NHL Rumor Mill – August 29, 2023

NHL Rumor Mill – August 29, 2023

A look at questions facing several Pacific Division teams in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.

SPORTSNET: Ryan Dixon recently looked at the biggest question facing each team in the Pacific Division.

Among them was whether the Calgary Flames would make any major trades before training camp opens later next month. The expectation is defenseman Noah Hanifin will be dealt at some point. There’s less certainty about center Elias Lindholm but it wouldn’t be a shock if the Flames moved him before summer ends.

Calgary Flames center Elias Lindholm (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hanifin, Lindholm and center Mikael Backlund are slated to become unrestricted free agents next summer.

Hanifin has reportedly informed Flames management that he intends to test next summer’s UFA market. There are reports the Flames and Lindholm’s camp are discussing an extension but no word as to whether progress has been made. A new contract for Lindholm could lead to one for Backlund.

Dixon wondered if the Los Angeles Kings might pursue another goaltender. He suspects that move might come during the season if the current tandem of Pheonix Copley and Cam Talbot aren’t up to snuff. Dixon isn’t sure if they could land Winnipeg’s Connor Hellebuyck, in part because it would take some salary-cap gymnastics by the Kings to pull it off.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I agree with this assessment. Kings general manager Rob Blake could be forced into the trade market if Copley and Talbot can’t get the job done.

The Kings have plenty of promising young players to draw on for trade bait and a recent trade history with the Jets. However, Blake could ask the Jets to retain half of Hellebuyck’s $6.166 million salary-cap hit to facilitate a trade or try to swing a three-team deal to spread it around.

Turning to the San Jose Sharks, Dixon wondered if offseason acquisitions such as Mike Hoffman, Anthony Duclair, Mikael Granlund and Jan Rutta end up getting flipped to other clubs.

Duclair, 28, could be part of the Sharks’ future but the others are over 30 and probably won’t figure into their long-range plans.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Of that group, Duclair has the best trade value and would fetch the biggest return. That will depend on whether he wants to re-sign with the rebuilding Sharks or test next summer’s free-agent market. If it’s the latter, he’ll be used as a bargaining chip near the March trade deadline by the Sharks.

Dixon also took note of Elias Pettersson putting contract extension talks on hold with the Vancouver Canucks to focus on preparing for the coming season. He wondered if Pettersson might change his mind once he’s back in North America.

Dixon also wondered if frequent trade-rumor subject Brock Boeser gets moved before training camp begins.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Pettersson’s remarks prompted at least one pundit to suggest the club he covers at least look into whether a trade can be done for the 24-year-old center. Considering his value to the retooling Canucks, I doubt it.

Pettersson is a restricted free agent with arbitration rights next summer. If a new contract isn’t agreed to by then, the Canucks are under no pressure to move him as they’ll still retain his rights.

As for Boeser, he made it clear at the end of last season that he wants to stay with the Canucks. There’s no indication they intend to move him. That could change over the course of the season but for now, I expect him to be part of their roster when the schedule begins in October.

Penguins Acquire Erik Karlsson in Three-Team Trade

Penguins Acquire Erik Karlsson in Three-Team Trade

The San Jose Sharks traded Erik Karlsson to the Pittsburgh Penguins in a three-team deal involving the Montreal Canadiens.

The Penguins get Karlsson, forward Rem Pitlick, forward Dillon Hamaliuk and the Sharks third-round pick in the 2026 NHL Draft.

San Jose Sharks trade defenseman Erik Karlsson to the Pittsburgh Penguins (NHL Images).

The Sharks receive the Penguins 2024 first-round pick (top-10 protected), forward Mikael Granlund, defenseman Jan Rutta and forward Mike Hoffman.

The Canadiens acquire the Penguins 2025 second-rounder, defenseman Jeff Petry, goaltender Casey DeSmith and forward Nathan Legare.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Sharks are retaining $1.5 million of Karlsson’s $11.5 million annual salary cap hit through 2026-27. Meanwhile, the Penguins are retaining over $1.562 million of Petry’s $6.25 million annual cap hit through 2024-25.

