NHL Rumor Mill – March 17, 2023

NHL Rumor Mill – March 17, 2023

A look at some of this summer’s notable restricted free agents in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.

SPORTSNET: Luke Fox recently examined where things stand for this summer’s noteworthy NHL restricted free agents. Here’s a look at some of the more interesting cases:

Pierre-Luc Dubois, Winnipeg Jets: Fox noted the “grand suspicion” that the 25-year-old Winnipeg Jets center is biding his time until his eligibility next summer for unrestricted free agent status when it’s believed he’ll sign with the Montreal Canadiens.

Winnipeg Jets center Pierre-Luc Dubois (NHL Images).

Fox felt Dubois’ future in Winnipeg would’ve been the subject of more speculation by the trade deadline had the Jets not been enjoying a bounce-back performance this season. Head coach Rick Bowness recently praised Dubois’ performance while expressing the hope that he’ll sign a long-term extension this summer with the Jets.

Dubois’ kept quiet on the matter. Fox believes he could get an average annual salary of $9 million on a long-term pact.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Dubois trade rumors died down after he signed his current one-year, $6 million deal last summer. However, the speculation never fully went away.

Given his strong performance this season, you can bet those rumors will ramp up again in the offseason unless he puts pen to paper and signs a lengthy extension with the Jets.

Timo Meier, New Jersey Devils: It’ll cost the Devils $10 million to qualify the 26-year-old winger’s right unless the two sides agree to a new contract before June 30. Fox indicates that Devils general manager Tom Fitzgerald is making a long-term extension for Meier a priority, pointing out that the Devils have sufficient cap space next season to extend him.

Jesper Bratt, New Jersey Devils: Fox also observed that the 24-year-old winger is about to make the Devils pay after agreeing to a one-year, $5.45 million contract last summer. Like Dubois and Meier, he’s a year away from UFA eligibility. After tallying a career-high 73 points in 2021-22, he had 60 points in 68 games this season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly shows the Devils have $35.6 million in cap space for 2023-24 with 11 players under contract. There’s enough to re-sign Meier and Bratt though it could eat up over $18 million combined. Fitzgerald must also decide if he’s willing to pay Meier and Bratt each more than Jack Hughes’ $8 million AAV. If he’s not, things could get very interesting in New Jersey this summer.

Alex DeBrincat, Ottawa Senators: Fox believes the 26-year-old winger holds all the leverage in contract negotiations with the Senators this summer. His AAV is $6.4 million but in actual salary, he’s earned $9 million this season. He’s also a year away from UFA eligibility. Contract talks will begin following the season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Fox also noted that Senators GM Pierre Dorion is happy with DeBrincat’s performance this season. Nevertheless, the winger’s name surfaced occasionally in the rumor mill.

Considering the high price that Dorion paid to pry DeBrincat away from the Chicago Blackhawks last summer, a long-term extension worth around $9 million annually seems likely.

Others on Fox’s list included Montreal’s Cole Caufield, Anaheim’s Troy Terry and Trevor Zegras, Seattle’s Vince Dunn, the New York Rangers’ K’Andre Miller and Filip Chytil, Edmonton’s Evan Bouchard and Toronto’s Ilya Samsonov.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Those players rarely (if ever) appear regularly in media trade chatter during this season. There’s a chance that contract negotiation for some of them could become more contentious than expected. Nevertheless, I expect those in this group will all be re-signed by their current clubs before training camps open in September.

NHL Rumor Mill – March 14, 2023

NHL Rumor Mill – March 14, 2023

A look at Timo Meier’s contract situation with the Devils, Patrick Kane’s future with the Rangers plus ongoing rumors linking Pierre-Luc Dubois to the Canadiens in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.


NORTHSTAR BETS: TSN’s Chris Johnston recently pondered how the New Jersey Devils will navigate Timo Meier’s contract situation. The recently-acquired winger is a restricted free agent who’s a year away from unrestricted free-agent eligibility. It will cost the Devils $10 million to qualify his rights.

