Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – May 14, 2023

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – May 14, 2023

The Leafs must determine Auston Matthews’ future, Conor Garland could become a Canucks trade candidate, a look at Sabres blueline targets and speculation linking Penguins coach Mike Sullivan to the Rangers. Check it out in the Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup.


TORONTO SUN: Terry Koshan believes changes are coming to the Maple Leafs following their second-round playoff elimination. However, he doesn’t believe Auston Matthews should be part of those changes.

Matthews, 25, is slated to become an unrestricted free agent next summer. Koshan believes re-signing him should be the priority of general manager Kyle Dubas or his replacement if the Leafs decide not to sign Dubas to a new contract.

NORTHSTAR BETS: The Toronto Star’s Chris Johnston also advocates for the Leafs to re-sign Matthews. He believes the 2022 Hart Trophy winner should be signed to the longest possible extension at the earliest available opportunity.

Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews (NHL Images).

Johnston feels the Leafs murky management situation must be resolved as soon as possible so that Matthews knows who is signing his cheques as well as their plan going forward before he makes any decisions. He has additional leverage thanks to his full no-movement clause starting on July 1.

Letting Matthews get to July 1 without an extension would be a nightmare scenario for the Leafs. Johnston doesn’t believe they want that to happen.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Expect Matthews’ contract status to be the subject of speculation in the coming months. The longer he goes without a deal, the more conjecture will grow over his future in Toronto.

If Matthews is keen to stay then the Leafs must re-sign him as soon as possible and for as long as possible. It will be expensive, costing perhaps a league-leading average annual value between $13 million and $14 million. That’s the likely price tag for a Hart Trophy winner who has also won the Richard Trophy twice and tallied at least 40 goals in five of his seven NHL seasons. If the Leafs won’t pay it, other clubs will.

The real nightmare scenario is losing Matthews for nothing to free agency next July. If he’s noncommittal about staying then the Leafs must peddle him before his no-movement clause kicks on July 1.

I realize that this is easier said than done and not a decision to be taken lightly. Nevertheless, they can’t allow uncertainty over his status to overshadow next season only to see him walk away next July.


DAILY FACEOFF: Frank Seravalli recently reported hearing the Vancouver Canucks have been gauging prices around the league as to what it would take to dump some of their contracts.

Seravalli indicated it’s possible they could find a new home for Brock Boeser despite the winger saying he didn’t want to be traded. Moving J.T. Miller before his new contract (with its no-movement clause) kicks in on July 1 is also an option.

The Canucks have focused on moving winger Conor Garland. However, Seravalli indicates it will be expensive to get someone to take on a contract that’s nearly $5 million annually for several years.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Seravalli said Canucks general manager Patrik Allvin is keeping an open mind regarding possible moves. He speculated Allvin might have to get creative to peddle a contract like Garland’s. Whether that involves retaining some salary or bundling the winger with a draft pick or prospect remains to be seen.


THE BUFFALO NEWS: Lance Lysowski recently looked at potential trade and free-agent options for the Sabres if they wish to add a top-four defenseman this summer.

Trade candidates could include Boston’s Matt Grzelcyk, Vegas’ Alec Martinez, Calgary’s Noah Hanifin, Chicago’s Connor Murphy, Seattle’s Will Borgen, Winnipeg’s Dylan DeMelo, Nashville’s Tyson Barrie and Dante Fabbro and Los Angeles’ Sean Walker.

Free-agent options could be Minnesota’s Matt Dumba, Boston’s Connor Clifton, New Jersey’s Ryan Graves, the New York Islanders Scott Mayfield, Toronto’s Justin Holl and Florida’s Radko Gudas.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Sabres could be in the market for a defensive-minded blueliner as they’ve already got a couple of skilled puck movers in Rasmus Dahlin and Owen Power.

There are several good options for the Sabres to choose from. Most of those trade candidates might not be available but those on cap-strapped clubs could become affordable potential acquisitions.

The Sabres’ improvement this season could make them a desirable destination for free agents such as Dumba, Graves and Mayfield. With a projected $19 million in cap space for next season and 20 active roster players under contract (including all their core talent), they should have sufficient room to bolster their blueline.


NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks mused over what he considers a “somewhat far-fetched” notion that would see Pittsburgh Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan become the Rangers new head coach.

