NHL Rumor Mill – July 7, 2023
Are the Penguins still pursuing a trade for Erik Karlsson? Are the Red Wings and Islanders still interested in Alex DeBrincat? Are the Sharks interested in signing Vladimir Tarasenko and Matt Dumba? Find out in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.
PENGUINS STILL PURSUING KARLSSON?
THE ATHLETIC: Josh Yohe reports numerous sources tell him that Pittsburgh Penguins general manager Kyle Dubas remains intrigued by the thought of acquiring Erik Karlsson. He added that the Penguins are still involved in talks with the San Jose Sharks regarding the 33-year-old defenseman.
Yohe believes Karlsson would be a fine addition to the Penguins in their quest for one more Stanley Cup run with their aging core of Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang. Nevertheless, he acknowledged that the deal would be complex and would have to involve three teams given the amount of money involved.
NHL NETWORK: Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman said he believes it’s between the Penguins and Carolina Hurricanes regarding a potential Karlsson trade. He thinks it’s harder for Pittsburgh because Carolina has more salary-cap room.
Friedman feels the issue is trying to find the sweet spot between how much salary the Sharks retain and the trade that gets made. He believes it’s likely to happen at some point and thinks it’s between the Penguins and Hurricanes.
NHL.COM: Responding to a reader’s question about a possible deal moving Karlsson to the Penguins, Dan Rosen doubts that it’s going to happen. He believes there are too many hoops to jump through to make it work with the salary cap. Rosen also doesn’t think the Pens have sufficient assets to tempt the Sharks.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I have no doubt that Dubas is trying hard to land Karlsson. Like Rosen, however, I’m skeptical that he can pull it off. Even if the Sharks are willing to retain more than 20-30 percent of Karlsson’s $11.5 million annual cap hit through 2026-27, I don’t believe they have enough of the assets the rebuilding Sharks would want.
I’ve also learned to never say never in this business. Dubas has shown the ability to perform some impressive salary-cap gymnastics during his years with the Leafs. However, trying to make the money fit and finding the right assets in this case just doesn’t seem likely. As Friedman observed, the Hurricanes have more salary-cap space and quality assets to make a competitive bid.
ARE THE RED WINGS AND ISLANDERS STILL PURSUING DEBRINCAT?
NHL NETWORK: Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman said he’s heard that the Ottawa Senators and Detroit Red Wings have been actively working on a trade regarding restricted free agent Alex DeBrincat. The 25-year-old Senators winger is a Michigan native and wants to play for Detroit.
Friedman noted the Red Wings placing winger Filip Zadina on waivers for the purpose of terminating his contract. That would free up some cap space, giving the Wings more room to work on a new contract for DeBrincat. He thinks this deal isn’t that far away but the last hurdle is the toughest.
NHL.COM: Dan Rosen replied to a reader wondering when DeBrincat will become a New York Islander. He thinks the winger going to the Isles makes sense for all parties if they’re interested.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I think you’ll see DeBrincat traded to the Red Wings before you’ll see him join the Islanders. The Wings have the advantage in cap space and tradeable assets to tempt the Senators.
If a deal with the Wings isn’t possible, Wahlstrom might interest the Senators depending on what else is included in the return from the Islanders. Pageau, however, is not a fit in Ottawa with Tim Stutzle, Josh Norris and Shane Pinto centering their top-three lines and Claude Giroux capable of filling either spot if necessary.
The Islanders are squeezed for cap space. Ethan Sears of the New York Post believes they might not have a roster spot for Zach Parise (who’s mulling retirement) or Wahlstrom. They’ll have to move quite a lot of salary to make enough room for DeBrincat and his new contract.
SHARKS INTERESTED IN TARASENKO AND DUMBA?
NHL NETWORK: Elliotte Friedman also reported hearing the San Jose Sharks have an interest in unrestricted free agent Vladimir Tarasenko. While the 31-year-old winger was linked to the Nashville Predators and Ottawa Senators, Friedman doesn’t believe that Tarasenko has found the market he wants and that’s not likely to change.
SAN JOSE HOCKEY NOW: Sheng Peng cited Sharks GM Mike Grier saying he would be keeping an eye open to see if any bargains emerge in the free-agent market. He wonders if Tarasenko and Dumba are starting to enter bargain territory, suggesting it could be a win-win.
If the Sharks can trade Karlsson, it would free up cap room for the Sharks to sign Tarasenko and/or Dumba to short-term contracts. Those players would get the opportunity to rebuild their value, enabling the Sharks to flip them at the trade deadline for younger assets.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Peng is skeptical that the Sharks will sign Tarasenko and Dumba but doesn’t rule it out. Stranger things have happened.
Trading Karlsson would shake up what’s been a dull offseason for trades and free-agent moves. Perhaps it would lead to a rebuilding club with cap room signing someone like Tarasenko and Dumba.