NHL Rumor Mill – August 21, 2023
A look at some of this season’s notable trade targets in the NHL Rumor Mill.
THE ATHLETIC: Toronto Maple Leafs winger William Nylander and Winnipeg Jets goaltender Connor Hellebuyck are the biggest names atop Shayna Goldman’s recent list of this season’s biggest NHL trade targets.
Goldman noted the Leafs probably don’t want to trade Nylander but that could change if they’re unable to reach an agreement on a contract extension. That would create the risk of losing the 27-year-old winger to free agency next summer.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: There was an assumption in the Toronto media earlier this summer that the Leafs could trade Nylander rather than risk losing him for nothing next summer. However, the consensus now seems to be they’ll keep him this season as they pursue that elusive Stanley Cup and deal with the contract situation after that.
Hellebuyck, meanwhile, doesn’t want to be part of a rebuild if that’s the direction the Jets are going. Like Nylander and most on this list, the 30-year-old netminder is slated to become a UFA next summer. He will likely seek a significant raise. Hellebuyck could be moved before the start of the season but most likely it will happen closer to the trade deadline if a deal materializes.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Word out of Winnipeg is the summer goalie market has dried up which explains why Hellebuyck hasn’t been moved. The Jets could hang onto him for the season if they’re in the thick of the playoff standings but could likely peddle him if not for the right offer.
The Jets also face a similar situation with Mark Scheifele. A handful of clubs in need of depth at center, like the Boston Bruins and Minnesota Wild, could be suitors if the 30-year-old center ends up on the trade block.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Wild have more projected trade deadline cap space ($7.6 million) than the Bruins ($1.99 million) as well as more promising young players in their system. They would be better positioned to pursue Scheifele if they choose.
Goldman believes whatever happens with Hellebucyk could affect Anaheim Ducks goaltender John Gibson. He comes with cost certainty as he’s signed through 2026-27 with an annual cap hit of $6.4 million. Gibson’s stats have suffered in recent years but that could be due to backstopping the rebuilding Ducks.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: There’s been nothing new about Gibson’s status since his agent denied an early July report claiming the 30-year-old goalie demanded a trade.
The Carolina Hurricanes could trade Brett Pesce or Brady Skjei if contract extensions aren’t in place for either player by the start of the season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Hurricanes still need more scoring depth, preferably at center. Perhaps Pesce or Skjei become trade bait to address that need.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: If those teams are turning to Hanifin they apparently aren’t making any suitable offers yet to the Flames. It’s believed they’ve set their price for the blueliner and will stick with it even if it means starting the season with him in the lineup.
Speaking of the Flames, Elias Lindholm would probably become their best trade chip if he decides not to sign a contract extension.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Lindholm and the Flames have reportedly discussed a contract extension. No word on whether they’re close to a deal. Perhaps we’ll learn more once the calendar flips to September and training camp approaches.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Recent word out of Arizona suggests the Coyotes have changed their focus from shedding expensive contracts to improving year by year. They’re also reluctant to move Schmaltz because of his chemistry with leading scorer Clayton Keller.
Other possible trade targets include Coyotes winger Jason Zucker, Nashville Predators defenseman Tyson Barrie, San Jose Sharks forward Alexander Barabanov, Philadelphia Flyers forwards Travis Konecny and Scott Laughton, Florida Panthers forwards Sam Bennett and Sam Reinhart, and a St. Louis Blues defenseman.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Zucker, Barrie and Reinhart are pending UFAs. If their clubs are out of playoff contention they could hit the trade block.
Goldman noted the difficulty in moving one of the Blues’ top-four defensemen given they’ve all got full no-trade clauses. Torey Krug reportedly declined to waive his clause earlier this summer to go to the Flyers.
Konecny and Laughton seem like a wait-and-see scenario. Flyers management could prefer observing how this season pans out to determine if those two have a place in the club’s future plans. Those players could also need time to see if they want to be part of a rebuild and how long it might take.