NHL Rumor Mill – September 7, 2023

by | Sep 7, 2023 | Rumors | 33 comments

Could the Penguins reunite with Phil Kessel? What’s the latest on Elias Lindholm’s contract talks with the Flames? Could the Bruins pursue Senators center Shane Pinto? Check out the latest in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.


PITTSBURGH HOCKEY NOW: Dave Molinari recently noted a segment of Penguins fans would love to see the club reunite with Phil Kessel. The winger played a key role in the club’s back-to-back Stanley Cup championships in 2016 and 2017.

Now 35, Kessel is an unrestricted free agent after winning his third Cup last season with the Vegas Golden Knights. He’s let it be known that he’s willing to play a secondary role with whatever NHL team signs him even if it means jeopardizing his consecutive games-played record.

Former Vegas Golden Knights winger Phil Kessel (NHL Images).

Molinari doesn’t see the Penguins pursuing Kessel. He pointed out that general manager Kyle Dubas has been reconstructing the club’s third and fourth lines. Kessel’s game doesn’t fit a checking-line role. The winger also had a strained relationship with head coach Mike Sullivan during his tenure with the Penguins.

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Nick Horwat suggested that Kessel could provide a bump to the Penguins’ offense and become a trigger man on their power play. Like Molinari, however, he observed that Kessel’s style of game doesn’t match those of the two-way or defensive-minded forwards brought in by Dubas.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bringing back Kessel for a last hurrah in Pittsburgh would make a nice story. As Molinari and Horwat pointed out, however, his style of game wouldn’t fit on their Penguins’ checking lines. A reunion might be possible near the trade deadline if one of their top-six forwards becomes injured but even that seems remote at best.


NHL NETWORK (Stick tap to NHL Watcher): Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman discussed what type of contract Elias Lindholm could receive if he and the Calgary Flames reach an agreement on an extension.

Friedman initially felt Bo Horvat’s contract with the New York Islanders would be comparable. Horvat is starting an eight-year deal with an average annual value of $8.5 million.

The number for Lindholm, however, could be higher. Friedman heard it could be closer to $8.75 million annually or $9 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That would be a substantial raise for Lindholm. The 28-year-old center’s AAV for this season is $4.85 million. His production fell to 22 goals and 64 points in 80 games last season following his career-high 42-goal, 82-point performance in 2021-22 when Johnny Gaudreau and Matthew Tkachuk were still with the Flames.

While that decline can be blamed on the departures of Gaudreau and Tkachuk last summer, the style of game the Flames played last season under head coach Darryl Sutter also likely played a part. With Sutter no longer behind the bench, Lindholm’s production and that of his teammates could improve this season.

Lindholm will be 29 when his new contract goes into effect next summer. He could prove to be an expensive risk for the Flames or any other club. Lindholm is currently among the league’s best two-way centers but his performance will inevitably decline over the course of an eight-year deal.


BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Jimmy Murphy reports a trusted NHL source claims teams are inquiring about the cost of Shane Pinto in the trade market. The 22-year-old Ottawa Senators center is a restricted free agent and it’s believed there is a wide gap in negotiations between the Pinto camp and Senators management.

The Senators are up against the salary cap this season. Murphy’s source claims the Senators would be willing to entertain trade offers because they believe prospect center Ridly Grieg is every bit as good or better than Pinto.

Murphy wondered if the Boston Bruins could get into the Pinto sweepstakes. The asking price could be high as the Senators would want prospects who could crack the roster this season. “That’s probably Fabian Lysell and Johnny Beecher,” said Murphy’s source.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: There’s no indication thus far out of Ottawa claiming the Senators are dangling Pinto in the trade market or listening to offers. Recent reports claim the two sides continue to work on a new contract.

That could change if Pinto isn’t re-signed when training camp opens on Sept. 21. If the Senators make him available, the Bruins’ depleted prospect pool would make it difficult for them to outbid other clubs.


  1. Shane Pinto available?
    If true, I believe the price goes up to 2 good prospects or a prospect and a 2nd. Good, young centers are a high value item!

