NHL Morning Coffee Headlines and Rumors – July 30, 2023

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines and Rumors – July 30, 2023

Highlights from a recent interview with NHLPA director Marty Walsh plus the latest on Erik Karlsson, Vladimir Tarasenko and the Jets in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines and Rumors.


ESPN.COM: Greg Wyshynski interviewed the NHL Player Association’s new executive director Marty Walsh regarding a variety of topics facing PA and the league. Among the highlights:

Walsh is concerned over whether the NHL’s revenue growth is commensurate with the revenues the league is generating. He also wonders if that growth will put the league’s top stars closer to the salaries of comparable stars in other sports leagues or if it will “unsqueeze” the salaries of veterans whose earnings suffer as a result of salary-cap constraints.

I’m not being critical, but team franchise wealth is certainly growing at a disproportionate rate compared to what the players are making,” Walsh told Wyshynski. He pointed out there will be more teams that will be worth $1 billion USD within a couple of years, and soon there will be teams worth $2 billion USD.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Walsh acknowledged the flattened salary cap since 2020-21 brought about by COVID-19 has affected player contracts. That’s because of the memorandum of understanding extending the CBA to 2026 where the players agreed to a fixed escrow rate. However, that created an imbalance in the 50-50 revenue split leaving an escrow debt to the owners that the players had to repay.

That debt will be fully repaid at the end of 2023-24 when the salary cap is projected to significantly rise by at least $4 million over the current rate of $83.5 million. It could exceed $92 million by 2025-26.

Walsh is also focusing on creating opportunities for players within the current salary-cap system. He would like them to do more “domestically and internationally” to create more relationships and partnerships to grow the game.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: In other words, do more to generate more revenue and that will translate into a higher salary cap and thus more money for the players.

There are concerns on the players’ side that the owners will attempt to put the current 50-50 split in league revenue on the table in the next round of collective bargaining when the current agreement expires in 2026. Walsh, however, doesn’t see the benefit for the owners to attempt to change it, believing it’s better for the league to maintain stability.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Some team owners could entertain the notion of tipping more of the revenue share in their favor. However, it will be NHL commissioner Gary Bettman who’ll decide if that’s something the owners’ side will fight for in negotiations. He could agree with Walsh that the current split is working fine for both sides.

Walsh also said he’s working with Bettman and the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) regarding NHL participation in the 2026 Milano Cortina Winter Olympics in Italy. He also indicated that the players are keen to participate in the next World Cup of Hockey, which he said is a priority for the PA and the NHL. They would also like to find a way to have the league’s Russian players participate in the World Cup “in some credible way.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The COVID-19 pandemic prevent NHL players from participating in the 2022 Winter Olympics and pushed the World Cup ahead to a potential tournament in February 2025. Nevertheless, it’s been seven years since the 2016 World Cup of Hockey, which was the last international tournament with NHL participation.

San Jose Sharks defenseman Erik Karlsson (NHL Images).

Walsh said he hasn’t had conversations yet with the NHL regarding a possible expansion of the regular-season schedule and the playoffs. He also believes there soon needs to be clarity regarding the Arizona Coyotes’ arena situation. Despite the recent ban on specialty warm-up jerseys, Walsh believes there’s an opportunity to revisit this issue down the road.


THE ATHLETIC: Rob Rossi recently noted that the Pittsburgh Penguins is the only club among those reportedly interested in San Jose Sharks defenseman Erik Karlsson that hasn’t made a major roster move over the past two weeks.

The Carolina Hurricanes added defenseman Tony DeAngelo and re-signed Sebastian Aho to the largest contract in franchise history. The Toronto Maple Leafs placed oft-injured goaltender Matt Murray on long-term injury reserve, perhaps for the entirety of the 2023-24 season. The Seattle Kraken signed blueliner Vince Dunn to a four-year deal.

Rossi acknowledged those moves might not eliminate those clubs from the Karlsson sweepstakes. However, he also thinks the Penguins’ recent lack of activity hints they could know something about the three-time Norris Trophy winner’s situation that nobody else does.

