NHL Rumor Mill – June 9, 2023

NHL Rumor Mill – June 9, 2023

The latest on Pierre-Luc Dubois, Carter Hart and Brock Boeser plus updates on the Devils and Blackhawks in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.


THE SCORE: Josh Wegman listed the Boston Bruins, Carolina Hurricanes, Colorado Avalanche, Detroit Red Wings and Montreal Canadiens as potential landing spots for Pierre-Luc Dubois. The 24-year-old Winnipeg Jets center could be traded this summer as he’s not interested in signing an extension with the club.

Wegman believes compensation would be a hangup for the Bruins given their depleted prospect pool. That’s not an issue for the Hurricanes, who also have plenty of salary-cap space. Wegman speculates Jesperi Kotkaniemi might interest the Jets.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Bruins’ limited cap space also probably takes them out of the running. The Hurricanes need scoring but the Jets might prefer someone like Martin Necas or Seth Jarvis over Kotkaniemi.

The Avalanche also have a limited prospect pool but they could dangle defenseman Samuel Girard. They’re also getting some cap relief with Gabriel Landeskog ($7 million average annual value) out for next season recovering from knee surgery. The rebuilding Red Wings have plenty of prospects to draw on for trade bait but they’d have to convince Dubois to sign long-term.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Dubois could be a terrific fit with the talented Avalanche but I think that they’d have to add more than Girard to make this deal worthwhile for the Jets. The Red Wings have the assets to make a tempting offer and the cap space to sign him to a long-term deal. However, I don’t see him committing to such a contract with a rebuilding team.

The Canadiens are considered the most likely landing spot given his agent’s comments last summer suggesting his client would one day like to play for the Habs. The Athletic reports they reached out to Winnipeg about Dubois after the Jets were eliminated from the playoffs. They have the assets and cap flexibility to make this happen.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The question is, how badly do the Canadiens want Dubois? Enough to part with more than just draft picks and prospects? Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman last weekend indicated the Jets were seeking more than just futures for Dubois, Connor Hellebuyck and Mark Scheifele. They want a return that enables them to make a fast turnaround. That could mean the Habs part with Kirby Dach or Josh Anderson.

The other issue is how much the Canadiens are willing to pay for Dubois on a long-term deal. While Nick Suzuki is their highest-paid skater at $7.875 million, The Athletic’s Arpon Basu reports general manager Kent Hughes said that’s not a cap for signing an unrestricted free agent or someone who’s a year away from UFA eligibility. If Hughes is comfortable paying Dubois an AAV of $9 million, perhaps a deal can be made here.


SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reported hearing different feedback regarding the trade status of Philadelphia Flyers goaltender Carter Hart. Some claim a trade is “nowhere near close” while others thought it was “getting pretty hot.” Friedman cited sources linking Hart to the Canadiens, Toronto Maple Leafs, Buffalo Sabres and Ottawa Senators.

Philadelphia Flyers goaltender Carter Hart (NHL Images)

The Canadiens have backup Jake Allen for another season while Sam Montembeault had a good season and played well for Canada at the 2022 World Championships. However, Hart’s ceiling is considered to be higher.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: According to The Athletic’s Arpon Basu and Marc Antoine Godin, the Canadiens aren’t interested in Hart.

Friedman claimed there were mixed messages from his sources regarding the Leafs with one denying interest while some aren’t ruling it out. He also cited their change in management and how GM Brad Treliving likes to be in on everything.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I wouldn’t rule it out but I can see them sticking with an affordable tandem of Ilya Samsonov and Joseph Woll, who both played well for them this season. They also have to deal with shedding the contract oft-sidelined goalie Matt Murray.

The Sabres will be part of goalie trade rumors until they either make a trade or say they’re sticking with what they have. As for the Senators, Friedman said their rumors interest was “denied to me”.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hart might not be a certainty to move as originally believed. Friedman followed up by reporting that a source told him to dial back the Hart trade rumors as that’s not a front-burner issue for the Flyers.


THE ATHLETIC: Pierre LeBrun recently reported the temperature on the Brock Boeser front has cooled. The winger’s agent was given permission to speak with other clubs by the Vancouver Canucks but nothing came of it, adding that no teams are calling the Canucks about him.

