NHL Rumor Mill – April 17, 2024

by | Apr 17, 2024 | Rumors | 15 comments

What could the offseason hold for the Penguins and Sabres? Find out in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.


PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE: Matt Vensel listed nine pressing issues the Penguins must face after missing the playoffs for the second straight season.

Vensel doesn’t see head coach Mike Sullivan losing his job, especially as his most recent contract extension doesn’t begin until next season. However, his staff could undergo some changes, especially given the club’s struggles on the power play this season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: ESPN.com’s Kristen Shilton believes the Penguins could consider a coaching change. Just because a coach has a contract extension doesn’t mean he can’t be replaced. Just ask Don Granato, the former bench boss of the Buffalo Sabres

Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Erik Karlsson (NHL Images).

Team captain Sidney Crosby is expected to sign a contract extension, perhaps a two-year, team-friendly deal. Core players such as Evgeni Malkin, Kris Letang and Bryan Rust aren’t going anywhere. Neither is Erik Karlsson, whose contract could prove unmovable even if management wanted to move him.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Crosby has repeatedly said he wants to finish his career with the Penguins. It’s expected he’ll sign a two or three-year extension with an average annual value of $10 million.

Malkin, Letang, Rust and Karlsson have full no-trade protection. There were some idle musings among some pundits suggesting Karlsson might welcome a return to the Ottawa Senators but he quickly slapped down that notion last month.

Vensel doesn’t rule out Jake Guentzel returning to the Penguins as a free agent this summer. However, his smashing success with the Carolina Hurricanes could see him approach the UFA market with an open mind. The Penguins would have to shed some salary to bring him back.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If Penguins general manager Kyle Dubas wanted to keep Guentzel he would’ve re-signed him instead of shipping him to the Carolina Hurricanes at the trade deadline. He’s not coming back.

Trade candidates include wingers Reilly Smith, Rickard Rakell, Lars Eller and Noel Acciari. Vensel doesn’t see anyone touching Ryan Graves’ contract this summer.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Smith will draw the most interest in this summer’s trade market. It’s doubtful they’ll find many suitors for Rakell. His stats tumbled this season and he has four years left on his contract with an AAV of $5 million.

Vensel also wondered about goaltender Tristan Jarry’s future in Pittsburgh after Sullivan turned to backup Alex Nedeljkovic down the stretch.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Another Penguin who had an inconsistent performance with lots of years remaining on a contract with a cap hit over $5 million. Good luck moving him.


BUFFALO HOCKEY NOW: Jason Moser reports Sabres general manager Kevyn Adams will seek an experienced NHL coach to replace Don Granato, who was fired as their head coach on Tuesday.

Moser noted there are plenty of candidates available. They include Craig Berube, Todd McLellan, Jay Woodcroft, Dean Evason, D.J. Smith, Lane Lambert, Bruce Boudreau, Gerard Gallant and former Sabres coach Lindy Ruff.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Berube could be the most sought-after coach, having guided the St. Louis Blues to the Stanley Cup in 2019.

WGR 550: Howard Simon believes the Sabres also need to bolster their offense after their production declined this season as more emphasis was placed on improving their defensive play. They traded away center Casey Mittelstadt in March and brought in defenseman Bowen Byram.

Simon doesn’t see that offensive help coming via this summer’s free-agent market. He believes Adams must draw on his deep pool of young talent on his current roster and in his farm system along with draft picks to find more NHL scoring.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I concur with Simon. The Sabres defense is better and deeper now and their goaltending stabilized as this season went on. Adding an experienced scorer with leadership abilities could provide the boost they were missing this season.


  1. As a longtime Sabres fan would it hurt for Buffalo to look at Mike Peca or Jay McKee? In GM Adam’s presser he wants the team to play with physicality and accountability. Those are two coaches that played the game with what Adam’s was describing.

    • Buffalo had Peca in Rochester & let him go to NYR instead of promoting him to asst. coach with the Sabres. While Mike may someday become a good HC this Sabres team needs someone with experience & toughness to crack the whip & make them accountable & while I’m at it NO TO LINDY RUFF, this is not a feel good reunion story!!!