The scenario would see Kyle Dubas leave the Maple Leafs to become the Penguins’ new GM, bringing head coach Sheldon Keefe with him. Dubas would replace Sullivan as the Pens’ bench boss with Keefe, thus enabling the Rangers to hire Sullivan.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Points to Brooks for creativity with this one. While anything’s possible, Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman recently shot down that notion. “I believe Mike Sullivan is the New York Rangers’ wet dream but I don’t believe that’s happening”, said Friedman. He suggested former Washington Capitals head coach Peter Laviolette, Hartford Wolf Pack coach Kris Knoblach and former Leafs coach Mike Babcock as the notable candidates.

NHL Rumor Mill – May 11, 2023

NHL Rumor Mill – May 11, 2023

The Bruins’ roster could look different next season, the latest on Evgeny Kuznetsov and Anthony Mantha plus some Flames speculation in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.


BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Joe Haggerty reports Bruins general manager Don Sweeney admitted yesterday that salary-cap constraints mean he can’t re-sign pending unrestricted free agents Garnet Hathaway, Dmitry Orlov and Tyler Bertuzzi right now even if he wanted to.

Sweeney also said his club isn’t setting a timetable for answers from Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci as to whether they’re returning next season or retiring.

Boston Bruins winger Taylor Hall (NHL Images).

Haggerty noted that the Bruins only have around $6 million in salary-cap space. He anticipates that Sweeney faces a busy summer shedding salary while finding more affordable talent and young players to build around their roster core.

THE ATHLETIC: Fluto Shinzawa suggested Taylor Hall and Matt Grzelcyk as cost-cutting trade candidates.

Hall was a difference-maker because he regularly played on the Bruins’ third line and there were times when he was strictly a five-on-five player. They cannot afford to carry a $6 million player that low in their lineup.

Grzelcyk could be moved to free up cap space or for help up front. Mike Reilly’s trade value is limited and Derek Forbort would fetch a mid-round pick.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Unless the salary cap rises higher than expected for next season, Sweeney has little choice but to make a cost-cutting trade or two. That means moving one or two players that he’d prefer not to part with but has to in order to become cap compliant and still ice a full roster.


THE HOCKEY NEWS: Sammi Silber cited player agent Sergei Fedotov suggesting Evgeny Kuznetsov’s time with the Washington Capitals should come to an end sooner rather than later.

Fedotov isn’t Kuznetsov’s agent but is a long-time friend of Kuznetsov who represents prospect Matvei Michkov and several other players. He says the Capitals center no longer has the joy or spark in his game that he had in 2018. He believes things started going downhill for his friend over the past few seasons, citing his positive test for cocaine in 2019 plus other disciplinary issues.

Kuznetsov has a family now and Fedotov said he is doing fine in his personal life. However, he believes the veteran center needs a change of scenery to get more spark from hockey.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kuznetsov denied a report from a Russian source claiming that he requested a trade in March. However, Capitals GM Brian MacLellan expressed his unhappiness with the soon-to-be 31-year-old’s performance this season.

Kuznetsov’s on-ice struggles won’t help his trade value. He also carries a tough-to-move contract with a $7.8 million cap hit through 2024-25 and a 10-team no-trade clause.

Silber also reported that the Capitals could retain Anthony Mantha. With a new head coach coming in, perhaps Mantha can change and improve his game. Trading him could free up salary-cap space but his trade value is low right now.


CALGARY HOCKEY NOW: Steve MacFarlane suggests Calgary Flames forward Tyler Toffoli’s trade value has never been higher following a career-best performance this season. He’s eligible to become an unrestricted free agent next summer and was a supporter of former Flames coach Darryl Sutter.

MacFarlane believes it’s unlikely the Flames will re-sign Toffoli. He considers the winger among their most likely trade candidates this summer.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: With his affordable $4.25 million cap hit and lack of no-trade protection, Toffoli would garner plenty of interest if the Flames are willing to entertain offers for him. However, that will depend on what plans the club’s new general manager has in store. That person has yet to be hired.

SPORTSNET: In his latest mailbag segment, Pat Steinberg included Toffoli among his list of potential cost-cutting candidates for the Flames. Others with a year remaining on their contracts include Noah Hanifin, Elias Lindholm, Mikael Backlund, Chris Tanev and Nikita Zadorov.

Steinberg noted the return of Oliver Kylington and the possibility of re-signing Troy Stecher could provide the Flames with sufficient blueline depth that they could afford to trade a defenseman like Hanifin or Zadorov.

