NHL Rumor Mill – May 20, 2023

NHL Rumor Mill – May 20, 2023

Who could become the next general manager of the Leafs? Where could former Leafs GM Kyle Dubas end up? Check out the latest in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.


SPORTSNET: Sonny Sachdeva looked at potential replacements for former Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas. He noted that team president Brendan Shanahan indicated that he’ll be open-minded in his search but will put the onus on experience.

Shanahan intends to rely heavily on assistant GM Brandon Pridham as the club conducts its search. He confirmed that Pridham will be in the running for the job.

Former Calgary Flames general manager Brad Treliving (NHL.com)

Sachdeva wondered if Brad Treliving might be among the candidates. He stepped down last month from the Calgary Flames after nearly a decade as their general manager.

TORONTO SUN: Pridham and Treliving are also among Terry Koshan’s list of potential candidates. Former Montreal Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin, Carolina Hurricanes assistant general manager Eric Tulsky, former Boston Bruins and Edmonton Oilers GM Peter Chiarelli, Tampa Bay Lightning assistant GM Mathieu Darche, and former Chicago Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman were among other notables on his list.

DAILY FACEOFF: Matt Larkin’s list included Detroit Red Wings assistant GM Kris Draper, Edmonton Oilers assistant GM Steve Staios and Ray Whitney, who spent over half a decade as a director for the department of player safety and narrowly lost out to Mike Grier for the role of San Jose Sharks general manager.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It would make sense to promote Pridham given his experience with the Leafs organization. If Shanahan opts for someone else, perhaps Tulsky, Darche, Draper, Staios or Whitney would be better choices to bring a fresh perspective to the job.

Whoever gets the job faces some big questions that must be addressed soon.

Do they replace head coach Sheldon Keefe and his staff?

Do they shake up the “Core Four” (Auston Matthews, John Tavares, Mitch Marner and William Nylander) by trading one of them? Will they re-sign Matthews and Nylander to contract extensions or trade one of them or maybe put both on the block? Will it be Mitch Marner who becomes a trade chip?

Can they make oft-injured goalie Matt Murray’s contract disappear? How will they replace their unrestricted free agents if Ryan O’Reilly and Michael Bunting hit the open market?

Who do you want to see as your club’s new general manager, Leafs fans? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.


THE HOCKEY NEWS: Nick Horwat suggests not closing the door on the speculation linking Dubas to the Pittsburgh Penguins earlier in the postseason. While the now-former Leafs GM said earlier this week that he’d step away for a while if he didn’t return with Toronto, his firing by Shanahan could leave the door ajar for the Penguins if he’s interested.

THE ATHLETIC: Kevin Kurz wonders if Dubas might be a match for the New York Islanders given the uncertainty over Lou Lamoriello’s future as their general manager. Dubas and Lamoriello have a good relationship stretching back to their time working together in Toronto.

CALGARY HOCKEY NOW: Steve MacFarlane wonders if Dubas’ availability might affect the Flames’ search for a new general manager.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Dubas said that this season was difficult on his family and he wouldn’t put them through a move if he didn’t return with the Leafs. With a bit of time to reflect, however, maybe he’ll change his mind provided his family is fine with it.

We’ll find out soon enough what the immediate future holds for Dubas. Any club that is interested in hiring him will want to do so as soon as possible with the 2023 NHL Draft (June 28-29) and the start of free agency (July 1) on the horizon.

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 20, 2023

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 20, 2023

The Golden Knights beat the Stars in Game 1 of the Western Conference Final, reaction to the Leafs firing GM Kyle Dubas, Clayton Keller’s agents meet with Coyotes management and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.


NHL.COM: The Vegas Golden Knights defeated the Dallas Stars 4-3 in Game 1 of the Western Conference Final on an overtime goal by Brett Howden. William Karlsson scored two goals, Zack Whitecloud collected two assists and Adin Hill made 33 saves for the Golden Knights. Roope Hintz had a goal and two assists, Jason Robertson a goal and an assist and Jake Oettinger stopped 33 shots for the Stars.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This was an entertaining game with plenty of scoring chances, some big saves and a good overall pace. Four of the six goals in regulation were scored in the third period when the Golden Knights would take the lead but the Stars rallied back twice to tie it.

