NHL Rumor Mill – December 5, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – December 5, 2022

The latest trade speculation on the Canucks’ Brock Boeser plus some suggested trade targets for the Wild in today’s NHL Rumor mill.

LATEST ON BROCK BOESER

THE PROVINCE: Patrick Johnston reports Brock Boeser’s future with the Vancouver Canucks remains murky.

Vancouver Canucks winger Brock Boeser (NHL Images).

It was reported by Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman on Saturday that the 25-year-old winger’s agent has been given permission to speak with other clubs about a trade. Boeser’s agent, Ben Hankinson, declined to comment about the story as Jim Rutherford, the Canucks president of hockey operations.

Johnston believes a trade seems unlikely given Boeser’s $6.65 million annual salary through 2024-25 plus a tight salary-cap situation for most teams around the league. Nevertheless, the door remains open.

THE ATHLETIC: Thomas Drance and Rick Dhaliwal report Boeser’s status on the trade block isn’t new. They indicate the winger has not asked to be moved. There’s no ill will between the player and management but rather a mutual agreement to see if there’s a fit for him elsewhere.

Drance and Dhaliwal indicate there’s an understanding among the front office that the return could be “relatively pedestrian” because of Boeser’s expensive contract, his concerning two-way play and his limited goal production this season. The move would be made to garner salary-cap flexibility. The same would apply to other expensive supporting players such as Tyler Myers, Tanner Pearson and Conor Garland.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: No word yet whether Boeser’s agent is having any success drumming up potential trade partners. I daresay we’ll likely start hearing of possible suitors over the next week or two.

Boeser lacks no-trade protection, giving Canucks management plenty of options for potential destinations. However, Cap Friendly shows just three teams (Chicago Blackhawks, Buffalo Sabres and Anaheim Ducks) have the cap space to take his cap hit. Those clubs are rebuilding and Boeser might not fit into their long-term plans.

A trade seems unlikely at this point in the season. Perhaps the market might open up as the schedule draws nearer to the March 3 trade deadline. However, I wouldn’t be surprised if this is the type of deal that occurs in the offseason when clubs have more cap space and a willingness to spend on players like Boeser.

SUGGESTED TRADE TARGETS FOR THE WILD

THE ATHLETIC: Michael Russo and Joe Smith discussed some possible trade targets for the Minnesota Wild to land another top-six forward.

Smith suggested the Chicago Blackhawks’ Max Domi or Andreas Athanasiou would be affordable rental players. The Florida Panthers could move Anthony Duclair to become cap compliant but has another year on his contract at $3 million. Russo also mentioned Duclair and wondered if they might look at Montreal Canadiens forward Sean Monahan.

Russo and Smith also agree that this is Matt Dumba’s final season with the Wild. The 28-year-old defenseman is slated to become an unrestricted free agent in July. They believe general manager Bill Guerin could shop Dumba before the trade deadline even if they’re in the playoff race. However, his $6 million cap hit and modified no-trade clause could make him difficult to move.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Guerin could explore Dumba’s value in the trade market before the deadline. The odds of moving him will be better if the Wild are out of postseason contention. He could dangle Dumba as trade bait for a scoring forward. However, Russo and Smith also observed the Wild could risk depleting the right side of their blueline by moving him.

Cap Friendly indicates the Wild will have over $10 million in projected trade deadline cap space with their current roster. Moving out the remainder of Dumba’s cap hit will free up additional room to perhaps add a top-six rental forward and bring in a right-side blueliner if necessary.










Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – November 27, 2022

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – November 27, 2022

Could the Sabres be a suitor for Jakob Chychrun? Which defensemen should the Leafs target to shore up their injury-ravaged blueline? Are the Oilers shopping for a forward? Find out in the Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup.

COULD THE SABRES OR LEAFS PURSUE CHYCHRUN?

SPORTSNET: With Jakob Chychrun returning to action last week for the first time this season, Jeff Marek wondered if the Buffalo Sabres might be a dark-horse candidate to acquire the 24-year-old Arizona Coyotes defenseman.

Arizona Coyotes defenseman Jakob Chychrun (NHL Images).

Sabres general manager Kevyn Adams has maintained he’s sticking with youth. However, Marek noted that “there is a feeling out there” that they’re running their young blueliners (Rasmus Dahlin, Owen Power and Mattias Samuelsson) hard this season. He believes they’ve got their young core locked in that doesn’t need any more prospects and need to start putting together their team.