He wouldn’t be surprised if the Flames shopping backup goalie Dan Vladar to make room for promising Dustin Wolf. He felt Wolf has nothing left to accomplish in the minors.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It will be interesting to see if the new general manager will consider any of those options for the Flames this summer.

NHL Rumor Mill – May 9, 2023

NHL Rumor Mill – May 9, 2023

Check out the latest on the Bruins and Canadiens in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.


BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Jimmy Murphy cited an NHL source claiming big roster changes are coming for the Bruins during this offseason. Given all their unrestricted free agents and their limited cap space, the source believes Bruins general manager Don Sweeney will have to make some trades he otherwise wouldn’t do.

Patrice Bergeron, David Krejci, Tyler Bertuzzi, Dmitry Orlov and Nick Foligno are among those eight pending UFAs. Murphy cited Puck Pedia showing the Bruins will be over next season’s projected $83.5 million cap by $1.5 million due to bonus overages incurred this season.

Boston Bruins goaltender Linus Ullmark (NHL Images).

Goaltender Linus Ullmark recently surfaced as a possible trade candidate but his value in the trade market could be affected by a recent report claiming he was battling a debilitating and painful injury. Murphy listed Taylor Hall, Matt Grzelcyk, Derek Forbort and Jakub Zboril as possible trade bait.

THE ATHLETIC: Fluto Shinzawa was peppered with questions from readers about possible trades by the Bruins during his latest mailbag segment.

Shinzawa doesn’t rule out trading the 31-year-old Hall or perhaps Jake DeBrusk, who is eligible for UFA status next summer. He acknowledged Grzelcyk could be moved with one year left on his contract.

The Bruins will have to look into replacing Bergeron and Krejci if both retire. Centers who might be available include Winnipeg’s Pierre-Luc Dubois, Calgary’s Elias Lindholm and Philadelphia’s Kevin Hayes. Shinzawa doubts they have sufficient assets to put together a competitive bid unless Jeremy Swayman, Mason Lohri, Fabian Lysell or Trent Frederic are heading the other way.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sweeney has some difficult decisions to make. Much depends on what Bergeron and Krejci want to do. It’ll take some clever wheeling and dealing on his part to find suitable replacements.

The Bruins GM must shed salary to clear sufficient space to ice a 23-man roster for 2023-24. Hall, Grzelcyk or DeBrusk could be skating with other clubs next season.


MONTREAL GAZETTE: Before Monday’s NHL draft lottery, Stu Cowan reported Canadiens GM Kent Hughes was asked if he was willing to make a blockbuster trade for Connor Bedard if his team didn’t win the lottery.

Hughes seemed to dismiss that notion. He pointed out that the Eric Lindros trade between the Quebec Nordiques and Philadelphia Flyers in 1992 saw the Flyers give up a lot to get him. “It ended up going in one team’s favor when it looked like the other team.”

Cowan was skeptical that whatever team won this year’s lottery would be willing to trade Bedard.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Chicago Blackhawks won the lottery last night. They’re not parting with that pick no matter what. The Canadiens are in a good position (fifth overall) in a deep draft to land another solid asset to their prospect pipeline.

MONTREAL HOCKEY NOW: Marco D’Amico believes the Canadiens are more likely to shop the 2023 first-rounder they received from the Florida Panthers as that pick drops in the draft order.

Should the Panthers be eliminated from the second round, that pick will be 17th overall. If the Panthers advance to the Eastern Conference Finals, it drops to 29th overall. The Habs also hold the 37th overall pick so moving one or the other won’t be a big loss if it fetches a notable return.

NHL Rumor Mill – March 20, 2023

NHL Rumor Mill – March 20, 2023

Can the Bruins afford to re-sign Dmitry Orlov, Garnet Hathaway or Tyler Bertuzzi? Did the Maple Leafs make a mistake trading Rasmus Sandin to the Capitals? Find out in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.


THE ATHLETIC: That’s the question Fluto Shinzawa recently set out to answer. While the Boston Bruins have re-signed trade-deadline acquisitions such as Taylor Hall and Hampus Lindholm, their limited cap space for 2023-24 will make it difficult to retain Dmitry Orlov, Garnet Hathaway or Tyler Bertuzzi.

Boston Bruins defenseman Dmitry Orlov (NHL Images)

Shinzawa noted that the Bruins have under $75 million for 2023-24 invested in 15 players as of March 17. They’re also facing up to $4.5 million in bonus overages due to performance bonuses for Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci.

