NHL Rumor Mill – June 6, 2023

by | Jun 6, 2023 | Rumors | 42 comments

The Senators exploring trade options for Alex DeBrincat, proposed trade destinations for Connor Hellebucyk and Blake Wheeler, and speculation over what Auston Matthews’ cap hit on his next contract will be in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.


SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports the Ottawa Senators have begun exploring the trade market for Alex DeBrincat. A source described it as the Senators conducting “due diligence” given the 25-year-old left winger’s desire to wait until the sale of the club before engaging in contract talks.

DeBrincat is a restricted free agent this summer. He’s also a year away from unrestricted free-agent status. Senators management is considering its options from taking him to arbitration to trading him.

OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch speculates the decision on DeBrincat could come before the end of this month. League sources confirmed the winger’s agent informed management that his client isn’t ready yet to discuss a contract extension.

Ottawa Senators winger Alex DeBrincat (NHL Images).

Garrioch believes Senators general manager Pierre Dorion has to see what the trade market looks like for DeBrincat if the winger isn’t committed to staying with the Senators. He noted that the upcoming NHL draft is a time when teams are trying to make deals to shape their rosters for next season.

Dorion has publicly said he’ll make a qualifying offer to DeBrincat. If he’s unwilling to sign it, the Senators GM hinted he could take the winger to arbitration and ask for a 15 percent drop on his qualifying offer.

DeBrincat was earning an average annual value of $6.4 million on a three-year contract. However, he made $9 million in actual salary this season, which is what it would cost to qualify his rights. A 15 percent reduction would be around $7.8 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Senators acquired DeBrincat from the Chicago Blackhawks during the 2022 NHL Draft. They could be forced to move him during this year’s draft if the winger remains reluctant to sign a long-term contract.

Trading DeBrincat would be considered a loss for the Senators considering they gave up their first and second-round picks in last year’s draft to Chicago to acquire him. However, Dorion could save face if he can find a solid return that provides the Senators with immediate as well as long-term help.


DAILY FACEOFF: Matt Larkin proposed seven trade destinations for Connor Hellebuyck if the Winnipeg Jets attempt to peddle the 29-year-old goaltender.

The Carolina Hurricanes, Los Angeles Kings and New Jersey Devils are Larkin’s top-three landing spots for Hellebuyck. The three clubs could become Stanley Cup contenders with strong, reliable goaltending. However, the Hurricanes also need game-breaking scoring, the cap-strapped Kings still hope to re-sign pending UFA defenseman Vladislav Gavrikov and the Devils face re-signing two expensive wingers in Jesper Bratt and Timo Meier.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Hurricanes’ focus could be more on their scoring, especially given their front office has said they’re willing to bring back pending UFA goalies Frederik Andersen and Antti Raanta. The Kings would have to free up cap space to take on Hellebuyck and re-sign Gavrikov. The Devils, however, could still have sufficient cap room to take re-sign Bratt and Meier and still add Hellebuyk.

Larkin also listed the Ottawa Senators, Pittsburgh Penguins, Toronto Maple Leafs and Vegas Golden Knights as possible destinations.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I don’t see the Senators pursuing Hellebuyck unless he’s willing to agree to a long-term contract extension. It’s bad enough they could be trading away Alex DeBrincat after a year, they don’t need to see Hellebuyck heading out the door next summer as a free agent.

The Penguins have the cap space for Hellebuyck but I don’t believe they can come up with a suitable return to tempt the Jets given their depleted prospect pool and aging roster. The Leafs need to improve their defense core plus I think they’ll stick with the more affordable goalie tandem of Ilya Samsonov and Joseph Woll. The Golden Knights lack the cap space to pull it unless they’re willing to shed over $6 million to do it.

WINNIPEG SUN: Scott Billeck believes it would be shocking to see Blake Wheeler back with the Jets next season. The 36-year-old left winger was stripped of the captaincy by head coach Rick Bowness but still wields influence in the dressing room. He has a year remaining on his contract but his $8.25 million cap hit will be difficult to move unless the Jets retain part of it.