New Jersey Devils winger Timo Meier (NHL Images).

Given the big return the Devils gave up to the San Jose Sharks to acquire Meier, the Devils prefer to re-sign the 26-year-old winger rather than give him that $10 million QO and risk letting him depart next summer as a UFA. Johnston indicated that it’s believed there were some preliminary ideas exchanged between Devils management and Meier’s camp but no serious discussions yet.

Johnston believes it’ll take an eight-year deal worth $9 million annually for the Devils to retain Meier beyond next season. He thinks they’ll face a tough decision in re-signing a player under no pressure to take any discounts or potentially package him to another club.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: There’s a belief that Devils general manager Tom Fitzgerald doesn’t want his forwards earning more than Jack Hughes’ $8 million annually. However, I believe Johnston’s right that it’ll cost around $9 million per season to re-sign Meier. If Fitzgerald isn’t willing to do that, he’ll have to peddle the former Sharks winger, especially if he’s unwilling to qualify Meier’s rights for next season.


Johnston also wondered if Patrick Kane would consider re-signing with the New York Rangers if things go well with them over the remainder of this season. It’ll depend on whether the salary cap and lifestyle and contract needs align.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I don’t rule it out but I don’t see it happening. Cap Friendly shows the Rangers with $16.8 million in projected salary-cap space for 2023-24 and 13 roster players under contract.

Restricted free agents K’Andre Miller, Alexis Lafreniere and Filip Chytil will be seeking raises that will eat up a considerable chunk of that cap space even if the Rangers can squeeze them to accept affordable short-term deals. Miller is a second-pairing defenseman with 31 points this season. Chytil and Lafreniere should both reach 40 points this season.

By my reckoning, the Rangers will be fortunate to get those three re-signed for under $10 million. That’s not taking into account their need to re-sign or replace pending UFA backup goal Jaroslav Halak, which will take up more valuable cap room.

Kane would have to accept a significant pay cut to stay in New York. Even then, the Rangers might face shedding some salary to make the dollars fit. That’s why I expect he’s a playoff rental who’ll be heading into free agency on July 1.


SPORTSNET: During the March 9 episode of The Jeff Marek Show, the host and Elliotte Friedman were discussing what it might mean for the Winnipeg Jets if they missed the playoffs this season.

Friedman mentioned that he believed the Jets and Montreal Canadiens occasionally talked about Pierre-Luc Dubois during this season. The 24-year-old center remains with the Jets but Friedman speculated that was something that could be discussed during the offseason.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Dubois’ agent raised eyebrows last offseason when he mentioned that his client might one day be interested in joining the Canadiens. The center downplayed those remarks during the press conference announcing his new one-year, $6 million contract, claiming he never sought a trade to Montreal or anywhere else.

Nevertheless, questions about Dubois’ future in Winnipeg have never really gone away. Like Meier, he’s a restricted free agent who is a year away from UFA eligibility this summer.

The Jets would love to sign Dubois to a long-term extension, especially with Mark Scheifele and Blake Wheeler slated for UFA eligibility next summer. If he prefers a one-year deal taking him up to UFA status, GM Kevin Cheveldayoff could have no choice but to trade him this summer.

Whether Dubois winds up with the rebuilding Canadiens remains to be seen. They’ve got the draft capital with the Panthers’ first-round pick plus considerable depth in promising youngsters on their roster and within their system to make a competitive pitch to the Jets.

The Canadiens will have around $10.5 million in projected cap space for 2023-24 with 17 roster players under contract. However, they’ll also get $10.5 million in wiggle room if necessary should Carey Price remain on long-term injury reserve as expected. They could afford to add a new contract for Dubois and still have enough to re-sign Cole Caufield to a lucrative new deal.

