NHL Rumor Mill – July 11, 2023

by | Jul 11, 2023 | Rumors | 31 comments

More speculation linking Erik Karlsson to the Penguins and Hurricanes plus the latest on Vladimir Tarasenko and Victor Olofsson in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.


NHL NETWORK: Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman believes it’s down to the Pittsburgh Penguins and Carolina Hurricanes as the front-runners to acquire San Jose Sharks defenseman Erik Karlsson. He thinks it’s a bit of a poker game with the Sharks knowing what the Penguins and Hurricanes want to do and those clubs knowing what the Sharks want to do.

San Jose Sharks defenseman Erik Karlsson (NHL Images).

Friedman feels that this will get done with Karlsson “most likely” going to the Penguins or Hurricanes. The question is, which club is willing to bend to make it happen?

SPECTOR’S NOTE: For the Penguins and Hurricanes, it’s how much they’re willing to give up in return to acquire the three-time Norris Trophy winner. For the Sharks, it’s how much of his $11.5 million average annual value they’re willing to retain.

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Nick Horwat believes Penguins president of hockey ops Kyle Dubas needs a backup plan in case they fail to land Karlsson. He noted a report claiming Boston Bruins blueliner Matt Grzelcyk could be on Dubas’ list. Horwat suggested UFAs such as Matt Dumba and Ethan Bear as potential targets.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bruins general manager Don Sweeney recently dismissed speculation that he was shopping Grzelcyk. It’s believed he’s received calls about the 29-year-old defenseman but he isn’t shopping him.


OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch speculates the Senators could have the cap room to sign UFA winger Vladimir Tarasenko to a short-term contract now that they’ve traded Alex DeBrincat to Detroit.

The Senators and Hurricanes were believed to be among the front-runners for the 31-year-old winger until he fired his agent last week. Both clubs have remained interested.

NHL NETWORK (stick tap to NHL Watcher): Elliotte Friedman told NHL Network that he believes it’s more likely that Tarasenko will take a one-year contract and bet on himself to play well and see what happens when the salary cap rises next summer.

Friedman also noted the Senators and Hurricanes have been linked to Tarasenko. He also noted the Sharks, Florida Panthers and Nashville Predators have had some interest in the veteran sniper.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s rumored that Tarasenko had a multi-year deal with one club worth around $5.5 million but rejected all offers and changed agents. While Friedman thinks he’ll take a one-year deal in the hope of cashing in next summer under a higher cap, some observers believe the veteran winger is still trying to score a lucrative long-term contract now.


BUFFALO HOCKEY NOW: Michael Augello recently speculated that the Sabres might have to wait “until a few more dominoes fall” before moving Victor Olofsson. It was reported last month that the 28-year-old winger expected to be traded at some point this summer.

Olofsson is a year away from UFA eligibility and carries a $4.75 million cap hit for 2023-24. With the Sabres deep at forward and unlikely to re-sign the winger, it was thought the Sabres might shop him for a goaltender or a defenseman on a short-term contract.

Those plans may have been held up by the availability of Alex DeBrincat in the trade market (Note: this report was written prior to DeBrincat getting traded to Detroit) as well as Vladimir Tarasenko’s ongoing quest to find a new club.

Winger Jack Quinn’s recent Achilles’ tendon injury could also have held up plans to move Olofsson this summer. With Quinn out for four-to-six months, the Sabres could retain Olofsson for the coming season and attempt to move him at the trade deadline once Quinn returns to action.


  1. There’s NO WAY the Sens are signing Tarasenko and there really wasn’t ever a way they were keeping DeBrincat even if he wanted to stay. The money just isn’t there. They need to resign Pinto and be able to sign Sanderson next season. A quick check of capfriendly would have shown Garrioch that. They currently have 5.5 mill of room. And Tarasenko has already turned that down. So…ya…no.

    It’s still baffling to me that Carolina remains in talks about Karlsson. Did they not see the disaster of having two puck hungry Alpha’s was in SanJose? You’re gonna reunite them? Heck even having two similar D in Pittsburgh makes little sense to me.

    • With Karlsson and letand in Pittsburgh they could pretty much run 5 d when healthy. Those 2 guys will each play almost half the game for you.

      • Icebear..i agree but Karlsson is a defensive liability and nightmare.

        I would prefer Matt Dumba, younger, faster cheaper, more physical..

    • Yeah, Dark G, the numbers don’t add up when it comes to Tarasenko – not without a fairly large cap hit being dealt.

