NHL Rumor Mill – August 29, 2023
A look at questions facing several Pacific Division teams in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.
SPORTSNET: Ryan Dixon recently looked at the biggest question facing each team in the Pacific Division.
Among them was whether the Calgary Flames would make any major trades before training camp opens later next month. The expectation is defenseman Noah Hanifin will be dealt at some point. There’s less certainty about center Elias Lindholm but it wouldn’t be a shock if the Flames moved him before summer ends.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hanifin, Lindholm and center Mikael Backlund are slated to become unrestricted free agents next summer.
Hanifin has reportedly informed Flames management that he intends to test next summer’s UFA market. There are reports the Flames and Lindholm’s camp are discussing an extension but no word as to whether progress has been made. A new contract for Lindholm could lead to one for Backlund.
Dixon wondered if the Los Angeles Kings might pursue another goaltender. He suspects that move might come during the season if the current tandem of Pheonix Copley and Cam Talbot aren’t up to snuff. Dixon isn’t sure if they could land Winnipeg’s Connor Hellebuyck, in part because it would take some salary-cap gymnastics by the Kings to pull it off.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I agree with this assessment. Kings general manager Rob Blake could be forced into the trade market if Copley and Talbot can’t get the job done.
The Kings have plenty of promising young players to draw on for trade bait and a recent trade history with the Jets. However, Blake could ask the Jets to retain half of Hellebuyck’s $6.166 million salary-cap hit to facilitate a trade or try to swing a three-team deal to spread it around.
Duclair, 28, could be part of the Sharks’ future but the others are over 30 and probably won’t figure into their long-range plans.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Of that group, Duclair has the best trade value and would fetch the biggest return. That will depend on whether he wants to re-sign with the rebuilding Sharks or test next summer’s free-agent market. If it’s the latter, he’ll be used as a bargaining chip near the March trade deadline by the Sharks.
Dixon also took note of Elias Pettersson putting contract extension talks on hold with the Vancouver Canucks to focus on preparing for the coming season. He wondered if Pettersson might change his mind once he’s back in North America.
Dixon also wondered if frequent trade-rumor subject Brock Boeser gets moved before training camp begins.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Pettersson’s remarks prompted at least one pundit to suggest the club he covers at least look into whether a trade can be done for the 24-year-old center. Considering his value to the retooling Canucks, I doubt it.
Pettersson is a restricted free agent with arbitration rights next summer. If a new contract isn’t agreed to by then, the Canucks are under no pressure to move him as they’ll still retain his rights.
As for Boeser, he made it clear at the end of last season that he wants to stay with the Canucks. There’s no indication they intend to move him. That could change over the course of the season but for now, I expect him to be part of their roster when the schedule begins in October.