Marek also expects the New York Islanders, Los Angeles Kings and Columbus Blue Jackets will be linked to Chychrun.

TORONTO STAR: Nick Kypreos believes Chychrun would be the best answer to address the Maple Leafs’ banged-up blueline corps. He claims Leafs GM Kyle Dubas had a great interest in the Coyotes’ rearguard from the start and that hasn’t wavered.

Kypreos claims the Leafs will have competition, saying there are believed to be six clubs sniffing around for a deal. Four of the more serious contenders have a wider range of prospects than the Leafs.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Chyrchrun rumor mill will grind away now that he’s returned to action from off-season wrist surgery. So far, he’s looked good in the three games he’s played, collecting three points with a plus-minus of plus-four. The longer he plays, the more interest he’ll draw and perhaps the sooner this year-long saga will come to an end.

The Kings have long been linked to Chychrun and possess considerable depth in prospects and young players to tempt the Coyotes. So do the Blue Jackets, who were rumored to have looked into acquiring him leading up to this year’s draft.

I don’t see where Chychrun’s a fit with the Islanders. They’ve already got two solid left-side defensemen in Adam Pelech and Alexander Romanov plus right-shot Noah Dobson has emerged as their blueline point producer. Their focus over the summer was finding a scoring forward.

The Sabres’ biggest need thus far seems to be reliable goaltending. If they want to bolster their blueline perhaps they’ll consider more affordable, healthier options than Chychrun.

As for the Leafs, I can’t see them outbidding other clubs for Chychrun, especially if the Coyotes insist on getting a couple of first-rounders and a high-end prospect or good young NHL player in return.

MORE PROPOSED LEAFS TRADE TARGETS

Nick Kypreos also suggested several other defensemen that could address their blueline woes if Chychrun wasn’t feasible. One was the Nashville Predators’ Dante Fabbro, who’s a restricted free agent next summer. Word is the Predators are willing to move the right-shot defenseman for the right price. Kypreos believes it could cost the Leafs prospect Matthew Knies.

The other is Vladislav Gavrikov of the Columbus Blue Jackets. He’s slated to become an unrestricted free agent in July and could cost a first-round pick and more to acquire.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I must confess this is the first I’ve heard that Fabbro might be available. Perhaps the right price would be a scoring forward. The Predators, however, won’t be under any significant pressure to move him by the March 3 trade deadline given his RFA status.

I still believe the Blue Jackets will try to retain Gavrikov. Nevertheless, he will draw plenty of interest if he hits the trade market before March 3.

Other options include the Seattle Kraken’s Carson Soucy, the Vancouver Canucks’ Luke Schenn, the Anaheim Ducks’ John Klingberg and the Minnesota Wild’s Matt Dumba.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Soucy and Dumba won’t be going anywhere as long as their clubs remain in playoff contention by the trade deadline. Klingberg, on the other hand, will become available when his no-trade clause expires on Jan. 1. Expect the Ducks to start peddling him between then and deadline day.

OILERS SEEK A FORWARD

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman believes the Edmonton Oilers are in the market for “edgy”, grinding depth forwards. There’s a feeling since Evander Kane was sidelined that they’re easier to play against. He points out that they’re close to the salary cap and wonders if they can find a budget player to address their needs.










NHL Rumor Mill – November 24, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – November 24, 2022

Check out the latest Canadiens speculation plus a look at some other potential blueline trade targets for the Leafs in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.

LATEST ON THE CANADIENS

MONTREAL HOCKEY NOW: The New Jersey Devils’ rumored interest in Josh Anderson apparently hasn’t waned since the offseason. Canadiens podcaster and former broadcaster Tony Marinaro reports Devils general manager Tom Fitzgerald wants the 28-year-old Canadiens winger badly.

Montreal Canadiens winger Josh Anderson (NHL Images).

Marinaro wonders if the Devils would part with a promising youngster such as Luke Hughes, Simon Nemec or Alexander Holtz in a package deal. It remains to be seen if Canadiens GM Kent Hughes (no relation to Luke or Devils winger Jack Hughes) would be willing to move Anderson.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Marinaro also claims there are a couple of teams besides the Devils who would take Anderson. Assuming the Canadiens are willing to move him, they probably aren’t in any rush to do so at this stage in the season.

