NHL Rumor Mill – September 11, 2023
The latest on the Flames plus speculation about the Kings goaltending in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.
LATEST ON THE FLAMES
CALGARY SUN: Daniel Austin and Wes Gilbertson looked at the notable storylines facing the Flames this season.
They’re divided on Elias Lindholm’s future. Gilbertson believes the 28-year-old center will sign “a max term, big-bucks contract”. Austin, however, isn’t so sure, suggesting the Flames peddle Lindholm by the trade deadline if he’s not re-signed by then.
Gilbertson also wonders what the future holds for Mikael Backlund. Like Lindholm, the 34-year-old center is slated to become an unrestricted free agent next summer. Austin thinks defenseman Chris Tanev would be the type of defenseman that playoff contenders would be interested in at the trade deadline.
Both pundits believe the Flames need to address their three-goalie logjam. They agree that promising Dustin Wolf has nothing left to prove at the AHL level and must get in some NHL games. Daniel Vladar could be on the move once another club has an injury between the pipes.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It will be an interesting season for the Flames. Lindholm has said he’s open to staying in Calgary and management wants to keep him. However, he could opt to wait and see how this season shakes out before committing to an extension. That could affect what happens with Backlund.
Like Lindholm, Backlund and Tanev, Noah Hanifin is also due to become a UFA next summer. The 26-year-old defenseman reportedly informed management that he’s not interested in a contract extension.
So far, there’s no indication the Flames are close to moving Hanifin. They could start the season with the blueliner as a self-rental for this season or shop him at the trade deadline if they’re out of contention by then.
The Flames could start the season with Wolf and Vladar jockeying for playing time behind starting goalie Jacob Markstrom. At some point this season, however, I think Vladar will be traded to make room for Wolf.
COULD THE KINGS STILL UPGRADE IN GOAL?
THE ATHLETIC: Eric Duhatschek wondered if oft-injured goaltender Cam Talbot would regain his form after signing a one-year, $1 million contract this summer with the Los Angeles Kings. He’ll be reunited with coach Todd McLellan, with whom he’d had his best NHL season (42 wins) in 2016-17 with the Edmonton Oilers.
If the 36-year-old Talbot struggles, Duhatschek speculated that they’ll do what they did at the 2023 trade deadline and acquire a rental goalie. He wondered what Winnipeg’s Connor Hellebuyck’s status would be by then.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’ve seen some predictions suggesting the Kings could become Stanley Cup contenders this season. However, their goaltending remains their Achilles’ heel if the aging, banged-up Talbot has another injury-hampered performance.
I’m still not sure how keen the Ducks would be to move Gibson to the Kings, who could also be on his 10-team no-trade list. We can’t dismiss that possibility but I think their focus would be on Hellebuyck if the Jets goalie becomes available near the March 8 trade deadline.