      According to CapFriendly they have committed to:

      11F: Stutzle, Tkachuk, Norris (shown on IR), Giroux, Batherson, Joseph, Kubalik, Greig, Kastelic, MacEwen, Kelly … with RFA Pinto still to be settled – total cost of $44,666,57 and still with Pinto to be determined;

      7D: Chabot, Chychrun, Zib, Brannstrom, Hamonic, Sanderson, Bernard-Docker – total cost of $22,030,000

      2G: Korpisalo and Forsberg (also currently shown on IR) – total cost of $6,750,000

      Dead Cap (buyouts-retention) of $5,020,833

      Pinto will eat up a good chunk of the $5,032,620 they have left before reaching the cap limit and even when eventually signed they will still need 2 players to reach the 23 roster limit.

      Unless the plan is to elevate 2 bottom-drawer ELCs from Belleville – assuming they can depending upon what Pinto gets – there could be a further move or two in the offing involving roster players shown above over the summer.

      • If the Leafs buyout Murray the Sens get ~ 1.25 additional relief . Not much but enough to add a bottom 6 guy like Comtois or Heinen.

      • They don’t have to have 23 men on the roster. I beleive they are allowed a minimal of 21

      • While That’s very true, Jeff, since 2 have to be goalies that would leave 19 skaters – 4 lines of F and 7 D – doable as long as they don’t run into injuries that, while not serious enough to go on LTIR, nevertheless keep the players out for several games – in which case, if up against the cap limit, prevents them from bringing up replacements from the AHL. 2 or 3 like that – even for a game or two – means you are seriously undermanned.

    • Agree completely Dark G. The cap gets in the way. Ottawa has a lot of young players they can bring up (Sokolov jumps out once he signs). I would prefer a veteran bottom 6 player. I was really hoping they would have went after Corey Perry.

    • To be fair, the Sens cap situation will be a whole new ball game next year. 3.5M ish of dead cap goes away and the cap goes up a lot finally.

      Pinto will not cost too much yet and when Sanderson negotiates a new contract, the money will be there.

      That said… I also do not believe the Sens will or should sign Tarasenko. They DO need some more scoring up front, but that could come from Grieg. Norris’s return will change the team dynamic totally so maybe it’s okay to see how the kids do in training camp and the first third of the season?

      • My thinking exactly, TheSaint.

        Sokolov needs – deserves – a good long look – and with meaningful minutes (3rd line?) – and it’s pretty much a lock that Greig will move into DeBrincat’s spot.

        As you say, a healthy Norris (hopefully) will bring substantial offense and as Fergy notes, a Murray buy-out in Toronto frees up an additional $1/5 mil this year. Hard to see what Pinto will eventually sign for – could come down to a 3-tear bridge at around $3.8 and , if so, that’ll give them – with the Murray buyout – around $2.7 mil to balance out the roster

      • Depending what the Leafs do with Murray, they will have an extra $5m in cap space next year.

        A good thing is a lot of the big contracts don’t have NMC’s. So this allows so much flexibility in making trades. I would like to see one more veteran forward … maybe Brassard comes back for another year.

      • Tarasenko is also a RW if they sign him I fully expect Batherson to be the casualty in a subsequent move.

        Who would you prefer?

    • Josh Norris will be coming of IR @ $7.95M to add to the cap drama in Ottawa.

      • How is Norris cap going to cause concerns ? his AAV is already counted against the cap

      • His salary is already calculated in the total just as is Anton Forsberg’s. The LTIR cap relief does not get factored in until the season starts. There is a section called “potential LTIR” or something like that on CapFriendly.

      • Rob, see my post above. Both Norris and Forsberg’s caps are already factored in at CapFriendly. The ONLY one left yet to be determined is Pinto.

  2. Tarasenko isn’t getting more than one year at this point. And any talks with the Canes are on hold till the Karlsson thing is completed. Tarasenko May be waiting for EK to be traded and then he’ll assess his options.

  3. Yeah, I guess I feel the same about Karlsson to Pittsburgh? To me as great of a skater that Letang is, he is a “turn over” machine in his decision making and the Pens are little more careless with the puck too. Adding Karlsson to that equation dosen’t make much sense? Whatever! I think the Hurricanes are more responsible defensively. So, who knows? I would rather keep Pesce. I was hoping the Avalanche were interested in him. If I were either team, I wouldn’t be pursuing him but that’s why I am not a GM, lol!!!

