NHL Rumor Mill – August 5, 2023

by | Aug 5, 2023 | Rumors | 27 comments

Is it possible for the Sharks to terminate Erik Karlsson’s contract? What’s the latest on the Bruins? Find out in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.


NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: Sheng Peng wondered if it would be feasible for the San Jose Sharks and Erik Karlsson to mutually terminate his contract. With an $11.5 million average annual value over the next four seasons, it is difficult for interested clubs to acquire the 33-year-old with the salary cap flattened for 2023-24.

Under that scenario, the Sharks would be completely off the hook from Karlsson’s contract. Meanwhile, the three-time Norris Trophy winner would become an unrestricted free agent and able to pick wherever he wants to play.

San Jose Sharks defenseman Erik Karlsson (NHL Images).

Peng acknowledged it sounds ludicrous that Karlsson would walk away from the remainder of his current contract. Even if he did, he wouldn’t accept a cut in pay. However, Peng pointed out that Karlsson’s contract is front-loaded, meaning he’s already received the bulk of his $92 million contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Peng admits this is a wild hypothetical. He spoke with two agents about it who considered it possible but also unlikely.

Sure, it’s possible. However, I don’t believe the Sharks are entertaining that notion nor do I believe Karlsson would agree to it.

The Sharks are trying to trade Karlsson. They’re reportedly willing to retain part of his average annual value to make it happen though they’re said to be unwilling to go too far past 20 percent.

There is some speculation suggesting the Pittsburgh Penguins might attempt to finalize a trade for Karlsson should they use their current 48-hour buyout window to shed a contract. That would make it possible to acquire the blueliner and remain cap compliant.

We’ll find out by Sunday evening if that’s the case.


THE ATHLETIC: In his latest mailbag segment, Fluto Shinzawa was asked where the Boston Bruins can find a suitable replacement for retired captain Patrice Bergeron. He believes it’ll be up to Charlie Coyle and Pavel Zacha for the time being or maybe Matthew Poitras becomes a top-two center.

One reader took note of the rumors linking the Bruins to Elias Lindholm. However, Shinzawa points to a lack of a 2024 first-round pick, the shallowness of their prospect pool and limited salary-cap space hampers any efforts to pry the 28-year-old center away from the Calgary Flames. However, he believes Lindholm would be high on the Bruins’ list if he becomes an unrestricted free agent next summer.

Asked why the Bruins kept their goaltending tandem of Linus Ullmark and Jeremy Swayman, Shinzawa said they believe it will be their position of strength to remain competitive this season. Regarding the possibility of trading Brad Marchand, he also sees that move as making the Bruins less competitive this season.

Shinzawa doesn’t believe a full roster rebuild is imminent. He points to their two high-end goalies in Linus Ullmark and Jeremy Swayman plus foundational players such as David Pastrnak, Charlie McAvoy and Hampus Lindholm.

Asked about whether Jake DeBrusk will be re-signed or traded, Shinzawa suggests that could depend on the club’s performance this season. He thinks it would be hard to see DeBrusk getting moved if they’re in playoff contention by the trade deadline.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Bruins could surprise us by making a dollar-in, dollar-out deal to boost their depth at center. However, based on the factors cited by Shinzawa, it seems likely that their current roster is the one we’ll see from them on opening night in October.

We won’t see the same level of dominance from the Bruins this season that we saw in 2022-23. They should remain a competitive playoff contender if their core players remain healthy this season. Management will probably look toward next summer to bolster their roster when they have more cap space to work with.


  1. I had no idea you can mutually agree to terminate a contract. That’s seems like something teams can agree to before they sign the contract. Agree to a massive front loaded contract, then when the team is no longer competitive, terminate the contract. These front loaded contracts don’t seem right if that’s ends up happening, and I do realize the teams are agreeing to it.

    • Mutualy agree to terminate a contract doesn’t mean the contract cap hit disappears from the team cap hit. New Jersey terminated Kovalchuck contract after he decided to leave for the KHL in 2013 and is contract still appears on the team cap hit.

      • Pat

        The 250k for Kovy is a recapture penalty applied by nhl for contract set up to circumvent the cap. His cap hit is not on the books
        Just like Zambia contract in not on wings books

  2. No way he leaves 39 million dollars on the table

    • Bruin, EK was paid a $1 million bonus last month. So, he is now owed $38 million over 4 years. That’s $9.5 million per season. As you stated, there is no reason to believe he would he accept less.

      San Jose is reportedly willing to retain at least 20% of the $11.5 million cap hit, lowering it to a max $9.2 M. The sharks have been unable to work a deal at that figure, with the actual cash being only $7.6 M per year (80% x 9.5).

      Little incentive for San Jose to terminate the deal as well. 25% retention would cost them $9.5 million cash over 4 years ($2.375 per year) ans stock the cupboard with a combo of picks, prospects, and serviceable players.