Billeck suggests buying out Wheeler. While that would cost $2.75 million against their salary cap, it would provide $5.5 million in cap savings for next season to put toward retooling the roster.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Jets could try to move Wheeler in this summer’s trade market. As Billeck observers, they’ll have to take back a bad contract, retain half of his cap hit in a trade with another club, or attempt a three-team deal that spreads his cap hit around.

Despite those options, I wouldn’t be surprised if they buy out Wheeler later this month. His age and cap hit works against finding a suitable trade partner.


TORONTO SUN: Steve Simmons believes Auston Matthews will become the NHL’s highest-paid player in 2024-25. The 25-year-old Maple Leafs center is a year away from UFA status.

Simmons observes that Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon will be the highest-paid player with an average annual value of $12.6 million while Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid is second at $12.5 million.

While Matthews lacks MacKinnon’s Stanley Cup ring and McDavid’s plethora of individual awards, Simmons believes he’ll get between $14 million and $15 million annually on his next contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’ve speculated that Matthews could get a more conservative $13.5 million but it wouldn’t shock me if it exceeds $14 million. He’s a two-time Richard Trophy winner who last year became the first player in over a decade to tally 60 goals in a season. The Leafs center has reached the 40-goal plateau in five of his seven NHL seasons and won the Hart Memorial Trophy in 2021-22.

Matthews isn’t a better player than McDavid. Nevertheless, if the Leafs won’t pay him between $14 million and $15 million annually, another club will happily do so via next summer’s free-agent market, when the salary cap is expected to jump by at least $4 million. That’s the way the market works.

As for McDavid, he’ll regain his title as the NHL’s highest-paid player once his current contract is completed at the end of 2025-26.


  1. What would WPG want for Wheeler @ 50% retained?

    Not a bad 1RW with Zibby and Kreids
    Or 3c and move Chytl to 1RW

    They can have Hajek as a starting point.

    • Attention DeBrincat to DET!

      • I wouldn’t be surprised if the Rangers are in the picture for DeBrincat with Lafrenière going the other way…

  2. “Senators GM hinted he could take the winger to arbitration and ask for a 15 percent drop on his qualifying offer” … and GUARANTEE DeBrincat leaves next summer.

    • You’re taking him to arbitration because you already know he’s walking and you’re planning on trading him anyway. It would be the right move.

      Tell me something, if someone is interested to pay you your asking price and you say, I’ll think about it, wouldn’t that tell us everything that’s need to know about your intentions?

      • Exactly Ron. Bottom line – there is NO way Dorion saddles his team with that distraction. He’ll be dealt for the best return possible, and has nothing to do with “saving face” as there’s no way Dorion knew when he made the deal that this sort of thing would transpire.

        As to DeBrincat’s alleged preference to wait to see who the new owner is – what has that to do with the price of bread? Who cares – one way or another the new owner – whoever it turns out to be – isn’t collecting food stamps.

      • You nailed it Ron. This is why I soured on a Debrincat very quickly. I honestly hope he gets traded at the draft. For a player and a pick of some sort.

      • Because my company is for sale so I don’t know who will buy it, what their plans are, or whether they will even retain my immediate bosses (GM & HC).

  3. Does anyone know if Capfriendly has added the anticipated 1m cap increase into their calculations yet?

    • Ihatecrosby: They’ve had that in place for some time. They also have the projected rise to $4 million for the 2024-25 season.

      • Thank you Lyle

    • Yes it was added last summer.

      2023/2023 is $83,500,000

      2024/2025 is $87,500,000

      2025/2026 season and beyond is listed at $92,000,000

  4. George, if you stop by the site today, I was hoping to get your insights on the Debrincat situation. Is the sense in OTT this is part of negotiation and/or waiting on ownership resolution or is he unwilling to sign long term? I hope he choose to re-sign in OTT and if not you yield an appropriate return.

