NHL Rumor Mill – July 17, 2023

by | Jul 17, 2023 | Rumors | 21 comments

The latest on Erik Karlsson, three teams that should attempt to sign Evan Bouchard to an offer sheet, and three assets the Oilers could use to acquire Brett Pesce in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.


PITTSBURGH HOCKEY NOW: Dan Kingerski believes the stalemate in the Penguins’ efforts to acquire Erik Karlsson from the San Jose Sharks is less of an impasse and more of a bluff on the Sharks’ part. If Sharks general manager Mike Grier isn’t bluffing as he attempts to drive up the asking price on the 33-year-old defenseman, Kingerski believes he’ll buckle because the Sharks don’t have a strong position.

San Jose Sharks defenseman Erik Karlsson (NHL Images).

Acquiring Karlsson carries risks such as his injury history,  his age, upsetting team chemistry and decreased production. Kingerski believes the Penguins don’t need Karlsson and neither do the Carolina Hurricanes, the other club reportedly a front-runner for the blueliner.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: In other words, the Penguins and Hurricanes would like to acquire him but they aren’t going to sell the farm to get him. They can move on for 2023-24 without Karlsson on their respective rosters. The Sharks, on the other hand, have a greater need to move him and his hefty contract so they can start investing the freed-up cap space in rebuilding the roster.

With Karlsson under contract for four more years, the Sharks could attempt to wait a year or two in the hope of getting a better deal. However, Kingerski pointed out the Arizona Coyotes took the same position with Jakob Chychrun and wound up shipping him to Ottawa for less than the oft-quoted asking price of two first-round picks and a prospect or NHL player.

The Sharks are attempting to sell high with Karlsson, whose value will never be higher than it is right now. It will drop if he gets hurt or his production sags.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: These are good points by Kingerski. The bottom line is the Sharks are never going to get “equal value” for Karlsson despite his 101-point performance this season that earned him his third Norris Trophy as the NHL’s top defenseman. Grier is trying to generate a bidding war among the interested parties in the hope that they can get a return that is close to their best-case scenario.

Karlsson’s value remains high until his skates touch the ice for the Sharks’ opening game in 2023-24. That’s assuming he doesn’t suffer an injury in training camp or preseason play. The Sharks also don’t need questions about Karlsson’s future becoming an unwanted distraction during the coming season.

Grier knows this. He can stretch this situation throughout the summer but at some point, perhaps before training camp opens in September, I expect he’ll pull the trigger and accept the best offer.


THE SCORE: Josh Wegman considers Edmonton Oilers defenseman Evan Bouchard a prime target for an offer sheet. He’s due for a raise coming out of his entry-level contract but the Oilers have just $5.62 million in cap space for 2023-24 and center Ryan McLeod still to be re-signed.

Wegman believes the Oilers would be in a bind if a rival club offered Bouchard a five-year contract with an annual cap hit of $8.58 million. He suggested the Buffalo Sabres, Carolina Hurricanes and Seattle Kraken make the attempt.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I don’t see the Sabres, Hurricanes and Kraken going this route. Wegman acknowledged that this tactic is rarely used. He pointed out that general managers could be reluctant to part with the compensatory draft picks or overpaying on a short-term contract or wishing to avoid a retaliatory offer from another club down the road.

For an offer sheet to happen, the player must be open to signing with another club. There’s no indication that Bouchard is willing to consider that option. If he is, no one seems to be knocking down his door to do so. One has to think it would’ve happened by now.

The Sabres now have nine defensemen under NHL contract with their recent additions of Erik Johnson and Connor Clifton. They’re also negotiating lucrative long-term extensions for Rasmus Dahlin and Owen Power. I doubt they’re interested in adding another blueliner, especially one on an expensive deal via an offer sheet that could complicate efforts to re-sign Sandin and Power.

Meanwhile, the Hurricanes are reportedly quite interested in acquiring Erik Karlsson from San Jose. Should that fall through, they could go the offer-sheet route with Bouchard. However, I don’t think that’s something they want to entertain, especially after their tit-for-tat offer-sheet signing of Jesperi Kotkaniemi two years ago.

Kraken general manager Ron Francis has the cap space to make it happen but, as Wegman points out, a big chunk of it will be taken up re-sign blueliner Vince Dunn. Yes, they could free up room to pursue Bouchard if they wanted to, but why bother with that headache when less troublesome options could appear at some point?


THE HOCKEY NEWS: Michael DeRosa recently noted the rumor mill has linked the Edmonton Oilers to Brett Pesce. The Carolina Hurricanes are said to be open to moving the 28-year-old defenseman because of his expiring contract.

DeRosa looked at what it would cost the Oilers to acquire Pesce. He believes they would have to offer up their 2024 first-round pick, defenseman Cody Ceci and prospect Carter Savoie.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Hurricanes don’t seem in any hurry to move Pesce, though that could change if they need to clear cap space to acquire Erik Karlsson. Otherwise, they could likely find better offers for Pesce from other clubs.