  4. If the cap is going up like everybody says then Karlsson may end up in SanJose for one more year. They have him locked in and if he has another great year there will still be interest. The salary is too big an albatross for this year in my opinion.

    • Honestly I think this way too… but all the pundits seem absolutely convinced this will be the year EK is traded.

      And I mean… if he does have a bad year again, sorry Sharks! And “whew” to all the other teams.

  5. Greetings All. A general question for Lyle and all. Is there any news on CAL’s progress w/ Lindholm or news on SJ possibly moving Hertl and/or Couture? Portzline reported that CBJ was having discussions on each (fully recognizing Hertl has a full NMC and Couture a M-NMC so neither are going anywhere if they choose not to). Porty inferred talks remain ongoing, that despite landing Fantilli CBJ remain interested in adding a productive vet C, and all may wait for select other deals of those teams to go down 1st (Hanifin & Erikkson possibly?). So, at best, a lot of speculation but I was curious if anyone has heard any rumors/buzz. Thanks!

    • DeaconFrost: Nothing further on Lindholm. Everyone’s still waiting for word as to his intentions.

      Portzline’s report re: CBJ and Herl was 3 weeks ago. No mention of Couture. He wrote about Lindholm likely to be traded if he won’t re-sign with Flames but only mentioned CBJ might be interested, not that they’re having talks with Flames.

      Cheers! https://theathletic.com/4638998/2023/06/26/nhl-draft-blue-jackets-trade/

  6. Plan B for Pens has to be Dumba and not Gryzlyck

    Gryz may (????) have a cap hit that is less than what Dumba will sign for (TBD); but is smaller and shorter and a bit older

    Gryz played on a far superior team… so maybe Dumba/Gryz similar production on a different team (TBD)

    But most importantly… Dumba costs no assets; Gryz does

    At this point; perhaps plan A should be Dumba???

    Certainly EK the far far superior player…. But the sum assets (current and future) needed to give up to get him joined with the far higher cap hit; perhaps makes EK plan either not viable and/or too compromising for future

    Grier is sitting back , holding firm on ask; waiting for Div rivals to outbid each other

    Right thing to do

    An interesting line of thinking out there is perhaps that Dubas has already resigned to the fact that Canes will get EK but is publicly positioning that he (Dooby) is still in the hunt to drive up the assets (that will be given up to Sharks by Canes) thus weakening Canes elsewhere in line up now; and for the long term (future assets given up)

    Fair point…. Who knows what the real strategy is?

    Granlund /Petry out; ??:Dumba in….. gets Pens well under Cap; younger, better

    Granlund buyout; Dumba signing….. Dubas can do without assets given up; and without increasing overall Cap

    • Pengy, another interesting line of thinking is what if Carolina is doing that to Dubas 🙂

    • Pengy…i agree
      Gralund out trade or buyout $ 5 million

      Desmith trade $ 1.8 million

      Petry if they could somehow move him.

      If not im ok with Letang/Petry/Dumba

      Move Rutta or put him on left side 3rd pair move Poj he has value

      Sign Matt Dumba
      Sign Tyler Mottte
      Sign Tatar cheap deal he had 20 last year

      Nice third line
      Eller Accari Tatar

      Nice 4th line
      Motte Nieto O’Connor

      Thoughts Pengy

      • Looks like a song lyric. Put it to music and resubmit it.
        Kinda works to the tune “War Pigs”

  7. Pengy Alert !

    Please turn off the Penguin light in the back room !

    Let’s focus on the Blue and White light in the front room !

    Treliving is on a Mission
    Leafs are destined for Greatness!

    Sincerely ,
    King Clancy

    • As that old song says “It seems, I’ve heard that song before ….” – like, for 56 years now.

    • A mission to create cap he’ll in about 5 or 6 years, yeah he is good at that. Looks like he’s already started with going so far over the cap right off the hop. They better do something in his first 3 years, after that it’s going down hill.

  8. Blockbuster pitch from Aunt Sally”s nephew:

    Toronto trades Auston Matthews to New York Rangers for Alexis Lafreniete, K’Andre Miller, Jacob Trouba and 1sr round draft pick

    Or Toronto sends William Nylander to New York for Miller and Trouba


    • I don’t think I’ve ever seen a defensive pairing traded at the same time to the same team. I don’t think we will now.

      Not a chance NY makes that deal for Nylander.

      And they wouldn’t make that deal for Mathews without a center going the other way.

      Either trade scenario leave NY without their 2nd pairing. Really more of a split 1st pairing. Don’t think they make that trade. Especially for one year of Mathews.