Noting the upcoming arbitration hearing for Penguins forward Drew O’Connor, Rossi indicated that the club will have a 48-hour window to buy out a contract beginning 72 hours after a ruling or a settlement with O’Connor.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: My theory is Penguins hockey ops president (and acting general manager) Kyle Dubas will buy out a contract, perhaps that of winger Mikael Granlund. Cap Friendly indicates it will provide the Penguins with over $4.1 million in cap space for the coming season, which could prove invaluable in pulling off what is expected to be a complicated trade to acquire Karlsson.

BALLY SPORTS MIDWEST’s Andy Strickland reported Vladimir Tarasenko had a four-year offer from the Ottawa Senators worth $5.5 million annually earlier in free agency. The 31-year-old winger also received one-year offers worth $5.25 million from the Hurricanes and Sharks.

THE ATHLETIC’s Jeremy Rutherford tweeted that the Florida Panthers also made an offer for Tarasenko.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Tarasenko signed a one-year, $5 million deal with the Senators last Thursday.

WINNIPEG SUN: Scott Billeck recently weighed in on the Jets’ logjam on defense. He doesn’t expect the club to move out a veteran such as Nate Schmidt or Neal Pionk to make room for younger defensemen such as Logan Stanley, Ville Heinola, Kyle Capobianco and Declan Chisholm. That won’t help the club develop those blueliners but it won’t help the Jets in their current “win-now” mode to trade a veteran rearguard.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That could change if the Jets are out of playoff contention by midseason.

NHL Rumor Mill – July 27, 2023

NHL Rumor Mill – July 27, 2023

The Sharks are having difficulty moving Erik Karlsson plus the latest on the Capitals in today’s NHL Rumor mill.


DAILY FACEOFF: Frank Seravalli recently reported that the San Jose Sharks are still looking for a significant return for Erik Karlsson in the trade market. However, they haven’t found a team willing to pay anywhere close to what they want for the 33-year-old defenseman.

San Jose Sharks defenseman Erik Karlsson (NHL Images).

Seravalli claims the interested clubs are sitting back and waiting for the Sharks to call them back when they’re ready to resume discussions. They aren’t willing to pay anything significant for Karlsson.

The Sharks believe they need to get a return for Karlsson. They don’t want to get nothing and retain 20 percent of his remaining cap hit just to get him off their books. Seravalli thinks they’re not properly valuing the salary-cap space, the freedom and flexibility from getting off an $11.5 million player.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Karlsson recently confirmed he’s spoken with several clubs including the Pittsburgh Penguins, Carolina Hurricanes, Seattle Kraken and Toronto Maple Leafs.

I discount the Leafs because they’re already over the cap ceiling and still have to get cap compliant after putting goaltender Matt Murray on long-term injury reserve. The Hurricanes’ recent signing of defenseman Tony DeAngelo likely takes them out of the bidding.

The Penguins are the club most often linked to Karlsson and reportedly remain the most confident in landing him. We’ve heard nothing from the Kraken. That doesn’t mean they aren’t interested but I think they’re content to stick with their current roster-building program.

My theory about the Penguins is they could be waiting until after Drew O’Connor’s arbitration situation has been resolved.

The Sharks will have to retain part of Karlsson’s hefty cap hit whether it’s a trade with just one team or a three-team deal to spread his cap hit around. As Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman pointed out earlier this month, how much they’re willing to retain will determine the quality of the return.


THE HOCKEY NEWS: Remy Mastey noted a recent report indicating Evgeny Kuznetsov had requested a trade from the Washington Capitals earlier this year. He believes the Arizona Coyotes should look into acquiring the 31-year-old center.

Mastey believes the Coyotes need to add a bonafide top-six center. He thinks Kuznetsov could address that need, pointing to his playoff experience which he can use to mentor younger Coyotes such as Clayton Keller, Matias Maccelli and Barrett Hayton.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kuznetsov carries an average annual value of $7.8 million through 2024-25 along with a 10-team no-trade clause. While he might welcome a trade he might not have rebuilding teams like the Coyotes on his radar.