Pesce also has a 15-team trade list. If the Oilers aren’t part of that group it won’t matter what they offer up.


  1. Lyle,

    I think you meant the Sabres are negotiating with Dahlin not Sandin.

    Was also curious as to how long I’ve been coming here? If I remember correctly, was there a banner mentioning something about the Pittsburgh Penguins and Yahoo Sports? Thanks.

  2. I feel that a team signing Evan Bouchard to a contract with an AAV of $8.58M for 5 years, as Josh Wegman suggests, are the ones that would soon be “in a bind”.

    • Exactly! Bouchard’s stats are only what they are because of McDavid and Draisaitl being on the ice at the same time as he is. Bouchard is a fine offensive D-man, but he will never achieve the same results without 2 of the greatest players in hockey today!

      • Other D failed to do it when I’m his place.

      • Ya, I’m with Jeff on Bouchard. He’s a very good young player.

        The Oilers PP has been historically good, so everyone who is on it benefits points wise.

        At even strength, where most of his points come from as he wasn’t on the 1st P unit until the deadline, he does not always play with McD and Drai. Look at where Barrie’s points came from and tell me Bouchard isn’t a better 5 on 5 player offensively. And he is also better defensively than Barrie, but that bar isn’t set that high.

        I also think he makes the Oilers PP better, and his coaches agree publicly, because he is a bigger threat when he shoots it than Barrie. If the PK collapses low to take away the seam pass, he will take that ice and burn you.

        Oilers have to bridge him unfortunately, as that is where they are at cap wise. Can’t predict the future, but I would think he will end up getting more $ long term than he would if they locked him up long term this off season.

        My guess is he has a big year this season.

      • The Oilers will do a 2 yr bridge deal with Bouchard
        They have $5.6.M in cap space to fill the roster out to 23 spots.
        Bouchard @$3.3. To $3.7M
        McLeod 1 yr @ $1.1M
        23rd spot a Tough Physical 4th line winger @ minimum $775,000….❓

  3. Lyle, Dahlin not Sandin 😉

    • Lol, it’s okay though, we all understand you must of have a busy weekend !

    • Fixed, thanks!

  4. I wouldn’t buckle if I was the sharks GM. Pittsburgh’s offer is reported to be Petry who co tract is 6.25 mil. And to retain 3-4.5 million. Draft picks and maybe an ok prospect.

    Why carry Perry’s cap and retain four 4 years Karlsson money.

    Karlsson is a better player his influence may beneficial in developing youth.

    It probably be better just to keep him
    And revisit the trade every year. It’s a rebuild layers are going to be coming and going it won’t be much of a distraction. Worry about the distraction aspect when you are in a position to win.

    • Joel Pengy.. Saw an articlhis morning that the Penguins Bruins are talking goalie..

      Apparently Jarrrys hip thing is more serious? Why dubas would sign him to a $5 million 5 year deal…

      Looking at swayman?
      Anybody know anything?
      Swayman terrific ullmark mentioned..

      Any truth to this?

      • Hi BnG

        Both Jarry and Pens said last week that it was not hip ; was his back; it was not chronic; and that he’s 100% healthy now

        Do Do Dubas already has two below average back ups on the roster… so at least one goes over in the deal….

        Hard to imagine Sway out and one of DeSmith or Nedelhkovic in for Bruins …. That’s a load of sweeteners needed

        Hard to believe that rumour

        Dubas also has (as at this moment) 9 D under 1-way NHL contracts

      • Nope

  5. Raanta, Drury and Pesce for Soup and Bouchard??

    Pros and cons?

    • Nobody out there wants “soup”. Big con.

    • Agree with Chrisms

      Soupy a no Sales… no Soup for you

      Canes already have 3 goalies

      Best move…. Buyout Soupy when window opens again…. $3.9 M; $3.5 M; $2.7 M then $2.4 M in savings with a small dead cap of $1.5 M for 4 years…. Not starting until 27/28 when Cap is in the stratosphere

      Canes have 3 goalies…. Have Holland make the call to Waddell to see what pick(s) it takes for Raanta ($1.5 M)…., net is $2.4 M ($3.9 M Cambell savings less Raanta’s $1.5)…. Thus giving Holland $8 M for Bouch and McLeod instead of the $5.6 M available now

  6. Re EK and Pens

    No ifs and or buts…. Healthy EK in; Petry out…. Big positive difference

    That said; weighing the bucket o’assets requested; and Grier not going to retain greater than 1/3rd (EK coming over at a min of $7.7 M for 4 more years)…, plan B is easier; less risky; noted, with less improvement at D; but greater potential at bottom 6 (especially 3C)

    Buyout Granlund; sign Dumba(now that media is suggesting in the $3M – $3.5 M range…. Pens net Cap space in move of $0.7 M – $1.2 M

    Retain 25% – 30% on Petry; get middle team to retain similar

    Final team (getting Petry @ 40%-50%) would pay a 2nd (to middle team); Pens also send 2nd (‘25) to middle team for retaining

