NHL Rumor Mill – June 3, 2023

by | Jun 3, 2023 | Rumors | 26 comments

Check out the latest on Auston Matthews, Tyler Bertuzzi and Alex Killorn plus updates on the Avalanche and Flames in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.


SPORTSNET: In his latest “32 Thoughts” column, Elliotte Friedman expressed his belief that Auston Matthews will extend with the Toronto Maple Leafs but not at the maximum term of eight seasons. Instead, he thinks the 25-year-old center inks a deal between three and six years in length.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Why wouldn’t Matthews want the maximum term on his next contract? The belief is he’d like to have a crack at free agency while he’s still in his playing prime thus ensuring that he continues to make big money well into his thirties.

Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews (NHL Images).

The challenge for Leafs general manager Brad Treliving is “trying to get it done before July 1, when his no-trade clause kicks in.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That line has created the assumption among some fans that the Leafs can officially sign Matthews to his extension before free agency begins at noon ET on July 1. To clarify, Matthews still has a year remaining on his current contract. They can discuss an extension with him in the weeks leading up to July 1, 2023, but that date remains the earliest they can sign him to an extension.

Matthews’ no-trade clause (it’s actually a no-movement clause) is an issue if he’s reluctant to sign beyond next season or seeks an extension of less than three years. If so, the Leafs might have to explore the trade market before his movement clause kicks in as that would significantly limit the number of potential trade partners.

Friedman believes Matthews’ next contract could likely be the highest AAV in the league. He wonders what that means for Mitch Marner and William Nylander.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Marner has two years remaining on his contract while Nylander’s expires at the same time as Matthews’. They’ll seek significant raises but they won’t be as expensive as what Matthews will get given his status as a former Hart Trophy and two-time Richard Trophy winner.

It also depends on how the Leafs manage their payrolls in 2024-25 and 2025-26 when the salary cap is expected to jump by as much as $4 million per season.

The Boston Bruins are exploring what it’ll take to re-sign Tyler Bertuzzi. The 28-year-old winger is slated to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Acquired before the March trade deadline from the Detroit Red Wings, Bertuzzi fit in well with the Bruins and was their leading scorer in their short-lived 2023 postseason.

However, their limited cap space plus the possibility of Bertuzzi receiving a long-term deal on the open market worth around $5.25 million annually has some observers suggesting the Bruins simply can’t afford him.

Friedman believes the Tampa Bay Lightning offered Alex Killorn a long-term contract with a lower average annual value. However, the pending UFA winger is in demand and that could be difficult to do.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Killorn is 33 but he’s coming off a career-best performance (27 goals and 64 points in 82 games) this season. His current average salary is $4.45 million. He’ll have to decide if he wants to stick with the only NHL team he’s ever played with for less money in a city where there’s no state tax or chase bigger bucks elsewhere.


THE ATHLETIC: Peter Baugh recently looked at several potential options for the Colorado Avalanche to address their second-line center position. Internal choices would be re-signing pending UFA J.T. Compher, signing RFA Alex Newhook and promoting him into that role or shifting Mikko Rantanen from winger to center.

External options include Winnipeg’s Mark Scheifele, Philadelphia’s Kevin Hayes, Arizona’s Nick Schmaltz, Calgary’s Elias Lindholm or Anaheim’s Adam Henrique via the trade market. They could also try to bring back Ryan O’Reilly if he hits the UFA market.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Avalanche will get $7 million in long-term injury reserve cap relief with Gabriel Landeskog out for next season recovering from knee surgery. However, one of those external options will be costly in terms of salaries as well as assets if they go the trade route. Their best option could be one of those internal ones suggested by Baugh.


DAILY FACEOFF: Frank Seravalli noted the Flames have a potential logjam in goal with Jacob Markstrom and Dan Vladar under contract for next season and rising young netminder Dustin Wolf primed to become a full-time NHL player.

McKenna believes Wolf has accomplished all he can at the AHL level as their two-time reigning goalie of the year and AHL MVP. He believes they should shop Vladar and promote Wolf into sharing the duties with Markstrom starting next season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I share McKenna’s opinion as well as his enthusiasm for a Markstrom-Wolf tandem. Having a promising youngster pushing him for the starter’s job could help Markstrom regain the form that made him a Vezina Trophy finalist in 2021-22. If Markstrom continues to struggle, it provides Wolf with the opportunity to seize that role for himself.

Vladar, 25, could prove to be a decent trade chip for the Flames given the lack of quality goaltending depth in this summer’s free-agent market.


  1. I would think cap space and Matthews willingness to sign extension would already “significant limit the number of potential trade partners”.

    • Let’s face it, the Matthews situation is the tip of the iceberg when it comes to financially recognizing the elite of the NHL in a hard cap world. The same conundrum will surface when others of that ilk come up for contract renewal – over and over even if, at some future date, the cap starts rising at the same rate as pre-Covid.