Boeser had a meeting with Canucks GM Patrik Allvin following the season and expressed his desire to stay put. That doesn’t necessarily mean he’s out of play but the club is more than happy to keep him if they don’t get any suitable trade offers.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That would explain why we’ve heard more about Conor Garland or Tyler Myers as trade candidates in recent weeks.


NJ HOCKEY NOW: James Nichols cited Pierre LeBrun reported that the New Jersey Devils have made an eight-year contract offer to winger Jesper Bratt. The average annual value is unknown but expected to be a high number. They’re also in talks with winger Timo Meier, whose AAV could be higher than Bratt’s.

The Devils have also had discussions with pending UFA forward Erik Haula. There is mutual interest in working out a new contract. Meanwhile, UFA defenseman Ryan Graves’ future in New Jersey isn’t as clear. His agent indicates that the Devils need to figure out if they have room. Nichols noted the arrival of Luke Hughes and Simon Nemec knocking on the door could see Graves moving on.

The Columbus Blue Jackets had expressed an interest in acquiring the rights of pending UFA rearguard Damon Severson. That was before they traded for Ivan Provorov earlier this week but Nichols suggests that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re no longer interested in Severson, who’s a right-handed shot while Provorov shoots left.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Hockey News’ Jason Newland believes the Blue Jackets’ acquisition of Provorov kills the idea of them signing Severson. He believes the latter will be too expensive, suggesting the Jackets could invest that money elsewhere.

**UPDATE** TSN reports the Blue Jackets acquired Severson this morning in a sign-and-trade deal. He is signing an eight-year contract with the Jackets. 


THE HOCKEY NEWS: Matt Carlson recently reported the Chicago Blackhawks had $42 million in salary covering 13 players for next season (Note: This was before they signed Andreas Athanasiou to a two-year deal with an AAV of $4.25 million).

With the salary cap minimum being between $62 million and $63 million, GM Kyle Davidson will have to go shopping to be cap compliant for the start of 2023-24.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Athletic’s Scott Powers reports Davidson said he’ll have no problem reaching the cap floor. He’ll utilize his cap space to gain assets, but that market hasn’t been determined yet.

In other words, Davidson will be a buyer in this summer’s free-agent market. He could also take on some salary via a trade or two.

NHL Rumor Mill – June 6, 2023

NHL Rumor Mill – June 6, 2023

The Senators exploring trade options for Alex DeBrincat, proposed trade destinations for Connor Hellebucyk and Blake Wheeler, and speculation over what Auston Matthews’ cap hit on his next contract will be in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.


SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports the Ottawa Senators have begun exploring the trade market for Alex DeBrincat. A source described it as the Senators conducting “due diligence” given the 25-year-old left winger’s desire to wait until the sale of the club before engaging in contract talks.

DeBrincat is a restricted free agent this summer. He’s also a year away from unrestricted free-agent status. Senators management is considering its options from taking him to arbitration to trading him.

OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch speculates the decision on DeBrincat could come before the end of this month. League sources confirmed the winger’s agent informed management that his client isn’t ready yet to discuss a contract extension.

Ottawa Senators winger Alex DeBrincat (NHL Images).

Garrioch believes Senators general manager Pierre Dorion has to see what the trade market looks like for DeBrincat if the winger isn’t committed to staying with the Senators. He noted that the upcoming NHL draft is a time when teams are trying to make deals to shape their rosters for next season.

Dorion has publicly said he’ll make a qualifying offer to DeBrincat. If he’s unwilling to sign it, the Senators GM hinted he could take the winger to arbitration and ask for a 15 percent drop on his qualifying offer.

DeBrincat was earning an average annual value of $6.4 million on a three-year contract. However, he made $9 million in actual salary this season, which is what it would cost to qualify his rights. A 15 percent reduction would be around $7.8 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Senators acquired DeBrincat from the Chicago Blackhawks during the 2022 NHL Draft. They could be forced to move him during this year’s draft if the winger remains reluctant to sign a long-term contract.

Trading DeBrincat would be considered a loss for the Senators considering they gave up their first and second-round picks in last year’s draft to Chicago to acquire him. However, Dorion could save face if he can find a solid return that provides the Senators with immediate as well as long-term help.


DAILY FACEOFF: Matt Larkin proposed seven trade destinations for Connor Hellebuyck if the Winnipeg Jets attempt to peddle the 29-year-old goaltender.