    • Hey Johnny,

      I dont think Pinto is going anywhere…⁉️
      In his 1st Full Year he gets 20 goals👌

      At 6ft3 & over 200lb….playing centre and wing on the 3rd & 2nd lines this kids a keeper and he is not afraid to hit and through the body…He can only get better,

      Sens are going to have to move Mathieu Joseph & his salary is $2,700,000 Half the NHL teams maybe intrested in him✔️

      then the can sign up the 2 young kids
      23 year old left wing Egor Sokolov & Pinto to a bridge deal then lock him up for 8 years👌

  2. Lol, Lyle to you just copy and paste:

    “the Bruins’ depleted prospect pool would make it difficult for them to outbid other clubs.”

    I put a comment on here about Boston prospects before. Today i ask do you know these names?

    Noel Acciari
    Frank Vatrano
    Torey Krug
    Kevin Miller

    Yes they are all ex bruins, all put Miller is still active and the one other thing they all have in common, not one of them were drafted. Yet all 4 had long successful careers.

    Players in the NHL don’t all come from 1st round picks, so if your only criteria when looking at prospects pools is to look at what their draft position was then you maybe missing out.

    As one scout said about the ranking the nhl teams prospects pool. He doesn’t know how anyone can track all the prospects thru out the league and watch all the players and then try to slot them all.

    Granted high end players thru the leagues growing up will garner most of the attention rightfully so; but don’t fall asleep on other prospects just because they were drafted later.

    David Pastrnak was drafted 25th overall in 2014, he be 3rd in a redo

    Also in 2014 Brayden Point 79th
    Devon Toews 108th
    Igor Shesterkin 118th

    In the 2014 draft two of the last four picks including the last pick of the draft has an active Nhl career

    Jake Evans 207th
    Jacob Middleton 210th

    Don’t get to caught up in the rankings, watch the prospects develop

    • Excellent points, Caper. I think we’re in good shape.

    • Struck a nerve, did I, caper?

      Yes, I’m well aware of those four former Bruins you rattled off and their history. And yes, sometimes prospects chosen in later rounds go on to long and successful careers. No argument from me.

      My assessment of the Bruins overall prospect pool isn’t based on their first-round picks but rather the assessments of publications such as The Hockey News, Elite Prospects and The Athletic that monitor each team’s prospects. They assess an NHL club’s overall prospect depth at each stage of development, not just first round picks, which is a good thing since the Bruins have only had two picks in the first round since 2018. They traded the others for existing NHL talent.

      Every publication I’ve seen that covers NHL prospects has the Bruins current pool among the bottom five. Therefore, any team that sits in the top-five has a better chance of winning a bidding war for Shane Pinto should the Senators put him on the trade block with the asking price reportedly being NHL-ready prospects.

      In other words, if a team like the Anaheim Ducks, Buffalo Sabres, Minnesota Wild, New Jersey Devils and Chicago Blackhawks were interested in Pinto, they’d stand a far better chance of outbidding the Bruins.

      Yes, the Bruins could offer up one of their lower-ranked prospects who might blossom one day into an NHL star. But that’s not the selling point in this scenario, is it? Remember, the supposed asking price is NHL-ready prospects. Sure, maybe Fabian Lysell or John Beecher fall into that category, but are they going to prove more tempting than anything a club with a much deeper prospect pool can offer? I don’t think so unless Pinto doesn’t draw much interest.

      Of course, the Pinto trade is all hypothetical. As I said, we don’t know if the Senators are shopping Pinto and if they’d even be willing to trade him to a division rival. I’m just pointing out that the Bruins don’t have as much to draw upon from their prospect pipeline as some other clubs who could really be interested in a young NHL player like Pinto.

  3. You would hate for a young kid like Pinto to miss training camp and any part of the start of the season . Something will give by Oct. 10. Players want to play and he will concede to a lesser number or traded.

    I guess the Jets and Flames are in no rush and will open camps as is.

  4. I am pondering the phrase “Kessel’s style of game” as a pseudonym to mean _________________.
    Everybody can play.

    • Hi Bill

      Phil and Joey Chestnut on the wings…. Who is the centre on this all star line?

  5. Re Hot Dog Phil back on Pens….. no…. Does not make sense

    Re Molonari and….

    “Dubas has been reconstructing the club’s third and fourth lines. ”

    This is not true

    4th line yes

    Dubas has 9 (nine) 4th liners under NHL contracts

    He has but 1 (barely) 3rd liner (Eller)

    So …. Pens “should” be able to field a fair 4th line to cover 5-8 minutes/game

    But huge hole on 3rd line; and not a single player available to fill in at 2C if either Sid (36) or Gino (37) go down

    Add to that…. Starting season…. First 6 games minimum…. Without Guentzel

    A must…. Sign Tatar

    This gives options for Sid wingers to start the year…..

