Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – June 2, 2024

by | Jun 2, 2024 | Rumors | 33 comments

What could the offseason hold for the Rangers? Could the Hurricanes buy out Jesperi Kotkaniemi? Will the Utah franchise become big spenders in this offseason? Find out in the Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup.


ESPN.COM: Kristen Shilton believes signing Igor Shesterkin to a contract extension should be the New York Rangers’ priority this summer. He’s a year away from unrestricted free-agent eligibility. His career numbers combined with his stellar play in this postseason leave no doubt about what he deserves in his next contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Shesterkin will become one of the NHL’s highest-paid goaltenders. The 28-year-old’s current annual cap hit is $5.666 million. He’ll likely get between $9.5 million and $10.5 million annually on his new deal.

New York Rangers goaltender Igor Shesterkin (NHL Images).

Shilton also believes the Rangers must dissect why they can’t get over the postseason hump after falling short in the Eastern Conference Final twice in three years. They changed coaches, acquired high-end players, and were patient with youngsters like Alexis Lafreniere.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Florida Panthers play a more physical style than the Rangers. Management could consider bringing more two-way grit into their lineup.

NEW YORK POST: Ethan Sears observed that Lafreniere is also eligible for a contract extension on July 1. Meanwhile, Ryan Lindgren, Kaapo Kakko, and Braden Schneider are slated to become restricted free agents while Jack Roslovic, Alex Wennberg, Blake Wheeler, and Erik Gustafsson will be UFAs.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Rangers have a projected cap space of $12.1 million for next season with 16 active roster players under contract. Re-signing Lindgren, Kakko, and Schneider will take up most of it, leaving little to retain those UFAs or bring in replacements.

Kakko’s contract situation will be interesting to monitor. The 23-year-old right wing was hampered by an injury this season and held to just two points in 15 playoff games, including a healthy scratch from Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Final. Speculation arose about his future soon followed.

THE ATHLETIC: Peter Baugh observed the Rangers still have that persistent hole on the right wing of their first line.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That hole will remain unless general manager Chris Drury can find sufficient cap space and the right player to address that need. He could be forced to stick with Kakko and hope that he will have a breakout performance like Lafreniere did this season.


SPORTSNET: Rory Boylen recently mused about whether the Carolina Hurricanes would consider buying out the remaining six years of Jesperi Kotkaniemi’s contract. The 23-year-old center is signed through 2029-30 with an average annual value of $4.82 million.

Kotkaniemi struggled this season, dropping from a promising career-high of 43 points in 2022-23 to 27 points in 79 games in 2023-24. Buying him out now would be at one-third the remaining value over twice the remaining tenure, rather than at two-thirds if he was 26 or older.

The Hurricanes would carry that buyout for the next 12 seasons but the cap hit would be $835,500 per season, except for three years when it drops to $455K.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I had mistakenly typed 47 games instead of 79 games for Kotkaniemi this season. My apologies for the error and my thanks to those of you who pointed it out. 

The Hurricanes could consider this if they needed to free up additional cap space this season. However, they’re under no pressure to buy him out and could afford to wait another couple of seasons before going down that road if necessary. Given his youth and potential, they could also attempt to trade him, though they wouldn’t get much of a return.


THE ATHLETIC: Pierre LeBrun recently interviewed Utah general manager Bill Armstrong over his offseason plans following his club’s move from Arizona. They now have deep-pocketed ownership willing to invest in the roster and over $40 million in cap space for next season.

Armstrong doesn’t intend to go on a spending spree. He stressed the importance of making good, healthy decisions that will allow his club to grow without sacrificing the future.

LeBrun believes Armstrong intends to sign unrestricted free agents to one or two-year deals, overpaying a little in salary to get it done. That way, it doesn’t tie up payroll three or four years from now when their younger core players are ready for new contracts. The Utah GM could also use his cap space in the trade market to target cap-strapped clubs looking to shed some salary.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: We probably won’t see Armstrong make a big splash by pursuing a big-ticket free agent or trade candidate. However, it appears he wants to bring in players who can play strong supporting roles for his young talent.