The Carolina Hurricanes, Los Angeles Kings and New Jersey Devils are Larkin’s top-three landing spots for Hellebuyck. The three clubs could become Stanley Cup contenders with strong, reliable goaltending. However, the Hurricanes also need game-breaking scoring, the cap-strapped Kings still hope to re-sign pending UFA defenseman Vladislav Gavrikov and the Devils face re-signing two expensive wingers in Jesper Bratt and Timo Meier.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Hurricanes’ focus could be more on their scoring, especially given their front office has said they’re willing to bring back pending UFA goalies Frederik Andersen and Antti Raanta. The Kings would have to free up cap space to take on Hellebuyck and re-sign Gavrikov. The Devils, however, could still have sufficient cap room to take re-sign Bratt and Meier and still add Hellebuyk.

Larkin also listed the Ottawa Senators, Pittsburgh Penguins, Toronto Maple Leafs and Vegas Golden Knights as possible destinations.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I don’t see the Senators pursuing Hellebuyck unless he’s willing to agree to a long-term contract extension. It’s bad enough they could be trading away Alex DeBrincat after a year, they don’t need to see Hellebuyck heading out the door next summer as a free agent.

The Penguins have the cap space for Hellebuyck but I don’t believe they can come up with a suitable return to tempt the Jets given their depleted prospect pool and aging roster. The Leafs need to improve their defense core plus I think they’ll stick with the more affordable goalie tandem of Ilya Samsonov and Joseph Woll. The Golden Knights lack the cap space to pull it unless they’re willing to shed over $6 million to do it.

WINNIPEG SUN: Scott Billeck believes it would be shocking to see Blake Wheeler back with the Jets next season. The 36-year-old left winger was stripped of the captaincy by head coach Rick Bowness but still wields influence in the dressing room. He has a year remaining on his contract but his $8.25 million cap hit will be difficult to move unless the Jets retain part of it.

Billeck suggests buying out Wheeler. While that would cost $2.75 million against their salary cap, it would provide $5.5 million in cap savings for next season to put toward retooling the roster.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Jets could try to move Wheeler in this summer’s trade market. As Billeck observers, they’ll have to take back a bad contract, retain half of his cap hit in a trade with another club, or attempt a three-team deal that spreads his cap hit around.

Despite those options, I wouldn’t be surprised if they buy out Wheeler later this month. His age and cap hit works against finding a suitable trade partner.


TORONTO SUN: Steve Simmons believes Auston Matthews will become the NHL’s highest-paid player in 2024-25. The 25-year-old Maple Leafs center is a year away from UFA status.

Simmons observes that Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon will be the highest-paid player with an average annual value of $12.6 million while Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid is second at $12.5 million.

While Matthews lacks MacKinnon’s Stanley Cup ring and McDavid’s plethora of individual awards, Simmons believes he’ll get between $14 million and $15 million annually on his next contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’ve speculated that Matthews could get a more conservative $13.5 million but it wouldn’t shock me if it exceeds $14 million. He’s a two-time Richard Trophy winner who last year became the first player in over a decade to tally 60 goals in a season. The Leafs center has reached the 40-goal plateau in five of his seven NHL seasons and won the Hart Memorial Trophy in 2021-22.

Matthews isn’t a better player than McDavid. Nevertheless, if the Leafs won’t pay him between $14 million and $15 million annually, another club will happily do so via next summer’s free-agent market, when the salary cap is expected to jump by at least $4 million. That’s the way the market works.

As for McDavid, he’ll regain his title as the NHL’s highest-paid player once his current contract is completed at the end of 2025-26.

NHL Rumor Mill – June 1, 2023

NHL Rumor Mill – June 1, 2023

The Hurricanes intend to be busy in this summer’s trade market, some proposed targets for the Avalanche to boost their forward lines, and some trade targets for the Blackhawks in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.


THE NEWS & OBSERVER: Luke DeCock reports Carolina Hurricanes general manager Don Waddell intends to go the trade route this summer rather than through free agency to bolster his roster for next season.

I think the trade route is something we’re going to explore very heavily before free agency,” said Waddell during his end-of-season media availability yesterday. He indicated he’d like to boost the Hurricanes’ scoring but would also like to add some size to his roster.

We’d like to get a little heavier, if possible,” said Waddell. He’s also hoping for a bounce-back performance from winger Teuvo Teravainen and for young players like Seth Jarvis to continue their improvement.

Waddell indicated there’s still no timeline for when pending free agent Max Pacioretty will return to action following his second torn Achilles. While they’re interested in bringing back the 34-year-old winger, he said they “have to make sure we don’t get caught counting on something that isn’t there.”

Carolina Hurricanes center Sebastian Aho (NHL Images)

DeCock also reported that Hurricanes owner Tom Dundon has made re-signing center Sebastian Aho to a long-term contract extension “a top, top priority.” Dundon said he’d like to get Aho signed as soon as possible. Aho is eligible to become an unrestricted free agent next July.

Dundon also believes it’s possible to bring back captain Jordan Staal. He anticipates it’ll be done quickly. “We want to keep him here.” The Hurricanes captain is also open to bringing back pending UFA goalies Frederik Andersen and Antti Raanta, pointing out that Pyotr Kochetkov remains waiver-exempt next season.

THE ATHLETIC: Pierre LeBrun reports Waddell wasted little time reaching out to Aho’s agent to get the ball rolling on contract extension talks. LeBrun also noted there’s little bitterness between the Hurricanes’ front office and Aho over the latter signing that five-year, $42.295 million offer sheet from the Montreal Canadiens that was quickly matched by the Canes.

LeBrun believes Aho wants to stay with the Hurricanes. He speculates they’d like to keep the average annual value of his next contract under $9.5 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Hurricanes want to keep their roster as intact as possible for another shot at a Cup run next year after finishing this season with the second-best record (111 points) in franchise history. Despite being swept by the Florida Panthers in the Eastern Conference Final, they point to how close each game was in that series and how it could’ve gone their way had they caught some puck luck.

The Hurricanes might have to front-load Aho’s contract to keep it around $9.5 million. I anticipate it’ll cost them closer to $10 million annually on a seven- or eight-year deal to keep him in the fold.

It sounds like they’re also going to let Pacioretty go to market on July 1. Given his age and recent injury history, he’d had to accept a one-year deal with a substantial pay cut to stay in Carolina.

The Hurricanes have over $24 million in cap space for 2023-24. They can afford to bring back Staal, Andersen and Raanta and still have sufficient cap room to add a scorer. Waddell could target clubs looking to shed salary without taking too much back in return.


THE HOCKEY NEWS: Adam Proteau observed the Colorado Avalanche will get $7 million in cap relief with captain Gabriel Landeskog sidelined for next season recovering from knee surgery. With $20.3 million in cap room, he proposed five targets to boost their forward lines.

If the Avs look to free agency, Proteau suggested bringing back Ryan O’Reilly to provide the grit and experience they need for a deep playoff run. He anticipated O’Reilly could cost between $4 million and $5 million annually. He also suggested pending UFA winger Vladimir Tarasenko would be a good fit on their second line. So could Pittsburgh Penguins winger Jason Zucker if he tests the market.

Proteau also suggested the New Jersey Devils’ Timo Meier or the Vancouver Canucks Brock Boeser. Meier is a restricted free agent who might become available via an offer sheet though the Devils could match it. The Canucks, meanwhile, are looking to shed salary but also need help in the blueline. Proteau suggested offering up Samuel Girard in exchange for Boeser.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’ll be interesting to see how the Avalanche proceed this summer. Their priority remains a second-line center but they could also look at adding a short-term replacement on left wing for the sidelined Landeskog.

O’Reilly or Tarasenko might be possible but it depends on what they’re seeking on their next contracts. There’s been some speculation suggesting O’Reilly might return to the Blues on a short-term deal for around what Proteau was proposing.

Meier will be far too expensive if he becomes available via trade or offer sheet. Boeser for Girard would address the Canucks and Avs’ respective needs. However, Canucks management seems to be leaning toward retaining Boeser while shipping out someone else to garner some cap relief.


THE ATHLETIC: Scott Powers recently listed several trade targets for the Chicago Blackhawks if they wish to weaponize their cap space for 2023-24. They might be able to land some first-round picks or quality prospects by targeting cap-strapped teams carrying unwanted contracts.

Vancouver Canucks winger Conor Garland, defenseman Tyler Myers and winger Brock Boeser topped Powers’ list. Other options include Washington Capitals winger Anthony Mantha and New York Islanders winger Josh Bailey.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Garland or Myers are the most likely to be available. As noted earlier, the Canucks seem to be leaning toward hanging onto Boeser.