Besides, Kuznetsov might not be the type of player that fits into general manager Bill Armstrong’s rebuilding plans. He’s a talented playmaker and the Coyotes can afford his salary but he’s been inconsistent in recent years and has had some off-ice issues in the past.

WASHINGTON HOCKEY NOW: Jared Sarre recently listed four players the Capitals should target to improve their top-six forward depth. He listed the Toronto Maple Leafs’ William Nylander, the Philadelphia Flyers’ Travis Konecny and the San Jose Sharks’ Kevin Labanc as trade options and winger Tomas Tatar as a free-agent target.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Tatar is the easiest option of the bunch. However, they can’t afford to add a free agent without shedding some salary via trade or demotion.

The Leafs aren’t in any hurry to move Nylander and the same goes for the Flyers with Konecny. They aren’t available right now unless the Capitals are willing to pony up a significant return for either guy.

Labanc would be much more affordable in terms of return and the Sharks would probably entertain an offer for him. However, Washington’s limited cap space means the Sharks would have to retain part of his $4.725 million cap hit. Considering they’re facing that scenario with Karlsson they’re unlikely to be receptive toward doing the same for Labanc even if it is just for this season.

NHL Rumor Mill – July 26, 2023

NHL Rumor Mill – July 26, 2023

How will the Bruins replace Patrice Bergeron? What’s the latest on Hurricanes defenseman Brett Pesce? Which members of the Kings could become trade candidates? Find out in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.


NBC SPORTS: Nick Goss believes the Boston Bruins face an enormous challenge attempting to replace Patrice Bergeron, who announced his retirement on Tuesday.

If they go with internal options, Goss speculates Charlie Coyle will take over centering the first line between Brad Marchand and Jake DeBrusk. That will leave Pavel Zacha as their second-line center, assuming David Krejci follows Bergeron into retirement.

Calgary Flames center Elias Lindholm (NHL Images).

Trade targets could include Mark Scheifele of the Winnipeg Jets and Elias Lindholm of the Calgary Flames. Goss considers Lindholm the better fit given his all-around skill set plus the 28-year-old Flames center is two years younger than Scheifele.

BOSTON HERALD: Steve Conroy also considers Lindholm and Scheifele as the most likely trade targets should the Bruins go that route to replace Bergeron. He shares Goss’ view that Lindholm would be the better fit.

Conroy also looked at which Bruins could become trade chips to bring in someone like Lindholm or Scheifele.

He wondered if they might bite the bullet and break up their goalie tandem by shopping Linus Ullmark or Jeremy Swayman. He also mused whether Jake DeBrusk has a long-term future in Boston after this season. Like DeBrusk, defensemen Matt Grzelcyk and Derek Forbort are slated to become unrestricted free agents next summer.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Flames are said to be trying to convince Lindholm to sign a contract extension while the Jets are hoping to do the same with Scheifele. One or both could become available in this summer’s trade market if they reject new contract offers from their current clubs.

Swayman would be the easiest to move as Ullmark has a 16-team no-trade list. Like Swayman, DeBrusk and Grzelcyk lack no-trade protection while Forbort has a three-team no-trade list.

A package of Swayman and DeBrusk could be quite tempting to the Flames or Jets. The Bruins could prefer moving one or the other packaged with Grzelcyk or Forbort and a draft pick. Whether that’s enough to land Lindholm or Scheifele is another matter, especially if other clubs with better trade assets get into the bidding.


THE HOCKEY NEWS: Ann Kimmel noted the rumors that linked the Nashville Predators to Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Brett Pesce. Given the Hurricanes’ recent signing of Tony DeAngelo, she wonders if that means Pesce is off the table.

Kimmel observed that the Hurricanes were among the clubs interested in San Jose Sharks defenseman Erik Karlsson. Acquiring him would’ve meant making a cost-cutting trade, which in part fueled trade speculation that Pesce could become a trade candidate.

With the DeAngelo signing, the Hurricanes now appear out of the bidding for Karlsson, meaning they don’t need to shed salary to free up cap space for the Sharks blueliner. That means they can afford to retain Pesce for at least this season before his UFA eligibility next July.