    Two of …..

    Rakell, Smith, Tatar, Rusty

    The remaining two become Ginos wingers to start the season

    When Guentel returns….. the weakest of those 4 , drop to Ellers line to play with; one of

    Nylander, Poulin, O’Connor, Wagner

    Guentzel is definitely missing 6 games …. Per Dr…. “Re-evaluation AFTER 12 weeks”

    very very low likelihood that Dr’s magically re-evaluate and give him the thumbs up to play the next day (game 7)

    More than (as at start and f season) likely he’s a “maybe” for game 10

    So…. Put him on LTIR, sign Tatar

    When Guentzel returns…..

    Setting aside Tatar…., which they absolutely should sign….

    One of Pitlick, Nietto, or O’Connor down; replaced by any WBS…. Has Pens at 22 and UNDER the Cap

    So …. finagling Tatar into roster; is not by any stretch; impossible

    A Hossa itch for Carter certainly solves everything re space…. But that ship ain’t sailin’
    A few on here have praised the Accairi signing….. Accairi on team is a fair 4th line add…. What was very bad about it was….

    60 % raise; 3 years (coming off 1) ; AND some NTC protection…., And done while so many many equally good and cheaper options flew by

    2 years at $1.50 M ((that’s a 20% raise) with no NTC protection…. Is the max Dooby should have given…. That’s s very valid able extra $500 K in space

    No other team would have come anywhere near that (what Dooby gave him)offer

    Signing Hinnestrozza, Johnnsson; Nietto….. made zero sense

    Pens absolutely need a 3rd line….. unless a miracle happens…. Eller has his best season ever; and Poulin, Nylander etc; have exceptional years

    Psyk on PTO is an absolute great move…. He’ll end up getting league min , 1 year; somewhere…. Hoping it’s with Pens

    Far far better than Ruhweedel for 3RD; can push/battle with Friedman, but most importantly importantly… can dress as 4RW; and drop to D if any D gets injurred/ejected in-game (Psyk can and has successfully played both RW and RD in the NHL…. I was at the Leafs game a few years ago when Cats were in town and he scored 2 nice goals playing wing)

    • I see an old line up Pengy, a few injuries during the season and suddenly the Pens are out of the playoffs.

      Sid is Sid and will be good, but how many games will malkin/letang/EK miss this year. My guess is none will play over 65 games this year.

      It will be a rough road for the Pens to get into the playoffs, but if they make it anything can happen.

      Goaltending is there main weakness, wow sounds familiar in a Dubas run team.

      • Hi mp

        Valid points; but its hard to imagine that ALL 3 of EK; Gino; and Tanger miss at least 20% of the season

        Two, maybe…. All 3….. ???

        I’m good with starter; hoping Nedjelovic plays like a couple of years ago

        Disagree re main weakness being between the pipes

        As long as Sully plays Friedman or Psyk or Smith at 3RD; then the main weakness is 3rd line…. With a low value 3rd liner at C; with likely two 4th line wingers….. and then most vulnerable point is a potential prolonged injury to either Sid or Gino….. Pens do not have ANY player that can fill in top 6 C

        A healthy Pens as is; with Gino; Tanger; EK; Sid each missing no more than 10 games max…. Pens very fair shot at playoffs

        All healthy; AND sign Tatar now; and (🤞🤞🤞🤞🤞🤞) Toews in Jan or Feb…. Pens just might win a couple of rounds….. and if that happens….. final 4 that is…. Then who knows

        Personally….. I’d flip Eller. Accairi; Pitlick for Henriques (50% retained)

        Then sign Tatar , N Ritchie; Psyk

        Under Cap with 23;

        Until Guentz returns….

        Sid Rakell Tatar

        Gino Smith Rusty

        Eller Ritchie and one of Nylander, O’Connor, Poulin

        Carter with two of Nylander, O’Connor, Poulin

        When Guentz returns …. Tartar on Eller’s wing

        Still sign Toews (for 3C) at/before TDL

      • MP…..I do disagree with you for sure about the Penguins.

        They missed the playoff last year by one point with no third line, no fourth line, shaky defense and inconsistent injured goaltending.