Penguins general manager Kyle Dubas finally lands the big fish he was pursuing since mid-June. This is the biggest trade he’s ever made in the NHL and it could define his legacy with the Penguins.

With the first-pairing spot on the right side of the Penguins’ blueline promised to Kris Letang, Karlsson will either move into the second-pairing position or over to the left side on the first pairing. He will likely anchor the first power-play unit.

The Penguins didn’t get much cap savings from the Sharks’ retaining part of his salary. However, they were able to clear the entirety of Granlund’s $5 million average annual value from their cap payroll

This move could work out well for the Penguins if Karlsson remains a 70-80 point defenseman who meshes well with Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin over the next two or three seasons. But if Karlsson’s performance declines and injuries start catching up with him, they’ll have a blueliner with eroding skills and a still-significant annual cap hit on their books.

Pitlick joins the Penguins from the Canadiens. The 26-year-old carries an average annual value of $1.1 million and will either skate on the Penguins’ checking lines this season or head to their AHL affiliate in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. Hamaliuk, 22, spent last season with the ECHL’s Wichita Thunder and is likely headed to the minors.

This move also leaves the Penguins with $1.495 million in cap space. They could get more if Jake Guentzel ends up on long-term injury reserve to start the season.

The Sharks aren’t getting a package of promising youngsters in this deal in Granlund, Rutta and Hoffman. Granlund and Rutta are coming from the Penguins while Hoffman joins them from the Canadiens.

This trio struggled with their former clubs and their best seasons could be behind them. Nevertheless, they should provide some experienced short-term depth for the Sharks as they continue to rebuild on the fly.

The real prize here for San Jose is shedding the bulk of Karlsson’s contract as well as getting a first-round pick as part of the return. They now have two first-rounders and two second-round picks in next year’s draft.

Meanwhile, the Canadiens managed to address some of their needs in this trade. They moved out Hoffman and his $4.5 million cap hit for this season, clearing space to bring back Petry at a slightly reduced price to add some experience to their young blueline, and brought in more depth to their goaltending with DeSmith.

Petry shouldn’t have much difficulty readjusting to the Canadiens. Despite his difficulties with the Penguins last season he still managed 31 points in 61 games. DeSmith could be the Habs’ third goalie behind Sam Montembeault and Jake Allen unless Montembeault or Allen ends up getting shipped out at some point.

Legare spent the past two seasons with the Penguins’ farm club. He will likely end up with the Habs’ AHL affiliate in Laval. The addition of the Penguins’ pick gives them two second-rounders in the 2025 draft.

NHL Rumor Mill – July 8, 2023

NHL Rumor Mill – July 8, 2023

Do the Penguins have a “Plan B” if they fail to land Erik Karlsson? What are some possible trade destinations for John Gibson? What’s the latest on the Canadiens and Leafs? Find out in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.


PITTSBURGH HOCKEY NOW: Dan Kingerski cites multiple sources claiming the Pittsburgh Penguins are exploring other defense options if they fail to land San Jose Sharks blueliner Erik Karlsson.

Kingerski claims Kyle Dubas, the Penguins’ president of hockey operations, is shopping in the trade market for additional defensemen or a backup plan, preferably mobile offensive blueliners.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: One of Kingerski’s sources suggested keeping an eye on Bruins defenseman Matt Grzelcyk. However, Kingerski and Jimmy Murphy noted that Boston general manager Don Sweeney expressed exasperation when asked about the Grzelcyk trade rumors, chiding the Boston media.

Murphy cited numerous sources claiming Sweeney has had conversations with other clubs regarding Grzelcyk, as well as goaltenders Linus Ullmark and Jeremy Swayman, defensemen Brandon Carlo and Trent Frederic, and forwards Jake DeBrusk and Trent Frederic. However, that doesn’t mean the Bruins are shopping those players but rather that teams have inquired about them.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Dubas is keen to put his stamp on the Penguins immediately. If he can’t find a way to land Karlsson this summer he could consider other options for his blueline.