    Also wanted to get your thoughts on Pinto’s availability. The rumblings are CBJ will be looking to add a C and D via trades and UFA and I would love for them to explore some options w/ OTT given each team’s potential needs.

    • DeaconFrost – see my response above to GHT120 re DeBrincat.

      As for Pinto, I believe he’s here to stay … unless Dorion receives an overwhelming offer for the young C.

      With no certainty that Norris’ shoulder woes are not chronic and that he can put in a full season, I doubt Dorion deals away who could become his 2nd line C back of Stutzle.

  5. I believe Buffalo has the resources in Cap space & assets to move for Hellebuyck.

    With reliable goaltending, the Sabres could make some serious noise in the East for the next several years to come.

    • Buffalo needs to be adding a young Goaltender not an aging Goaltender like Connor Hellebuyck who’s seeking 8 x $10,000,000 on his next contract per TSN. a goalie like Juuse Saros or Carter Hart would be more useful them a 30 year old Connor Hellebuyck whose seeking to be paid as the highest paid goalie in the league.

    • Agreed, Buffalo has great prospects to make a deal. You have to pay if you want Vezina level goaltending.

  6. The Leafs need to determine what they have in Woll. He played really well when called upon this season and didn’t look out of place in the crunch playoff games either. Helley would make very little sense for the Leafs.

    On the Matthews front, I do sincerely hope the Leafs are looking into what they can get on the trade for him. I get the 14M on an 8-year deal but I really don’t love it on a 4-5 year deal.

  7. What an absolute useless wasted comment but the wonder boy Steve Simmons. Thanks Captain Obvious. Anything new….. no because you feed on drama and promote it!

    • The fact you dislike Simmons is one thing … but what exactly did he say that you find so offensive? All hockey writers speculate about the coming salaries on the teams they cover – he’s no different and could be right on the mark. Do you think he’ll sign for something substantially less? If so, why?

      Like it or not, the closer we get to crunch time for Matthews the more rampant will be the speculation. It’s unavoidable.

      Meanwhile, your solution is obvious as well – don’t read him.

  8. Pens/Dubas

    Didn’t like this move…. Felt he bungled Leafs into 1/2 Cap on 4 Fwds which didn’t work. On Plus side…. He can (and has) made the Cap tweaks to squeeze under…. living on the edge…. Ouch

    Regardless…. First move (a must)…. and an absolute no brainer….. buyout Granlund…. Granlund out; Nylander in (not at 3C; just as a regular bottom 6 Fwd)…. Pens younger; faster; stronger; better…. AND have net Cap savings of $3.4 M this year,$2.4 M next year

    Now….. 3C….. hello Ducks with C redundancies throughout (and their picking 2nd OA…. Hello Fantilli)….. so no moves by Ducks; draft Fantilli….. in alphabetical order at C….. Gaucher; Groulx, Fantilli, Henriques, Lopina; McT; Nesterenko; Slavin; Strome; Zegras…. That’s 10….. 5 ARE or will be C’s in NHL next year; a couple developing for maybe 24/25 in NHL

    Ducks have 3 healthy D under contract now; Vaak still IR; Drysdale will be re-upped….


    1. Petry (25% retained) + Rutta; for Strome and Comtois
    2. Petry (no retention) + Rutta for Henriques
    3. Pens literally all in…. 14th OA; 1st (‘24); *Guentz; O’Connor; Poehling; Petry; Rutta….. for 2nd OA (Fantilli); Comtois, Leason

    *One of my favourite Pens…. But UFA year…. Will cost an 8 year extension to start the fall when hd turns 30!!!!! (Reminder…. Dubas/Hyman and move in his UFA year)

    Ducks should not give up Fantilli…. But 2 firsts; a 40 G scorer; O’Connor; a top 4 D @ 50% ; and bottom pairing D (@ 50%) ; plus feisty Poehling….. just may (?) move the needle

    Option 1 above makes good sense for both teams

    • Why not just offer SJ Petry and Granlund plus something for Karlsson for the win now mode over the next 4 seasons

      Then shop Rita to free up cap and use the 20m in cap space to build solid bottom 6 and fortify the goaltending?