        This team is going to be motivate, they are improved, and if they are close Dubas will make the right move.

        The top 6 was great last year and we basically swapped Reilly smith for Zucker both had 27 goals. Reilly is better

        You brought in 28 year old puck moving defenseman Ryan Graves and Norris Trophy winning defenseman Erik Karlson.

        You will Have Letang or Karlsson on the ice for 46 to 48 minutes..

        You have added Acciari 17 goals, Nieto 13 goals, Eller 11 goals will get more great two way center

        psyk Will replace roadwheel at 3rd line RHD

        -Heinenen Dumoulin, Rutta Zucker, Granlund, DeSmith, Blueger PoehlingIn

        In Karlsson Graves Eller Accairi Nieto Smith Pittlick Ndelkovick hinestrova

        Penguins will be a way better team

    • Pengy, i appreciate your well thought out posts, so please don’t view this in any negative light. I’m just really curious: How long does it take you to type out a reply like this?

      • Hi IWMCB

        Above was on computer….. so maybe 5 or 6 mins

        Typing this right now ; single finger typing on iPhone…just this message…. a couple of mins

  6. I will take 1 Shane Pinto, please, and thank you!

  7. Ridley Grieg’s current contract would fit it snugly under the current cap space the Sens have. I have heard from Belleville fans that he is every bit as good as Pinto, but I am always scared of the chance taking.

    I do believe if Pinto were to be traded, they may want them to take Joseph as well to give more breathing room for anyone else they may want to add to the forward roster. They only have 18/23 slots locked up so far… 20/23 when Forsberg and Norris come off LTID

    Will be interesting to see.

    I am still curious how the NHL investigation into Hockey Canada will affect this roster re: Batherson.

    • Supposedly 5 current NHL players will be suspended for the Hockey Canadian Jr team incident. Gotta think they put those suspensions in place quickly before camps open so these guys don’t show up. Will be interesting to see what names are involved and what sort of suspension term come from it.

      • Yes I agree. And will this be grounds for termination of contract?

        I have not heard a word, however, on any possible details of how many players and such. Is there a source for this?

      • Any rumor Kessel back to the Penguins – LMAO. Reasons why Kessel won’t be back:

        1. Conflict between Kessel and coach Sullivan.

        2. Kessel didn’t like to participate in practice.

        3. Kessel didn’t like to play defense.

        4. Kessel wasn’t good 5 on 5 player.

        5. Kessel bad role model for Malkin.

        6. Kessel and Crosby couldn’t play together on the same line.

        7. etc.

  8. DeBrusk and Forbert (retain $1M) for
    Joseph, Pinto and Brannstrom

    • That actually sounds feasible.

    • I actually think Joseph, Pinto, and Brannstrom would all do better in Boston’s more disciplined system.
      DeBrusk will ask too much on the next contract and Boston’s focus next year should be on a #1C.

  9. Debrusk is clear, but Forbort has a 3 team ntc.

    • I can’t imagine Forbert has Ottawa on his 3 team list, unless he also subscribes to spectors

      • Lol

  10. If I am giving up Debrusk, I would want to make sure that I am getting a center that is better than Coyle and Zacha. I am not convinced Pinto is that good, especially regarding defensive play. I would be ok in giving up both Beecher and Lysell though.

    • When Debrusk was Pinto’s age, he already had a couple of 40+ point NHL seasons, one of which included 27 goals. Let’s not brush off what Jake brings to the table, in a frenzy to obtain an untested center.

  11. Geeke, Forbert and a 2nd for
    Pinto, Brannstrom (retain $800K) Joseph
    Boston sign’s Pinto for 1 x $1.2M and has $29,166 in cap space. Ott has $95,000 in cap space

    • If the Pinto contract was that low, Ottawa would have signed him already.

      • I wonder if there is some creative accounting that Dorion is attemtping, but the Pinto camp will not play ball.

        The cap will go up and a few million drops off with the retained salary and buyouts mostly off the books. It’s just the upcoming year that poses obstacles.

      • theSaint, you are correct; Ottawa has a cap issue for the current season. 20 players under contract with less than 900k available cap space. However, should Drake Batherson be suspended, the situation becomes much more favourable – 19 players and $5.87 million cap space.

  12. Hammer…..
    Very Good point…..👍