I don’t fully close the door on those Bruins trade rumors but Sweeney already made his major cap-clearing move by shipping Taylor Hall to Chicago. He might have to shed another salary depending on the cost of re-signing restricted free agents Swayman and Frederic but that’s not a certainty right now.


THE SCORE: John Matisz speculated over two obvious trade destinations for John Gibson and two dark-horse candidates for the 29-year-old Anaheim Ducks goaltender.

Anaheim Ducks goaltender John Gibson (NHL Images).

Matisz considers the New Jersey Devils and Buffalo Sabres as his obvious choices. Both are rising young clubs lacking an experienced starter between the pipes.

The Columbus Blue Jackets and Los Angeles Kings are Matisz’s dark horses. It’s doubtful the Jackets can get out of the NHL basement with a tandem of Elvis Merzlikins and Daniil Tarasov, while the Kings are trying to become Stanley Cup contenders with the duo of Cam Talbot and Pheonix Copley.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I don’t disagree with Matisz and his choices. So far, however, it appears those four clubs are willing to go into next season with their current goalies and see what happens.

Matisz noted that Gibson’s contract with its $6.4 million AAV through 2026-27 and 10-team no-trade list is a stumbling block. He also pointed out the netminder’s poor stats last season.

A Gibson trade remains possible depending on how desperate one of those three clubs becomes for a goaltending boost during 2023-24. I rule out the Kings because I don’t believe the Ducks would trade him to their closest rival. Moving Gibson, however, will depend on the Ducks’ asking price and how much of his AAV they’re willing to retain to facilitate a trade.

The flattened salary cap for 2023-24 is another sticking point. Gibson might end up having to wait until next summer for a trade. That’s when the salary cap for 2024-25 is expected to significantly jump from its current $83.5 million to at least $87.5 million. Those teams could have considerably more cap space to work with and perhaps a greater willingness to invest in Gibson.


MONTREAL GAZETTE: With the Canadiens recently trading Joel Edmundson to Washington, Pat Hickey looked at other veteran moves that could help to speed up the club’s youth movement.

Hickey noted the Canadiens’ depth at center following their recent addition of Alex Newhook. He wouldn’t be surprised if Christian Dvorak and his $4.45 million cap hit are moved before the start of the regular season. He also noted the Canadiens have tried unsuccessfully to trade winger Mike Hoffman and his $4.5 million salary.

Any combination of moves that result in the departures of Dvorak, Hoffman and/or Joel Armia ($3.4 million cap hit) will accelerate the youth movement,” writes Hickey.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Dvorak would have the most value of those three. He and Armia are signed through 2024-25.

Hoffman, meanwhile, is a UFA next summer. If he has a decent season the Canadiens might be able to move him at the March 1 trade deadline as most of his cap hit will have been paid out by then.


TORONTO SUN: Terry Koshan believes Maple Leafs GM Brad Treliving must add to his defense corps the same amount of snarl that Tyler Bertuzzi and Max Domi will bring to their forward lines.

Koshan noted that Treliving is working with limited cap space. Nevertheless, Matt Dumba remains available in the UFA market. He also wondered if the former Flames GM would look into acquiring Nikita Zadorov from Calgary.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That’s going to depend on the cost of re-signing RFA goaltender Ilya Samsonov.

NHL Rumor Mill – June 30, 2023

NHL Rumor Mill – June 30, 2023

Check out the latest on Erik Karlsson, John Tavares, Noah Hanifin, Jeff Petry, Tyler Myers and more in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.


THE ATHLETIC: Pierre LeBrun reports the trade talks regarding Erik Karlsson appear to be calming down. He believes teams are taking some time now to ponder their next moves after learning what the San Jose Sharks will seek in return for the 33-year-old defenseman.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: How much of Karlsson’s $11.5 million cap hit the Sharks are willing to retain will also affect how much interest they get in the 2023 Norris Trophy winner.


TORONTO STAR: Nick Kypreos wonders if Maple Leafs general manager Brad Treliving should approach team captain John Tavares about waiving his no-movement clause. He believes Tavares could draw a bidding war involving a dozen teams if the Leafs were willing to retain part of his $11 million average annual value.