Stars defenseman Jani Hakanpaa missed this game, perhaps due to a nagging lower-body injury. Colin Miller took his place.

Game 2 goes Sunday in Las Vegas at 3 pm ET.


TSN: The Toronto Maple Leafs announced Friday that they had “parted ways” with general manager Kyle Dubas.

DAILY FACEOFF: In a subsequent press conference, Leafs president Brendan Shanahan spoke candidly of the reasons behind the decision. He revealed that a framework for a contract extension was presented to Dubas prior to the latter’s emotional press conference on Monday where he voiced his uncertainty about returning to the job.

Former Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas (NHL Images).

Shanahan explained the Leafs front office was caught off guard by Dubas’ remarks and started to rethink management’s plans. A meeting with Dubas on Wednesday, Shanahan said, left the latter with more questions than answers.

The Leafs president indicated that Dubas presented a new financial package for a contract extension on Thursday. By that point, however, Shanahan had felt differently about the club’s future with Dubas. On Friday, he drove to Dubas’ office and told him that he was fired.

Shanahan indicated that he’ll be open-minded when it comes to Dubas’ replacement. However, he will put an emphasis on experience.

TORONTO SUN: Prior to Shanahan’s press conference on Friday, Jason Spezza tendered his resignation as special assistant to the general manager. Spezza had been in the role for one season following his retirement as a player.

Meanwhile, the Toronto Marlies (the Leafs AHL affiliate) announced the contracts of coaches Greg Moore, A.J. MacLean and John Snowden would not be renewed.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: After several seasons, the soap opera “As The Leafs Turn” has returned. This was a major front-office bloodletting that will have significant short- and long-term ramifications for the Maple Leafs.

This news made a number of Leafs followers nervous that the club could be returning to the front-office dysfunction of the recent past. Some have drawn comparisons to the dark days of team owner Harold Ballard. Those folks are overreacting or weren’t old enough to remember how horrible the Ballard years were. Nevertheless, the concerns over the front office are understandable.

Dubas’ firing gives the Leafs little time to find a suitable replacement before the NHL draft (June 28-29) and the opening of contract extension talks (July 1) with Auston Matthews and William Nylander, who are slated to become unrestricted free agents next summer.

The new general manager must also find a way to address the club’s roster needs with limited salary-cap space. That includes deciding whether to shake up the roster by trading one of their core players. They must also decide if head coach Sheldon Keefe and his coaching staff will remain or be replaced.

Buckle up, Leafs fans, you’re in for what could be a very interesting summer.


SPORTSNET: Clayton Keller’s agents met with the Arizona Coyotes met with the club’s front office to discuss the team’s future. There was no trade request made by the 24-year-old winger’s representatives to seek clarity about the Coyotes’ direction after its Tempe arena proposal was rejected by a public referendum.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Tying the franchise single-season record of 86 points, Keller is the Coyotes’ best player. He’s signed through 2026-27 and is a vital part of their current rebuilding program. The fact that he’s wondering about the club’s future should be a concern for the front office. If he’s not happy with their direction he could follow the example of former teammate Jakob Chychrun and request a trade.

NEW YORK POST: Connecticut governor Ned Lamont said he’s reached out to NHL commissioner Gary Bettman for a meeting to discuss moving the Coyotes to Hartford, the former home of the Whalers before their relocation in 1997 to Carolina.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It would be nice to see the NHL return full-time to Hartford. However, if the Coyotes relocate they’ll likely end up in a big Western market such as Houston or Salt Lake City.

SPORTSNET: Coyotes top prospect Logan Cooley intends to return to the University of Minnesota for his sophomore season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I doubt that Cooley’s decision is tied to the Coyotes’ failed arena bid. Earlier this year, he indicated that he wasn’t in a hurry to make the leap to the NHL. U.S. College players tend to spend at least two seasons with their university clubs. Management isn’t in any hurry to rush Cooley into their lineup, preferring to let him develop and mature as a player in the college ranks.

DAILY FACEOFF: Frank Seravalli reports four potential candidates for the Flames’ vacant general manager job visited Calgary this week for interviews. Among them were Dave Nonis, Stan Bowman and Marc Bergevin. Seravalli believes the favorite could be Flames assistant GM Craig Conroy.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Conroy seems to me to be the best choice. He knows the Flames well during his years in their front office.

