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.
WHAT NEXT FOR THE HURRICANES?
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.
PROPOSED TRADE DESTINATIONS FOR CONNOR HELLEBUYCK
THE ATHLETIC: Shayna Goldman looked at seven clubs that could (and should) be interested in Connor Hellebucyk.
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.
LATEST BRUINS SPECULATION
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.