Toronto Maple Leafs captain John Tavares (NHL Images).

Kypreos acknowledged Tavares’ comments at the end of the Leafs’ playoff run regarding his intent to finish the final two years of his contract in Toronto. However, he also mentioned Treliving’s recent words describing his Core Four players: “Oh, I don’t think there’s ever any assurances in this business.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Anything’s possible but if Treliving was going to go that route he would’ve done so by now.


THE ATHLETIC: Pierre LeBrun reports several teams, including the Florida Panthers and Boston Bruins, have contacted the Calgary Flames to express an interest in Noah Hanifin. However, the Flames have not yet received any offers they consider to be fair market value for the 26-year-old defenseman. General manager Craig Conroy told teams that he’s not selling low on Hanifin and is willing to wait for the right offer even if he doesn’t get it this summer.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hanifin becomes an unrestricted free agent next July. If Conroy doesn’t get a suitable offer this offseason, he can try again leading up to next season’s trade deadline.


THE ATHLETIC: Josh Yohe reports the Pittsburgh Penguins are heavily shopping Jeff Petry. They’re not averse to retaining the 35-year-old defenseman but don’t think he’s a $6.25 million player. There isn’t much interest in Petry but that might change if the Penguins retained part of his cap hit.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Petry’s signed through 2024-25 with a 15-team no-trade list and a no-movement clause that ensures he cannot be demoted to the minors without his approval.


SAN JOSE HOCKEY NOW: Sheng Peng cited Daily Faceoff’s Frank Seravalli reporting the Vancouver Canucks could attempt to ship defenseman Tyler Myers to the San Jose Sharks. He believes the Canucks have had that deal on the table for weeks but doesn’t know what the holdup is.

Peng speculates that it might not happen until after Sept. 1. That’s when Myers is due a $5 million signing bonus. After Sept. 1, they would only owe him $1 million of his $6 million salary, though that entire AAV would still count against the cap.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Peng also noted that Seravalli linked the Penguins’ Jeff Petry to the Sharks. Perhaps Petry or Myers becomes a short-term replacement for Erik Karlsson if he’s traded this summer.


SPORTSNET: Eric Engels looked at which players the Montreal Canadiens could attempt to move in the trade market this summer.

He believes winger Mike Hoffman is a player Canadiens GM Kent Hughes could look at moving before training camp opens in September. He’s entering the final year of his contract with a cap hit of $4.5 million.

Hughes would hope not to retain salary and give up an asset in order to get defenseman Joel Edmundson off his books. He has a year left at $3.5 million. Hughes could hold on to Christian Dvorak if he can’t get an asset in return. He’s under contract for next season at $4.45 million.

NHL Rumor Mill – June 15, 2023

NHL Rumor Mill – June 15, 2023

How will the impending sale of the Senators affect their offseason plans? What’s the latest on the Canadiens? Could the Predators explore this summer’s trade market? Find out in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.


OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch reports speculation began over what changes Michael Andlauer could make to the Senators following news of his agreement in principle to purchase the club. Whatever he has in store must wait until the sale is officially completed, which could take several weeks or months.

Ottawa Senators winger Alex DeBrincat (NHL Images).

That won’t affect the offseason plans of general manager Pierre Dorion and his staff as they prepare for the upcoming draft in Nashville (June 28-29) and the start of the free-agent period on July 1. Dorion must also consider possible trade options for restricted free-agent winger Alex DeBrincat.

DeBrincat lacks a no-trade clause but he and his agent provided the Senators with a list of preferred trade destinations. Garrioch reports the list includes his hometown Detroit Red Wings, Florida Panthers, Vegas Golden Knights and Dallas Stars. He pointed out that the Panthers and Golden Knights lack the salary-cap space to make a deal for DeBrincat so there would have to be some major juggling to do that.

Garrioch also indicated that DeBrincat will receive his $9 million qualifying offer from the Senators on June 25. Dorion will have until 5 pm Monday to determine if he’ll elect arbitration in the hope of getting a 15 percent discount on that qualifying offer.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s anticipated that the Senators will attempt to move DeBrincat prior to the first round (June 28) of this year’s draft. As Garrioch noted, this is the time to strike when the iron’s hot while general managers have the cap space and the willingness to spend in the trade market.