THE ATHLETIC: NHL commissioner Gary Bettman will reportedly meet with veteran coach Joel Quenneville after the playoffs to discuss his future with the league.

Quenneville resigned as head coach of the Florida Panthers in 2021, following the investigation into the sexual assault of former Chicago Blackhawks player Kyle Beach by former Blackhawks video coach Bradley Alrich.

At the time of Quenneville’s resignation, Bettman said he would have to meet with the commissioner if he wished to re-enter the league at some point.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This could mean that there’s a team interested in hiring Quenneville.

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 16, 2023

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 16, 2023

The Stars advance to the Western Conference Finals, the notable highlights from the Leafs exit interviews with the media, and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.


NHL.COM: The Dallas Stars move on to the Western Conference Finals after nipping the Seattle Kraken 2-1 in Game 7 of their second-round series. Roope Hintz opened the scoring, Wyatt Johnston tallied the game-winner and Jake Oettinger stopped 22 shots for the Stars. Oliver Bjorkstand scored in the dying seconds of the third period and Philipp Grubauer made 26 saves for the Kraken.

Dallas Stars goaltender Jake Oettinger (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Stars will face off again the Vegas Golden Knights when the Western Conference Finals begin on Friday, May 19. Another bounce-back performance in goal by Oettinger was crucial to the Stars’ victory in Game 7. Johnston, meanwhile, became the youngest player in NHL history to score a series-clinching goal in Game 7.

The Kraken’s first-ever NHL playoff appearance was a memorable one, upsetting the 2022 Stanley Cup champion Colorado Avalanche in seven games and pushing the Stars to the limit in this series. However, they looked like they were running out of gas in Game 7. If not for Grubauer’s goaltending the Stars’ margin of victory might’ve been higher. Still, this was a great experience for this second-year franchise, providing them with a solid foundation of experience to build on.

As noted above, the Western Conference Finals between the Stars and Golden Knights begins in Las Vegas on Friday, May 19 at 8:30 pm ET. Meanwhile, the Carolina Hurricanes and Florida Panthers will face off in the Eastern Conference Finals with Game 1 in Raleigh on Thursday, May 18 at 8 pm ET.


THE HOCKEY NEWS: Kyle Dubas will either return to the Toronto Maple Leafs as general manager or step away. During his club’s exit interviews with the media on Monday, Dubas indicated that he won’t entertain a front-office position with another club and intends to consult his family before reaching his decision.

Dubas is coming to the end of his five-year contract. He indicated that he will be meeting with team president Brendan Shanahan and the owners of Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment. However, the final say will be with his family, who endured what Dubas called a taxing year. He spent considerable time away from them as he attended nearly every one of the club’s home and road games this season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Recent rumors had linked Dubas to the Pittsburgh Penguins as they’re in the market for a new general manager. Given his remarks, they’ll have to look elsewhere. The Pens have reportedly interviewed 10-12 candidates including former Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin and Peter Chiarelli, the former GM of the Boston Bruins and Edmonton Oilers.

THE SCORE: Dubas indicated that he would take nothing off the table in terms of his coaching staff and roster if he returns as Leafs general manager. “I would consider anything with our group here that would allow us a better chance to win the Stanley Cup,” he said.

THE ATHLETIC: Leafs head coach Sheldon Keefe admitted his fate with the club is out of his control. He has a year remaining on his contract and hopes to return behind the bench. Dubas indicated that there will a full evaluation of everything on the team this season, including Keefe’s performance.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Leafs have been a strong regular-season team with Keefe, including a franchise-record 115-point performance in 2021-22 and 111 points this season. However, they’ve only won one playoff series since he took over as head coach in 2019-20.

THE SCORE: Auston Matthews doesn’t intend on leaving the Toronto Maple Leafs. He’s a year away from unrestricted free-agent eligibility but indicated his intention is to stay put. Matthews said signing an extension with the Leafs before next season is important to him and believes it “will work itself out in due time.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Matthews’ willingness to ink an extension is good news for the Leafs and their fans. How long that deal will be and for how much will become hot topics of speculation in Toronto. There’s already media chatter suggesting that he might seek a four-year deal worth an average annual value of $16 million. A maximum eight-year deal could see him pull in an AAV of $13.5 million.

