NHL Rumor Mill – July 14, 2023
THE LATEST ON THE PENGUINS AND KARLSSON
SAN JOSE HOCKEY NOW: Sheng Peng cited The Athletic’s Rob Rossi reporting the Pittsburgh Penguins are confident that they’re the preferred destination of San Jose Sharks defenseman Erik Karlsson. “They have multiple plans for how to acquire him if/when the Sharks decide to make a move.”
Peng also cited Daily Faceoff’s Frank Seravalli telling Sportsnet 590 Toronto that “a number of teams” have spoken to Karlsson directly. He also didn’t mention any specific teams other than the Carolina Hurricanes.
The Penguins were reportedly very close to acquiring Karlsson on July 1. Whatever happened, that deal died later in the day.
PITTSBURGH HOCKEY NOW: Dave Molinari finds the interest in Karlsson by Penguins president of hockey operations Kyle Dubas to be “more than a little perplexing.”
Molinari points out the Penguins are already “reasonably solid” on the right side of their defense plus they’re already pressed for salary-cap space next season without taking on part of Karlsson’s $11.5 million salary-cap hit. Acquiring the Sharks defenseman would also sacrifice more of the Penguins’ organizational depth by draining an already shallow prospect pool.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s clear the Penguins intend to shore up the depth around aging stars Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang in the hope of staging one final run for the Stanley Cup with that group.
If Dubas can pull it off without sacrificing too much of his limited prospect depth it might work out for them. Nevertheless, I don’t see how the addition of Karlsson would provide this club with the type of depth necessary to stage another run for the Cup based on the current makeup of the Penguins roster.
Moving one or two current roster players as part of the return for Karlsson will still leave them with limited cap space and fewer tradeable assets to address other depth areas over the course of 2023-24.
LATEST ON KUZNETSOV
THE HOCKEY NEWS: Sammi Silber cited Capitals.com’s Mike Vogel seeming to hint that Evgeny Kuznetsov did request a trade last season. “Kuznetsov could hasten his exit with a strong start if he still desires a departure from the District,” wrote Vogel.
Reports of a trade request surfaced toward the end of last season. Kuznetsov didn’t comment directly about the rumors but did seem to deny them.
Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan attempted to move Kuznetsov at the 2023 NHL Draft but nothing materialized. There were talks with the Nashville Predators that would’ve reunited the winger with Barry Trotz but those discussions fell through. MacLellan indicated on July 2 that he would continue to monitor the trade market.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The decline in Kuznetsov’s performance last season combined with his $7.8 million average annual value through 2024-25 and 10-team no-trade list makes him a tough sell in a summer with a flattened salary cap.
WHAT’S THE HOLDUP IN THE DEANGELO TRADE?
It’s been nearly three weeks since reports emerged the two clubs had a trade in place with the Flyers retaining 50 percent of DeAngelo’s $5 million cap hit for 2023-24. However, it may have been held up because the CBA states that a team cannot reacquire a player whom they have retained salary from for a minimum of one year after the date of the transaction.
That prompted speculation the deal would be finalized on July 9, one year and a day after the Flyers had acquired DeAngelo from the Hurricanes.
Elvin wonders if the holdup might be tied to the Hurricanes’ rumored interest in San Jose Sharks defenseman Erik Karlsson. He speculates that might mean trading Brett Pesce to free up cap room to acquire Karlsson.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: This could drag on for a while if the Hurricanes are jockeying with the Penguins to land Karlsson. DeAngelo would complete the final year of his contract with the Flyers if their deal with the Hurricanes falls through. They could also attempt to find another club willing to take him off their hands for 50 percent of his salary.