The Red Wings have plenty of cap space and need additional scoring. However, they could be seeking more of a power forward than a finesse player.

I doubt the Golden Knights and Panthers will get into the bidding. Nevertheless, their respective general managers have well-earned reputations for making significant moves.

Like the Golden Knights and Panthers, the Stars lack sufficient cap room. GM Jim Nill could be in the market for more affordable depth. Encouraged by the play of promising young players like Wyatt Johnston, he could also promote a youngster such as Mavrik Bourque.


THE ATHLETIC: Arpon Basu confirmed a Radio-Canada report claiming the Montreal Canadiens are attempting to move up in the 2023 first-round draft order. Currently holding the fifth-overall pick, they’ve attempted to swap picks with the fourth-overall San Jose Sharks and have contacted the Anaheim Ducks about the second-overall selection.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Basu observed that the cost of jumping to second overall would be astronomical but worth it to land a highly-touted prospect like Adam Fantilli. If this wasn’t Connor Bedard’s draft year, Fantilli would be the favorite to go first overall.

I don’t see the Habs prying that pick away from the Ducks but it doesn’t hurt to ask. The same goes for trying to get the Sharks’ pick.

Basu also reports the Canadiens will not buy out winger Mike Hoffman. The first contract buyout window for NHL teams opens today and runs until 5 pm ET on June 30. They are willing to retain half of Hoffman’s $4.5 million cap hit in a trade but that seems unlikely to happen given he didn’t produce enough to justify the cost.

The Canadiens won’t be tendering a qualifying offer to restricted free agent Denis Gurianov. However, they haven’t ruled out signing him as an unrestricted free agent to a one-year deal at a reduced rate.

They’re also interested in signing pending UFA center Sean Monahan to an affordable one-year deal to give him a chance to prove he can stay healthy and improve his value in next summer’s free-agent market.


NASHVILLE HOCKEY NOW: Michael Gallagher reports Predators general manager Barry Trotz intends to go shopping for offensive-minded players in this summer’s trade market. He’s willing to spend as much of the club’s $15.5 million in projected cap space for 2023-24 as possible to achieve that aim.

Trotz doesn’t anticipate he’ll be a big player in this summer’s UFA market, describing it as “a little bit lean.” He also wants to add players “that fit our culture.” He’s pitched trade offers to clubs that are looking to shed salary.

Gallagher observed there are three teams (Montreal, Tampa Bay and Vancouver) with less than $1 million in cap space. He also noted there will be several others looking to move a player with a sizable cap hit.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canadiens will garner $10.5 million in cap relief by placing all-but-retired sidelined goalie Carey Price on long-term injury reserve. Still, they’ll be open to moving out a veteran forward like Mike Hoffman to free up cap room.

Meanwhile, the Lightning will garner over $6.8 million in LTIR cap relief due to permanently sidelined defenseman Brent Seabrook.

It’s been well-documented the Canucks are actively trying to shed salary. They’re believed to be shopping Conor Garland but Trotz might have his eye on scoring winger Brock Boeser.

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – April 23, 2023

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – April 23, 2023

Check out the latest on the Canadiens and Red Wings in the Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup.


SPORTSNET: In his recent mailbag segment, Eric Engels was asked if he expected anyone on the Montreal Canadiens to be bought out or traded this summer.

He sees Mike Hoffman and Joel Armia as the only two buyout candidates but admits he doesn’t anticipate the Canadiens will exercise that option. Trading both players could prove difficult given their contracts. Hoffman has a year remaining with a $4.5 million cap hit while Armia has two years remaining with an average annual value of $3.5 million.

The Canadiens could package Hoffman with one of their three fourth-round picks as an incentive to get teams to take on his full cap hit. They could also retain $1.5 million of his cap hit.

Montreal Canadiens winger Josh Anderson (NHL Images).

