NHL Rumor Mill – September 16, 2023

NHL Rumor Mill – September 16, 2023

The latest on the Bruins’ rumored interest in the Flames’ Elias Lindholm and Noah Hanifin and the Jets’ Mark Scheifele plus speculation about Rasmus Dahlin’s contract talks with the Sabres in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.


THE ATHLETIC: Fluto Shinzawa believes the Boston Bruins’ pursuits of Calgary Flames center Elias Lindholm and Winnipeg Jets center Mark Scheifele will have to wait to wait. He cites the high cost of acquiring either center and the Bruins being pressed against the $83.5 million salary cap as factors working against them.

Calgary Flames center Elias Lindholm (NHL Images).

Shinzawa points to what the New York Islanders gave up to the Vancouver Canucks (a first-round pick in 2023, prospect Aatu Raty and winger Anthony Beauvillier) to acquire Bo Horvat in January.

Assuming that sets the market, the Bruins lack a first-round pick in 2024 plus the prospects they have in Raty’s category are few and far between and needed by the Bruins. It would also mean parting with Jake DeBrusk, who the Bruins consider a top-line winger.

The Flames or Jets could retain some salary to help either player fit within the Bruins’ limited cap space. However, Shinzawa believes that would add premiums to the trade cost.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Jimmy Murphy noted the Bruins had been linked to the Flames in the off-season rumor mill. Sources confirmed to Murphy that Boston general manager Don Sweeney had conducted his due diligence on the trade cost of Lindholm as well as Flames defenseman Noah Hanifin.

Like Shinzawa, Murphy noted the Bruins being squeezed for cap space and their limited number of tradeable assets makes acquiring Lindholm or Hanifin unlikely. He also pointed out that both players told the Calgary media earlier this week that they remain open to signing contract extensions with the Flames.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff recently indicated that he has no plans to trade Scheifele right now. He said he’s been in contact with the 30-year-old center and intends to speak with him when training camp opens next week. It appears Scheifele will be starting the season with the Jets.

Lindholm, Hanifin and Scheifele could become available later in the season if they haven’t signed new contracts by the March 8 trade deadline and the Flames and Jets are out of playoff contention by then. However, the Bruins will only have less than $2 million in projected trade deadline cap space. They’ll still have difficulty outbidding other interested clubs that possess more cap room and trade capital.

Shinzawa suggests the Bruins would stand a better chance of landing Lindholm or Scheifele in next summer’s free-agent market if they don’t re-sign with their current clubs. Even with paying goaltender Jeremy Swayman a raise, he believes they’ll have sufficient cap room to chase one of those centers. The same goes for Hanifin if he hits the open market next July.


BUFFALO HOCKEY NOW: Michael Augello recently noted the Sabres seemed on the verge of signing defenseman Rasmus Dahlin to a contract extension. However, those talks seemed to hit a snag following the Ottawa Senators signing blueliner Jake Sanderson to an eight-year, $64.4 million deal.

It was rumored the Sabres were hoping to lock down the 23-year-old Dahlin to an eight-year deal with an average annual value in excess of $10 million. According to Andrew Peters, co-host of WGR 550’s The Instigators, the Dahlin camp seeks a five-year contract.

Augello speculates Dahlin and his agent Craig Oster are using the same playoff as Auston Matthews, who recently inked a four-year extension that will enable him to become a UFA at age 30. A five-year deal would make Dahlin eligible for UFA status at age 28.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Dahlin would be well within his playing prime by that point. As Auguello points out, that would put him in line for a significantly higher payday on a long-term contract with the Sabres or another club via free agency.

NHL Rumor Mill – September 15, 2023

NHL Rumor Mill – September 15, 2023

Could the Avalanche and Canadiens make a goaltending trade? Are the Senators any closer to re-signing Shane Pinto? What’s the latest on Phil Kessel? Find out in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.


DAILY FACEOFF: Frank Seravalli reports the Colorado Avalanche appear to be exploring their options in the trade market seeking a potential replacement for Pavel Francouz. The 33-year-old backup goaltender is expected to miss training camp and the start of the season as he recovers from offseason adductor surgery.

Seravalli’s colleague Mike Gould suggested Casey DeSmith as an obvious trade target. He was acquired from the Pittsburgh Penguins by the Montreal Canadiens in last month’s three-team trade that sent Erik Karlsson to the Penguins.

Montreal Canadiens goaltender Casey DeSmith (NHL Images).