    Pens get Future considerations

    Do similar with Rutta (Pens and middle team each retaining 25% to 30%)…. Middle team gets a 3rd from final team; and 3rd (‘26) from Pens

    Pens free up $6.3 – $6.8 M


    Friedman/P-O J

    But more importantly at least a total $7M freed up from above moves; and only assets given up are a 2nd in 25 and 3rd in 26

    Use the 1st and 2nd (already offered up in EK deal) and any one prospect NOT named P-O J; Pickering; Yaeger; Smith; Poulin to trade for a good 3C (preferably mid to late 20’s and NOT small)

    As at now …. Pens have 7 or so fair 4th liners; and no player that is strong for 3rd line

    Get a strong 3C; put Eller on wing; sign reasonable UFA 3rd line winger

    • Pengy, <>

      Learning from mistakes in T.O. ???
      Playoff contenders need depth on D.
      Unfortunately for Pittsburgh, quality is more important than quantity.

      • Hi HotG

        Re “Unfortunately for Pittsburgh, quality is more important than quantity.”

        Did you mean it the other way…. (9 …. quantity) but no superstar D (Tanger is good; but not a Hedman)?

        I think Dubas is trying to get to 46-48 minutes/game with either Tanger or EK on the ice

        That strategy is fair with Pettersson and Graves top 2 on LD…. don’t think they can combine for 48…. Maybe 21 each; P-O J in the 18 range; Friedman 10’ish-12’ish

        The trouble…. Stronger D (if EK stays healthy)…. But it rids futures and still a third line that doesn’t exist

        I don’t believe Pens can succeed with top two lines (that are pretty dang good but older) with two 4th lines and no player that can step in if either Sid or Gino (soon to be 36 and 37) go down

        3C is paramount; Granlund, even with a miraculous turnaround; is not a top 6 C replacement

        Dooby should nix the EK persuit; buyout Granlund; sign Dumba

        That alone improves the Cap situation; improves the D

        Then work on freeing up more cap (Petry and Rutta out) and bringing in a solid 3C

      • Pengy, I am saying that quality is more important; I will take my chances with 4 Bobby Orrs and 3 AHLers vs 9 pylons.

        Pittsburgh D is far better than 9 pylons, but nowhere close to 4 Bobby Orrs. Then again, most of the other teams need to improve on D as well.

        Expecting news from Tre this week; early next week at the latest. When is Samsonov’s hearing? I think it is the 24th. Toronto is already approx 10% over the cap, so must
        trade / buyout Murray,
        trade Samsonov.
        or trade other players
        as soon as settlement is reached or arbitrator makes his decision.

      • Hi HotG

        Agree fully; except….

        4 Bobby Orrs???

        There is but 1

        Hard to imagine even two

        For me …. the GOAT

        Your point is well taken…. If miraculously a team could somehow field the top 2 LDs and top 2 RDs in the entire league…. Each playing 27 mins/game…. Then an average goalie plus 2 AHL depth D and 13 4th liners should go a long way

        Knights had a very strong D….

        There have been better top twos for sure; and history has shown a few teams with similar or maybe better top two pairs…. But looking at the 6 as a whole…. When was there a team that had (as a whole) an equal 6???

        Re Tre…. Yep…, cap hell again

        Samso’s hearing is scheduled for 21/7…, then *Murray can be bought out

        Still a Cap issue though

        Leafs cannot keep all 4 for next year…. Re-up BOTH AM & WW… puts Leafs actually worse than now…. Now just shy of 1/2 Cap on 4 Fwds…. The combined raises would have top 4 Fwds (even after the projected $3M Cap increase)… in the 53%-55% range

        WW traded for D upgrade at lower Cap hit…, that’s a good solution

        I still say Krakken is the answer

        Either WW for Oleksiak straight up; or

        AM for Oleksiak; McC; Tanev

        *re Murray…. Once he’s bought out… hoping Pens sign him at 1 @ $1M; waive DeSmith and Nedeljkovic… hopefully one gets picked up…. Worst case…, neither do…. $2.4 M of their combined $3.3 M gets buried…. $900 K above…. Murray when healthy far far superior to those two…. The net effect is $1.9 M on a back up (more like 1V) instead of $3.3 M on two poor back-ups

        Two players go down (off roster); one new; so bring up Smith…. Nil roster size change

        Now even at a combined (Murray/Smith) almost $2.7 M ; still less than DeSmith/Nedjeljkovic $3.3 M; and team waaay better

        If Murray goes on LTIR…. $1 M comes off; and either DeSmith or Nedjelkovic come up…. $1.2 M that was buried

        That’s only s $200 K risk; with a huge upside…. Healthy Murray so very much better than either of those two

        And that risk only happens if Murray gets injured…. And he’d be effectively 1B or back up… so playing less games

        A Murray buyout; Pens sign Murray deal is a Win-Win-Win IMHO:

        Leafs free up $4 M Cap Space, go Samso/Woll

        Pens reasonably get a very good back up/1B

        Murray recoups $1 M of the $2.6 M he loses in the buyout ; with an opportunity to “show” himself for a much better contract next year