Re-signing Orlov or Bertuzzi would mean trading away Matt Grzelcyk or Derek Forbort or perhaps both to free up sufficient cap room. They’d also have to find a way to resolve their dilemma with Mike Reilly ($3 million), who’s currently in the minors for cap purposes. Unless Hathaway is willing to accept “small term and dough”, he’ll find better offers in the free-agent market.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Bruins can’t afford to keep all three without first shedding some contracts. These three are UFA-eligible for the first time. This is their best opportunity to land lucrative long-term contracts.

I wouldn’t rule out the possibility of retaining Orlov if they can make the dollars fit. However, he’ll likely get better offers elsewhere.


TORONTO STAR: In a recent mailbag segment, Kevin McGran replied to a reader who felt the Maple Leafs made a mistake trading Rasmus Sandin to the Washington Capitals.

McGran disagreed, believing Sandin would’ve been a healthy scratch for the remainder of this season with the Leafs. He believes it was a worthwhile move to add a veteran defenseman like Erik Gustafsson as well as add a first-round draft pick. McGran’s happy for the young defenseman, who’ll get the chance in Washington that he wasn’t getting in Toronto. He also observed the Leafs are already flush with smallish but skilled defensemen such as Mac Hollowell.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Granted, this isn’t a trade rumor but since media trade chatter has largely dried up following the deadline, I felt this was worth noting.

Sandin, 23, has played well offensively for the Capitals with 11 points in his first eight games. There remains some concern about his defensive play but that could be in part attributed to the Capitals’ depleted, banged-up lineup. I’d like to see how he does during a full season with a healthier Caps roster.

Leafs management felt this move was necessary to add a more experienced puck-moving defenseman in Erik Gustafsson plus they got the first-round pick that originally belonged to the Bruins. Granted, it could end up being 32nd overall but it replaced the first-rounder they traded away in the Ryan O’Reilly deal.

This deal could backfire on the Leafs if they suffer yet another early playoff exit and Sandin goes on to become a star in Washington. On the other hand, most denizens of Leafs Nation will feel it was a price worth paying if this move could help them win their first Stanley Cup since 1967.

NHL Rumor Mill – June 6, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – June 6, 2022

More speculation about Jack Campbell’s future with the Leafs plus the latest on the Bruins in today’s NHL rumor mill.


TSN: Chris Johnston recently expressed his uncertainty over whether Jack Campbell will return with the Toronto Maple Leafs. The 30-year-old goaltender is slated to become an unrestricted free agent on July 13.

Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender Jack Campbell (NHL Images).

The Leafs know what the Campbell camp seeks on his next contract since negotiations first started last fall. He apparently wants $5 million per season but the Leafs haven’t been able to meet that. A three-year deal could get it done. However, the Leafs could be in the market for two goaltenders if Campbell goes to market.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A couple of days following Johnston’s report on May 31, Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reported hearing there hadn’t been any contract conversations for months between the two sides and anything that had been discussed was no longer relevant. Campbell’s agent told Friedman there hadn’t been any material contract conversations since the end of the regular season.

On the one hand, there are those who point out that Campbell still hasn’t proven he can handle the full-time rigors of a starting goaltender. They often cite the drop-off in his play after the first two months of this season and his inconsistency after returning from a rib injury.

However, there aren’t many decent options available via free agency or the trade market. The best potential UFA is Marc-Andre Fleury but there’s no certainty the 37-year-old netminder would be willing to play for the Leafs. His age would also be a concern.

Pickings are also slim in the trade market. There have been some suggestions of the New York Islanders peddling Semyon Varlamov but he carries a $5 million cap hit and a 16-team no-trade list. John Gibson might be available if he doesn’t want to be part of the Anaheim Ducks’ rebuilding project but his annual average value is $6.4 million through 2026-27 and a 10-team no-trade list.

If the Leafs can’t afford $5 million for Campbell, they probably can’t afford it for Varlamov or over $6 million for Gibson. If they’re unwilling to pay Campbell that much, there are no assurances Varlamov or Gibson would accept a trade to Toronto.

Don’t assume the Isles or Ducks would retain salary. The Islanders have cap space issues of their own this summer while the Ducks probably wouldn’t want to carry a retained salary for the next five seasons.


THE ATHLETIC: Fluto Shinzawa believes the Boston Bruins should still try to trade a defenseman this offseason despite Charlie McAvoy’s six-month post-shoulder surgery absence.

