NHL Rumor Mill – August 8, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – August 8, 2022

Looking ahead at the 2023 free-agent class in your NHL Rumor Mill.

SPORTSNET: Chicago Blackhawks winger Patrick Kane, Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon, and Boston Bruins winger David Pastrnak top Ryan Dixon’s recent listing of the top unrestricted free agents of 2023.

Vancouver Canucks center J.T. Miller, Minnesota Wild defenseman Matt Dumba, and St. Louis Blues winger Vladimir Tarasenko are next on Dixon’s list. The Pittsburgh Penguins’ Tristan Jarry is the notable goaltender in the group.

Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon (NHL Images).

Blues center Ryan O’Reilly, New Jersey Devils blueliner Damon Severson, Calgary Flames center Sean Monahan, Detroit Red Wings center Dylan Larkin and Blackhawks center Jonathan Toews round out Dixon’s list.

THE SCORE: Sean O’Leary also put out a listing of his notable 2023 UFAs with most of the same names as Dixon’s. This was published before Jonathan Huberdeau’s signing with the Flames, which explains why he’s on that list.

Several notables on O’Leary’s list include Canucks center Bo Horvat and forwards Joe Pavelski of the Dallas Stars, Tyler Bertuzzi of the Detroit Red Wings, James van Riemsdyk of the Philadelphia Flyers and Max Pacioretty of the Carolina Hurricanes.

O’Leary’s defensemen include the Anaheim Ducks’ John Klingberg, the Penguins’ Brian Dumoulin, the New York Islanders Scott Mayfield, Florida Panthers’ Radko Gudas, Washington Capitals Dmitry Orlov and the Flames’ MacKenzie Weegar.

The noteworthy goaltenders include the Islanders’ Semyon Varlamov, the Los Angeles Kings Jonathan Quick, the Red Wings’ Alex Nedeljkovic, the Ottawa Senators’ Cam Talbot and the Montreal Canadiens’ Jake Allen.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s a slow day for trade and free-agent rumors as we endure the dog days of the NHL offseason. So it’s a good time to review these lists and offer up my two cents on which players will hit the open market next summer and which ones won’t.

I don’t see MacKinnon, Pastrnak, O’Reilly, Severson, Larkin, Horvat, Pavelski, Orlov and Weegar being available by next July. They’ll likely sign contract extensions with their current teams.

Jarry, Pacioretty, Bertuzzi, Dumoulin, Mayfield, Nedeljkovic, Talbot and Allen fall into the “maybe” category for me. Much will depend on their respective performances in the coming season, what they’ll seek on their next contracts, and whether their current clubs can afford to sign them.

I anticipate the remainder will become UFAs. There will still be enticing talent available such as Kane, Miller, Dumba, Tarasenko, Klingberg, and Quick for teams to pursue. Toews could sign with another club but I wouldn’t be surprised if he retires. Monahan’s hip surgeries could bring a premature end to his playing career.

O’Leary also published a list of next summer’s notable restricted free agents. His top forwards include the Senators’ Alex DeBrincat and Tim Stutzle, the Islanders’ Mathew Barzal, the Winnipeg Jets’ Pierre-Luc Dubois, the Canadiens’ Cole Caufield, the Stars’ Roope Hintz, the Ducks’ Trevor Zegras, the New York Rangers’ Alexis Lafreniere and the San Jose Sharks’ Timo Meier.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: All but DeBrincat, Dubois and Meier will be re-signed. The trio will be a year away from UFA status next summer. They could hit the trade block if they’re unwilling to make a long-term commitment with their current clubs.

Notable RFA defensemen include the Rangers’ K’Andre Miller, the Edmonton Oilers’ Evan Bouchard, the Seattle Kraken’s Vince Dunn, the Hurricanes’ Ethan Bear, and the Ducks’ Jamie Drysdale.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: All but Bear seem certain to be re-signed by their current teams. He struggled last season with the Hurricanes partly because of the effects of COVID-19. However, a healthy bounce-back performance this season could ensure a longer term for him in Carolina.

The Toronto Maple Leafs’ Ilya Samsonov, the Bruins’ Jeremy Swayman and the Panthers’ Spencer Knight are the top RFA goalies.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Samsonov has to make a good impression with the Leafs this season or he could be traded or cut loose next summer. Another solid performance by Swayman this season should ensure he receives a contract extension.

