NHL Rumor Mill – February 10, 2024
The Sabres are rumored to be shopping Casey Mittelstadt, speculation over Max Pacioretty’s future, two Canadian clubs could have an interest in Alexandre Carrier, plus the latest on the Flyers and Sharks in the NHL Rumor Mill.
REPORT: SABRES ACTIVELY SHOPPING MITTELSTADT
AFTER THE WHISTLE: Andrew Peters said Friday that he’d heard “from a very reliable source” that Buffalo Sabres general manager Kevyn Adams is “shopping Casey Mittelstadt hard” because he doesn’t want to pay the 25-year-old forward.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Mittelstadt is slated to become a restricted free agent with arbitration rights on July 1. He’s in the final season of a three-year contract with an average annual value of $2.5 million. The versatile forward enjoyed a 59-point breakout performance last season and currently leads the Sabres in scoring with 42 points in 50 games.
Peters’ source didn’t know what Adams’ asking price would be for Mittelstadt but indicated that he’s looking for a goaltender. “They don’t trust the three that they have,” said Peters.
SPORTSNET: On Friday’s “32 Thoughts” podcast, Elliotte Friedman talked about Mittelstadt’s contract situation. He believes Mittelstadt would not be happy not to get a lucrative new contract when several other teammates did. “If you’re not going to pay him, you almost have to move him.”
PHILLY HOCKEY NOW: Jonathan Bailey cited Peters’ claiming the Sabres are shopping Mittelstadt. He believes the Flyers should pursue him and suggested offering up right-shot defenseman Sean Walker as part of the return.
COLORADO HOCKEY NOW: Evan Rawal also noted Peters’ report about Mittelstadt. He believes the Sabres forward would be a good candidate for the Avalanche’s second-line center position. However, a young forward under team control for a few more years would be expensive to acquire.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: ESPN’s Kevin Weekes last month suggested Mittelstadt could be available if Adams didn’t want to sign him to a long-term extension. He shrugged off the speculation while Adams has not spoken about it.
Mittelstadt will draw plenty of interest in the trade market if Adams is indeed peddling him. Finding a reliable, established starting goaltender, however, won’t be easy as the pickings are slim right now.
Maybe Adams could offer up Mittelstadt to the Calgary Flames for Jacob Markstrom provided the latter would waive his no-movement clause to go to Buffalo. Perhaps a deal could be made with the Nashville Predators for Juuse Saros provided he’s willing to sign a contract extension on July 1. Anaheim Ducks starter John Gibson’s been a fixture in the rumor mill stretching back to last season but the Sabres could be on his 10-team no-trade list.
COULD THE CAPITALS ATTEMPT TO MOVE PACIORETTY?
THE ATHLETIC: Pierre LeBrun speculated the Washington Capitals could become sellers if they don’t gain ground soon in the Eastern Conference playoff race. Their pending unrestricted free agents include Anthony Mantha, Joel Edmundson and Max Pacioretty.
Pacioretty carries a full no-movement clause giving him and his agent complete control over his situation. However, LeBrun believes he could waive it for the right fit and a chance to win the Stanley Cup.
LeBrun thinks Mantha could be difficult to move even with retaining some salary. Edmundson’s playoff pedigree, meanwhile, could make him enticing to a contender.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Pacioretty is on a one-year deal with a base salary of $2 million plus another $2 million in performance bonuses. The six-time 30-goal scorer has seven points in 14 games thus far in his comeback with the Capitals.
LATEST FLYERS SPECULATION
SPORTSNET: In Friday’s “32 Thoughts” podcast, Elliotte Friedman and Jeff Marek talked about possible trade-deadline moves for the Philadelphia Flyers.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ristolainen, 29, lacks no-trade protection but carries a $5.1 million AAV through 2026-27. He would be easier to move this summer when teams have more money to absorb that type of cap hit. However, he could still be a difficult sell unless the Flyers are willing to retain some salary.
They also believe Scott Laughton’s time with the Flyers could be drawing to a close. It could happen at the trade deadline or in the offseason.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Laughton, 29, is a versatile two-way forward who can play center or wing. He carries an affordable $3 million AAV through 2025-26 and lacks a no-trade clause. He could attract a fair bit of interest in the trade market.
UPDATE ON THE SHARKS
Peng noted that the 29-year-old two-way center has bounced back this season with 29 points in 38 games. He carries a $5 million AAV through next season and lacks no-trade protection.
The 28-year-old Sharks winger has just 17 points in 46 games this season with San Jose but was a productive middle-six forward for the Florida Panthers during their run to the 2023 Stanley Cup Final. He’s in the final year of his contract with a cap hit of $3 million.
Gaudio’s colleague Max Miller cited Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reporting there are teams with an interest in Sharks goaltender Kaapo Kahkonen. The pending UFA has put up good underlying numbers this season but doesn’t have a resume in high-pressure games.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Of the three, Duclair seems the more likely to move given his cap hit and his performance in last year’s playoffs.
Granlund’s cap hit remains difficult to move unless the Sharks retain part of it. Having used up two of their three salary-retention slots on Brent Burns and Erik Karlsson, I doubt they’ll keep any part of Granlund’s cap hit to facilitate a trade.
Kahkonen’s inexperience in playoff action will be an issue for contenders shopping for goaltending depth.
OILERS & CANUCKS COULD BE INTERESTED IN ALEXANDRE CARRIER
NASHVILLE HOCKEY NOW: Michael Gallagher recently cited Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman wondering if the Edmonton Oilers might be looking at Predators defenseman Alexandre Carrier as a trade option. Meanwhile, The Athletic’s Thomas Drance recently mentioned Carrier as a trade target for the Vancouver Canucks.
Gallagher noted that Predators GM Barry Trotz isn’t necessarily shopping Carrier but is willing to listen to trade offers.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Carrier could be an attractive option for contenders with limited cap space looking for an affordable defenseman. He carries a $2.5 million cap hit, lacks a no-trade clause and is slated to become a UFA this summer.
Gallagher also noted the Predators are trying to move blueliner Tyson Barrie following his trade request back in December.