Shinzawa speculates a rival general manager could approach Bruins GM Don Sweeney about Matt Grzelcyk or Mike Reilly. If Sweeney can move either blueliner for futures, it would provide the Bruins with much-needed cap space as well as draft picks.

Those freed-up cap dollars could help them convince Patrice Bergeron and/or David Krejci to return next season. If not, perhaps it could be used to pursue a trade for a center such as Mark Scheifele if he and the Winnipeg Jets decide to part ways.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Grzelcyk is also recovering from shoulder surgery and it could take five months until he returns to action. Reilly recently went under the knife to repair a right-ankle tendon but his recovery timeline is three months.

I won’t rule out the possibility of either or both blueliners getting traded this summer. However, the odds of moving them would be better if they were healthy.

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 4, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 4, 2022

The Rangers go up 2-0 over the Lightning in the Eastern Conference Finals, Carey Price wins the Masterton Trophy, Charlie McAvoy is among three Bruins defensemen to undergo surgery, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: Igor Shesterkin made 29 saves as his New York Rangers held off the Tampa Bay Lightning for a 3-2 victory in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals. Mika Zibanejad’s goal early in the third period proved to be the game winner though the Lightning cut the lead to 3-2 late in the period on a goal by Nicholas Paul. Adam Fox and Chris Kreider each had two assists for the Blueshirts while Nikita Kucherov had a goal and an assist for the Lightning.

With the win, the Rangers take a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven series, which moves to Tampa Bay for the next two games. Game 3 goes Sunday afternoon at 3 pm ET.

New York Rangers goaltender Igor Shesterkin (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This game was closer than Game 1’s 6-2 blowout. Nevertheless, the Rangers still controlled the play for most of this game, out-hustling and out-chancing the Lightning while thwarting the latter’s scoring opportunities.

Shesterkin is winning the goaltending duel with the Bolts’ Andrei Vasilevskiy, who looks vulnerable high to the blocker side and is having difficulty at times controlling the puck. Shesterkin also acts as a third defenseman with his skillful stickhandling and accurate outlet passes to his teammates.

This is the first time since 2019 that the Lightning has lost consecutive postseason games. They face a big challenge bouncing back on home ice against the hungry Rangers. The ongoing absence of sidelined center Brayden Point is also becoming a factor in this series. The Bolts are missing his clutch scoring and reliable two-way presence.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Canadiens goaltender Carey Price is the 2022 winner of the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy. He underwent knee surgery last summer and voluntarily entered the NHL/NHLPA player assistance program in October to deal with substance-abuse issues. Price missed most of this season recovering from his knee surgery before returning for five games late in the season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Price worked hard to recover from complications arising from his surgery while also seeking treatment for substance abuse. His future as an NHL player remains uncertain as he continues to encounter post-game swelling in his knee. Nevertheless, there’s no question he’s show perseverance in attempting to overcome the obstacles he’s faced this season.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON: The Bruins announced top defenseman Charlie McAvoy underwent surgery on his left shoulder with a recovery time of six months. Blueliner Matt Grzelcyk had a procedure on his right shoulder and is expected to require five months to recover. Rearguard Mike Reilly underwent right ankle tendon repair and removal of bone fragments and will require three months to recover.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Bruins will have a depleted roster to start next season. Reilly could be back in the Bruins’ lineup in October. McAvoy, however, won’t be back until January given his recovery timeline while Grzelcyk could be out until December, which is also when winger Brad Marchand is expected back from his recent hip surgeries. Factor in the possible retirement of captain Patrice Bergeron, and 2022-23 could be a grim season for the Bruins.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: Oilers captain Connor McDavid must find a way to break through against the Colorado Avalanche’s defense with his club down 2-0 in the Western Conference Finals. Game 3 is tonight in Edmonton.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: McDavid had three points in Edmonton’s 8-6 loss in Game 1 but was shut down by the Avs in Game 2. The Oilers need more from all their scorers but McDavid remains their offensive linchpin. They’ll need him to find a way to break through if they’re to have a chance to come back in this series.

TSN: Speaking of the Oilers, winger Zack Kassian was fined $2,500.00 for unsportsmanlike conduct in Game 2 for ripping Bowen Byram’s helmet off his head after the Avalanche defenseman was checked over the boards.

THE DENVER POST: The Avalanche hope to extend their perfect road record in this postseason. They are 5-0 heading into Game 3.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Avs have given the Oilers fits with their speed, depth and puck possession. Should that trend continue, their road record could reach 7-0 and they’ll be heading to the Stanley Cup Final.