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – May 28, 2023

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – May 28, 2023

The latest on the Hurricanes, the Flyers are willing to entertain offers for Carter Hart, and the possibility of the Blackhawks and Canucks swapping first-round picks in the Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup.


THE NEWS & OBSERVER: Luke DeCock believes the Carolina Hurricanes are running out of chances with their current group to win the Stanley Cup. After another disappointing postseason, they could have one final shot at it before difficult roster decisions must be made.

Core players such as Sebastian Aho, Martin Necas, Brett Pesce, Brady Skjei and Teuvo Teravainen will need new contracts next summer, and Brent Burns and Jaccob Slavin the year after that. Meanwhile, some changes could come this summer with Jesper Fast, Jordan Staal and goalies Frederik Andersen and Antti Raanta slated to become unrestricted free agents on July 1.

Carolina Hurricanes forward Martin Necas (NHL Images)

DeCock speculated Hurricanes management could decide to peddle Teravainen this summer if they’re unlikely to re-sign him. They could also perhaps sell high on Necas or Jack Drury, who both struggled in the postseason. There are also lingering questions regarding their overall roster toughness.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Hurricanes have plenty of salary-cap space ($24.1 million) to retain players like Staal and Andersen on affordable short-term contracts. Meanwhile, they could go shopping for a scoring forward with size and grit via the trade or free-agent markets.

SPORTSNET: Ken Wiebe wonders if the Hurricanes and Winnipeg Jets would become trade partners if the latter attempts to shake up their “core four” of goalie Connor Hellebuyck and forwards Mark Scheifele, Pierre-Luc Dubois and Blake Wheeler.

Pyotr Kochetckov is the only Hurricanes goalie under contract for next season. Hellebuyck has one season left on his contract with a manageable $6.167 million cap hit. He’d unlikely be a long-term fit but that might not be a deterrent for a team in “win-now” mode.

Scheifele, meanwhile, doesn’t necessarily fit into the Hurricanes’ defensive-zone commitment. Nevertheless, perhaps Rod Brind’Amour could be the type of coach that inspires Scheifele to play a 200-foot game. The 29-year-old center will also be motivated as he’s also a year away from UFA status and will want to ensure his value remains high.

Wiebe listed Necas, Teravainen and Pesce as possible Hurricanes trade chips as well as top prospect Scott Morrow and their 2023 or 2024 first-rounder.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Weibe isn’t saying that the Hurricanes and Jets are talking trade. He’s merely looking at which members of the Jets core might be available and of potential interest to the Canes. We’ll learn in the coming weeks whether these two clubs intend to have trade discussions.

We can’t rule out the possibility of the Hurricanes rolling the dice on stars with a year left on their contracts in their quest to win the Stanley Cup next season. Whether Carolina GM Don Waddell is prepared to go that route remains to be seen.


PHILLY HOCKEY NOW: Chuck Bausman cited Flyers general manager Daniel Briere telling Philadelphia sports radio 94.1 WIP that he’s open to trading goaltender Carter Hart.

Most likely, Carter will be our goalie for the future, but I’m not in a position to turn down anything,” said Briere. “I have to listen.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hart was considered among the rebuilding Flyers’ few untouchables so that’s a significant statement by Briere. However, he didn’t say that he is trading Hart but only indicated that he’s willing to entertain offers.

Those offers, however, will have to meet what will likely be Briere’s high asking price. He’s not going to just give him away. I daresay he’ll want at least a first-round pick and a top prospect in the deal.

Someone could step up and overpay to get Hart. However, I think he’ll be returning to the Flyers crease this fall.


THE PROVINCE: Patrick Johnston recently took note of The Athletic’s Scott Powers indicating the Chicago Blackhawks would love to move up into the top-15 in this year’s draft order. In addition to the first-overall pick, they also hold the 19th overall pick.

Powers indicated the Blackhawks are willing to package second-round picks with the 19th overall pick. He suggested the Canucks as a trade partner as they hold the 11th overall selection.

Johnston cited one source suggesting the Blackhawks could land the Canucks pick based on the scenario laid out by Powers. Another source told Johnston that they might be willing to entertain that scenario if they can move a contract in the deal.