Whether the rebuilding Canadiens are interested in trading for Dubois remains to be seen. Assuming they are interested in him, they could wait until next summer when he becomes a UFA instead of parting with draft picks and players to get him this summer.

NHL Rumor Mill – March 10, 2023

NHL Rumor Mill – March 10, 2023

Check out the latest on the Devils’ Jesper Bratt and Timo Meier, the Flyers’ Kevin Hayes, the Predator’s Juuse Saros and the Flames’ Elias Lindholm plus a look at the Red Wings in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.


SPORTSNET: In his latest “32 Thoughts” column, Elliotte Friedman wrote the New Jersey Devils are engaged in contract extension talks with Jesper Bratt. He’s a restricted free agent who is a year away from unrestricted free-agent eligibility.

New Jersey Devils winger Jesper Bratt (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: You know who else is an RFA this summer who’s a year away from UFA status? Timo Meier, the guy the Devils acquired nearly two weeks ago.

Cap Friendly indicates they have $47.8 million invested in 11 players for next season. There’s plenty of money to re-sign Bratt and Meier but it will take a big chunk out of their remaining payroll.

Meier could seek a multi-year deal worth around $9 million annually while Bratt could seek around $8 million. Both have comparable offensive numbers over the past two seasons but Meier has a more established record.

I’ve suggested that Meier could be insurance for the Devils if contract talks with Bratt go sideways. It’ll be interesting to see how those negotiations pan out.

Speaking of Meier, Friedman wonders if the Devils might consider club-elected arbitration with the 26-year-old winger for 85 percent of his $10 million qualifying offer.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If the Devils did that and won they’d get Meier for one year at $8.5 million. That comes with the risk, however, of the winger deciding to test next summer’s UFA market. That’s fine if they only see Meier as an option for this season and next but not such a good idea if they want to fit him into their long-term plans.

Friedman doesn’t think there was much linking Philadelphia Flyers forward Kevin Hayes to the Carolina Hurricanes before last Friday’s trade deadline. However, he thinks there could be something with the Columbus Blue Jackets. “Two of his biggest fans – Johnny Gaudreau and Rick Nash – are there.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Blue Jackets have a longstanding need for skilled depth at the center position. There was a recent report claiming a team was interested in acquiring Hayes and employing him as a center. Perhaps that unnamed club was the Blue Jackets. We’ll find out in the offseason if there’s anything to it.

Speaking of the Hurricanes, Friedman cited The Athletic’s Michael Russo reporting they contacted the Calgary Flames about center Elias Lindholm. He’s among six Flames who are a year away from UFA eligibility.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As Friedman observed, the Flames weren’t going to part with Lindholm while they were still battling for a playoff berth in the Western Conference. However, it could be something worth monitoring in the offseason depending on how things shake out for the Flames down the stretch. Those other players Friedman was referring to were probably Mikael Backlund, Tyler Toffoli, Noah Hanifin, Nikita Zadorov and Oliver Kylington.

The Detroit Red Wings are thin on the right side of their blueline after trading Filip Hronek to Vancouver. It’s something they’ll have to address in the offseason.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Perhaps the Red Wings will use one of their two first-rounders in this year’s draft and next year’s draft or one of their three 2023 second-rounders as trade bait this summer to address that need. That’s something The Athletic’s Max Bultman touched on during a recent mailbag segment.

The Wings will have over $32 million in cap space for next season. With that trade capital, they could target cap-strapped clubs with surplus defensemen looking to shed salary this summer.

Friedman believes the Los Angeles Kings made an exploratory call to the Nashville Predators regarding goaltender Juuse Saros.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A report post-trade deadline out of Nashville indicated the Predators viewed Saros, Roman Josi and Filip Forsberg as their untouchables. It doesn’t hurt to ask, of course, but it appears the Predators are looking at a quick turnaround rather than a major roster rebuild. Saros will be part of that anticipated bounce-back season.