As for the Predators, Kimmel believes they’re likely to stick with their current blueline corps considering they’ve invested $30 million in defensemen.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Hurricanes could peddle Pesce if they’re looking at adding another scoring forward to their lineup. However, they’re now bumping up against the $83.5 million salary cap. Swapping Pesce and his $4.025 million cap hit for a scorer would have to be a dollar-in, dollar-out transaction.


LA HOCKEY NOW: Austin Stanovic recently looked at several Los Angeles Kings players that they “wouldn’t necessarily be shopping if they dipped into the trade market.” However, he thinks they would be willing to move them without much fuss this season.

Trevor Moore, Viktor Arvidsson and Matt Roy could be moved because of their contracts or young players potentially stepping up and taking their spots on the roster. Young players with something to prove such as Arthur Kaliyev, Jaret Anderson-Dolan, and Tobias Bjornfot could also become trade chips as they attempt to prove they deserve a spot on the team.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Much will depend on where the Kings are in the standings and what their roster needs are as they approach the trade deadline. Arvidsson and Roy surfaced in last season’s rumor mill near the trade deadline. Their names could pop up again whenever management decides to go shopping this season.

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines and Rumors – July 23, 2023

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines and Rumors – July 23, 2023

Evgeny Kuznetsov eligible to return to international competition, Bruins reportedly cut ties with Mitchell Miller in February, plus the latest on Erik Karlsson, Matt Dumba, and Tony DeAngelo in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines and Rumors.


THE HOCKEY NEWS: Evgeny Kuznetsov is now eligible to return to participate in international hockey events. The 31-year-old Washington Capitals center received a four-year ban for cocaine use in June 2019 which officially ended on June 12 of this year.

Washington Capitals center Evgeny Kuznetsov (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kuznetsov won’t be participating in international competition with his native Russia anytime soon. That country is currently not allowed to take part in such events due to its ongoing war with Ukraine.

NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks reports the Boston Bruins have parted ways with defenseman Mitchell Miller.

The Bruins signed Miller on Nov. 4 but soon disassociated themselves from the 21-year-old defenseman following backlash over the signing. At age 14, Miller pled guilty to one count of assault and one count of violating the Ohio Safe Schools Act for a series of racially-motivated acts against a developmentally challenged classmate over a series of months.

The Bruins terminated Miller’s contract and the NHL Players Association filed a grievance on his behalf. A source tells Brooks that a settlement was reached back in February in lieu of a hearing releasing the Bruins from their obligation while paying Miller an undisclosed amount of money and granting him free agency. He’s expected to seek employment in Europe.


PITTSBURGH HOCKEY NOW: Dan Kingerski cited Erik Karlsson telling the Swedish publication Expressen that he’s not okay with returning to the San Jose Sharks. While he likes living and playing in San Jose, he’s at the stage in his career where he risks running out of chances to win the Stanley Cup.

Karlsson said Sharks general manager Mike Grier knows his position and is trying to accommodate him. Still, Kingerski believes this will put additional pressure on Grier to get a deal done this summer.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Based on recent reports it appears that the Karlsson sweepstakes is down to the Pittsburgh Penguins and Carolina Hurricanes with the Penguins considered the front-runners. The offers and counter-offers have been made and now everyone waits to see if the Penguins, Hurricanes or Sharks blink first.

TORONTO SUN: Lance Hornby took note of Karlsson’s admission in the same interview that he’s spoken with the Maple Leafs as well as several other clubs regarding a trade.

Hornby, however, isn’t getting too excited about this. He pointed out that the Pittsburgh Penguins seem much closer to landing Karlsson. He also noted that Leafs general manager Brad Treliving likes to get into trade discussions involving elite players, “if only to wave his team’s flag.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: In other words, Treliving looked into it but it’s doubtful he has a legitimate show at landing Karlsson.