      Next season it only rises by a million, but early speculation is, it could jump by $5 million the following year. However if all – or most – goes to one player, while that might solve the issue of not wanting to lose the attraction of a star player .. how does it help the issue of trying to build a balanced roster without losing quality 3rd and 4th line players, top 4 D and even goaltenders?

      In the unlikely event Toronto feels they must deal Matthews, it would only be for that very reason, i.e., an attempt to build a more-balanced roster. But then does that not create the same problem for the team that takes him on?

      At some point the league is going to have to address this quandary being faced by so many teams trying to maintain a quality balanced roster under a hard cap system.

      • I think the Avalanche will go the external route now that they really tried the internal route last year. Coach Bednar gave Newhook the opportunity and it really didn’t work, Compher did a better job but it didn’t seem to pay off in the playoffs. I hope they pursue one of those playes mentioned above. I think they should utilize all of the LTIR if they have to. We need to get that resolved so it will stabilize the rest of the lines throughout the lineup. GO AVS!!!!

      • I don’t see it as a quandary the league has to deal with at all. That’s the organization/GMs decision. Do you want a balanced team or do you want a top heavy roster with star power?

      • And for how long do you maintain a balanced team when your best RFAs and UFAs back of a top-heavy “star” core become impossible to retain under the cap?

    • Also in regards to players such as Matthews, even without a no trade clause, if you were another team interested in acquiring him, wouldn’t you want assurance he would resign before you give up assets for him? I guess by having a NTC, kinda tells the trading partner he’s willing to join your team and is likely going to resign with you. Without one, players like him would play out the remainder of the contract then bolt first chance they get nor will a team give up much for what potentially only be a rental.

      The short contracts don’t entirely make sense and are a risk. He’s been injured almost every year. Is it wise to continue to sign shorter contracts to optimize your earnings over a long guaranteed contract?

      Anytime I hear how he could want out and that at some point him or Marner force a trade, I always think of how much doing so could help the Leafs the way Lindros helped the Avs (nordiques) become the perennial contenders and cup champs.

      Whatever happens, we are all along for the fun and wild ride.

    • What I saw was NONE of the big guns for TO showed up…this year and last year….It’s a bad mix of players that just won’t get their nose dirty. Complete lack of grit. That won’t change give the status Quo being reflected by management….at least they where smart enough not to hire Benning as he would have traded everyone away for a bag of pucks. I also don’t think that management changes will do anything

  2. Crosby to the avs makes a lot of sense with Landeskog on the shelf for the season.

    • Taylor Hall is your guy!

  3. Lyle;
    Bert: Boston is the only NHL team he played with IN THE PLAY-OFFS.

    • Your point?

      • sorry, I must have scrolled over a paragraph 😔

    • Well duh Everyone know’s that Detroit is in the mist of a rebuild, And Boston will be there sooner rather than later. Bertuzzi put up 10 points yet Boston still chocked to Florida.

  4. Lindholm And Vlader to Detroit for #17 OA + Nuck’s 2nd + Veleno

  5. Not sure why everyone is so concerned about Matthews no movement clause kicking in July 1st.

    The way I see it he has that power now as any team trading for him will not give up significant assets if they don’t have a commitment/good feeling they can sign him.

    End of day if he wants out of Toronto he will be picking his next team. Just like tkachuck . He gave Calgary a list of teams he would sign an extension with. You probably have all summer to figure out Matthews if he wants out.

    End of day it is probably LA as they are just opening the window of contention.

    End of day I think Matthews stays in Toronto as it would cement his legend status if he leads Toronto to. Championship.

    • Matthews is thoroughly in the driver’s seat! And driving to a $14M x 4 contract!

  6. So. The cock is the new head in cbus. You guys think you got screwed or is this a happy ending?

    • hahaha…that’s some stiff comedy there,Chrisms…

      • The below the belt humor isn’t that hard.

    • I’ve been saying on another website that the Sens should trade for Vladar. Has the right term and AAV and won’t block the youngsters past this year.

    • If Jarmo did this, he’ll be looking for a new job next summer.

      • Supposedly he did.

  7. Rumor in Montreal has Caufield signing long term for under $7.875 million (Suzuki’s contract).

    Pretty solid foundation to build on if true.

    • Yeah that should bold well.

      Cole Caufield will be the better player with the potential to be a 40+ goal scorer.

      Honestly Nick Suzuki hasn’t even lived up to his contract yet. There’s so much promise there. That has yet to be fulfilled.

      • Hope they can get Caufield signed long term for less than $8m. AAV. There are rumors but I’m not sure I trust the source.
        I disagree that Suzuki hasn’t lived up to his contract (all one year of it). He was their leading scorer this past year, their top all around player and team leader. He had a solid year especially considering that he played nearly half the season with line mates better suited for bottom 6 duty and for most of the season, he didn’t have a solis second line center backing him up.

    • I hope that rumor is true HF30. That would be a fair contract for both sides and confirm that the ceiling for future contracts will be $7.8 million for future players of similar talent.