  1. Rangers shouldn’t give Kakko his QO of $2.4M. Trade him to the Hawks for a 7th and use the savings to sign a Marchessaul or Teräväinen or Toffoli or DeBrusk.

    • I appreciate the thought process, but you have to do better than a 7th rounder for Kakko.

      • I agree, redmonsters, that a return for Kakko has to be a LOT better than a 7th round pick.

        Having said that, and ignoring the fact he was a 2nd overall (2019) pick, what is a player with 300 gp and career 82-game averages of15.9g and 16.4a 32 pts worth?

      • George,

        Honestly, imo, he’s worth another shot. An actual shot. Like Laffrienere was given this year.

        A 7th? No thanks.

      • Good point. Many of the observations we’re hearing today on Kakko are carbon copies of what we were hearing on Lafrenniere not that long ago. Trade him here … trade him there … buy him out.

      • I know he is worth a little more than a 7th. But as usual, yawl can’t come up with a suitable value. I still maintain that he shouldn’t be qualified.

      • Well, a suitable value certainly isn’t a 7th either. What I’m saying is , it’s hard to evaluate him. Therefore I won’t put a price tag on him.

        He’s 23, and a year removed from a 40 point season playing solely on the 3rd line or worse with no pp time.

        I’m not letting him walk out the door or taking a 7th at this point.

        NY has done that numerous times and it’s bit them in the ass.

        Imagine a NY Ranger team With JT Miller and Buchnevich on it today? Brady Skjei?

        He needs a legitimate chance before they bail on him. He hasn’t got that chance as of today.

        The last thing I want to see is yet another young Ranger walk out the door to blossom elsewhere.

        If the only option is a 7th or nothing, I’ll take nothing a year or two down the road. Not today.

        People were calling Laffrienere a bust a year ago, and everyone had him being traded for nothing.

        Luckily, Drury either doesn’t read this chatter or ignores it.

      • Thanks Capt. O.
        But with NYR in win-now mode, they don’t have that kind of time. KK’s. $2.4M cap space going for a bona-fide scoring winger is probably money better spent. I have seen the Wings waste a lot of time on Zadina. But the Wings were not in any hurry. Turns out Zadina was in a hurry and requested a trade and then opted out of his contract. Thanks.

      • I doubt Yzerman gives a Royal Crap, johnnyZ.

        Zadina, after being picked 6th overall in 2018 just had his “best” season with SJ, scoring 13g 10a 23 pts in 72gp and sported an eye-popping MINUS 44. For this they paid him $1.1 mil off the cap!

        Over his 262 NHL games his 82-game averages are 13g 16a 29 pts. I’d bet they don’t even qualify him this year (he’s an RFA).

      • @ Geo O
        Dunno what brought that on Geo??????
        But, no, Y was happy to get rid of Za and it cost the Wings nothing as Za had his last year terminated and signed with SJ as a FA.
        But OK

      • Lol johnnyZ … I misread your last “thanks” – not as “thank you Zadina for getting out of Detroit” but rather as “thanks for wanting to walk out on the team” – hence my “doubt Yzerman gives a crap.”

        Hard sometimes to pick up things like that in these sites. Sorry.

    • Yes to the Qualifying offer but only a 6th in return just won’t happen.

      This has nothing to do with where he was drafted; or shoulda/woulda

      He has potential. The risk at Qualifying him and paying him that is low

      By no means is he a $5M player right now

      Hd id certainly worth more than league min

      $2.4 M and giving him time to “re-fresh” has very good upsides with very low downsides

      The absolute worst case; he’d a bust next year; they send him down and $1.2 M is buried. Leaving $1.2 M on Cap; and a league min player now is almost $800,000. Low risk

      Now, after 24/25 if he does become a bust; then you can consider moving him for lower than expected (that’s current expectations) return

  2. Armstrong has to start spending money or trading some of his prospects for established NHL players!Having all these draft choices and waiting for them to develop is not fair to players like Keller and Schmaltz who have played in a small college facility the last 2 years!

    • I don’t see Utah using their cap space to take a bad contract. At this stage, they’re done with that.

      • Good article Brock – heh “If you haven’t heard, Ryan Smith, the so-called billionaire owner of the Utah Jazz and the Utah Unnamed Hockey Team (#OutlawsOrBust) wants almost $1 billion in taxpayer money to help build an entertainment district in downtown Salt Lake City.”

        Shades of Phoenix and Tempe! Here we go again?

      • Man, I loved this read right here. @Brock Landers cheers!

      • George, difference here is LDS is on board and so therefore are the Utah politicans. The sports welfare gravy train isn’t going to stop in SLC anytime soon.

      • Interesting non the less. On one hand using public fund to develop an area could produce jobs and help the local economy; on the other hand it’s basically socialize the costs and privatizing the profits.

  3. I get going against what Lyle just wrote but would they maybe trade for Marner. They would be able to afford the big contract if he would accept a trade is the big question.

    Would Mitch for Lawson Crouse and a second make sense. Utah would make the big off season splash to sell Jerseys and the Leafs get a big body top 6 winger and cap space to try and sign Brett Pesce or Brandon Montour. Thoughts maybe way off but fun trying to make things work.

    • Swany

      The Leafs already have the cap space if they don’t blow it on Domi and Bertuzzi.

      The Leafs have a couple big bodies to use up front. Knies and McMann. I think they should sign Keifer Bellows to a two way NHL contract. He had a good year with the Marlies.

      Signing Pesce at $5.5 and Montour at $6.5 is doable financially.

      With a new coaching perspective they should split up the top forwards onto three lines, running Marner as a 3C with Robertson and Cowan. Marner played C in junior and could insulate the young guys defensively.

      Get rid of the contracts of Kampf, Reaves, and Jarnkrok and there is another $5+ million to spend on the back end and a goalie.

    • Marner has a NMC and he has “some say” in his departure from Leafs. He may agree to being moved, but where is another story. The better teams (likely playoff teams) would have to clear space for his contract

      • Big time, Vincois, and as I keep saying – where do THEY unload the necessary players in order to free up the cap needed?

    • Mitch Marner for Crouse and a 2nd round pick?
      Did I read that right??
      Must be a misprint.

      To Utah: Marner with an extension signed

      To Leafs: Crouse (no need to resign Bertuzzi), McBain (3rd line center), 2024 – 1st round pick (#6 overall)

      Would be a good start!

  4. Shesterkins current deal at 5.6 million has to be one of the best team friendly deals in the league. Wonder if they would be interested in a Rutger McGroarty for Schneider deal? Rutger is everything you want in a roughy tough talented young player but is now going back to Michigan for a 3rd season since being drafted. Chevy might have to protect his team from losing him for nothing if he doesn’t want to play in Wpg. Rangers would get a great young and cheap player and the Jets would love to have Schneider on their blue line. I think the Rangers depth of defencemen would make them consider it.

    • He’s American, which is right up Drurys alley. But I don’t think he lands Schneider straight up.

      Schneider has already established himself and shown he’s capable of top 4 minutes at 22 years old. Hasn’t even sniffed his ceiling imo. No PP time, and stuck behind Fox and Trouba.

      But with Trouba expiring in 2 years, it makes perfect sense to bridge and keep him around.

      They don’t have any defensive depth beyond Jones who’s a left side , left shot. Most of their d-men in the AHL are over 25 and career Ahl’ers.

  5. Kotkaniemi had 27 points in 79 games this year, not 47 games. He was a healthy scratch for the other 3 games. And he was absolutely awful in the playoffs. 1 point in 11 games.
    He has been with the Canes for three seasons. One of them was promising. Two were awful. But I don’t see the Canes buying him out yet. It’s too soon to give up on him. Besides, they’ll still have the one third buyout option for two more years.

    • Howard, Ottawa fans haven’t a whole lot to be happy about over the past 7 seasons. But on that day in 2018 when a bunch of us were watching the draft, and Montreal’s pick came up at # 3 after the top 2 consensus picks (Dahlin and Svechnikov) went, as expected, to Buffalo and Carolina, we all expected to hear then call out “Brady Tkachuk,” “Filip Zadina” or Quntin Hughes – all 3 of whom were Ottawa fans hopefulls at # 4.