Knight’s situation, however, could be tricky. On the one hand, I expect the Panthers want to re-sign him. On the other, they’ve got Sergei Bobrovsky eating up valuable cap space and playing time. The Panthers can afford to re-sign Knight but maybe he’ll be open to an offer sheet. His situation will be worth monitoring.










NHL Rumor Mill – August 5, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – August 5, 2022

Will the Blues trade Vladimir Tarasenko this summer? Could Patrick Kane be a fit with the Sabres? Find out in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.

COULD TARASENKO HIT THE TRADE BLOCK?

NHL.COM: In a recent mailbag segment, Dan Rosen was asked if the St. Louis Blues have any trade talks going on with other clubs about Vladimir Tarasenko.

St. Louis Blues winger Vladimir Tarasenko (NHL Images).

Rosen doesn’t think Tarasenko rescinded the trade request he made last summer. However, that doesn’t mean the Blues want to trade the 30-year-old right winger. They held onto him last season and he responded with a career-best 82-point performance.

If the Blues did shop Tarasenko, Rosen believes they’d want a top-six forward in return, especially after losing David Perron to free agency last month. He doesn’t see a team willing to part with that type of return for an older winger with a history of shoulder injuries who’s a year away from unrestricted free agent eligibility.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Rosen believes the Blues will hang onto Tarasenko for the coming season to take one more run for the Stanley Cup. The Athletic’s Jeremy Rutherford shares that view, writing that he believes general manager Doug Armstrong would rather have Tarasenko’s production in 2022-23 and let him walk next summer via free agency than not have him around for the coming season.

That doesn’t mean a trade can’t happen if a club desperate for scoring punch came calling with a great offer. I just don’t expect that’s going to happen this summer. The only realistic scenario I see for a Tarasenko trade is if the Blues are out of the playoff race by next year’s trade deadline.

COULD PATRICK KANE BE A FIT WITH THE SABRES?

THE BUFFALO NEWS: In a recent mailbag segment, Lance Lysowski was asked if the Sabres should attempt to sign Patrick Kane next summer if he’s interested in coming home to Buffalo.

Lysowski believes Kane could be a fit under the right circumstances. They’d have to move out someone like Victor Olofsson whose contract expires after 2023-24 and reduce the ice time of a young winger. He must also be willing to accept a short-term contract that doesn’t take away too much cap space from future seasons.

Mentioning the chatter on social media suggesting the Sabres attempt to trade for Kane this summer, Lysowski doesn’t think the longtime Blackhawks star is a fit in Buffalo for the coming season. He believes the return would involve a haul of draft picks and prospects. “The Sabres don’t want to part with those yet,” he said.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I concur with Lysowski’s take. If the Sabres want Kane and if he wants to finish his career in his hometown, it’s best to wait until free agency next summer. It’ll take a big chunk out of their cap space but they won’t have to part with promising young assets.

Nobody knows right now what Kane’s plans will be following this season. There were reports of clubs making inquiries last month but it’s believed he hasn’t reached the stage yet where he’s willing to waive his no-movement clause. That might not happen until the trade deadline approaches and it’s expected he’d only be interested in joining a playoff contender.










Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – July 24, 2022

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – July 24, 2022

Could the New York Islanders sign Nazem Kadri or attempt to acquire Vladimir Tarasenko? What’s the latest on John Klingberg? Find out in today’s edition of the Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup.

COULD THE ISLANDERS PURSUE KADRI OR TARASENKO?

THE ATHLETIC: Kevin Kurz reported a source informed him of “rumblings” that the New York Islanders were making a push for Nazem Kadri. The 31-year-old center is an unrestricted free agent coming off a career-best 87-point performance and a Stanley Cup run with the Colorado Avalanche.

Former Colorado Avalanche center Nazem Kadri (NHL Images).

While the Islanders already have two top-six centers in Mathew Barzal and Brock Nelson, Kurz suggested Barzal could move to the wing if Kadri was brought in. That change in position might be beneficial for Barzal’s career as it could improve his offensive output.

Signing Kadri could cost $8.5 million annually on a likely long-term deal. They would have to ship out some salary, meaning moving one of the usual trade candidates such as Semyon Varlamov, Josh Bailey or Anthony Beauvillier.

NYI HOCKEY NOW: Stefen Rosner recently observed the Islanders missed out on what he considered a “glorious opportunity” to acquire Vladimir Tarasenko last summer when the winger requested a trade from the St. Louis Blues.

At the time, Tarasenko was coming off another shoulder surgery and there were questions about his health. The Islanders were believed among the teams on the winger’s list of preferred trade destinations.