If there is interest in Anderson, it might be best to wait until the March 3 trade deadline approaches to start considering serious offers. His value in the trade market could be much higher by that point.

Marco D’Amico recently listed Sean Monahan, Joel Edmundson and Christian Dvorak as the Canadiens’ top-three most valuable trade chips.

D’Amico noted TSN’s Pierre LeBrun recently linked Monahan to the Colorado Avalanche, who could be among several clubs that will be in the market for a second-line center. Edmundson has apparently been the subject of conversations between Hughes and his peers, while the recent improvement of Dvorak could bolster his trade value.

Speaking of Anderson, D’Amico speculated the Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers could present irresistible offers to Hughes at some point.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I believe Monahan, Edmundson or Dvorak could be moved before Anderson. Much will depend on where the Canadiens are in the standings leading up to the March 3 trade deadline and what the market is for those players. Given the plethora of defensemen the Canadiens are carrying, maybe Edmundson gets traded first.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Stu Cowan reports the Canadiens possess a logjam of defensemen with Mike Matheson’s recent return from injury and the rise of promising blueliners like Kaiden Guhle, Jordan Harris, Arber Xhekaj and Johnathan Kovacevic. He also noted there were 19 scouts at Tuesday’s game between the Canadiens and Buffalo Sabres.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Some of those scouts would’ve been there simply because their teams will be playing the Canadiens or Sabres in the near future. However, I daresay some could be there to check out some potential trade bait.

LIST OF POTENTIAL BLUELINE TRADE TARGETS FOR THE LEAFS

THE SCORE: Sean O’Leary recently published a list of 10 defensemen the Toronto Maple Leafs could target to bolster their injury-ravaged blueline.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: O’Leary’s list came out before the Leafs acquired promising rearguard Conor Timmins from the Arizona Coyotes on Nov. 23. However, they could perhaps pursue one of his suggested trade targets if Timmins doesn’t pan out or if Morgan Rielly, Jake Muzzin and TJ Brodie are sidelined longer than expected.

Pending unrestricted free agent options include the Columbus Blue Jackets’ Vladislav Gavrikov, the Washington Capitals’ Dmitry Orlov, the Minnesota Wild’s Matt Dumba, the New Jersey Devils’ Damon Severson, the Seattle Kraken’s Carson Soucy and the Vancouver Canucks’ Luke Schenn.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As I’ve mentioned before, I don’t see Orlov, Dumba, Severson and Soucy going anywhere as long as their respective teams remain in playoff contention. Gavrikov could be shopped if he hasn’t signed a contract extension before the trade deadline. Schenn will likely become available if the Canucks fail to gain ground in the standings.

Notable defensemen with term remaining on their contracts include the Arizona Coyotes’ Jakob Chychrun, the Boston Bruins’ Mike Reilly and Matt Roy and Sean Walker of the Los Angeles Kings.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The high asking price for Chychrun is likely too rich for the Leafs. Reilly could be a good option but the Bruins may be reluctant to trade him to a division rival. Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas has a trade history with Kings GM Rob Blake so perhaps Roy or Walker would be more likely options here.










NHL Rumor Mill – November 17, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – November 17, 2022

Could the Senators attempt to bring back Erik Karlsson or are there better trade options for them with the Canadiens or Penguins? Should the Leafs target Karlsson or are there better alternatives to address their defense? Check out the latest in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.

COULD THE SENATORS TRY TO REACQUIRE ERIK KARLSSON?

SAN JOSE HOCKEY NOW: Sheng Peng cites Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman speculating the Sharks may have had conversations with the Ottawa Senators regarding Erik Karlsson. In 2018, the Senators traded Karlsson to the Sharks, who signed him to an eight-year contract with an average annual value of $11.5 million.

San Jose Sharks defenseman Erik Karlsson (NHL Images).

Karlsson has never lost his affection for the city of Ottawa and he and his family still maintain a home there. With the 32-year-old defenseman enjoying the best start of his career, Sharks general manager Mike Grier earlier this week indicated he was willing to entertain offers for the blueliner.

Peng points out that trading Karlsson will be difficult given how few teams can afford his contract, which also contains a full no-movement clause. He also noted that Friedman doubted the Senators could afford to do so even if the Sharks agreed to retain 50 percent of Karlsson’s cap hit. That’s because they still want to re-sign winger Alex DeBrincat and defenseman Artem Zub.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Grier’s comments combined with Senators GM Pierre Dorion telling reporters he’s still actively shopping for a defenseman prompted some folks to suggest a reunion with Karlsson. If the Sens had more long-term cap space perhaps there would be a possibility, assuming that Karlsson would waive his NMC to return to Ottawa.