      • Hi HoG

        “Little incentive” is subjective”

        If current media speculation is correct, the deal expected is:

        39% retained ($4.5 M in Cap)…. That’s a total of $14.8 M (39% of $38 M still owed)

        For that Grier is to get a 1st (top 5 protected); a 2nd (that could become a 1st if Pens get to SCF in either ‘24 or ‘25 AND EK plays in at least 50% of playoff games); and Poulin

        Basically Grier is effectively “buying” a likely 20th-25th pick; and a 52nd to 56th pick and Poulin for almost $15 M

        From a business standpoint…. It just may be more prudent to walk away from EK and save $38 M

        EK will still get $38 M but choose his team…..

        Right now still owed

        This year…$10.5 M Sal
        Next year …. $1M SB, $10 M sal
        25/26, $5 M SB, $4M sal
        26/27…. $6 M SB, $1.5 M Sal

        A smart team could go 5 years…. Same totals as above in each of those 4 years but

        23/24 $6 M SB; $5M Sal instead of $1 M SB; $11 M Sal

        And add a 5th year at $1 M SB; $1 M Sal

        That’s an $8 M Cap hit…. No assets given up

      • Here’s an incentive for Grier

        Give him the same trade assets for $14 M…..

        If he lets Dooby agree to terms in 5 year with EK as above; and allows EK to walk

        Then Dooby will give Grier

        The First (top 5 protected)
        2nd that can become a first

        For Couture (50% retained…. Which is $14 M cash)

        Grier rids $52 M in future commitments (EK and Couture) and gets at least 1 1st; maybe two; two prospects, and Accairi

        Pens separately give up a 2nd and a 3rd to move Petry; and buyout Granlund

        Granlund; Petry; Accairi $12.45 M out)


        EK; Couture; league min player ($12.75 M in)

      • At this point, SJ and EK parting ways seems inevitable. Sharks already retaining $ on Burns deal for next 2 seasons. Might be worth it to just terminate and get rid of whole cap hit. Karlsson has full nmc and there’s probably no teams that could fit him that he’d agree to go to. Extra cap space can be used at deadline to retain salary on pending ufa rentals in 3 team trades. Can do a deal with Pitt for Rutta and pick up a pick. Pitt will buy out Granland and Guentzel will start season on LTIR. If they can get Petry to agree on a trade they’re all set. Sign Karlsson 8M x 6

    • What if he does and Dubas signs him to a $40m contract? If I was him and I knew I could recoup most if not more than what was still owed in dollars with whomever I sign with after the termination of the current contract, I would be mutually agreeable to terminate it. I’ll be getting my cake and eating it too.
      I think this would be cap circumventing but if there’s nothing in the current CBA regarding this… I don’t remember but didnt Vancouver and Lou terminate that horrible contract of his and then he signed in FLA?

    • Then he can shut up about “playing for a winner” . Disgusted by these buys who sign big money and complain but won’t give it up to go to a “winner”.. I remember Shanahan did it..lost respect for him the he went to Detroit and was given the cup.

  3. Zambia is Zadina. Lol

    • Hi MB4

      Zadina was Northern Rhodesia ?


      Not a fan of the autocorrect feature…. Oft gets me in trouble (along with my weak eyes and single fat finger typing) with texts

  4. I don’t care what position Boston is in at the tdl; if Debrusk, Grzelcyk and Forbort are still on the roster and not signed, they need to moved.

    Boston has about 5 solid prospects and need to stock the cupboards.

    • I agree. Especially with Jake. Not signed to extension he should be traded at deadline gotta restock cupboard somehow.

      • I have suggested before a Swayman and Debrusk trade for Scheifle and a prospect.

  5. Pens…. Dooby… how is he doing??
    As I mentioned previously, I absolutely love the Graves in Dumo out move.  Very very very good move.  Zuck was going anyway ; and bringing in Smith…. Solid mitigation move. I like the re-up of Jarry.

    Dooby’s mandate by owners was that they were NOT in a retool or rebuild yet.  Didn’t make the playoffs last year; want to make playoffs this year, and field best team possible for 23/24. 

    Issues/concerns by media (repeatedly)…. And you would think that owner’s on same page with their concerns… and have told Doobie so:

    Team too small, not enough grit

    Team old…. Get younger

    Bottom 6 terrible…. Get much much better

    3C, nightmare… improve

    D— brutal/abysmal/nightmarish …. Improve

    Tandem…. Uncertainty… Starter was coming up UFA; back-up very very weak

    Spend close to ceiling; however leave maybe $1M to $1.5 M available for maneuvers

    Moves made:
    Graves v Dumo….  Younger; +1”, +12 lbs…. massively better D-man— Excellent
    Smith v Zucker…. Taller, 8 lbs lighter, 9 months older… won’t have the year that Zuck had in 22/23; but expected to have the year Zucker WILL have this year (downtick [from 22/23] expected for Zucker); good move

    Draft….. Opportunity… chose to get a Forward… time will tell…. But instead of Wood (who was ranked on average 5-10 spots higher)… chose Yaeger…. Projected NHL playing size/weight… Wood will be 35-40 lbs heavier and 4” taller. Again, time will tell… but a strange move as at now.