      Watching the playoffs the 4th line had been key. So guys that play physical and can chip and chase

      If a goalie is about 4-5m that leaves 15m for 6 forwards and 2 bottom pairing d men

      Plenty of 1 yr vets possibly available. Even guys Ike Garnet Hathaway about 1.5 x 3 works

      Offer Freddie Anderson 4.5$ x 4
      If Perry doesn’t sign in TB offer a 1$ x 2

      • What does San Jose want with Petry and Granlund?

      • George O. Sj would consider those 2 assets bc they only have 2 yr contracts totaling 24m while Karlsson has 4 yrs totaling 46m

        So instantly SJ owners save over 20m dollars in these economic times.

        Additionally they may even entertain flipping the assets retaining only partial salary for picks/prospects netting additional $ in the millions saved over the next 4 years while they rebuild.

        With Karlsson they are not a contender so I would presume saving possible over 30m over next few years is a massive SJ win.

        Pittsburgh is also maybe 1 of less than a handful of teams that can quickly do this without dragging things along.

        Saving million an of dollars when you aren’t a winner is very appealing

        Next thing SJ tries to move Leblanc to save more $$

      • Karlsson isn’t a fit in Pittsburgh, they already have Letang.
        The last thing the pens need here is to create another Karlsson-Burns situation.

        Thats besides the obvious point of two cap dumps for a soon to be 3-time Norris winner.

      • Taz

        What team will take that Norris trophy winner in 2 yrs @36 @. 12m per??

        Not saying only Granlund and Petry go to Sj but this off-season is the only time they may have a chance to clear the 24m without retention since they already have Pickles bloated LT contract on D

      • Why not just offer SJ Petry and Granlund plus something for Karlsson for the win now mode

        Answer: Because you dont want to end up on their blacklist 😉

  9. Re AM …. $14M — $15 M

    Leafs are already having troubles getting to the promised land by having 1/2 Cap on 4 Fwds

    If Leafs re-up WW AND AM….. that’ll be $23 M – $25M; add Marner and JT…. That’s $45 M – $47 M for 24/25…. Not a chance Cap ceiling is $90-$94 M in 24/25…. So Leafs worse off (re filling out rest of roster in 24/25) than now

    You almost never ever trade your franchise player….. but it does happen…. Need only cite Gretzky …. At 27 and in his prime…. To Kings

    Leafs need to think big; think long term; think cup

    Note also…. For AM….Leafs would need to offer $18.9 M to match take-home from $14 M gross (figures per Gavin Group) from Krakken (or Stars, Bolts, Predz; Cats; Knights)

    Krakken does not have a Captain right now

    Krakken on rise

    They’d die for AM/Beniers/Wright down the centre for the next few years

    McC+ Big Rig 2 1sts for AM????

    • You’d have to think Beniers would need to be part of the return for Matthews, at a minimum Wright.

      • They won’t trade Beniers

        Maybe Wright

        My thinking re 2 firsts…. NOTE this would have to have AM’s approval because trade would need to be after 1/7 when SB is paid….. technically a 3 way

        On 1/7 Cash heavy Leafs pay AM’s SB

        AM temporarily (paperwork hour) goes to Yotes (7th in ‘25 ) where they retain 50%…. They get valuable $5.8 M Cap hit for less than $350 K


        To Leafs : Top 6 C/W (40 Goal scorer): McC; huge top 4 D (could vie top pairing): Big Rig; Huge top 6 winger (25 goal scorer): Crouse…. All 3 for less Cap hit than AM will get

        Krakken: Franchise Centre; 2 time Rocket, prior League MVP; next Captain; will have AM, Beniers; Wright down the centre for years

        Yotes…. Actually Gain net Cap space …. But pay $4.7 M cash LESS next year AND rid $15 M cash commitments in 3 out-years; plus get 2 firsts (from Krakken) and another (‘23) from Leafs

        I’d do thr deal if I was any of the 3 GMs

      • Pengy, I know you are a Leafs fan so its hard to fathom how you think this work for Toronto.
        Big Rig is absolutely not top pairing quality, you had in him a middling defensemen which we have enough of. He will not be a difference makers.
        McCann is good but there isn’t enough consistency there to consider him a core piece of this trade.
        Two (potentially late) first rounders?