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Forget about the scenario of John Tavares waiving his no-movement clause. Asked if he would do so as part of any trade, the Leafs captain expressed his love for the club and his teammates. “I made a commitment here for seven years to be a Leaf and I want to be here,” said Tavares, adding that he takes his role of team captain very seriously.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The theory about Tavares waiving his NMC came about because of the Leafs limited cap space due in part to his hefty $11 million cap hit through 2024-25. There was an assumption among some observers that he might do so if management approached him. Based on his reply, that’s not going to happen.

TSN: Michael Bunting said he’s had no contract extension talks with Leafs management this season. The 27-year-old winger is set to become a UFA on July 1. Trade-deadline acquisition Ryan O’Reilly is also due to become a UFA this summer and sounded more inclined to test the market than re-sign with the Leafs.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Don’t be surprised if Bunting and O’Reilly are playing elsewhere next season. The Leafs likely can’t afford to retain them even if they wanted to bring them back.

SPORTSNET: Leafs goaltender Ilya Samsonov revealed he suffered a neck injury in Game 3 against the Florida Panthers that sidelined him for the remainder of that series. A restricted free agent this summer, Samsonov indicated he hopes to re-sign with the Leafs.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Samsonov is coming off a one-year, $1.8 million contract and has arbitration rights this summer. I expect he’ll be re-signed to a multi-year deal and share the goaltending duties next season with Joseph Woll, who’s signed through 2024-25 at a very affordable $766K.

THE HOCKEY NEWS: The Calgary Flames have reportedly sought permission from the Leafs to speak with assistant general manager Brandon Pridham. They’re on the hunt for a replacement for Brad Treliving, who stepped down as GM last month.


OTTAWA SUN: The bidding for the Senators is down to four binding offers ranging from $850 million to $1 billion. Toronto billionaires Jeffrey and Michael Kimel of the Harlo Capital Group, Michael Andlauer of ATS Healthcare Group, Toronto real estate magnate Steve Apostolopoulos and Los Angeles producer Neko Sparks entered their bids by Monday’s due date.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s expected one of them will receive preferred bidder status within the next couple of weeks.

THE NEWS & OBSERVER: Carolina Hurricanes winger Teuvo Teravainen (hand injury) is moving one step closer to returning to the lineup. He shed his non-contact jersey for practice on Monday and is expected to return to action at some point in the Eastern Conference Finals.

NEW YORK POST: Rangers winger Kaapo Kakko hopes to gain more playing time, including on the power play, under the club’s new coaching staff.

NHL Rumor Mill – May 13, 2023

NHL Rumor Mill – May 13, 2023

An offseason of change could be coming for the Toronto Maple Leafs. Check out the latest in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.

ESPN.COM: Kristen Shilton expects this will be an interesting offseason for the Toronto Maple Leafs following their elimination from the second round by the Florida Panthers.

Team president Brendan Shanahan must decide whether he’ll re-sign general manager Kyle Dubas after another disappointing end to a season. If he doesn’t, the search will be on for Dubas’ replacement.

That could lead to more change for the Leafs. Ryan O’Reilly, Michael Bunting, Alex Kerfoot and David Kampf are slated to become unrestricted free agents on July 1. Starting goaltender Ilya Samsonov is a restricted free agent with arbitration rights.

Toronto Maple Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe (left) and general manager Kyle Dubas (NHL.com).

The biggest question is whether there will be changes to the Leafs’ core of Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, John Tavares and William Nylander. They’re undeniably excellent regular-season players but Shilton wonders how long the club can pretend that’s good enough. Those four failed to score in the first three games against the Panthers as the Leafs fell behind 3-0 in the series.

TORONTO SUN: Steve Simmons believes the priority for the majority ownership of Maple Leafs Sports and Entertainment is the status of Shanahan as team president. If they choose to keep Shanahan, he must come up with a plan that improves the Leafs’ playoff fortunes going forward. They cannot remain a strong regular-season team that keeps coming up short in the postseason.

That plan will involve Dubas, whose contract expires shortly. It will also involve the status of Leafs head coach Sheldon Keefe. If Dubas is back he might want to retain Keefe but Simmons doesn’t believe he can do that now given their poor playoff record. He also criticized their best players for their so-so-postseason performances.