Rosner wondered if the Isles might revisit efforts to acquire Tarasenko this summer. He pointed out the 30-year-old winger hasn’t withdrawn his trade request as well as the lack of a significant splash via a trade or free agency to improve the roster. With Tarasenko slated to become a UFA next summer, a contract extension would have to be part of the deal.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The always-secretive Lamoriello hasn’t tipped his hand as to his intentions. It wouldn’t be surprising if he’s looked into signing Kadri or acquiring Tarasenko. Whether he lands one or the other this summer or has something else up his sleeve is another matter. After striking out on Gaudreau, perhaps Lamoriello has a lesser acquisition in mind.

LATEST ON KLINGBERG

THE ATHLETIC: Saad Yousuf recently reported there’s been little news about John Klingberg other than he got married last week. The 29-year-old defenseman remains available in the unrestricted free agent market.

While his former club, the Dallas Stars, unofficially bid Klingberg farewell, Yousuf believes the door to a possible return remains open “ever so slightly.” It’s apparent the Klingberg camp overestimated the market for his services given his age, defensive concerns and his intent to sign a contract with a significant term.

Yousuf wondered if Klingberg would consider returning to the Stars on a one-year deal. However, he also pointed out they have limited salary-cap space and still have to re-sign restricted free agents Jason Robertson and Jake Oettinger to new contracts.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I think the ship has sailed on a Klingberg return to Dallas. He could end up signing for much less than he hoped for far fewer years with a team that may not have been high on his list of destinations when the market opened.










NHL Rumor Mill – July 16, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – July 16, 2022

Speculation over whether Auston Matthews will “pull a Gaudreau”, suggested destinations for free agent Nazem Kadri, and the latest on the Islanders in today’s NHL rumor mill.

COULD MATTHEWS “PULL A GAUDREAU” AND LEAVE THE LEAFS?

TORONTO SUN: Michael Traikos recently wondered if Auston Matthews might follow Johnny Gaudreau’s example and sign as a free agent with a club close to his hometown. The 24-year-old Toronto Maple Leafs center was raised in Arizona and makes his off-season home in Scottsdale.

Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews (NHL Images).

Matthews is slated to become an unrestricted free agent in 2024. If the Arizona Coyotes can’t afford him if he tests the market, nearby teams like the Los Angeles Kings, Anaheim Ducks, San Jose Sharks or Vegas Golden Knights could pursue him.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: There’s a good chance Matthews will stick with the deep-pocketed Leafs, especially if they can finally get over the playoff hump over the next couple of seasons. However, Gaudreau’s situation serves as a reminder that even superstars on good teams can take the opportunity presented by free agency to move closer to their offseason homes. That was a key factor in John Tavares’ decision four years ago to leave the New York Islanders for the Maple Leafs.

Could Matthews bolt for one of those clubs mentioned by Traikos in two years’ time? Yes, he could. Will he? That’s something only Matthews knows and he’s not telling. However, if he doesn’t sign a contract extension with the Leafs next summer, questions about his future in Toronto will dominate the rumor mill throughout 2023-24.

WHERE WILL KADRI GO?

THE ATHLETIC: The Colorado Avalanche, New York Islanders and Calgary Flames are among Peter Baugh’s suggested destinations for Nazem Kadri. The 31-year-old center is currently the biggest name available in this summer’s free-agent market as speculation abounds over where he’ll eventually sign.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly indicates the Avalanche has just $3.9 million in cap space for this season. They’ll have to shed salary if they hope to bring Kadri back.

The Islanders have the cap space but they need a scoring winger, not a center. They could shift Mathew Barzal or Brock Nelson to the wing but I think their preference is for a natural winger. They must also ensure they have sufficient cap room to re-sign restricted free agents Noah Dobson and Alexander Romanov.

Kadri rejected a trade to the Flames three years ago. Perhaps he’d be willing to join them if they pony up a big offer. They’ve got over $18 million in cap space and while a big chunk of that will go to Matthew Tkachuk, they should have enough for Kadri. However, that could complicate efforts to re-sign RFAs Andrew Mangiapane and defenseman Oliver Kylington.

Baugh also listed the Nashville Predators and Seattle Kraken as destinations for Kadri.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Unless the Predators can trade a high-priced center such as Ryan Johansen or Matt Duchene, or they shift the latter to the wing, Kadri isn’t a fit in Nashville. Besides, they already have three high-salaried forwards in Johansen, