NHL Rumor Mill – August 17, 2023

by | Aug 17, 2023 | Rumors | 21 comments

Should the Predators pursue the Flames’ Noah Hanifin? Can the Avalanche afford Devon Toews? Who could be the odd man out on the Sabres blueline? Check out the latest in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.


THE HOCKEY NEWS: Ann Kimmel recently mused over whether the Nashville Predators should pursue Noah Hanifin.

Calgary Flames defenseman Noah Hanifin (NHL Images).

The 26-year-old defenseman is a year away from unrestricted free-agent eligibility and has informed the Calgary Flames that he’s not interested in a contract extension. The Predators, meanwhile, have blueliners like Dante Fabbro, Jeremy Lauzon and Alexandre Carrier facing “prove it” seasons approaching 2023-24.

With the Predators carrying almost $8 million in cap space, they’re among the few clubs that can afford to take on Hanifin’s $4.95 million cap hit for this season.

The addition of Hanifin would give the Predators a solid top-four left-shot defenseman. If he’s unwilling to re-sign with them, he could be peddled for assets at the trade deadline. However, general manager Barry Trotz could be hesitant about parting with any of his most appealing prospects without another season to fully evaluate them.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Trotz hasn’t been the Predators GM for long but he’s already shown a willingness for bold moves like signing Ryan O’Reilly, Gustav Nyquist and Luke Schenn as well as trading Ryan Johansen.

We don’t know if he’s eyeing Hanifin but the Flames blueliner could be a solid addition to the Predators. This might be something worth monitoring in the coming weeks with training camp approaching.


THE ATHLETIC: Peter Baugh believes Devon Toews will get a substantial raise on his next contract. The 29-year-old Colorado Avalanche defenseman is in the final season of a four-year deal with an average annual value of $4.1 million.

Baugh cites Evolving-Hockey projecting a contract extension for Toews with the Avalanche could be eight years with an AAV of just over $8 million. While the salary cap is projected to significantly rise over the next two seasons, the Avs must also re-sign Alexandar Georgiev, Mikko Rantanen and Bowen Byram in 2025.

The Avalanche tend to be careful over who they sign to long-term contracts, especially those who will be over 30 for most of the contract. Baugh believes they’ll face difficult decisions on who they can afford to keep.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Toews could prove difficult to replace if he departs as a free agent next summer. He usually pairs with Avs superstar Cale Makar on the top line.

I don’t expect the Avalanche to trade Toews this season as they’ll be pushing for Stanley Cup contention. If they do re-sign him, they’ll have to ship out someone else before the summer of 2025 to make room for those new contracts for Rantanen, Byram and Georgiev.


THE BUFFALO NEWS: Lance Lysowki noted the Sabres are carrying nine defensemen under NHL contracts for 2023-24. They won’t be able to carry them all and that could force GM Kevyn Adams to move one of them to create more salary-cap flexibility for the trade deadline later in the season.

Lysowski considers Jacob Bryson as the most likely to be moved. He carries a $1.85 million cap hit and might interest a non-contender seeking younger defensemen.

Ilya Lyubushkin’s physical style could interest clubs but he carries a $2.75 million cap hit. Riley Stillman and Henri Jokiharju could also become trade candidates.


  1. don’t see Hanifin wanting to sign a long term deal in Nashville, a team that is kind of rebuilding, and has Josi and McDonagh already on the left side. Doubt he’ll want to play on the right side in his walk year, and it’s rumoured he wants to go home and play for the Bruins. Preds would surrender more now than they would receive for him at the deadline, so it doesn’t make sense.

    • Mike

      Hope your right and he signs with Bruins next year. As 3 of our 4 LD are UFA. Also Hanafin would be an upgrade on them all. Slot with MCAvoy Perfect fit

      • Thinking that filling the center position is more important than new D.
        Debrusk, Swayman and Brett Harrison for Scheifele and Broissoit

      • JZ

        Bruins won’t be trading assets for a ctr this year. Pretty sure the plan is grab one as ufa next year with all their cap space.

  2. Let’s not forget that Trotz also bought out Matt Duchene. Bold indeed.

    • I’m almost as curious to see what Trotz builds in Nashville as I am with what Hughes is doing in Montreal.
      Based on the birth years of the players Hughes has now assembled, it looks like he’s targeted his window to seriously compete. He’s also brought in and drafted impact players who play an exciting game.
      This will make for entertaining hockey.
      Big win there.
      I believe Trotz will do the same. Bring a more exciting and entertaining brand of hockey to Nashville, through trades and the draft. There’s potential for a big win there if he’s patient and sticks to the plan.
      As an aside, players are taking note of how their peers are being treated in Montreal.
      Hughes is winning, and the game has barely started.

      • Disagree with your Habs take, they have some good prospects but by no means are they an exciting team. I see a team still in rebuild mode not a team ready to compete. There defense is a joke only a bit better than my Flyers, so not sure how they will compete for the playoffs when ther is still so many hole to fill.

