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.
PENGUINS SHOPPING FOR KARLSSON BACKUP PLAN
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.
WHERE COULD THE DUCKS TRADE GIBSON?
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.
LATEST ON THE CANADIENS
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.
WILL THE LEAFS ADD MORE SNARL TO THEIR BLUELINE?
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.