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 6, 2023

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 6, 2023

Timo Meier and Jonathan Quick make their debuts with their new clubs, Jesperi Kotkaniemi and Teuvo Teravainen combined for eight points as the Hurricanes blank the Lightning, and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.


NHL.COM: Timo Meier opened the scoring in his debut with the New Jersey Devils as they defeated the Arizona Coyotes 5-4 on an overtime goal by Nico Hischier. Jesper Boqvist scored twice for the Devils as they improved to 41-15-6 and sit two points behind the Carolina Hurricanes in second place in the Metropolitan Division with 88 points. Jack McBain had a goal and an assist for the 21-32-10 Coyotes.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Devils forward Dawson Mercer’s goal streak ended at eight games.

Jonathan Quick made 25 saves in his Vegas Golden Knights debut to hold off the Montreal Canadiens by a score of 4-3. Ivan Barbashev scored twice, including the winning goal, as the Golden Knights (38-19-6) vaulted over the Dallas Stars into first place in the Western Conference with 82 points. The Canadiens fell to 26-33-4 on the season.

Carolina Hurricanes center Jesperi Kotkaniemi (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Barbashev now has five points in four games since joining the Golden Knights in a trade with the St. Louis Blues. The Golden Knights also played without William Carrier as he’s been sidelined indefinitely since Friday with a lower-body injury.

Carolina Hurricanes center Jesperi Kotkaniemi had a goal and four assists while Teuvo Teravainen tallied a hat trick in a 6-0 drubbing of the Tampa Bay Lightning. Frederik Andersen made 14 saves for the shutout while Martin Necas and Shayne Gostisbehere each had three points for the 41-12-8 Hurricanes, who sit atop the Metropolitan Division with 90 points. The Lightning fell to 37-21-5 and remain third in the Atlantic Division with 79 points.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Lightning have won just two of their last 10 games (2-5-3). They also lost defenseman Victor Hedman when he fell awkwardly after being checked by Hurricanes winger Andrei Svechnikov.

An overtime goal by Yanni Gourde lifted the Seattle Kraken to a 3-2 victory over the Colorado Avalanche. Brandon Tanev scored the tying goal late in the third period for the Kraken (36-21-6) as they sit third in the Pacific Division with 78 points. Nathan MacKinnon scored his 25th goal of the season for the Avalanche (34-21-6) as they hold third place in the Central Division with 74 points.

Philadelphia Flyers goaltender Carter Hart made 25 saves to beat the Detroit Red Wings 3-1, handing the latter their sixth straight defeat. The Flyers improved to 24-28-11 while the Wings sank to 28-26-9.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Two weeks ago, the Wings were surging in the standings and pushing for a wild-card berth in the Eastern Conference. Their recent decline was the reason why general manager Steve Yzerman became a seller leading up to last week’s trade deadline.


NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: Flyers head coach John Tortorella doesn’t like the criticism general manager Chuck Fletcher received for failing to trade James van Riemsdyk before Friday’s trade deadline. “Do you not he tried to move him? Are you guys kidding me? He tried like hell to move him,” said Tortorella. He explained there were different scenarios that went on which prevent a van Riemsdyk trade.

SPORTSNET: Anaheim Ducks assistant coach Mike Stothers announced Saturday that he’d been diagnosed with an advanced form of skin cancer known as stage 3 melanoma of the lymph node. He is receiving treatment and is scheduled for more testing this week.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Here’s hoping Stothers make a swift and complete recovery.

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – March 5, 2023

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – March 5, 2023

The trade deadline may be over but the fallout remains. Here’s a look at some moves that didn’t happen plus a look ahead for the Canadiens and Blue Jackets in the Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup.


SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports the Edmonton Oilers made a “legitimate pitch” to the San Jose Sharks for Timo Meier prior to his getting traded to the New Jersey Devils. Their intent was to bring him in and work out his contract situation after the season but they wanted him for the playoffs.

