NHL Rumor Mill – September 21, 2023

by | Sep 21, 2023 | Rumors | 6 comments

Re-signing Steven Stamkos could be complicated for the Lightning, a trio of Islanders forwards face questions this season, and the Predators had goalie Yaroslav Askarov’s name in the trade market earlier this summer. Details in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.


THE ATHLETIC: Shayna Goldman, Joe Smith and Dom Luszczyszyn examined the complications facing the Tampa Bay Lightning in re-signing Steven Stamkos. The 33-year-old Lightning captain raised eyebrows yesterday when he expressed his disappointment over the lack of talks with management regarding a contract extension.

Stamkos is slated to become an unrestricted free agent next July. He’s in the final season of an eight-year contract with an average annual value of $8.5 million. He told reporters he’s “ready whenever” the club wants to engage in contract talks.

Tampa Bay Lightning captain Steven Stamkos (NHL Images).

The Lightning have a projected $75 million invested in 16 players for 2024-25. With the cap projected to rise by $4 million next season, they’ll have just over $12 million in cap space.

Evolving-Hockey’s projection for Stamkos’ next contract is a three-year deal with an AAV of $7.6 million. A comparable contract could be Anze Kopitar’s two-year extension ($7 million AAV) signed this summer with the Los Angeles Kings.

Stamkos is still performing on a level that justifies his current $8.5 million AAV. Luszczyszyn believes it doesn’t warrant the type of discount that the Lightning can fit within its cap structure.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I know this isn’t a trade or free-agent rumor but Stamkos’ contract situation will be worth monitoring this season in the wake of his comments yesterday.

He wants to finish his NHL playing career with the only team he’s ever skated for and they want to keep him. The devil, of course, is in the salary-cap details.

Stamkos accepted less than market value on his current contract with the Lightning. He benefited from living in Florida where there is no state tax. He’s fully aware of the club’s salary-cap limitations and could be receptive to accepting a pay cut to finish his career in Tampa Bay. How much of a cut he’ll accept, however, could be the sticking point.

Lightning general manager Julien BriseBois has said Stamkos will have to wait until the end of this season for contract talks to begin. I don’t think that’s going to lead to a situation where Stamkos demands a trade or BriseBois considers shopping him by the March 8 trade deadline.

Nevertheless, I wouldn’t be surprised if Stamkos’ name surfaces in the rumor mill leading up to deadline day, especially if the Lightning struggle to remain among the league’s elite clubs. Their roster corps has played a helluva lotta hockey since 2014-15, with four trips to the Stanley Cup Final (including two championships) and two appearances in the Eastern Conference Finals.

That wear and tear could catch up with them this season, especially considering how much their roster depth has been depleted in recent years by the high cost of retaining their best core players. If it does, some pundits could start mentioning Stamkos as a trade candidate.


THE ATHLETIC: Kevin Kurz recently raised a list of one question for each New York Islanders player entering this season.

Among them was wondering whether Jean-Gabriel Pageau will finish this season with the Islanders. He frequently came up in trade rumors this season due to the club’s current glut of centers. If Bo Horvat remains at center, Pageau could be shopped for a goal-scoring winger.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Pageau, 30, carries a $5 million annual cap hit through 2025-26 along with a 16-team no-trade list. He won’t be easy to move with so many clubs pressed for cap space. Such a deal might take place by the trade deadline when some clubs have accrued sufficient cap space, provided they’re not on his no-trade list.

Winger Oliver Wahlstrom will be worth watching as he attempts to rebound from the knee injury that prematurely ended his 2022-23 campaign. If his impact this season is minimal. Kurz suggests he could be moved.

This season could be the last with the Islanders for Matt Martin. The 34-year-old grinding forward is in the final season of his contract.


THE TENNESSEAN (via YAHOO! SPORTS): Paul Skrbina reports Nashville Predators general manager Barry Trotz admitted he had Yaroslav Askarov’s name “out there” leading up to the 2023 NHL Draft in June.

If you’re trying to move up in the draft as far as I wanted to, that’s going to take your best prospect,” said Trotz. “I was going, ‘I got good goalies but I could use a young center man that could be dynamic.”

Trotz has starting goalie Juuse Saros under contract for two more seasons at a team-friendly $5 million AAV. Askarov, meanwhile, has at least another year to develop. Trotz intends to speak with Saros and his agent about the future.

There’s nothing to say that we can’t have Saros and Askarov,” said Trotz. “You don’t have to move one of those guys.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Trotz took over from long-time Predators GM David Poile earlier this year. He’s already shown a willingness to make bold moves. Shopping Askarov in an attempt to move up to land a prospect center indicates that he’s willing to entertain all options.

Saros has also come up at times this year as a trade candidate. I don’t see the Predators moving him until Askarov’s ready. How much of a pay raise Saros will seek on his next contract will also determine Askarov’s future in Nashville.


  1. WIth a lot of these expiring contracts what is the rush ? I think the club needs to confirm not only the cap but the player’s performance .

    Askarov was considered the best goalie in his class and even then they couldn’t swing a deal. Said many times on this site , the position is fickle year to year
    Saros is top 5 right now . Ride him like a rented mule and see what happens in a couple of years

    Hey Babcock “what is in your wallet “

  2. Stammer to the Sens next year!!

    • hahaha, I wish!

  3. Stammer to the Sens !!!

  4. Saros to SAbres??

    Then sign Patrick Kane

  5. Depends if Steven Stamkos is looking for more money that they can afford….🤔

    His curent salary is $8.5M thats like $10M ant where else…..
    I can see them going to $5.5 or 6.M for 3 years
    leving them $6.5M to get some better players if not they will not contend in the East….

    Tampa only have $12.4 M in cap space next year❗️ They do need to add more quallity players up front

    They have Also traded away there 1st round pick in 2024 and 2025….& a 2nd pick in 2024….