The Canucks would like to move Tyler Myers, who has a year left with a $6 million cap hit on his contract. Johnston, however, suggested winger Conor Garland ($4.95 million cap hit through 2025-26) might be more enticing to the Blackhawks because he’s six years younger than Myers and still in his prime.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: To summarize: the Hawks move up to 11th overall plus they add a good roster player in Garland who has several years remaining on his contract. The Canucks drop down to 19th overall but add one or two second-rounders and clear nearly $5 million in cap space from their books.

That’s a very interesting trade scenario for those two clubs. It’ll be interesting to see if it comes to pass during the first round on June 28.

NHL Rumor Mill – May 26, 2023

NHL Rumor Mill – May 26, 2023

More speculation and suggestions for the Hurricanes plus the latest on the Blackhawks in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.


THE HOCKEY NEWS: Following the Carolina Hurricanes’ elimination from the Eastern Conference Final, Adam Proteau examined three areas they must address during the offseason.

Proteau believes the Hurricanes need to get bigger and better on their forward lines. He suggested perhaps Boston’s Tyler Bertuzzi and/or Philadelphia’s James van Riemsdyk, who are both slated to become unrestricted free agents on July 1.

Addressing the goaltending is another area to address. Frederik Andersen and Antti Raanta are also UFAs on July 1 while promising Pyotr Kochetkov has just 27 games of NHL experience under his belt. He also believes they shouldn’t touch their defense corps.

DAILY FACEOFF: Matt Larkin believes the Hurricanes should trade for a superstar “no matter the cost”. While they play a strong team game under head coach Rod Brind’Amour, they haven’t had a 40-goal scorer, a 90-point scorer or a player among the top-15 in scoring over the past five seasons.

Carolina Hurricanes winger Andrei Svechnikov (NHL Images).

Larkin noted the Hurricanes attempted to acquire Matthew Tkachuk from the Calgary Flames prior to his getting traded last summer to the Panthers. They also pushed hard to get Timo Meier from the San Jose Sharks before he was shipped to the New Jersey Devils before the March trade deadline.

Could Hurricanes general manager Don Waddell be willing to do the same this summer? Larkin wondered if he’d part with players like Andrei Svechnikov or Brett Pesce or Seth Jarvis if someone like Toronto’s Mitch Marner became available in the trade market.

THE ATHLETIC: Cory Lavalette also wondered about the notable Hurricanes such as Sebastian Aho and Teuvo Teravainen who are a year away from UFA status.

Lavalette anticipates they’ll find a way to re-sign Aho but Teravainen’s future is more uncertain. Given his struggles this season, he could be on his way out.

Martin Necas had a breakout performance this season and is heading into the final season of his bridge deal. Lavalette wonders if the Hurricanes will be willing to commit to Necas long-term. If not, his value in the trade market will never be higher while his cap hit ($3 million) is so low.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Hurricanes have over $24 million in cap space for next season with 17 active roster players under contract. Sorting out the goaltending will be a priority but it shouldn’t eat up much cap space if they bring back Andersen on a short-term deal given the limited depth in this summer’s trade and free-agent markets.

Adding a superstar is easier said than done. Yes, the Panthers landed Matthew Tkachuk last summer in a blockbuster move. However, such deals are rare, expensive and risky. The Hurricanes have the assets in terms of young players, prospects and cap space to pull it off. Whether they can find an available superstar this summer remains to be seen. Their willingness to get into a bidding war to land one is also up for debate.


THE ATHLETIC: Scott Powers recently brought us up to speed on what he’s hearing about the Chicago Blackhawks’ offseason plans.

For starters, don’t expect a major draft surprise from the Blackhawks regarding the first-overall pick. They’re definitely using it to select top prospect Connor Bedard.

The Blackhawks aren’t optimistic about moving up in the draft order with the first-rounder (19th overall) they got from the Tampa Bay Lightning. The Vancouver Canucks (11th overall) might make the most sense given their need to shed salary for next season. Powers wondered if the Canucks would be enticed to part with that pick if the Blackhawks offered to take on one of the contracts they’re trying to move by bundling the Lightning’s pick along with a second-rounder.