The Senators have $21.7 million of cap space for 2023-24 if the cap only rises by $1 million as originally projected with just 10 players under contract. DeBrincat, Zub and Shane Pinto will eat up a big chunk of that cap room as well as pending UFA goaltender Cam Talbot if they attempt to re-sign him. If not, replacing Talbot could also prove to be expensive.

There is also the question of the Sharks’ asking price. They’re not going to just give Karlsson away, especially if they have to retain a portion of his cap hit to facilitate a trade. They’ll want a decent return, perhaps in the form of a package containing a first-round pick, a high-end prospect and a promising young player like Pinto or Jake Sanderson. And if it becomes a three-team trade to spread the cap hit around, that third team will also want a sweetener.

ARE THERE OTHER BLUELINE TRADE OPTIONS FOR THE SENATORS?

TVA SPORTS: Louis Jean wondered why the Senators didn’t attempt to sign David Savard in 2021 when he became an unrestricted free agent. He felt the 32-year-old rearguard would’ve been a perfect complement for Thomas Chabot.

Savard is currently signed with the Montreal Canadiens through 2024-25 with an AAV of $3.5 million. Jean wondered if Dorion might put in a call to Habs GM Kent Hughes.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Anything’s possible, I suppose, but I don’t see that call taking place. If Dorion wasn’t interested in Savard in 2021, he’s probably not interested now.

PITTSBURGH HOCKEY NOW: Dan Kingerski recently wondered if the Penguins and Senators could become trade partners. In addition to needing defensemen, the Senators could use some help at center with Josh Norris sidelined until at least January with a shoulder injury.

Kingerski suggested Brian Dumoulin and Jeff Carter as short-term options for the Senators since both are slated to become UFAs next summer. Other options could include center Teddy Blueger and defensemen such as Mark Friedman or Ty Smith.

In return, Kingerski suggested the Senators part with Alex Formenton. The Sens have until Dec. 1 to sign the RFA winger or he’ll become ineligible to play in the NHL this season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Senators could be on Dumoulin’s 10-team no-trade list and I don’t see Carter agreeing to waive his no-movement clause to go to Ottawa. If Dorion were interested in the Penguins’ defensemen I believe he’d prefer Marcus Pettersson or Pierre-Olivier Joseph than Friedman or Smith.

LATEST LEAFS SPECULATION

TORONTO STAR: Nick Kypreos proposed a way for the Maple Leafs to acquire Erik Karlsson. “Could the Leafs get the Sharks to take (Jake) Muzzin’s contract back, retain salary, and build a deal around top prospect Matthews Knies?”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Why would the Sharks want Muzzin’s contract? He’s earning a $5.6 million AAV through 2024-25 with a full no-trade clause this season. They could agree to that if the Leafs are taking Karlsson’s full cap hit through 2026-27 off their books, assuming Muzzin agrees to be shipped to the Sharks.

I’m assuming the “retain salary” bit refers to the Sharks’ absorbing part of Karlsson’s $11.5 million AAV. However, if they’re taking on Muzzin’s contract, why would they retain any part of Karlsson’s cap hit? Sorry, I don’t see that happening.

DAILY FACEOFF: Frank Seravalli lists six trade options for the Leafs to replace Muzzin by using his placement on long-term injured reserve to acquire a defenseman.

The Anaheim Ducks’ John Klingberg tops Seravalli’s list, followed by the Columbus Blue Jackets’ Vladislav Gavrikov and the Los Angeles Kings’ Matt Roy. The Seattle Kraken’s Carson Soucy and the Washington Capitals’ Nick Jensen or Dmitry Orlov round out the list. He also suggested keeping an eye on the Minnesota Wild’s Matt Dumba.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Those defensemen likely won’t be available until close to the March 3 trade deadline.

Klingberg isn’t a shutdown blueliner like Muzzin so I don’t see him as a good fit for the Leafs. Gavrikov could be a better option but I think the Jackets intend to re-sign him.

