decision will determine whether the Flames attempt to trade him.

Calgary Flames forward Tyler Toffoli (NHL Images).

Backlund isn’t going to sign on July 1 because he wants to see how things play out. It sounds like the Flames are at least open to exploring Toffoli’s value in the trade market.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Johnston subsequently reported that it sounds like Toffoli would welcome a trade. It’s believed he’s keeping an open mind and isn’t approaching this with a desired destination.

Hanifin has informed the Flames he’s not interested in a contract extension. He’s another who could be traded.

SPORTSNET: Pat Steinberg cites multiple sources reiterating how important it is for the Flames not to rush into trading those players if those moves have to be done. He believes they’ll have to target high draft picks, top prospects and young NHL players if these deals come to pass.

Steinberg also believes how Flames general manager Craig Conroy approaches this situation with those four will determine the fates of others. They include defensemen Nikita Zadorov and Chris Tanev, who are also eligible next summer for UFA status.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Steinberg thinks Conroy will want to take his time to evaluate the trade market to ensure he gets good returns for those players, suggesting it could stretch well into the summer. Nevertheless, we can’t discount the possibility that he gets an enticing offer for at least one of them during the upcoming NHL Draft.


TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports the agent for Blake Wheeler is working closely with Winnipeg Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff to find some way to move him along. It could be via a buyout, a trade, or a deal to another club that buys him out.

A decision will have to be made soon as the buyout window closes next Friday at 5 pm ET. One way or another, Wheeler will not be playing for the Jets next season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Wheeler has a year left on his contract with a five-team no-trade list, a no-movement clause that prevents his demotion to the minors and a cap hit of $8.25 million. The Jets would prefer a trade that clears his full cap hit from their books but that might be difficult to find for a 36-year-old winger with that contract.


TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports the Florida Panthers will try to bolster their defense core with blueliners Aaron Ekblad and Brandon Montour expected to miss at least the start of next season recovering from offseason surgeries.

LeBrun noted that some teams have expressed an interest in Anthony Duclair. The Panthers don’t want to trade the 27-year-old winger, who’s signed through next season with an affordable $3 million cap hit. However, they might have to in order to land a top-four defenseman. LeBrun suggested keeping Calgary’s Noah Hanifin in mind.

DAILY FACEOFF: Frank Seravalli also reported on this topic earlier in the week. He speculated the Panthers could also look toward this summer’s free-agent market toward a defenseman who’s fallen on some hard times to take an affordable short-term contract. Seravalli suggested Matt Dumba, Oliver Ekman-Larsson or John Klingberg.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Perhaps the Panthers employ both options. They could trade Duclair for someone like Hanifin and sign one of those veteran rearguards to a one or two-year deal at a cost-effective rate.


TSN: Darren Dreger reports contract talks between the Carolina Hurricanes and team captain Jordan Staal have reached an impasse. Staal, 35, is due to become a UFA on July 1.

Dreger said the Staal camp has provided the Hurricanes with a number of options. However, they need team owner Tom Dundon to move from his position.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Dundon has proven to be inflexible in contract negotiations with his players. The only reason Sebastian Aho got his current contract was that the Montreal Canadiens attempted to sign him away with an offer sheet in 2019. It’ll be interesting to see how this situation with Staal unfolds.


  1. Calgary is in trouble . Get rid of them all . You want to here good. You don’t hit he bricks . Toffoli was Suter boy and played way too much anyway. Too many Swedes as well . Which you would think would be a good thing. Apparently not. Markstrom the only one that wants to stay. Ironically the one that should be moved
    Conroy should take advantage of this year’s draft with teams with multiple firsts. Target Detroit and Blues for their firsts at 9 and 10

    • Realistically I dont think the Blues or Wings trade those picks, the later picks in the first round are in play. Looking at the Calgary players that want out makes you wonder why any team wouldn’t low ball Conroy. If he doesn’t deal then low ball him at the TDL when he will have to make deals or lose players for zero assets coming back.

      Backlund, hannifan both good players but the returns probably wont be that good. Say 2nd pick and a good prospect.

      Lindholm would get a lot but thats a huge hole to fill.

      Good thing to all this is if Conroy wants to rebuild it they can do it quickly with all the contracts coming off the books.

      • I gotta imagine a Dman like Hanifan gets more than that, otherwise it would already be done. Just my opinion though.

      • Agreed, nobody is throwing number one picks on players who have openly stated they want out, and if you think you have any leverage with any of those players Conroy is kidding himself. The best thing to do is get a fair player for player trade and the best pick that’s offered and start to rebuild as if they want out don’t delay the process it will only get worse.

  2. Blake Wheeler scored 16 goals in 72 games. He still has game left. No he isn’t worth is contract.

    He need to be off the team for a very simple reason, Rick Bowness.

    The players have much more respect for Wheeler than they do for Bowness.

    Bowness should’ve been fired but since Chevy doesn’t seem to know what he is doing and certainly has zero pulse of what is going on in the locker room. He has decided to run with Bowness.