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Remy Mastey recently cited Sportsnet’s Luke Fox reporting the Arizona Coyotes have emerged as the leading candidates to sign Matt Dumba. The Maple Leafs, Buffalo Sabres and Dallas Stars also reportedly had interest along with the Sharks. Dumba, 28, is the top defenseman remaining in this summer’s unrestricted free-agent market.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’ll be interesting to see what type of contract Dumba signed regardless of which team gets him. He could bet on himself with a one-year deal in the hope of landing a more lucrative deal next summer when the salary cap is projected to rise by $4 million for 2024-25.

PHILLY HOCKEY NOW: Chuck Bausman wondered if the Carolina Hurricanes might consider bringing back Tony DeAngelo as “Plan B” if their efforts to acquire Erik Karlsson fall through.

The Hurricanes had a deal in place with the Flyers to bring back DeAngelo earlier this month. However, the deal was held up on a CBA technicality and eventually fell through. The Flyers subsequently bought out the final year of his contract, making the 27-year-old defenseman an unrestricted free agent.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I daresay Karlsson’s availability changed things for the Hurricanes. We can’t rule out the possibility of them circling back to DeAngelo but recent reports indicate they haven’t spoken with his camp since he was bought out earlier this month.

NHL Rumor Mill – July 22, 2023

NHL Rumor Mill – July 22, 2023

Erik Karlsson confirms speaking to several teams, a look at Travis Konecny’s future with the Flyers, and an Islanders’ salary-cap solution in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.


TSN: Chris Johnston reports Erik Karlsson confirmed speaking with several teams as the San Jose Sharks attempt to trade the 33-year-old defenseman.

Among the clubs that Karlsson spoke with are the Toronto Maple Leafs, Pittsburgh Penguins, Seattle Kraken and Carolina Hurricanes. “I just want the best chance to get to the best team,” he said.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Penguins appear to be the front-runners based on numerous reports out of Pittsburgh and from other NHL insiders in recent days. They seem confident of their chances of landing the three-time Norris Trophy winner.

The holdup could be whether the Penguins use their second buyout window to shed a roster player once Drew O’Connor’s contract situation has been resolved. His arbitration hearing is on Aug. 4 but could be settled before then. We’ll find out in due course.

Philadelphia Flyers winger Travis Konecny (NHL Images).


THE ATHLETIC: Charlie O’Connor recently looked at where Travis Konecny fits into the rebuilding Philadelphia Flyers’ long-term plans. The 26-year-old winger enjoyed a bounce-back performance in 2022-23 by tying his career high of 61 points, becoming one of the few bright spots in a miserable season for the Flyers.

General manager Daniel Briere was willing to listen to offers for Konecny this summer but there was never a sense that he was peddling the winger in the trade market. He’s signed through 2024-25 at a reasonable average annual value of $5.5 million. Konecny played well for head coach John Tortorella. He and Briere both like what the winger brings to the team.

O’Connor suggests the Flyers have plenty of time to trade Konecny beyond this summer. If they can’t or won’t re-sign him he could fetch at least a first-round pick in return. Briere can afford to keep his asking price high.

They could also re-sign Konecny. However, that could prove a risky long-term investment for a player whose new contract would start at 28 and stretch well into his 30s.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Konecny’s future will be decided by the progress of the Flyers’ rebuild and whether he has a place in it. I daresay he’ll continue to surface in the rumor mill if the Flyers remain near the bottom of the standings for the coming season.

Konecny’s trade value throughout 2023-24 will rise if he builds on last season’s performance. His future will also depend on whether he wants to stick with a rebuilding club. If he has no interest in signing a contract extension next summer, he could be shopped during the 2024 draft or before the 2025 trade deadline. His lack of a no-trade clause gives Briere plenty of potential suitors to choose from.


NYI HOCKEY NOW: Andrew Fantucchio observes the Islanders sit above this season’s $83.5 million salary cap by over $486K. They can remain there until the start of their 2023-24 schedule when they’ll have to become cap compliant.

Fantucchio suggests veteran enforcer Ross Johnston could become a salary-cap casualty. He carries an AAV of $1.1 million through 2025-26. He played just 16 games last season and was often passed over when vacancies opened in the lineup.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Fantucchio suggests the Isles could demote Johnston to their AHL affiliate in Bridgeport. They could also explore the trade market if they hope to shed his entire cap hit from their books.

