NHL Rumor Mill – August 28, 2023

by | Aug 28, 2023 | Rumors | 26 comments

A look at questions facing some Atlantic Division teams entering 2023-24 in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.

SPORTSNET: Ryan Dixon recently looked at big questions facing Atlantic Division teams as they approach the coming season.

Winnipeg Jets center Mark Scheifele (NHL Images).

Among the noteworthy questions was whether Pavel Zacha would become the Boston Bruins’ first-line center at the start of training camp. Their depth at the center position suffered a significant blow with the recent retirements of Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci.

The Bruins possess enough overall roster talent to be fighting hard for a playoff berth this season. Nevertheless, if general manager Don Sweeney can swing a trade for someone like Winnipeg Jets center Mark Scheifele, the Bruins could be in the thick of the postseason race.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Scheifele and Calgary Flames center Elias Lindholm have frequently surfaced as possible Bruins trade targets. That’s because of their eligibility for unrestricted free-agent status next July.

The Bruins, however, lack depth in suitable trade assets. Unless they’re the only ones pursuing Scheifele and Lindholm if one or both become available in the trade market. I doubt Sweeney will win a bidding war for either guy this season.

Dixon pondered whether the Buffalo Sabres could acquire Calgary’s Noah Hanifin or another top-four defenseman like Carolina’s Brett Pesce. They’ve been linked to every defenseman in the rumor mill and would no doubt want to sign whoever they pursue to a long-term contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I still say goaltending is the biggest issue facing the Sabres but it appears they’re willing to start the season with Devon Levi, Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen and Eric Comrie. Bolstering the blueline in front of their inexperienced netminders would be a sensible option.

Hanifin or Pesce won’t come cheaply. Both are slated to become UFAs next summer and their current clubs will set a high price in the trade market. They might not become available until the weeks leading up to the March trade deadline. By that point, the Sabres’ roster needs could change.

Dixon also mused over whether the Montreal Canadiens can find a new home for recently acquired goalie Casey DeSmith. The Canadiens already have a crowded crease with Jake Allen, Sam Montembeault and Cayden Primeau. DeSmith, 32, has a year left on his contract at an affordable $1.8 million and might tempt a club in need of goaltending depth.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Canadiens GM Kent Hughes has indicated he could trade DeSmith or make other changes. Either way, Hughes assured him that he wouldn’t be heading to the minors.

The “other changes” could be peddling Primeau or Allen. Montembeault received assurances from Hughes that he was not going anywhere.


  1. It seems Boston needs Scheifele and Buffalo needs Hellybuyck. Jets need to get a center from Buffalo (Kulich) and a goalie from Boston (Swayman) plus serviceable NHL players (Frederic,Carlo, Krebs) and this all gets done. If it doesn’t happen soon, they are TDL moves if not resigned.

    • So. Swayman. Frederick and Carlo. For Scheifele Never happening

      • Jets can add a defenceman, Heinola or Stanley. We are talking a 1C here.

      • Not even if Carlo would waive his M-NTC, and The Flames still roll they’re eye’s.

      • Your talking a number 1 center that can walk after one year.

      • A1C and young defenceman for a backup goalie, a 3C and a depth defenceman. I’m sure they could get assurance he would resign or do a sign and trade.

        Personally I think the Jets can resign both players.

      • A #1 C with a year left.
        Is 30
        Worst minus on the team (2 years in a row) that had a positive goal differential. And 60% of zone starts are in the OZ.

        No thanks.

        Pending UFA on the wrong side of 30, who, as a C, seems to not give defending the proper amount of attention. So not only is he not worth giving up good assets, he likely won’t be worth what and how long he signs for.

        You get him on the cheap, or you move on IMO.

      • Big assumption tripper. If so how much for how long? That will determine his value.

      • I think Both Top Centres available in 2024…
        Will Test the UFA Market .. unless they get to go where they want to🤔❓

        Calgary Flames center Elias Lindholm
        Winnipeg Jets center Mark Scheifele,
        One will end up in Boston, as that there weak link area

        and Calgary’s Noah Hanifin will end up going Home to Boston as a UFA….100%…….⁉️

    • Wishful thinking. Kulich plays wing and is untouchable along with Benson and Savoie. Ostlund and a 2nd at most.

    • Boston needs to start rebuilding now. Don’t make the mistake the Red Wings made by hanging on to Zberg and Datsyuk too long. Thank goodness for Stevie Y or we’d still be years away from even thinking about playoffs.
      Even with a major trade , like Detroit you go out in the first round, just to keep the playoff streak going.

  2. Unless Primeau puts up an otherworldly preseason performance, he’ll likely be sent to the AHL. Maybe he clears waivers, maybe he doesn’t. Monty is going nowhere. That leaves either Allen or DeSmith as the odd goalie out. Given that Allen has two years left at $3.85m. AAV while DeSmith has one year at less than half that, it’s easy to see that the latter is tradable and the former is not. If Hughes can’t find a trade partner for DeSmith and won’t send him down, the Habs May be carrying three goalies.

