NHL Rumor Mill – September 26, 2023

by | Sep 26, 2023 | Rumors | 7 comments

Check out the latest on the Wild, Kraken and Sharks in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.


THE ATHLETIC: Michael Russo and Joe Smith pointed out that the Minnesota Wild have three key forwards – Marcus Foligno, Mats Zuccarello and Ryan Hartman – slated to become unrestricted free agents next summer. They wonder if management will be patient or attempt to re-sign the trio as soon as possible.

Foligno, 32, is in the final season of a three-year contract earning an average annual value of $3.1 million. Russo and Smith are betting the Wild offer him the same contract again.

Minnesota Wild winger Mats Zuccarello (NHL Images).

The 36-year-old Zuccarello is in the final year of a five-year deal with an AAV of $6 million. General manager Bill Guerin would likely sign him for two or three years but he’ll have to accept a pay cut.

Hartman, meanwhile, is in the last season of his three-year contract with an AAV of $1.7 million. If the Wild can’t re-sign the 28-year-old center/winger, he could become a valuable trade chip at the March 8 trade deadline.

Russo and Smith get the feeling that Wild management has at least started contract talks with those three to determine the cost of re-signing them. They could be willing to extend their contracts now.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As Russo and Smith also point out, the Wild’s salary-cap space for next season will also be a determining factor in negotiations with those three players. They have $24.6 million in projected cap space for next season with 12 players under contract.

Guerin will also have to find suitable replacements for goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury and defenseman Alex Goligoski. Both are also due to become UFAs and it’s expected they won’t be offered new contracts.


THE SEATTLE TIMES: In a recent mailbag segment, Geoff Baker was asked what type of contract Kraken center Matty Beniers will get once he comes off his entry-level deal next summer.

Baker pointed out that a two- or three-year bridge contract would leave Beniers primed for a big raise before hitting the open market if he chose to do so. If the Kraken believes he’ll become a star player, it might be best to lock him up to an eight-year deal where they’ll get a cheaper back-end deal on some of his UFA seasons.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Beniers won the Calder Memorial Trophy last season as NHL Rookie of the Year. If he builds on that during his sophomore campaign, he could take a page from the playbook of Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews and push for a lucrative short-term contract that expires when he’s a year or two away from UFA eligibility.

Asked about Jordan Eberle, Baker indicated the 33-year-old winger would love to re-sign with the Kraken. “I’ve made my stance clear as far as I love it here,” said Eberle. “I want to be here. And I want to be part of a winning group. I think we have one here.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s not surprising that Eberle would like to stay. The Kraken surprised everyone last season with their solid performance in just their second NHL season. He’s also at the stage in his career when he’d prefer the stability of a winning club over the uncertainty of the UFA market.

However, if the Kraken stumbles through this campaign Eberle could become a bargaining chip by the March 8 trade deadline. That will depend on the status of his contract negotiations by then. He’s in the final season of a five-year deal with an annual cap hit of $5.5 million.

The Kraken has over $27 million in projected cap space for 2024-25 with 14 players under contract and Beniers in line for a substantial pay raise. Given his age, he’ll likely have to accept a pay cut to stay in Seattle.


SAN JOSE HOCKEY NOW: Sheng Peng reports Alexander Barabanov hopes to re-sign with the Sharks. The 29-year-old winger is in the second season of a two-year contract ($2.5 million AAV) and is slated to become a UFA next July.

He’s been very productive for the Sharks since they acquired him from the Toronto Maple Leafs in April 2021, netting 93 points in 147 games. On the one hand, his age and his next contract might not fit with the Sharks’ rebuild plans, making him a potential trade candidate by the March 8 deadline. On the other hand, it’s always good to keep a few veterans around to lead the way.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Sharks have over $36 million in projected cap space for 2024-25 with 14 active roster players under contract. Depending on Barabanov’s asking price, they can easily afford to re-sign him if they see him as a key piece going forward.


  1. Hartman should get a raise. Drags his team into the fight and can chip in a few along the way. I am certain he is worth $4 ish in the marketplace

    Cooley is looking realm good and aside from Bedard should be in this year’s leading Calder discussion

    I predict t Kraken take a step back this year.

    • I think the Kracken make the playoffs pretty handily again S7. It will be tough for them to crack the top 3 in the Pacific. Barring major injuries, VEG and EDM will be really strong again, and LA added Dubois, which makes them really strong up the middle. They are a tough team to play against already, and they just got tougher.

      SEA has a deep team, and an excellent D core. Beniers should take another step up front, plus Wright should too, he is the wild card IMO. Not sure what they have there. Their tending seems less than ideal as well. But overall a good team.

      In the west I think the regression comes from the Central. COL and DAL are both really solid again, Minny is decent, after that? WPG shouldn’t suck, but I think they will take a step back. Maybe still gets in? Maybe the Flames turn it around? Nucks should be better as well, but not quite there yet.

      I just don’t see it in the Central division, so don’t see who pushes the Kracken out of a playoff spot.

    • Krakken prospect pool include any possible legit snipers?
      Forward group feels like Beniers and a bunch of 30 year olds.Not sure how they compete in 2 years like this

      • Well, McCann (27 yrs old) just pumped in 40 ds. Seems like some pretty legit sniping.
        But ya, more depth of scoring than top line heavy with a bunch of guys who have scored 20 more than once.

        Bottom line is they scored the 6th most goals in the NHL last year. More than plenty of teams thought to be contenders like TOR, COL, TB, even the cup champs VEG.

        They score enough. Tending is their issue IMO. They don’t give up many high end chances, just too many go in.

      • Good point Ray. i forget McCann is not the 30 core age.

        I do like the balance of their team which is built a little like Francis’ old Canes…who yes are depending on maybe a 1B goalie…. or 2A

      • They are getting Burakovsky back from injury and he is a legit 2nd line winger but streaky. I can also see them trading for a winger if they need more goals during the season

  2. I’m glad stutzle didn’t do the short term-gunning for big money contract. It’ll be nice if the Sens remain cap spenders to have a solid core locked in for years and as the cap rises to add around it.