NHL.COM: Mike Zeisberger noted that Matthews is a year away from unrestricted free-agent eligibility. The Leafs can start contract extension talks with him this summer but will he be interested and will Dubas still be the general manager by then?

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Mike Stephens believes a change is necessary behind the Leafs bench regardless of whether Dubas stays or goes. He criticized Keefe’s coaching, suggesting he “emulates the innate tendencies of his team – when the going gets tough, revert to your comfortable and often misguided habits.”

If Dubas departs it could affect players close to him like Matthews and Tavares. He infamously said that Nylander wouldn’t be traded as long as he was the Leafs general manager.

Trading Tavares might be the biggest shoe to drop given his age but he’s got an $11 million annual salary cap hit plus a full no-movement clause. If he agreed to waive it, the Leafs might have to retain part of his salary to move him, which is a no-go for them.

THE ATHLETIC: James Mirtle also noted the decisions facing the Leafs regarding Shanahan, Dubas, Keefe, the Leafs’ core players and the status of the pending free agents. He pointed out that Matthews and Marner both have no-movement clauses kicking in on July 1 while Nylander will have a 10-team no-trade go into effect at the same time.

Mirtle also suggested the club must find a way to make oft-injured goaltender Matt Murray’s contract disappear. He’s owed $4.68 million on the salary cap for next season and a buyout would likely be too prohibitive to achieve under the flat-cap environment.

PITTSBURGH HOCKEY NOW: Dan Kingerski believes the Penguins should hire Dubas as their next GM if the Leafs let him go.

NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks recently suggested the Rangers hire Keefe as their new head coach.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It didn’t take long for the goodwill the Leafs had from Toronto pundits and fans after advancing to the second round to evaporate over the course of their series with the Florida Panthers.

Following the elation of finally winning their first postseason series in 19 years, the harsh reality soon set in that this version of the Leafs couldn’t simply rest on that laurel.

Maybe the vibe from Leafs Nation this morning would be different if this series went the distance and was closely contested before the Leafs fell. Perhaps it would have a different feel if the core players had all stepped up and played consistently well in this postseason.

It’s undeniable that these Leafs are outstanding in the regular season. Of the seven 100-point seasons in club history, this version tops the list with 115 points in 2021-22 followed by their 111-point performance this season. Nevertheless, they still wilted in the heat of postseason play. Winning one playoff series since 2017 is just not good enough.

Ownership could engage in marginal changes or they’ll clean house in the front office and behind the bench. I doubt we’ll see them move most of the core players this summer.

Nevertheless, whoever sits in the GM’s chair this summer must determine whether Matthews and Nylander want to remain part of this club’s long-term future. If they wish to stay, start the process on July 1 of hammering out contract extensions. If they intend to test next summer’s UFA market then they should be moved for the best possible returns before their respective trade restrictions kick in on July 1.

I realize that’s easier said than done and it’s unlikely the Leafs will get equal value in return for either guy. However, losing them for nothing to free agency would be worse. Having them play out next season without extensions would also be an unnecessary distraction for their teammates and a slow-motion agony for their fans.

That’s my take this morning, Leafs fans. What say you? Let us know in the comments section below.

NHL Rumor Mill – May 10, 2023

NHL Rumor Mill – May 10, 2023

What will the Avs do with Gabriel Landeskog sidelined for 2023-24? Could they find a way to trade Valeri Nichushkin? Should the Canadiens trade their first-round pick for Pierre-Luc Dubois? What’s the latest on the Penguins? Find out in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.


THE DENVER POST: Bennett Durando pointed out that the Colorado Avalanche will get $7 million in salary-cap relief if necessary by placing Gabriel Landeskog on long-term injury reserve. The 30-year-old Avs captain is expected to miss the entirety of the 2023-24 season recovering from knee surgery.

Durando observed the Avalanche would have nearly $21 million to work with if the salary cap rises to $83.5 million as projected. Part of that will be used to sign restricted free agents Bowen Byram and Alex Newhook to new contracts.

Colorado Avalanche winger Gabriel Landeskog (NHL Images).

The Avalanche must also fill at least one top-six forward position and possibly more if J.T. Compher departs as an unrestricted free agent and Valeri Nichushkin doesn’t return next season.