Friedman also believes the Calgary Flames looked into acquiring Meier but they were more interested in signing him to a contract extension.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Meier is a restricted free agent with arbitration rights this summer who is also a year away from unrestricted free agent eligibility. His current cap hit is $6 million but he’s earning $10 million in actual salary, which is what it’ll cost to qualify his rights. The Devils haven’t yet re-signed Meier which suggests they’ll worry about dealing with that in the offseason.

Philadelphia Flyers center Kevin Hayes (NHL Images).

Friedman reports the Toronto Maple Leafs inquired about Mattias Ekholm prior to his getting traded to the Oilers by the Nashville Predators. They also looked into San Jose Sharks defenseman Erik Karlsson. However, he thinks the math didn’t work for the Leafs in terms of salary retention.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Perhaps the Leafs revisit their interest in Karlsson during the offseason. However, they’ll still have a difficult time making the math work there unless it’s a three-team deal with the Sharks retaining half of Karlsson’s $11.5 million annual cap hit through 2026-27.

Jeff Marek mentioned the Philadelphia Flyers had some conversations with the Columbus Blue Jackets about Kevin Hayes. However, it sounds like any big move the Flyers have planned will take place around the June 2023 draft.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Marek indicated that the players such as Hayes and Ivan Provorov have term remaining on their contracts which made them difficult to move at the trade deadline.

Speaking of the Oilers, Marek believes they had internal conversations about bringing in rugged forward Zack MacEwen from the Philadelphia Flyers. He was subsequently traded to the Los Angeles Kings. He also reported the Sharks looked at winger Jordan Greenway before the Minnesota Wild shipped him to the Buffalo Sabres.

THE SEATTLE TIMES: Kate Shefte cited Daily Faceoff’s Frank Seravalli reporting there was speculation the Kraken was keeping an eye on John Klingberg before the trade deadline. They were also said to be entertaining offers on Carson Soucy and Will Borgen but both remained in Seattle.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If Kraken general manager Ron Francis was eyeballing Klingberg before the deadline he can sign him this summer as an unrestricted free agent. That’s assuming he doesn’t re-sign pending UFA Soucy or trades restricted free agent Borgen in the offseason.


THE ATHLETIC: Arpon Basu speculated that the Montreal Canadiens could attempt to trade Joel Edmundson during the offseason if the 29-year-old defenseman can remain healthy over the remainder of this season. Failing that, they could try to move him during next season’s trade deadline.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Canadiens GM Kent Hughes will likely listen to offers on Edmundson in the offseason. Much will depend upon the blueliner’s health over the remainder of this season.

Aaron Portzline believes the Columbus Blue Jackets will be shopping for blueline depth this summer. He pointed out that GM Jarmo Kekalainen attempted to acquire Jakob Chychrun from the Arizona Coyotes before he was dealt to the Ottawa Senators.

The Jackets acquired a conditional first-round pick from the Los Angeles Kings as part of the return for Joonas Korpisalo and Vladislav Gavrikov. It could be used before the draft to acquire immediate roster help, or they could plunge into the free-agent market this summer.

The Sharks Trade Timo Meier to the Devils

The Sharks Trade Timo Meier to the Devils

The New Jersey Devils acquire winger Timo Meier, defensemen Scott Harrington and Santeri Hatakka, forward Timur Ibragimov, goaltender Zachary Emond and a 2024 fifth-round pick that originally belonged to the Colorado Avalanche from the San Jose Sharks.

In return, the Sharks received forwards Fabian Zetterlund and Andreas Johnsson, defensemen Shakir Mukhamadullin and Nikita Okhotyuk, a conditional 2023 first-round pick, a conditional 2024 second-rounder and a 2024 seventh-round selection.

TSN’s Pierre LeBrun reports there is no contract extension as part of this deal. Chris Johnston reports the Sharks are retaining 50 percent of Meier’s $6 million cap hit.