      We all just stared blankly at the screen as Montreal’s pick came out as Jesperi Kotkaniemi (a big C then ranked at # 8).

      As things turned out we got Tkachuk, although at the time some of us were high on Zadina of the Halifax Mooseheads so, in hindsight, that would have been a worse disaster than Kotkaniemi. Hughes would have been a pretty damned good pick as well – for either Montreal or Ottawa.

      Funny how things work out sometimes.

      • It is funny, George. At the time the Habs were dead keen on a centre. I remember an article 1/2 way through KK’s first season quoting some (not all) scouts who thought the kid would still be a 1st or 2nd line center. What happened to the kid?

        Picking KK over Tkachuk was a clear miss but it hasn’t hurt the Habs in the sense that they haven’t acquired enough talent to support him had they drafted him. And – this isn’t a dig – neither has Ottawa. If Tkachuk decides he wants out of Ottawa to play for a contender, it’s essentially the same for the Sens.

        As for all the hype around Hughes, 0 goals this year in the playoffs. He can jitterbug all he wants, but as we have been reminded playoff hockey is way different than the regular season.

        And before someone says, well the Habs have Lane Hutton, I’d rather keep Mallioux and Xhekaj.

      • Must agree there LJ re Tkachuk and the failure of the (now departed) Ottawa brain-trust in enuring the right sort of support was later acquired. No “dig” at all.

        For example, they’ve bungled not once, not twice but three times in getting a consistent goalie (and by consistent I do not mean consistently hurt – hello Matt Murray and Cam Talbot). They blew a top draft pick to acquire DeBrincat – only to wind up with minus-30 Kubalik as his “replacement” – and then compounded matters by bringing in the seemingly permanently-injured Chychrun only to see him play a full 82 games in which he displayed his true defensive capabilities by posting a team-high -36! (he and Kubalik were the only two in that rarefied atmosphere.

        The opportunity may be there now to start making the right and necessary moves – we’ll soon see if Staios is up to thee challenge.

  6. George O

    Wasn’t Batherson up there in the +/- too?

    Do you think Green will make a difference in Ottawa or is it a personnel issue?

    • Daryl, not this year for Batherson (last season was pretty bad).

      The worst after Chychrun and Kubalic’s -30 (note the correction for Chychrun – not -36) are:

      Stutzle -17
      Giroux -14
      Hamonic -10 (in 48 gp)
      Batherson -9
      Kelly -8
      Bernard-Docker -7
      Norris -6 (in 50gp)
      Katchouk -6
      Kastelic -5
      Jpseph -4
      Chabot -3

      There were plus players on the team, however

      Greig +10
      Pinto +9 (in 41gp)
      Sanderson +8
      Zub +5
      Brannstrom +5
      Tkachuk +1

      I don’t think it was so much a personnel issue as it was the “system” installed by Smith without taking into account the abilities of his roster, although clearly personnel was also a factor when you have to play a Chychrun, who showed clearly that “defense” in his case was more of a rumor, and a Hamonic when injuries occurred.

      And while I have never totally blamed Korpisalo – since the “system” in front of him was anything but – he WAS inconsistent – often in the same game (a 1st period when he stopped all 19 shots wile giving up 3 on 11 shots in the 3rd. And when a goalie blows a shot 5 on 5 everyone on the ice unfortunately gets a minus.

      Will Green make a difference? It won’t take long to find out – but first Staios has to shore up where necessary – i.e., 3rd and 4th lines and at least one decent 3/4 D and, if possible, another to make the 5/6 pairing better. Kleven might well fit one of those needs and even Guenette has played well enough at Belleville to either make the team or be regarded as the first injury call-up.

      We should start to get a “feel” as to how things could develop at the draft where they have the 7th and 25th picks in the 1st round. Chances are, players picked in either spot – especially if they are D – will likely be at least 2 years removed from the NHL and more probably 3.

      S, trading one or both should not be an issue IF they are part of significant shoring-up trades.