Seravalli points out the Kings have a surplus of defensemen and Roy has another year on his contract. However, they could be reluctant to part with him given his adaptability and ability to play big minutes. Seravalli also admitted Soucy might not be available yet given the Kraken have exceeded expectations thus far this season. I agree that he could be an intriguing option if the Kraken are out of playoff contention by March and looking to sell.

The Capitals could go into sell mode if they’re out of a playoff berth before the March trade deadline. However, I see them improving as their injury-ravaged roster gets healthier, which could put Jensen or Orlov out of reach. As for Dumba, his status could depend on where the Wild are in the standings as March approaches.










Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – November 13, 2022

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – November 13, 2022

Are the Senators about to hasten their search for a defenseman? What’s the latest on Bo Horvat’s contract talks? Could the Flames target the Blues for a forward? Who could become playoff rental defensemen? Find out in the Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup.

LATEST “32 THOUGHTS” RUMOR TIDBITS

SPORTSNET: In the latest “32 Thoughts” Saturday intermission segment, Elliotte Friedman speculated a potentially serious injury to Thomas Chabot could force the Ottawa Senators to accelerate their search for a defenseman. Chabot was hit from behind by Travis Konecny during Saturday’s game against the Philadelphia Flyers and didn’t return.

Freidman said it’s well known that Senators general manager Pierre Dorion has been searching for a defenseman since the offseason. Dorion doesn’t want to rush into anything and make a desperate trade that hurts the club over the long term. Friedman also indicated that there are a number of players who have partial no-trade clauses into Canada, making it tougher for teams like the Senators to make additions.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This search has been ongoing for some time. If there was a deal to be had, Dorion would’ve made it by now.

In addition to the points raised by Friedman, there probably isn’t much consequential talent available in the trade market right now. It’s still very early in the season and not much separation between the playoff contenders and pretenders. Most general managers are still evaluating their rosters so I daresay few of them are in “sell mode” at this time.

The Senators have been linked to the Arizona Coyotes’ Jakob Chychrun for a while but we all know the Coyotes’ huge asking price and his injury history are the main reasons why he hasn’t been moved. With Chychrun still sidelined by off-season wrist surgery, I don’t see Dorion going after him.

Vancouver Canucks captain Bo Horvat (NHL Images).

One defenseman who could be available is the Boston Bruins’ Mike Reilly. He’s the odd man out on their blueline with Charlie McAvoy’s recent return to the lineup and is now in the minors. There’s talk he’s waiting for a trade. Reilly could be a decent depth acquisition until better options emerge in the market.

Friedman reported there is nothing new on Bo Horvat’s contract talks with the Vancouver Canucks. He also wondered if there will be any clarity over the future of head coach Bruce Boudreau as the team continues to struggle.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The more the Canucks struggle the more speculation grows over Horvat’s future in Vancouver. The Canucks captain is slated to become an unrestricted free agent next July and will seek a big raise over his current $5.5 million cap hit.

As for Boudreau, the front office reportedly told several key players recently that any changes would come to the roster before they come behind the bench. However, team president Jim Rutherford has twice taken swipes at his coaching staff in recent weeks.

Something’s gotta give if the Canucks fail to soon reverse their fortunes.

Friedman indicates the Calgary Flames remain in the market for a scoring forward. He doesn’t think there’s anything pressing right now but suggested keeping an eye on the St. Louis Blues.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Blues have two notable scoring forwards in Ryan O’Reilly and Vladimir Tarasenko slated for UFA status next summer who could become trade bait if they’re out of playoff contention before the March 3 deadline. However, I doubt either guy is available right now. Tarasenko has a full no-trade but O’Reilly lacks such protection.

Calgary Hockey Now’s Steve Macfarlane believes the biggest problem for the Flames in the trade market is they can no longer draw upon their blueline depth for trade bait to add a forward. Chris Tanev and Michael Stone are sidelined by injuries while Oliver Kylington is away indefinitely for personal reasons.

AN EARLY LOOK AT POTENTIAL PLAYOFF RENTAL DEFENSEMEN

THE ATHLETIC: Pierre LeBrun recently took an early look at the trade market for playoff rental defensemen. He listed the Anaheim Ducks’ John Klingberg and Kevin Shattenkirk and the Minnesota Wild’s Matt Dumba as three options.

Klingberg has a full no-trade clause until January 1, when it reverts to a 10-team no-trade list. The rebuilding Ducks could attempt to flip him for futures at the deadline unless they intend to extend his contract. Shattenkirk, meanwhile, submitted a 12-team no-trade list this summer.