Salary cap space could be an issue for the Avalanche. Gould pointed out that they are projected to start the season with $525K in long-term injury reserve space, though they might be able to add more by placing Francouz and his $2 million cap hit on LTIR. DeSmith, 32, carries an average annual value of $1.8 million.

TVA SPORTS: Canadiens general manager Kent Hughes recently said he was okay with his club starting the season with Casey DeSmith, Samuel Montembeault and Jake Allen as his goaltenders. However, he has also said that he’s open to moving DeSmith before the start of the season if an opportunity presents itself.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: DeSmith has plenty of backup experience with the Pittsburgh Penguins. That could make him enticing to the Avalanche if Francouz appears to be sidelined long-term. Putting him on LTIR would cover DeSmith’s cap hit for this season.

Montreal Hockey Now’s Marc Dumont doesn’t expect DeSmith, Montembeault or Allen would fetch much of a return in the trade market. Still, Hughes might be able to get a decent draft pick or prospect from the Avs if he agreed to retain part of DeSmith’s salary.


OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch reports Senators general manager Pierre Dorion acknowledged he still has to re-sign Shane Pinto. The 22-year-old restricted free agent has yet to reach an agreement with the club on a new contract.

Dorion remains hopeful of getting a deal in place before training camp opens next week. The two sides don’t want Pinto to miss any playing time because he’s expected to play a key role on the Senators this season.

Garrioch pointed out that the Senators are pressed for salary cap space. He believes they’ll have to shed a contract to accommodate a new deal for Pinto.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Pinto’s current contract situation has generated some trade speculation suggesting he could be moved if the two sides fail to hammer out an agreement. Dorion’s comments suggest that isn’t the case.


TSN’s Chris Johnston reports there’s some “percolating interest” from NHL teams on signing Phil Kessel to a contract this season. He indicates the 35-year-old forward isn’t in PTO (professional tryout offer) territory yet.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The NHL’s ongoing Ironman record holder, Kessel recently said that he’s willing to accept a secondary role even if it brings his consecutive games streak to an end. That might account for the recent interest in his services.

NHL Rumor Mill – September 14, 2023

NHL Rumor Mill – September 14, 2023

Check out the latest on the Flames and the Blues in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.


CALGARY SUN: Wes Gilbertson reports Flames general manager Craig Conroy isn’t panicking over having six key players eligible for unrestricted free-agent status next summer. He said he’s been talking to those players (Elias Lindholm, Mikael Backlund, Noah Hanifin, Oliver Kylington, Chris Tanev and Nikita Zadorov) during the summer and those discussions will continue.

Lindholm didn’t have much to say to reporters yesterday regarding his contract talks when the Flames gathered for their annual charity golf tournament. “I’ve made it pretty clear that I want to stay,” said the 28-year-old center. “That’s about it”.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Daniel Austin also reported on Lindholm’s contract situation. It’s understood that the Flames have made a big-money, long-term offer to the two-way center to keep him in Calgary. He also indicated that Conroy doesn’t want to risk losing Lindholm to free agency like his predecessor did with Johnny Gaudreau.

Earlier in the week, Gilbertson suggested it could take over $9 million annually to keep Lindholm in the fold. However, he thinks the lack of progress in getting a deal done is due to the center taking what appears to be a wait-and-see approach regarding the coming season.

Gilbertson believes Conroy doesn’t want to trade Lindholm but doesn’t doubt that he’s gauged the interest of his fellow NHL general managers to see what type of package they’d be willing to offer. Trading him, however, would also leave a huge hole at center for the Flames that will be difficult to fill internally.

Calgary Flames defenseman Noah Hanifin (NHL Images).

TSN’s Salim Nadim Valji believes Lindholm sounded more open and optimistic about his future in Calgary than he did a couple of months ago. Time will tell if that’s the case as this season unfolds.

Hanifin also provided some clarity on his situation following a summer of reports claiming he didn’t want to sign a contract extension. The 26-year-old defenseman told reporters he hasn’t ruled out the possibility of re-signing with the Flames but is putting his focus on the coming season and will see how things go from there.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Valji reported that Hanifin told management he would wait and see how the season went but he hadn’t shut the door on an extension. He also informed them during the summer that he needed time to digest the disappointment of last season.

Conroy stressed that none of those six pending UFAs have asked to be traded or told him that they didn’t want to be in Calgary. He considered it understandable that they want time to evaluate the club’s performance this season following last year’s disappointing outcome.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: In other words, a bounce-back performance by the Flames followed by a strong postseason effort could sway most of those core UFAs to re-sign. Another discouraging season like 2022-23 could lead to Conroy peddling some of them by the March 8 trade deadline.