    Re-upped Jarry for reasonable term and Cap hit… to me , good move.  Jarry’s health issues (predominantly with foot); according to TSN, SN and ESPN, now in the past; AND most importantly….Dooby already replaced one of the key negative contributors to Jarry’s stats (Dumo).  If he can have Friedman and Smith in instead of Rutta and Ruhweedel (the other two heavily negative impacts on Jarry’s numbers); then Jarry’s save percentage should go up by quite a fair amount.

    Since the above:
    Missed out on 3C opportunities (Leaps and bounds better than Granlund: Domi and E-Rod… each a $3M; RoR $4.5 M; Bjug $2.1 M;  Geekie $2M; and much more reasonable options such as  Steel $0.85 M). Instead went with Eller (???) at $2.5 M. Missed opportunities hurt.

    has gone over the Cap;
    missed first buyout window;
    and has brought in some substantially smaller UFA forwards.
    Net Changes by Dubas so far:
    Here is the Roster at end of last season: Sid, Gino, Guentz, Rack, Rusty, Zuck, Carter, Heinen, Poehling, O’Connor, Granlund, Arch, Nylander, Tanger, Petry, Dumo, Pettersson, P-OJ, Rutta, Ruhweedel, Jarry, DeSmith
    I asked the other day (of one of our interns ) to do a quick spreadsheet with their ages as at NOW (this week) …. He just emailed me (nice intern BTW 👍) That team average age TODAY is 30.93
    Moves…. Out…. Zuck, Heinen, Poehling, Arch, Dumo….. in  Smith, Eller, Accairi, Johnsson, Graves… after those moves… Roster (as at TODAY) is actually older… average age (WHOLE roster): 31.31
    My hopes (as I have posted many times) for next moves….
    Out (traded, bought out, whatever)….. Petry, Rutta, Ruhweedel, Granlund
    Replaced by… Dumba, Friedman, Smith, and say a UFA forward…. I had the intern use N Ritchie as the low cost (league minimum ) bottom 6 replacement forward.

    I also had him replace Johnsson with Comtois; DeSmith with Nedjelkovic
    After those ins/outs…. Average age (for whole team)…. 30.08…. just 4 in , 4 out from Today’s current roster… and burying DeSmith (instead of Nedjelkovic) and signing Comtois (keeping Johnnsson in WBS)…..and average age of WHOLE team would drop by almost 1.55 years… that is very significant.

    And…. That team… far far better than the team that exited on last game of season; and those 4 in 4 out moves… and Comtois instead of Johnnsson ; Nedjelkovic vs DeSmith make the team far better than as at this very moment.
    Completely under Dubas’ control:
    Granlund can be bought out TODAY!!!!!
    Ruhweedel can be waived (BTW won’t be picked up) and sent to WBS
    Dumba is UFA and will get a deal likely in the $3 M’ ish range (see above savings from Granlund buyout)
    Smith and Friedman brought up
    Waive (and send to WBS) DeSmith (don’t need two back ups on NHL roster).  Extremely hard to see either picked up on waivers.
     Ritchie and Comtois UFAs…. Will get league min to $900 K on s 1 Yr
    Dubas can do… but has to finagle a bit:
    Trade and/or buy out Petry and Rutta….

    Trades mean sweeteners; and anybody NOT named P-OJ, Pickering, Friedman, Smith, Yaeger, Poulin; as well as future 1st round picks;  are good to go.

    EK not mandatory

    • Pengy wants to be the next Pierre Mcquire.
      Sorry but Pierre is more concise and factual. 😁

      • Hi JZ

        I double checked the spreadsheet… birthdates listed are correct and his formulae for calculating ages as at today; and end of last season; also correct… so…. average age changes are factual

        Pierre Maguire….. ouch…. Absolutely brutal commentator and blatantly misogynistic

        I’ll take the hit re spewing tons of info a la Maguire…. But in no way do I ever wish to be him

        That was s double kick to the knackers

    • Pengy, no comment on the Guentzel ankle surgery? Expected to miss 3 months.

      I don’t know if that is 3 months beginning today or 3 months of the season. I suspect the start date is now because Guentz will be re-evaluated in 12 weeks.

      In either case, Jack will be on LTIR to start the season. Now the Penguins are cap compliant.