        If AM is getting traded, something established is coming back.

      • Hi Taz

        Yes… I’m a big Leaf fan…. For 5 1/2 decades

        I’m dying for a Blue & White Cup

        I’ve contended on here for last few years…. Almost completely impossible to attain with 1/2 Cap on 4 forwards

        Re- upping both AM AND WW make sutuation worse than it is right now

        It comes down to converting AM into 3 assets…. Two top 6 Fwds; and a big 2nd pairing (I’ll cede that) D man…. For same Cap hit

        That gives great flex in Cap to fill out the roster

        Just from production alone…. Those three combined will have more goals and points than AM does singularly

        Something has to change

        WW (who held out last time and got $7M…. With this year’s performance…. Will get $9M for sure…. But is going to ask for Marner money

        Mathew’s will ask for (starting request) $16M; should get $14 M to $14.5…. And his takehome here not even close to what he could get with Krakken

        So….. from a True Leaf perspective…. and wanting a cup….. I’d make the trade

        From Yotes perspective (haemorrhaging $$$ profusely)…. deal is a no brainer

        Krakken….. seeing the aggressive moves Knights made (cite Eichel et al) that have paid off…. To have AM, Berniers; Wright down the centre; and AM as their franchise centre and Captain…. Also , to me, easy decision

      • 😵‍💫😵‍💫😵‍💫😵‍💫😵‍💫😵‍💫😵‍💫

  10. I thought this might work. Debrincat to the Sharks for Karlsson and a conditional 1st. Sens get back their former captain and Sharks get a still young but seasoned puzzle piece. Sens also get a 100 point producing righty to put along side Chabot. Sens also have the space to take on the full hit

    • No, Phoenix, the Senators do not have the cap space to take on Karlsson’s full $11,500,000 cap hot for 4 more years.

      Right now CapFriendly shows them with $17,075,953 in cap space to sign 10. They have 5 RFAs, including DeBrincat, whose new deals are obviously not factored into that. So if SJ took DeBrincat for Karlsson that means the latter’s full $11,500,000 goes onto the books – dropping what they have left to about $5.5 with which to re-sign Gambrell, Gauthier and especially Pinto and Brannstrom this year. And next year they’ll have Sanderson to deal with as an RFA.

      And there would still be 5 players to sign to reach 23, including perhaps a goalie.

      Anyway, the case is moot. Karlsson burned his bridges to Ottawa. No way he’s coming back to the capital.

  11. How and LA hold 30% of Provy when they need cap space to sign a goalie?

    Provy to CMB

    • NVm walker and Peterson cap creates that room

  12. According to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman, the Flyers are trading defenseman Ivan Provorov as part of a three-way deal with the Columbus Blue Jackets and Los Angeles Kings. Friedman reports Provorov is headed to Columbus while the Flyers are acquiring Cal Petersen and Sean Walker from the Kings.

    • lets see how CBJ can bring in a center for Johnny next

  13. To CBJ: Provorov

    LA retains 30% of Provorov’s salary

    PHI: 1st (LA from CBJ), 2nd (CBJ), 2nd (LA), Helge Grans (RHD), Sean Walker, (RHD) and Petersen (G)

    • Nice first trade Danny B ! I like the return if that is the package.

      On deck messieurs Hayes, Hart, Ristolainen and Deangelo. PLease have your boarding passes ready.

    • Yikes, that seems like an expensive salary dump by LAK.