THE ATHLETIC: In his latest mailbag segment, Jeremy Rutherford was asked if there was any substance to rumors of the St. Louis Blues being interested in William Nylander and offering up Colton Parayko for the Toronto Maple Leafs winger.

Rutherford dismissed that rumor as well as another reader’s suggested offer for Nylander with Torey Krug as the centerpiece of the return to the Leafs.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As Rutherford observed, Nylander is a two-time 40-goal scorer who nearly had 90 points last season. The Leafs wouldn’t accept Krug even if he was healthy. He also believes any possibility of a Nylander-for-Parayko swap died out a long time ago. Parayko isn’t on the same level of talent as the Leafs winger.

Rutherford was also asked if the Blues might attempt to move a veteran defenseman such as Krug, Parayko, Justin Faulk or Nick Leddy at some point this season. He didn’t rule out the possibility.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As we saw with Krug earlier this summer when he nixed a trade to Philadelphia, the respective no-trade/no-movement clauses of those blueliners will make them difficult to shop.

NHL Rumor Mill – September 13, 2023

NHL Rumor Mill – September 13, 2023

Check out the latest on the Blues’ Torey Krug, the Canadiens’ Carey Price and the Canucks’ Tyler Myers in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.


THE ATHLETIC: Jeremy Rutherford noted that oft-injured Torey Krug will miss the start of the St. Louis Blues training camp after injuring his right foot during off-season training. He will be re-evaluated on Oct. 1.

Rutherford pointed out that the Blues attempted to trade Krug this summer to the Philadelphia Flyers. However, the deal fell through when the 32-year-old defenseman invoked his no-trade clause.

St. Louis Blues defenseman Torey Krug (NHL Images).

It doesn’t appear as though the Blues were any closer to moving Krug after that. His latest injury along with his $6.5 million average annual value over the next four seasons could further dwindle any interest in him in the trade market.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The most realistic way for the Blues to trade Krug would be to retain 50 percent of his cap hit or swap him for a comparable player with a similar AAV. Neither scenario seems likely heading into this season.


TVA SPORTS: Carey Price said he’d be open to having his contract traded if the Montreal Canadiens. The 36-year-old goaltender admitted yesterday that the injured knee that sidelined him since last season has likely ended his playing career.

Price said the decision wouldn’t be his. He understands that teams have to manage their contracts and salary cap space. The former Vezina Trophy and Hart Trophy winner said he’d accept it if they had to move his contract for salary-cap reasons.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Price also said that he sees himself one day taking a role with the Canadiens once his children are older. He stated that he would be a Montreal Canadien “for the rest of my life.”

The Canadiens shed the salary of a permanently sidelined player last year, shipping the remainder of Shea Weber’s contract to the Vegas Golden Knights in June 2022 for winger Evgenii Dadonov. In February, the Golden Knights sent it to the Arizona Coyotes for minor-league defenseman Dysin Mayo.


TSN: Travis Yost suggests the possibility that Vancouver Canucks defenseman Tyler Myers could be on the move later this month.

While the 33-year-old Myers carries a $6 million salary-cap hit for this season, $5 million of that was paid out as a signing bonus. That means he’ll earn $1 million in actual salary for the remainder of this season.

With so little money owed and the Canucks in need of cap space, Yost suggests Myers could be an intriguing option. Teams that need to reach the salary cap minimum or clubs that feel the blueliner still has something left in the tank could come calling.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Yost also noted that Myers carries a 10-team no-trade clause.

There was speculation in July claiming the Canucks had a deal in place to send Myers to the San Jose Sharks once his signing bonus was paid. So far, this rumored trade has yet to materialize.

NHL Rumor Mill – September 12, 2023

NHL Rumor Mill – September 12, 2023

Speculation over Steven Stamkos’ future with the Lightning plus the latest on Tomas Tatar in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.


THE BOSTON GLOBE: Kevin Paul Dupont recently mused over whether the Tampa Bay Lightning can afford to re-sign captain Steven Stamkos. The 33-year-old forward is in the final season of an eight-year, $68-million contract and is slated to become an unrestricted free agent next July.

Tampa Bay Lightning captain Steven Stamkos (NHL Images).