Powers indicated the Blackhawks are willing to listen to offers from clubs trying to offload contracts if it’ll bring them a high draft pick and/or a quality prospect. He also noted that they intend to keep their free-agent signings to short-term deals.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Blackhawks GM Kyle Davidson wasted little time establishing a reputation as a wheeler-dealer during last year’s draft. Lacking a first-round pick entering that draft, he emerged with three of them which he used to select Kevin Korchinski, Frank Nazar and Sam Rinzel.

Don’t be surprised if Davidson finds a way to move up in the draft order by weaponizing his salary-cap space.

NHL Rumor Mill – May 25, 2023

NHL Rumor Mill – May 25, 2023

A look at what could be next for the Hurricanes after falling in the Eastern Conference Final, some possible trade destinations for Connor Hellebuyck and the latest Bruins speculation in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.


ESPN.COM: Kristen Shilton looks at what the offseason might hold for the Carolina Hurricanes after getting swept from the Eastern Conference Final by the Florida Panthers.

The Hurricanes must address their goaltending as Frederik Andersen and Antti Raanta are eligible to become unrestricted free agents on July 1. Rookie Pyotr Kochetkov likely isn’t ready yet to become a full-time starter. They’ll either re-sign Andersen or Raanta to pair with Kochetkov or scour the market for another veteran, which will take up a hefty chunk of cap space.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Andersen and Raanta play well when healthy but both have had their injury woes in recent years. Still, they could opt to retain one or the other on affordable short-term contracts given the limited goalie options in this summer’s trade and free-agent markets.

Scoring depth was an issue this season. Max Pacioretty was supposed to help them address that issue. However, he missed most of this season to injuries and is also a UFA on July 1 along with Paul Stastny, Jesper Fast and captain Jordan Staal. Jesse Puljujarvi is a restricted free agent but his potential remains uncertain.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Pacioretty probably won’t be back given the uncertainty of his health after back-to-back Achilles’ injuries. Puljujarvi was a failed short-term experiment whose NHL career is probably hanging by a thread after another disappointing season.

Staal will likely return on a short-term deal worth considerably less than the $6 million average annual value of his last contract. Stastny and Fast might have to make way for young players, especially if they decide to look for another scorer through a trade or free agency.


THE ATHLETIC: Shayna Goldman looked at seven clubs that could (and should) be interested in Connor Hellebucyk.

Winnipeg Jets goaltender Connor Hellebuyck (NHL Images).

Winner of the Vezina Trophy in 2019 and a finalist this season, the 29-year-old Winnipeg Jets goaltender is a year away from UFA eligibility. He could be traded this summer if unable to reach an agreement with the Jets on a contract extension.

The Buffalo Sabres and New Jersey Devils are the top two clubs on Goldman’s list. They’re followed by the Pittsburgh Penguins, Ottawa Senators, Vegas Golden Knights, Toronto Maple Leafs and Los Angeles Kings.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Goldman goes into detail as to why each club could and should find Hellebuyck a worthwhile trade target.

My two cents: Hellebuyck would be a terrific addition to any of these clubs if he’s willing to sign a contract extension. Otherwise, he won’t fetch the type of return the Jets would want if they put him on the market. There will be teams interested in him but they could be reluctant to give up too much for an elite goalie who could depart as a free agent next summer.

The Sabres and Devils carry plenty of cap room and can afford him next season and beyond. The Penguins could make it work for 2023-24 but it could get tricky after that. Maybe the Senators can swing it if they pass on re-signing Alex DeBrincat.

As for the rest, they can’t afford his cap hit unless they move out a lot of salary first.


BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Jimmy Murphy wondered if the Bruins and Edmonton Oilers could become offseason trade partners. He noted that the Bruins need centers given the uncertainty over the futures of Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci while the Oilers need defensemen.

Murphy cited an NHL source claiming the Oilers “might move” center Ryan Nugent-Hopkins this summer and they’re seeking a defenseman as part of the return. However, Murphy is skeptical about that one given the Bruins’ limited cap space for next season. He wondered if a more affordable bottom-six option from the Oilers such as Ryan McLeod might be available.

Bruins defenseman Matt Grzelcyk could become a trade candidate. However, Murphy doesn’t see the cap-strapped Oilers taking on his $3.6 million cap hit for next season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Murphy’s source should brush up on Nugent-Hopkin’s contract. He took a pay cut to stay in Edmonton on an eight-year deal. The 30-year-old center also has a full no-movement clause. There’s no indication he wants out of Edmonton or that the Oilers want to move him.