Should they go the free-agent route they could look at short-term signings for pending UFAs such as Chicago’s Jonathan Toews, the Rangers’ Patrick Kane, Toronto’s Ryan O’Reilly or Philadelphia’s James van Riemsdyk.

Assuming they want a younger, long-term setup among their top six, they might have to move someone like Devon Toews or Samuel Girard to free up sufficient cap room.

During a weekend mailbag segment, a reader told Durando’s colleague Mark Kiszla that the Avalanche should trade Nischushkin.

Kiszla acknowledged that we may never know why Nichushkin disappeared from the Avs. However, he doubted they’d have a chance of moving him unless they come clean with a potential trade partner over what happened with the winger.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Avalanche will place Landeskog on LTIR and use the savings to re-sign Byram and Newhook while attempting to address their second-line center position. They’ll either re-sign Compher or seek a more experienced option via free agency or a trade.

Free agency might be the better way to go if the Avs don’t want to get entangled in an expensive long-term deal for an aging veteran. It could also help them avoid shopping Toews or Girard this summer.

Moving Nichushkin will be difficult even without knowing what happened to him on that fateful day in Seattle. He’s signed through 2029-30 with an average annual value of $6.125 million and a full no-movement clause.


MONTREAL GAZETTE: Brendan Kelly doesn’t believe Montreal fans will remain patient with the Canadiens for another season if they don’t show signs of real progress with their rebuild.

One way to do that, he argues, is to trade their 2023 first-round pick (fifth overall) to the Winnipeg Jets for Pierre-Luc Dubois. The rumor mill has linked the 24-year-old center to the Canadiens since last summer as speculation persists he wants out of Winnipeg.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Dubois could help the Canadiens accelerate their rebuild. He’s a restricted free agent this summer and is a year away from UFA eligibility so there’s a good chance the Jets could shop him this summer if he won’t sign a long-term deal. The Habs could make a pitch for him that includes a first-round pick. 

If they do, it’ll likely be the first-rounder they acquired last year from the Florida Panthers bundled with a couple of promising prospects or a young player. It won’t be the fifth-overall selection.

The Jets won’t be negotiating from a position of strength if Dubois intends to test next summer’s free-agent market. They’ll want to get the best deal possible. Sure, another club could swoop in and outbid the Habs but it would be risky if he’s not interested in a contract extension.

In that case, the Canadiens don’t have to put up their first-rounder but can simply wait until next summer when they can sign him as a UFA. That’s assuming that the Habs want Dubois in the first place. For all we know, they’ve got their eyes on other plans.


THE HOCKEY NEWS: Nick Horwat cited Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman speculating the Pittsburgh Penguins might have an interest in Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas as their next GM.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Dubas is in the final season of his contract with the Leafs. There’s rampant media conjecture that they could part ways if the club is eliminated from the second round by the Florida Panthers.

Despite the Leafs’ playoff difficulties under Dubas they have reliably been among the league’s top teams during his tenure. That could help him land with another club following this season if his time in Toronto is coming to an end.

Horwat also cited Freidman saying the Penguins and Calgary Flames are among the teams interested in talking to former Chicago Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s been less than two years since Bowman lost his job over his role in covering up Kyle Beach’s allegations that he was sexually abused by former Blackhawks video coach Brad Aldrich. Any club hiring him can expect a considerable backlash from fans and pundits. Horwat also pointed out that he did a terrible job during his final seasons with the Blackhawks as they went from a Stanley Cup dynasty to a bottom-feeder with bloated contracts.

NHL Rumor Mill – May 8, 2023

NHL Rumor Mill – May 8, 2023

With the Leafs on the brink of playoff elimination, the speculation about their offseason has already begun. Check out the latest as well as updates on the Jets and Kings in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.


TORONTO SUN/THE ATHLETIC: With the Maple Leafs down 0-3 in their second-round series with the Florida Panthers, the Sun’s Steve Simmons and The Athletic’s Pierre LeBrun and James Mirtle are already wondering about the club’s offseason moves.

The trio pondered whether general manager Kyle Dubas and head coach Sheldon Keefe will be replaced. Dubas is in the final year of his contract and could garner interest from other clubs if his bosses decide not to re-sign him.

Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews (NHL Images).