    If Winnipeg can’t trade Wheeler there going to buy him out, simply to get him off the roster.

    Wheeler will be a nice addition to a team who wants to win.

    • With Flyers rebuilding would they be interested in Wheeler to flip him for assets?

      To WPG: Courtourier
      To PHI: Wheeler and a good pick

      Philly clears long cap for rebuild
      WPG gets player under contract that can play center

      Philly then holds half and flips Wheeler to AVS for picks

      Philly clears a ton of cap
      WPG gets a good player when healthy
      AVS get their 2 c

      • That is exactly the kind of deal Philly should be interested in.

        Wheeler 2025 2nd rd pick for Coots

        Jets can then trade PLD from a position of strength or Scheifele and get a better return.

        Heck the FLyers could send Sanheim for Scheifele and flip him at the deadline also.

    • How do you explain the controversy about the Jets’ locker room and Wheeler in particular that predates Bowman?

      The coach who got the Panthers to the Cup final quit on the Jets mid season, Caper. I can recall no other example of that happening.

      • LJ, funny thing about Paul Maurice he created the environment in the Winnipeg locker room and then he quit on the team.

        Well know here in the Peg it was Paul Maurice, Blake Wheeler and Mark Scheifele team.

        Paul Maurice during one of his press conference said he would go thru a wall for Blake Wheeler.

        Paul Maurice during another media scrum said he could make the growing men in that locker room cry.

        Blake Wheeler acknowledged that his style of leadership is outdated. He was at odds with Patrik Laine and Nic Ehlers who were close buddies on the team.

        Chevy knew that a lot of the players still looked up to Wheeler and do change that Bowness stripped Wheeler of the captaincy.

        Most fans in Winnipeg believe the issue in the room is Scheifele.

        Scheifele was a 200ft player when he came in and there was talk of him potentially winning the selke one day. Them conversations don’t happen now.

        Maurice wouldn’t play the young guys his loyalties were always to the veteran and especially the two I mention.

        Maurice had the discontent of Laine, Connors and Ehlers because he wouldn’t put them on the first pp or move them up in the lineup.

        Then for whatever reason he lost Scheifele his number one center tuned him out.

        Exit interviews this year Connors, Ehlers, Morrissey and Wheeler all expressed their displeasure with Rick Bowness and his comments after being eliminated in game 5 to Vegas.

        Adam Lowry and Morrissey say it wasn’t the players who took the captaincy away from Wheeler we still look to him as our captain.

        Two issues one can’t have Wheeler if your having Bowness.

        Second the biggest concern in the dressing room is Mark Scheifele.

        Is Bowness is to have any success in Winnipeg both Scheifele and Wheeler need to be moved.

      • Ok. Not a fan of Scheiffle either, and I have to wonder if either he or Wheeler will have a reputation that precedes them and impedes a trade.

  3. Pittsburgh trades Ruutta Granlund O’Conner and the 13th in sign and trade for Hannifin and Backlund??

    Det gas cap to use why don’t they take all of Wheeler for the 1yr and offload Zadina

    Wheeler can play 1st line with Larkin and he plays a heavier game so it’ll help their rebuild going into yr 4

    • I think you change out O’Conner, with one of Poulin or Pickering, then you are getting closer.

  4. I don’t get it? When does it become the time for the player to take some responsibility? The player’s have to be professional and play. The Coach is the coach. I would take Bowness and Maurice position over Wheeler’s any day. We won’t take him on the Avalanche if he can’t buy into the system Bednar has in place or else he checks “his ego at the door” That goes for Scheifele, too

    • Tommy Boy, I think you missed the boat.

      Wheeler been a constant pro. He has bought into every system including Bowness.

      Maurice is the one who encorage and instructed Wheeler of what he wanted out of his players.

      You be lucky to have Wheeler. Doesn’t take a shift off, works his butt off and aways put his team first.

      Wheeler is no longer a first line player but he adds value to any team.

      • Caper, ok which is it then.? I think two coaches who have a lot of credibility in this league make an unpopular decision. Or at least 1 strips him of the captaincy. Although it hurts, he’s going to pout and quit on the coach? Or the rest of his teammates? Or is he going to be a professional and continue to play? So, Maurice quits and now Bowness is in charge but they seem to have the same issue in the lockeroom? Bowness seems to do what he feels is best for the club. What do you think he should have done differently? I like both those players historically, they are tough to play against. If they are going to have that kind of attitude on the team though. I am not sure I would want them in Colorado?

  5. Only in sports can a player who has been paid MILLIONS of dollars to go away be considered “fallen on hard times.” hehehe

  6. At the Blues draft spot ##10 many mock drafts have them taking a defence-man. Why not Hanafin instead

    Probably have to add other pieces on both sides.

    Lindholm is still deciding but if not leaning Flames way to Detroit at 9

    Toffoli and Backlund at the deadline. Likely to get more at that point .