NHL Rumor Mill – July 24, 2023
Are the Jets any closer to trading Connor Hellebuyck and Mark Scheifele? Could the Panthers sign Vladimir Tarasenko? Could Casey DeSmith become the odd goalie out with the Penguins? Find out in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.
LATEST ON HELLEBUYCK AND SCHEIFELE
WINNIPEG SUN: Scott Billeck wondered if goaltender Connor Hellebuyck and center Mark Scheifele will be in the Jets lineup when the 2023-24 regular season opens in October. Both are slated to become unrestricted free agents next summer with Hellebuyck reportedly unwilling to sign a contract extension and Scheifele uncertain to do the same.
Hellebucyk and Scheifele have been fixtures in this summer’s trade rumor mill. However, the market has dried up, especially for Hellebuyck. The flattened salary cap for 2023-24 hasn’t helped matters. Hellebuyck also reportedly seeks $9.5 million annually on his next contract.
Billeck reports the Jets have spoken with Hellebuyck and Scheifele to see if the club’s offseason moves have changed their minds. For now, it appears both will be starting the season with the Jets unless a trade offer surfaces that makes sense.
According to Billeck, it’s possible the Boston Bruins could enter the picture regarding Scheifele at some point. However, they could have their eyes on Calgary Flames center Elias Lindholm, who’s also a year away from UFA eligibility and reluctant to ink an extension.
A team or two could be in need of a goaltending upgrade by December. Scheifele could also be a solid trade deadline addition, perhaps sooner if injuries start piling up.
THE ATHLETIC: Murat Ates wouldn’t be surprised if Hellebuyck and Scheifele are in the Jets lineup for opening night. He also wouldn’t be shocked if the Jets were working on ways to keep both players beyond this season.
If Scheifele gets traded he could fetch a first-round pick, a second-rounder and a young roster player with top-six upside. Fixing a price for Hellebuyck is harder because there aren’t any realistic comparable trades plus the lack of contract extensions muddies the waters in both cases.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s been a while since we’ve heard or read anything about Hellebuyck and Scheifele in the rumor mill. It was expected one or both would be traded by now. However, the reasons cited by Billeck and Ates suggest there isn’t much of a market for either player right now.
Few teams have the cap space to take on Hellebuyck’s $6.166 cap hit or Scheifele’s $6.125 million for 2023-24. The Jets don’t seem keen to retain any portion of their salaries.
The Jets, however, have time on their side. They can hang onto Hellebuyck and Scheifele to start the season and wait for the trade market to pick up, especially in the latter half of the season when teams jockeying for playoff berths are looking to boost their rosters.
COULD THE PANTHERS PURSUE TARASENKO?
To make it work, the 31-year-old Tarasenko would have to join the Panthers at a bargain price. The Panthers are bumping up against the $83.5 million cap. They’ll get some relief with defensemen Brandon Montour and Aaron Ekblad expected to start the season on LTIR but must be cap compliant when they’re ready to return to action.
Richards noted that recent reports indicate Tarasenko rejected offers worth between $5.5 million and $6 million which would put the Panthers out of the running. However, he wondered if Tarasenko would accept a $4 million contract for this season with the knowledge that he could get more money when the cap goes up next season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Things have also gone quiet regarding Tarasenko since he fired his agent earlier this month. He might have to consider a scenario like Richards’ if he doesn’t find any better offers or if those that he rejected are off the table.
It seems unlikely the Panthers would be in the bidding under that scenario given their limited cap space. Still, we can’t fully dismiss the possibility.
DESMITH THE ODD GOALIE OUT IN PITTSBURGH?
Tristan Jarry is back as their starter having signed a five-year deal earlier this month. They’ve also added Alex Nedeljkovic and Magnus Hellberg on NHL deals as well as Garret Sparks to their AHL affiliate.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Penguins could use their second buyout window to ditch one of their goalie contracts once Drew O’Connor’s arbitration has been settled. They could also include one of those netminders as part of a package to acquire Erik Karlsson from the San Jose Sharks. Failing that, perhaps they could trade one of them to another club.