    • The Sabres need an infusion of new players. Rinse and repeat Adams (Girgensons, Okposo, Olofsson etc) has to stop for starters.

      It’s also hard to be physical with plenty of skilled small forwards and D-men. Even guys like Samuelsson and Power with size play soft.

      This team needs at least 5 new faces come next year. Size and experience is a must the way I see it.

      As for a head coach, they don’t need a friend…they need someone to shove his foot up their arse to get them to play hard for 60 mins

    • With Pittsburghs contracts as an example, Detroit has many 4-5mil for 4ish year contracts as well, are we seeing that teams should pay for absolute elite high end and otherwise just promote from within on cheap contracts (the players are rarely any different in outcomes)

  2. Unfortunately Pittsburgh came close to qualifying for the playoffs which will cause Dubas to want to add yet another 10 million dollat “star” to his ageing and slowing roster.

    Pens never should have resigned Malkin and Letand. Never should have traded for Karlsson and most assuredly shouldnt have signed Jarry to such a huge deal.

    Pittsburgh requires a massive rebuild but likely wont get it until Dubas is unemployed.

    • Re; The Pen’s

      I think they are done …it time for a re-build for the pen’s❓
      They are old and Slow with A Bad Starting & inconsistant Goaltending Thats turining out to be A Dubas Specalty😳

      They got nothing coming from the Farm, AHL team.
      No 1st, 3rd & 5th pick in the NHL draft this year
      They dont have much money in cap space $12.7M.
      They do need to sign 9 players to make up the Roster, 5 UFA & 4 RFA players….

      its a Pretty Ugly picture for the Pens

  3. Crosby had a massive season, Hart worthy and the Pens still missed out.

    Does Dubas think 87 will be even better next year? Because with that roster hes going to have to be.

  4. Re; Buffalo

    They look like they have a good young Goaltender ( Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen) and a Really good younger d/core one of the best young ones in the NHL, 21 to 24 yrs old….

    They pick 11th in the NHL Draft there are some nice forward selections avalable from 9th to 15th to chose from
    they could also trade up a couple of spots,🤔
    3 really good forward options

    -LW Cole Eiserman, 6′ 0″/196 lbs
    -C/RW Konsta Helenius 5’11″/180 lbs
    -C/LW Tij Iginla 6′ 0″/186 lbs
    ( I think the Flames ( 9th pick ) will go for Iggys son Tij Iginla❓

    As far as a coach go’s Sounds like Graig Berube will be in demand, this is the 3rd team he has been conected too
    Jay Woodcroft, Dean Evason, would also be good choices
    The rest are re-treds mentioned above….

    • Gee, and no one has mentioned Mike Babcock! 🙂

      • And they never will again George.

        Is Ted Nolan too far removed to inspire Sabres fans?

        I dunno what to do with the Penguins. I made many trade proposals regarding Karlsson and the Sens. Penguins fans seem to believe he has value. He has value ONLY to Ottawa even if he waives. You’ll pay the Sens to take him not the other way around. I think you could also put Pierre-Olivier Joseph in that deal the Sens are wildly preoccupied with family.

      • Saving Babs for the Sens, George. He is the guy that will break all of your players of bad habit by utilizing all his bad habits! 😉

      • GeorgeO I’ll say Columbus would’ve done much much better if they had Babcock behind the bench.

  5. Beantown vs Hogtown

    Who will be victorious

    • Pork and Beans!

  6. The first priority for the Penguins is making changes to the coaching staff. Mike Sullivan and Todd Reirden are candidates to lose their jobs.

    Sullivan did not coach discipline and accountability. Successful head coaches hold their players accountable.

    Reirden, tasked with coaching power play and defense, coached the Penguins to waste power play opportunities, then not clearing the puck out of the defense zone. The Penguins’ power play has been bad since Reirden has been with the Penguins since 2020.