San Jose Sharks trade Timo Meier to the New Jersey Devils (NHL Images)

SPECTOR’S NOTE: One of this season’s biggest trade candidates is now off the market, getting traded exactly where everyone assumed he’d end up.

Devils general manager Tom Fitzgerald recently indicated his intent to acquire a top-six winger with a contract that could be controlled beyond this season. Meier was seen as the perfect candidate. A restricted free agent with arbitration rights who’s also a year away from unrestricted free agent eligibility, he gives the Devils the opportunity to retain his rights for at least one more season with the possibility of a contract extension down the road.

Currently sidelined day-to-day with a lower-body injury, the 26-year-old Meier has 31 goals and 52 points in 57 games. He had 35 goals and 76 points in 77 games last season. A skillful offensive winger, he should be a terrific fit alongside Jack Hughes or Nico Hischier on one of the Devils’ top-two lines, providing them with an additional boost of scoring punch.

Meier is in the final season of his contract. While his average annual value is $6 million, he’s earning $10 million in actual salary. That’s how much it would’ve cost the Sharks to qualify his rights and part of the reason they’ve traded him. It’ll also cost the Devils that much unless the two sides can agree to a contract extension worth less than $10 million annually.

Acquiring Meier could also be seen as an insurance move by Fitzgerald if contract extension talks stall with winger Jesper Bratt. Like Meier, the 24-year-old Bratt is a restricted free agent with arbitration rights. He’s on a one-year, $5.45 million contract but will seek a substantial raise on a long-term deal. Meier could potentially become a replacement for Bratt if Fitzgerald decides to part ways with the latter. 

Cap Friendly indicates the Devils have $36.6 million in projected cap space for 2023-24 with 10 regulars under contract. It’s believed Fitzgerald prefers to use Hughes’ $8 million AAV as a ceiling for his forwards. That might not be possible with Meier or Bratt.

Harrington, 29, is a defensive depth blueliner now in his ninth NHL season. He’s on a one-year contract worth $750K and become a UFA in July. Hatakka, 22, spent most of the past two seasons with the Sharks AHL affiliate. The 22-year-old Ibragimov is currently with the ECHL’s Wichita Thunder. Emond, also 22, split the past two seasons in the AHL and ECHL.

The Devils are parting with their 2023 first-round pick. If it becomes a top-two selection, they will instead part with their 2024 first-rounder. That’s unlikely to happen given the Devils’ lofty position in the Eastern Conference standings.

If the Devils reach the 2023 Eastern Conference Final and Meier plays 50 percent of their playoff games, or if they reach the 2024 Eastern Conference Final, that conditional second-rounder becomes their 2024 first-round pick. If it’s a top-10 selection, the Devils have the option of instead transferring their 2025 first-rounder to the Sharks. If they end up transferring their 2024 pick to San Jose as per the original conditions, they’ll have to part with their 2025 first-rounder.

It’s unsurprising the Devils could end up parting with two first-round picks. However, they can afford it given their status as a rising force in the Eastern Conference thanks in part to the rising young talent already on their roster and their deep prospect pool. They also didn’t have to sacrifice their most promising youngsters to make this deal.

The Sharks, meanwhile, get a package comprised largely of futures as they restock their prospect pipeline. They should have two first-round picks in this year’s draft and potentially another one in 2024.

Mukhamadullin, 21, is currently playing in the KHL. He was ranked fifth by The Athletic’s Scott Wheeler in his midseason assessment of the Devils’ top prospects. The 22-year-old Okhotyuk was ranked 13th by Wheeler. He’s spent parts of the past two seasons between the Devils and their AHL affiliate.

Zetterlund, 23, is in his first full NHL season with 20 points in 45 games and will likely fit right away into the Sharks lineup as a middle-six winger. Johnsson, 28, is a former 20-goal scorer now in his sixth NHL season but he’s spent most of it with the Devils’ farm team. He’s in the final season of a three-year contract with a $3.4 million cap hit and is slated to become an unrestricted free agent in July.