NHL Rumor Mill – July 21, 2023

NHL Rumor Mill – July 21, 2023

The summer of Erik Karlsson continues with more speculation linking the Sharks defenseman to the Penguins. Check out the latest plus some possible Sabres trade candidates in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.


THE ATHLETIC: Rob Rossi reports the Pittsburgh Penguins and Carolina Hurricanes remain the primary suitors for Erik Karlsson as both clubs have permission to speak with the San Jose Sharks defenseman. The Penguins have had multiple people (apart from president of hockey ops Kyle Dubas) talking to Karlsson in recent weeks and several within the organization are confident that the Penguins are his preferred destination.

San Jose Sharks defenseman Erik Karlsson (NHL Images).

Penguins captain Sidney Crosby and top defenseman Kris Letang have endorsed the pursuit of Karlsson. Letang would remain their No. 1 defenseman and skate on the top pairing but he’s willing to change his role on their top power-play unit to allow Karlsson to quarterback it.

Dubas and his staff are working on several scenarios that would allow them to acquire Karlsson while remaining cap compliant. One is a straight-up trade with the Sharks. Another would involve a third team with salary-cap space. There could also be a scenario that would include buying out a current roster player such as Mikael Granlund.

Rossi also indicated that Dubas spoke with Jeff Petry last month in Detroit about all possibilities, including a trade. The 35-year-old defenseman is not open to a trade far away from his family in Michigan. He has a 15-team no-trade list.

The Sharks are interested in Penguins defenseman Marcus Pettersson as part of the deal but Dubas has resisted offers thus far. The Penguins’ hockey ops president also favors top-five protection on any first-round draft picks and expects the Sharks will retain a portion of Karlsson’s $11.5 million cap hit. How much they’ll retain depends on what assets the Sharks receive in return.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As expected, a Karlsson-to-Pittsburgh trade would be a complex deal involving a lot of moving parts.

It certainly seems like the Penguins are the front-runners. The most we’ve heard about the Hurricanes’ interest is they’re “monitoring” the situation. That doesn’t mean they’re not making offers or trying to work a deal but there’s been almost nothing of substance being reported about their efforts to land the Sharks blueliner.

Rossi noted the Penguins get a second contract buyout window because of Drew O’Connor filing for arbitration. His arbitration hearing is Aug. 4 but he and the Penguins could reach an agreement on a new contract by then. Whether O’Connor’s situation is settled before his hearing or requires an arbiter’s decision, the Penguins will have 48 hours following the settlement to buy out a roster player.

That could explain why the much-anticipated trade sending Karlsson to Pittsburgh hasn’t taken place yet.


THE ATHLETIC: Matthew Fairburn recently looked at several Buffalo Sabres who could become trade candidates. The club currently has 10 NHL defensemen and three goaltenders who could be ready to play this season. They also have several forward prospects who could be ready to join the lineup.

Winger Victor Olofsson is the most logical trade candidate given his one-dimensional play and that he was a healthy scratch during some key games down the stretch. His $4.75 million cap hit for this season makes him tough to move under a flattened cap. The offseason injury to Jack Quinn could force management to retain Olofsson until Quinn’s return.

The Sabres’ blueline depth could make Henri Jokiharju expendable. He does have some value which could make him a more realistic trade candidate before the start of the season. Ilya Lyubushkin could also be available but might not have as much value as Jokiharju.

They must also decide between goalies Eric Comrie and Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen. Comrie could have some value around the league as a cheap backup. Other trade options include Jacob Bryson and Riley Stillman.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: One or two players on Fairburn’s list could be playing elsewhere when the Sabres open their season in October. Olofsson seemed to be a goner for sure before Quinn was sidelined. Perhaps they’ll evaluate the performance of their promising forwards to determine if they can part with him before the season begins.

When it comes to Comrie and Luukkonen I can’t see them parting with the latter. Still, it could come down to training camp and preseason performance.