They also noted that Auston Matthews is a year away from unrestricted free-agent eligibility. Does he sign a lengthy and expensive contract extension or decide his future belongs elsewhere?

Simmons mused over whether Leafs president Brendan Shanahan survives after yet another solid regular season dissolved into another unimpressive playoff run.

Meanwhile, Mirtle took note that William Nylander is also a year away from UFA status and wondered if Nylander or Matthews becomes the priority to re-sign. He also wondered which players on the current roster under expiring contracts will be brought back given that next season’s salary cap is expected to remain flattened.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This seems like feasting on a carcass while it’s still barely breathing but it’s understandable given the rarity of clubs overcoming 0-3 postseason series deficits.

There was talk about Dubas and Keefe having saved their jobs during those giddy days following the Leafs series victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning. All of that has disappeared in this series against the Panthers.

Barring a miraculous comeback those issues will be paramount in the minds of Leafs Nation.

What does the future hold for Dubas, Keefe and Shanahan? Will it be Dubas attempting to open contract extension talks with Matthews and Nylander or someone else?

Are those players interested in staying in Toronto? Have they grown weary of the fishbowl existence and postseason underachievement and intend to their sights elsewhere?

The answers to some of those questions could be coming by the end of this week if the Leafs get swept on Wednesday.


SPORTSNET: Ryan Dixon recently looked at seven potential off-season trade suitors for Connor Hellebuyck. The 29-year-old Winnipeg Jets goaltender is a year away from unrestricted free-agent eligibility. He indicated during his end-of-season interview that he’s not interested in a roster rebuild if Jets management goes that route.

Topping Dixon’s list is the Los Angeles Kings if they decide to part ways with trade-deadline acquisition Joonas Korpisalo. Taking on Hellebuyck, whose annual average value is $6.16 million, would be more expensive than re-signing Korpisalo. However, the former Vezina Trophy winner could help the Kings finally reach their potential.

Atlantic Division clubs like the Buffalo Sabres, Detroit Red Wings and Ottawa Senators could be among the suitors. The Sabres and Senators appear primed to become serious playoff contenders with the right goaltender.

Perhaps a current playoff club that comes up short comes calling. The Carolina Hurricanes and New Jersey Devils could fall into that category depending on the outcome of their current series.

Canes goalies Frederik Andersen and Antti Raanta are UFAs this summer. Meanwhile, the Devils lack an experienced and reliable starter.

Dixon also included the Maple Leafs in his list. However, their limited cap space would probably take them out of the running.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: We don’t know yet whether the Jets’ ever-cautious management will shake things up or attempt to bolster their depth around core players like Hellebuyck for one more run next season.

Nevertheless, Hellebuyck will garner plenty of interest if he hits the trade block. Several of those aforementioned clubs are bound to come calling. I would also include the Pittsburgh Penguins in that bunch.


THE ATHLETIC: Eric Stephens recently looked at what the offseason could hold for the Los Angeles Kings following their second-straight first-round exit at the hands of the Edmonton Oilers.

Trade-deadline acquisition Vladislav Gavrikov was a terrific fit for the Kings. While his teammates went to bat for him to return, Kings GM Rob Blake noted his club has just $2.5 million in cap space for next season. Stephens believes Blake must make a cost-cutting trade to keep Gavirkov.

Defenseman Sean Walker could be a trade candidate. He appeared in just two of the six playoff games against the Oilers and was a healthy scratch at times in the second half of the season. Walker carries a $2.65 million cap hit for 2023-24.

Stephens also noted the Kings’ goaltending situation remains unsettled. Trade deadline pickup Joonas Korpisalo is slated to become a UFA this summer and Blake was noncommital over whether he’ll re-sign him.

Pheonix Copley is signed through next season. Meanwhile, the Kings might have no choice but to try and improve Cal Petersen, who struggled in the first season of his three-year contract with its $5 million annual cap hit.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Walker was a frequent subject of trade speculation this season as a cost-cutting candidate. It seems likely he’ll be on the move to clear space for Gavrikov if the latter is willing to stay and doesn’t seek an unreasonable raise over his current $2.8 million cap hit.

Korpisalo seemed certain to be re-signed by the Kings following his strong play down the stretch and early in that series with the Oilers. However, he struggled as that series went on which would explain Blake’s seeming reluctance to include him in his future plans.