    • In Pittsburgh it was generally understood trading desmith would require a sweetener. So there’s that.

  3. Not a terrible predicament to be in, and DeSmith isn’t that expensive. Pittsburgh fans did refer to him as DeShit, so that’s not very positive. None of them have no-moves so conceivably you could send Allen to the minors and see if he gets claimed or even DeSmith if you can’t find a trade partner. Sucks giving them away for free but if you’re paying them and not playing them. Why not?

    I agree with the assessment of the Bruins center ice issue. They simply lack the trade chips to acquire a decent center. Even if the Bruins agreed to include DeBrusk in a trade you’re strengthening one area while weakening another. With 8 potential centers on the minor league roster I wonder if they’re just hoping someone breaks out? Realistically if I was Bruins management I’d be looking at Pageau–and asking for salary to be retained, or maybe seeing if you can fix Logan Brown, Tampa probably lets you have him for future considerations. Maybe the Bruins culture and work ethic finally turns the light bulb on for a kid with all kinds of size and talent.

  4. If Pasta’s production stays the same with Zacha without Krejci that would be a major plus

  5. Casey DeSmith would cost less than Jake Allen, who was very average when Not injured Last year. I would try to Trade Allen or Primeau and givre à try to DeSmith.

    • DeSmith is 32, and while his stats are decent he is a career back up goalie. His value can be ascertained by the fact that the Pens traded him and have gone with Nedeljkovic – whose cap hit is about the same – as their back up. Not a keeper for the Habs.

      Though DeSmith is an affordable option, note although it is August that the Habs have not been able to move him. So the market is not bidding on DeSmith.

      Allen is proven if not great, but his cap hit of 3.8 million for 2 years at his age makes him the hardest of all 4 to move.

      Hughes has spoken on Montembeault. Primeau has yet to prove his an NHL goalie, but at 24 and with a cap hit at $700,000 less, I just don’t see the Habs trading him to keep DeSmith.

  6. Give a try

  7. Sweeney isn’t trading for a center.

    Zacha, Coyle, Geekie, Frederick, Boqvist will make up Boston C to start the season.

    If Boston can tread water the position will hold.

    The risk of waiting is the players get traded and sign with another team.

    Pastrnak, Marchand, Debrusk are all going to score, doesn’t matter who is playing C

    Quick note Zacha and Coyle provided Boston was a 3 – 1 lead over Florida, small sample but it’s been done.

  8. In my opinion, the Bruins are in the same position today they were going into 2010-11 season. Savard was injured and out. Same questions arose. Can Krecji and Bergeron be C1-C2? I think Coyle and Zacha will be just fine. You still have 4 wingers that can bury the pack in Pasta, Marchy, JVR and DeBrusk. However, if the Bruins do pee down their leg this season, trade deBrusk, Lindmark, JVR, and anyone else and restock your draft picks and prospects

  9. The issue for the Habs is whether Montembeault can step up to the role of a true #1. His attitude, nerve and steady progression leads me to believe this will be his breakout year.

    DeSmith and Allen are both good goalies when backstopping 20-30 games.
    DeSmith is affordable with better numbers, Allen is more expensive with lesser numbers but a well liked mentor in the room.

    Once a goalie goes down somewhere,and they always do, Hughes can make the move., until then enjoy the luxury.

    Training camp and pre-season games will shed some light.

    • i had the feeling last year that Allen was always giving one or two bad goals at the start of the game and then was ok for the rest of the night. Hard for the team to always try to come back with a so-so offense.

  10. Re; Devon Levi
    The Kid is only 21 yrs old…..

    I think they will give him 1 full year in the minors
    and see where he is at next season, im sure he will get a couple of NHL game in pre season🤔

    if they Rush him they will waste him like a number of other goaltenders ….⁉️

    Buffalo like Ottawa have a Young team thats still developing… there is no rush to through there young goaltenders to the Lions right now so to speak😳

  11. bourquecharamccvoy, in 2010-11, Bergeron had already had a 73, 70 and 52 point season and Krejci had a 73 and 52 point season. You can’t really compare that to Zacha and Coyle, especially Coyle who is 31 and has had 1 season in the 50’s and that was 6 years ago. At least Zacha is only 26 and he potentially had a breakout season last year, considering he has played 7 seasons and never had more than 36 points. I know Boston’s hands are tied, but I really think they need someone other than Coyle as one of the top two centre’s.

  12. Coyle and Zacha carrying the mail is wishful thinking
    Agree to tread lightly with Schefiele .
    Lindholm a much safer bet. If he is available . We know Hanifin is.

  13. I’m at a loss to understand all the Hanifin to Buffalo talk.
    Buffalo already has Rasmus Dahlin, Owen Power and Mattais Samuelsson on the Left side of their defense.
    Hanifin is a LHD!
    Where does he fit?
    He will not supplant Dahlin or Power and would take needed playing time away from Samuelsson unless Samuelsson is part of the trade.
    Buffalo’s greatest need on defense is an upgrade at RHD.
    Pesce would be a far superior addition to Buffal’s defense.