Dupont acknowledged that it’s way too early to think the Lightning won’t pony up for Stamkos. However, they’re always tucked up against the salary cap. If Stamkos becomes available next summer, Dupont believes the Boston Bruins would be among at least a dozen suitors for the right-shot center.

Stamkos will have lots of mileage on him by next summer. Nevertheless, Dupont felt that he would still be “a worthy contributor for another 3-4 years.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Stamkos doesn’t get mentioned much among next summer’s possible UFA targets. That’s because it’s assumed he and the Lightning will work something out to keep him in Tampa Bay.

As Dupont observed, salary-cap constraints could be an issue. They’ve already got over $74 million invested in 15 players for 2024-25. Assuming the salary cap hits $87.5 million as projected for next season, they’ll have over $12 million in cap space.

Fortunately for the Lightning, Stamkos is their most notable potential free agent at the end of this season. They’ll have sufficient space to re-sign him if he seeks a cap hit similar to his current $8.5 million. Perhaps he’ll accept a pay cut to between $6.5 million to $7 million annually to finish his career in Tampa Bay.


THE HOCKEY NEWS: Nick Horwat cited Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman saying he’s not convinced that Tomas Tatar will sign with the Pittsburgh Penguins.

The 32-year-old free-agent winger reportedly had discussions with the Penguins earlier this summer. However, Friedman said they weren’t the only club involved. He noted that Tatar had recently changed agents and is expected to sign with an Eastern Conference team soon.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: With training camps opening next week, we won’t have to wait long to find out where Tatar lands. There’s been recent speculation suggesting the New York Islanders as a possible destination. 

NHL Rumor Mill – September 11, 2023

NHL Rumor Mill – September 11, 2023

The latest on the Flames plus speculation about the Kings goaltending in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.


CALGARY SUN: Daniel Austin and Wes Gilbertson looked at the notable storylines facing the Flames this season.

Calgary Flames center Elias Lindholm (NHL Images).

They’re divided on Elias Lindholm’s future. Gilbertson believes the 28-year-old center will sign “a max term, big-bucks contract”. Austin, however, isn’t so sure, suggesting the Flames peddle Lindholm by the trade deadline if he’s not re-signed by then.

Gilbertson also wonders what the future holds for Mikael Backlund. Like Lindholm, the 34-year-old center is slated to become an unrestricted free agent next summer. Austin thinks defenseman Chris Tanev would be the type of defenseman that playoff contenders would be interested in at the trade deadline.

Both pundits believe the Flames need to address their three-goalie logjam. They agree that promising Dustin Wolf has nothing left to prove at the AHL level and must get in some NHL games. Daniel Vladar could be on the move once another club has an injury between the pipes.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It will be an interesting season for the Flames. Lindholm has said he’s open to staying in Calgary and management wants to keep him. However, he could opt to wait and see how this season shakes out before committing to an extension. That could affect what happens with Backlund.

Like Lindholm, Backlund and Tanev, Noah Hanifin is also due to become a UFA next summer. The 26-year-old defenseman reportedly informed management that he’s not interested in a contract extension.

So far, there’s no indication the Flames are close to moving Hanifin. They could start the season with the blueliner as a self-rental for this season or shop him at the trade deadline if they’re out of contention by then.

The Flames could start the season with Wolf and Vladar jockeying for playing time behind starting goalie Jacob Markstrom. At some point this season, however, I think Vladar will be traded to make room for Wolf.


THE ATHLETIC: Eric Duhatschek wondered if oft-injured goaltender Cam Talbot would regain his form after signing a one-year, $1 million contract this summer with the Los Angeles Kings. He’ll be reunited with coach Todd McLellan, with whom he’d had his best NHL season (42 wins) in 2016-17 with the Edmonton Oilers.

If the 36-year-old Talbot struggles, Duhatschek speculated that they’ll do what they did at the 2023 trade deadline and acquire a rental goalie. He wondered what Winnipeg’s Connor Hellebuyck’s status would be by then.

Duhatschek also pondered if the Anaheim Ducks would be willing to move on from John Gibson. He believes the days of divisional rivals being off-limits in the trade market are long gone.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’ve seen some predictions suggesting the Kings could become Stanley Cup contenders this season. However, their goaltending remains their Achilles’ heel if the aging, banged-up Talbot has another injury-hampered performance.

I’m still not sure how keen the Ducks would be to move Gibson to the Kings, who could also be on his 10-team no-trade list. We can’t dismiss that possibility but I think their focus would be on Hellebuyck if the Jets goalie becomes available near the March 8 trade deadline.