      • Hi HoG

        yes “12 weeks from now” they will re-evaluate…. So he’s LTIR until at least late Nov…. But Dooby can’t count all that as Pens must be Cap
        Compliant when he returns

        If, with opening night LTIR they are just under Cap; Pens would need to move out $6N in annual Cap for him to return

  6. Pengy looks like Dubas tried to poach the Leafs AGM Pridham who turned him down.
    Two things, if he did successfully poach him, wouldn’t they have to pay for it as a penalty since he was still under Leafs’ employment?
    Second, he turned Dubas down. I guess you can say Pridham was exhausted doing cap gymnastics for Dubas and was like, NO THANK YOU! LOL!

    • Hi Ron

      I believe Pridham was extended or re-upped by Leafs

      If Leafs didn’t extend/re-up until after his last contract expired; then he is a fred agent and could sign with whomever he wanted….. no compensation

      If he was under contract and extended before yhe end of the last contract….. then (1) Dooby would need Leafs’ consent to negotiate with Pridham and (2) would need to compensate the Leafs

      Since neither 1 or 2 has been mentioned ; I’m assuming that Dooby had tried to persuade (after last contract dxpired and before new one signed) Pridham to join him

      Yep…. You very well could be right…. Pridham may have said no partly due to being fed up with the Cap gymnastics

      Maybe Doobie has bad breath

      Maybe he didn’t want to move his family

      Reason is unknown

  7. Pengy, Pittsburgh’s only chance for potential cup contention in the next few years is to trade for Karlsson. If they go the Dumba route along with whoever else you suggested to get with the money, they will not even make the playoffs. It will be a repeat of last year, if not worse.

    • Hi Dave

      I agree that Karllsson does up the ante

      However I disagree that he provides the only answer

      Pens have a massive whole on 3rd line

      They basically have the top 6 (and now one is out until at least late Nov) plus 8 or so “average” to “fair” 4th liners

      If Sid or Gino go down… no one can fill in at C in top 6….

      Granlund…., OMG never
      Eller…. Nyet
      Carter….. this legally shouldb’t be allowed

      Accairi …. See answer above for Granlund

      EK in…. Improves D….. but nullifies any change on 3rd line

      Dumba in no way is EK; but comes at no asset cost; at likely 40% of the Cap hit that EK would come in at; will hold his own; but mist importantly…. Allows space and assets (that would have been given up) to fix 3C and 3rd line

      Give Grier the same proposed assets for retaining slightly less cash (50% on Couture)

      Dumba, Couture, ? , ?

      Replacing Petry; Granlund; Accairi; O’Connor

      Moves the cup probability way more than

      Ek replacing Petry and Granlund…. and with more given up in trade

      Dooby is likely going all in on EK; and will end up over-paying and exposing himself and Pens to the very painful risk of Sid or Gino going down…. Thus leaving a top line and 3 Fourth lines until late November

      That said…. If Grier can walk away from EK …. Mutually agree to part ways….

      Pens could give EK his $38 M owed over the next 4 years but with much much more SBs; and 1 to 3 years added that he likely would walk away from:

      $38 M over 4 years way mire SB than now; plus

      5th year $2M SB, $1 M sal
      6th year $1M Sal
      7th year $1 M Sal

      He’ll definitely retire after 5 years; maybe after 4

      But that’s $43M for 7 yrs…. Cap hit of only $6.1 M

      Pay a 2nd and 3rd to Chi to take Petry and Pens actually save Cap and flip Petry for EK

      Buy out Granlund….. use that space and saved assets to trade for 3C….

      Accari ; O’Connor, and a 3rd for Henrique

  8. On a positive note Pengy, 12 weeks from the surgery for Guentzel takes it to Oct. 25, not the end of November 🙂

    I would love to see a powerplay with Karlsson, Crosby, Malkin, Guentzel and Smith.

    • Hi Dave

      Would love to see that power play as well

      The 12 weeks is when (according to team and Drs) he will be “evaluated”

      Per Pens …. Earliest he’d actually play for Pens is mid Nov… so at least 5 weeks in LTIR

  9. Penguins Cup contenders?

    Are they better than Carolina? New Jersey? Tampa? Boston? Toronto? The Rangers?

    Best player is 35+, 2nd best player is 35+ and injury prone, their best defenceman is one bump to the noggin or heart issue away from eating his meals through a straw, the goaltending relies on an oft wounded player that isnt overly reliable.

    Its over in Pittsburgh and the windows been closed for years.

    Lose “play in round”, missed playoffs, rocked in 1st round then miss playoffs again.

    Instead of resigning their aging relics they should have been moved for picks and prospects or allowed to leave as FAs.

    Pittsburgh is only a season, maybe two from a freefall down the standings back into bankruptcy again with no Mario or Sid anywhere in sight to bail them out.

    Rest of the conference applauds the Dubas hiring and are already hoping he gets extended.