Matt Dumba could also become available if the Wild fall out of postseason contention by the trade deadline. He has a 10-team no-trade list. LeBrun speculated he could be part of trade discussions even if the Wild stay in the playoff chase as part of a hockey trade to help the roster.










NHL Rumor Mill – September 29, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – September 29, 2022

Recent speculation on Jakob Chychrun and Matt Dumba plus the latest on the Senators in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Due to the five days I was sidelined by Hurricane Fiona I’m forced to play catch-up regarding NHL trade and free agent speculation. Please bear with me here as I make note of the recent notable rumors plus some more recent chatter. Cheers!

BLUES, SENATORS BELIEVED INTERESTED IN CHYCHRUN

SPORTSNET: In the latest “32 Thoughts” podcast, Elliotte Friedman reported his belief the St. Louis Blues were interested in defenseman Jakob Chychrun and could continue to monitor the 24-year-old defenseman’s status with the Arizona Coyotes.

Arizona Coyotes defenseman Jakob Chychrun (NHL Images).

Friedman also felt the Ottawa Senators may have had an interest in Chychrun during the summer. However, he doesn’t believe anything was close. The Coyotes liked young center Shane Pinto but the Senators aren’t willing to part with him.

Chychrun’s injury history is a concern. Friedman cited one team telling him Ryan Ellis’ situation with the Philadelphia Flyers has “sent a chill” throughout the league. Teams could be concerned about acquiring Chychrun only to have him face a potentially career-threatening injury.

GOPHNX.COM: In a recent mailbag segment, Craig Morgan said Chychrun is a wild card for the Coyotes as this season approaches. He’s not sure if the sidelined blueliner will be ready in time for the start of the season or if he’ll be traded by that point.

Morgan reiterated that Coyotes general manager Bill Armstrong isn’t going to sell off Chychrun at a bargain rate. If the rearguard wants to be traded he’ll have to play his way off the team.

In other words, Morgan believes teams want to see how well he performs once he returns from his injury. He also dismissed rumors out of Ottawa as he believes they’re not checking the facts in Arizona.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I think there are teams looking at acquiring Chychrun who want to see how he plays this season before making a big commitment to acquire him. That’s certainly understandable given Ellis’ situation with the Flyers.

Nevertheless, I still believe those interested parties will want Armstrong to lower his asking price. I’m not saying he has to accept a pittance for a return but Chychrun’s injury history hurts his trade value.

Even if he stays healthy throughout the remainder of this season and puts up impressive numbers, I can’t see the Coyotes getting a king’s ransom in return. At some point, Armstrong might have to bend a bit to prevent this situation from becoming more of a distraction than it already is.

DUMBA BACK IN THE RUMOR MILL?

THE ATHLETIC: Michael Russo recently reported Matt Dumba’s unrestricted free agent status next summer combined with the Minnesota Wild’s limited salary-cap space for 2023-24 could lead to the 28-year-old defenseman getting traded this season. The club has a growing pool of defense prospects that could make him less enticing to retain.

Dumba carries an average annual value of $6 million but will earn $5.2 million in actual value this season. He claims to be unconcerned about the speculation over his future, pointing out he’s frequently surfaced in media trade rumors in recent years. Nevertheless, Russo suggests the defenseman could be shopped by the March 3 trade deadline if the Wild are out of the playoff race by then.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Then again, Wild GM Bill Guerin could retain Dumba as an “own rental” if he’s playing well and the Wild look poised for a deep playoff run. It will be interesting to see how his situation pans out. Unless Guerin sheds a lot of salary before July 1 to re-sign Dumba, this could be the latter’s final season in Minnesota.

WILL THE SENATORS MOVE ZAITSEV?

OTTAWA SUN: Ken Warren wonders if there will be spots for Nikita Zaitsev and Erik Brannstrom on the Senators’ blueline. Zaitsev, 30, struggled last season with multiple defense partners and management attempted to trade him during the summer.

Zaitsev’s remaining contract is an issue. After receiving his $2 million signing bonus this summer, he’s earning $2.5 million in actual salary. He’s due the same bonus and actual salary for 2023-24.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Warren also suggested Zaitsev could end up on waivers but I doubt a club will claim him unless it’s a team desperate to reach the cap minimum. Even then, that’s not a certainty. The combination of his struggles and salary make him difficult to move.