NHL Rumor Mill – April 27, 2023
The latest on the Sabres plus speculation over Joonas Korpisalo’s future with the Kings in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.
WHO COULD THE SABRES PURSUE IN THE OFFSEASON?
THE BUFFALO NEWS: In his recent mailbag segment, Lance Lysowski wrote that he believed the Sabres won’t add a goaltender that would block Devon Levi or Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen from becoming their starter.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: In other words, the Sabres will seek a veteran goaltender on an affordable short-term contract to mentor Levi or Luukkonen.
Lysowski believes Sabres general manager Kevyn Adams will seek a top-four defenseman via trade or free agency. However, he won’t want to hand out an expensive, long-term contract to whoever they add.
Possible trade targets could include Calgary’s Rasmus Andersson, Vegas’ Shea Theodore or Chicago’s Connor Murphy. Free-agent options could include Carson Soucy, Matt Dumba, Scott Mayfield or Ryan Graves.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I don’t see the Flames parting with Andersson or the Golden Knights with Theodore. The rebuilding Blackhawks, however, could listen to offers for Murphy.
They might be better off going the free-agent route with one of those blueliners mentioned by Lysowski. Graves could be a good fit if he’s available, though he could seek the type of long-term deal that Lysowski believes the Sabres want to avoid.
Asked about signing Patrick Kane, Lysowski doesn’t think the Sabres will commit to a big contract for the 34-year-old winger. They don’t want to block some of their younger, more affordable prospects from making the lineup.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kane signing with his hometown team to finish his career makes a nice story. However, the Sabres are awash in talented young scorers. Their priority is improving their blueline and adding a veteran presence in the crease. They don’t need a veteran scorer, not even one as illustrious as Kane.
Lysowski was asked if the Sabres would consider using Mittelstadt as a trade chip to add a top-four defenseman. He doesn’t see them parting with the young forward, who enjoyed a breakout performance this season.
THE ATHLETIC: In his latest mailbag segments, Matthew Fairburn was asked if Casey Mittelstadt’s performance this season makes him more valuable to the Sabres as a trade chip to bolster their blueline. He felt Mittlestadt became more attractive to other clubs in the trade market but thinks it would take a significant offer to pry him away from the Sabres.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I agree with Lysowski and Fairburn regarding Mittelstadt. Maybe the Sabres listen if the offer is a top-four shutdown defenseman in his playing prime. Otherwise, Mittelstadt isn’t going anywhere.
Fairburn also thinks the Sabres will be in the market this summer for a top-four defenseman via trade or free agency. He suggested Florida Panthers blueliner Radko Gudas would be near the top of his list for a right-shot defenseman. Other targets could include New Jersey’s Damon Severson, Minnesota’s Matt Dumba or Boston’s Connor Clifton.
DOES KORPISALO HAVE A FUTURE WITH THE KINGS?
THE ATHLETIC: Eric Duhatschek noted Joonas Korpisalo’s solid goaltending for the Los Angeles Kings early in their first-round series with the Edmonton Oilers. He’s impressed with how quickly the Kings incorporated the 28-year-old netminder into their lineup after acquiring him from the Columbus Blue Jackets before the trade deadline.
Whatever the outcome of this series with the Oilers, Duhatschek believes the Kings will need to be in the market for a starting goalie for next season. They could re-sign Korpisalo, who is slated to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Korpisalo was pulled from Game 5 but he had a .918 save percentage in the four games leading up to that point. He was outstanding for them down the stretch with a 7-3-1 record, a 2.13 GAA and a .921 SP. Given Cal Petersen’s decline and Pheonix Copley’s inexperience as an NHL starter, it wouldn’t surprise me if they sign Korpisalo to a two or three-year deal.