      • I’m not irritated by your comments about the Habs, ds, as they are certainly in the early stages of a rebuild. They will be competitive but no, not for the Cup.

        Semantics aside, you might want to re consider their d. They have a plethora of young d who have proven they can play in the NHL, (particularly Guhle and Xhekaj), a couple of solid vets in Matheson and Savard, and a couple of D from Laval who are on the rise.

        If you count goalies as part of your assessment of the D, Montembeault is blossoming and Allen remains a reliable backup.

        Tampa, Toronto, Carolina, Florida, and NJ will all make the playoffs, and Buffalo and the Rangers are teams that make the East a highly competitive conference. I have no idea what SOP’s Bruins are going to do, as they have lost some key players and surely won’t enjoy the same success as last year.

        I don’t know anything about your Flyers and I won’t put money on the Habs making the playoffs, but I do rate their d as good, young, and emerging. Sell them short at your peril, were you to play against them.

      • Sorry, that should be mp, not ds. Still working on my first coffee.

      • Thats a fair take, mp, however they’re not ready for the playoffs. He’s still building it.
        They have some really good pieces on the back end. They just need development.
        Guhle is money. Lane Hutson just might be the most talented rear guard I’ve seen in some time.
        Engstrom has it all as well. I’d coud break down their entire prospect pool, but I’ve already made myself sick with admiration this week alone.

      • Perhaps SOP it is time to complete your spiritual journey to becoming a Habs fan. Yes, Bruin fans will need an exorcism and a nice bath in holy water, but we will welcome you.

        Your next step is to change your posting name to HarveyRobinsonSavard. A bright new world awaits!

      • While appreciate the attempt at humor LJ it is on the dark side.

        Agree with the take on Hughes, I would also include Gorton. I also agree that they still have a few 2-3 years to compete for a playoff spot. Young players, especially D make mistakes and it takes a while.

        Rebuilds almost always take longer than fans hope (7 years on average). And in my case with the Habs, it will never take long enough.

      • I was going to keep this going, Ray, but …

        What do you make of your Bs this coming year, albeit that this is August? I thought they pulled out of a seeming death spiral from last year when Bergeron might have retired, Marchant supposedly injured for part of the season, and the uncertainty of the now retired Krejci. This year, no Bergy, Hall, no Orlov, so more uncertainty again.

      • I have no idea LJ, but I can’t see them being nearly as good as last year, which was record setting.

        But, when you are that good defensively as a team, with really good goaltending, you should win some games.

        But they have less offense and way less depth, so if they get similar injury problems, and they will get some, they will likely struggle.

        Too many good players to rebuild, so they have to give it a go and see what happens. Hopefully it goes well and they make the playoffs. If it doesn’t, time to get some draft pick/young prospects.

        If Lindholm gets to UFA, take a run at him this summer, if they feel they can compete again.

        Pretty sure guys like McAvoy, Pasta etc don’t want to throw in the towel on the now for the future. Should be interesting!

  3. Is Calgary becoming like Winnipeg … no one wants to sign/resign there? At the top of the list for NMC contracts … ?

    • Majority of the problem was Sutter and his old school approach that didn’t sit well with a lot of the younger players. He wanted grinding corner play and Flames aren’t built that way with the talent they have.

      Smart coach would’ve realized what the players strengths and weaknesses are and made a game plan around his players strengths.

      • mp, in Lucic’s post season interview with the Flames, and after he had signed with the Bruins, he rated Sutter as one of the smartest coaches he had played for. His style worked the first year he was back with Calgary with Gaudreau who had his best season under Sutter, and Johnny H is hardly a grinder.

        What I keep reading, even from his days with LA, is that his issue is communication; specifically he can too often be caustic and demanding. That’s not a generational issue.

  4. They better be able to afford Toews, he’s the best defenseman on the team! Makar, as great as he is still needs to improve in his own end and his decision making with the puck needs to improve. GO AVS!!!!

  5. I’m sorry. Devon Toews? Former Islander? 8×8 isn’t happening. I’d be surprised if he gets 6m from someone.

    • Obviously, you don’t watch Avalanche games!

  6. Will the Habs make the playoffs this year? doubtful but possible if they clean up the injuries.

    As a longtime follower who witnessed more Stanley Cups than is fair I find this young team exiting to watch. They are in it ti the last whistle, have a young core that stands toe to toe with other teams.

    Montreal s not a forgiving city and missing the playoffs 6/7 years in a row is a ticket out the door for coaches and management,

    A number of years ago you couldn’t give a ticket away because the team wasn’t competitive and lacked effort, that isn’t the case today.

    HuGo are clearly following a plan and an appreciative fan base is behind them and enjoying the product on the ice.

    I see them setting up a cohesive core growing together and cap management that will go after big guns when the time is right if needed.

    I’m encouraged by the kids in the pipeline with a number of dark horses mentioned in the past.