Engels is confident that defenseman Joel Edmundson will be traded this summer. He acknowledged winger Josh Anderson’s wish to remain in Montreal but doesn’t rule out the Canadiens trading him if the right opportunity presents itself.

The Canadiens will look at every opportunity to improve their goaltending. Engels doesn’t rule out the possibility of moving Jake Allen and bringing in a replacement who fits into their long-term plans. He doesn’t believe Sam Montembeault will be moved.

Engels speculates the Canadiens might want to attempt to acquire Winnipeg Jets center Pierre-Luc Dubois this summer rather than wait until next summer when he becomes an unrestricted free agent. He thinks there’s no guarantee Dubois will walk to them next July and a lot can change between now and then. However, if the cost of acquiring him proves too expensive, they could wait until free agency.

MONTREAL HOCKEY NOW: In his recent mailbag, Marc Dumont would prefer the Canadiens retain as many assets as possible and rely on Dubois making his way to Montreal as a free agent rather than via trade. It’s risky but better than paying too high a price in a trade with Winnipeg.

Dumont doubts Hoffman will be traded this summer, suggesting the rebuilding Canadiens still need shooting talent. He felt Hoffman’s production was reasonable this season on the injury-ravaged Habs and it could improve on a hopefully healthier roster next season. He also hasn’t heard of much interest for the 33-year-old winger in the trade market.

As for other trade candidates, Dumont doesn’t think Edmundson will garner much interest given his struggles this season and nagging back injury. He believes Armia is headed toward a buyout. Center Christian Dvorak could have value if he returns to the form he displayed once Martin St. Louis took over as head coach but doubts a team will offer the Habs assets for him at the moment.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A couple of interesting takes regarding what moves the Canadiens might make this summer.

Regarding Dubois, I’m in the camp of waiting to sign him as a UFA if he’s determined to join the Canadiens next summer rather than waste assets acquiring him in a trade. That being said, we don’t know whether the Habs brain trust of Jeff Gorton and Kent Hughes see Dubois as someone that fits into their rebuilding plans.

Everything tying Dubois to the Canadiens is speculation based on comments made by his agent last summer about his client wanting to play for Montreal one day. Gorton and Hughes wisely kept silent to avoid getting penalized by the league for tampering. Hughes has only made the generic statement that every GM makes about exploring every option to improve his team without mentioning any player on another club.

That doesn’t mean Hughes won’t make any significant moves this offseason given the deals he pulled off last summer. Maybe he’ll find a way to pry Dubois away from the Jets without giving up too much in return. Perhaps he’ll find takers for Edmundson, Hoffman and Armia. Maybe he’ll move Anderson or maybe he won’t. Your guess is as good as mine.

We won’t get a clearer picture of Hughes’ intentions until June. Even then, he’ll probably surprise us.


THE ATHLETIC: Max Bultman recently looked at which Detroit Red Wings will be staying or going during the offseason.

The Wings could face decisions on Filip Zadina, Pius Suter, Alex Chiasson, Gustav Lindstrom and Jordan Oesterle.

The sixth overall pick in 2018, Zadina has struggled to reach his potential as a scoring winger. He’s signed through 2024-25 with an average annual value of $1.825 million. Bultman cautioned against giving up on the 23-year-old winger, citing Buffalo’s Casey Mittelstadt’s breakout performance this season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Zadina’s cap hit isn’t expensive and the Red Wings can easily afford to carry his contract for another season. Give him one more shot and if it doesn’t pan out they can peddle him at next season’s trade deadline.

Suter, Chiasson and Oesterle are unrestricted free agents this summer while Lindstrom is a restricted free agent with arbitration rights. Some of them could be retained for the right price depending on whether the Wings see younger players in their system moving into the roster next season.

Bultman expects pending UFAs such as Alex Nedeljkovic, Robert Hagg, Adam Erne and Magnus Hellberg will be on their way out.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Nedeljkovic, 27, is the most notable of this group. Acquired two years ago from the Carolina Hurricanes, he never panned out as hoped as the Wings’ starting goaltender. He spent most of this season with their AHL affiliate.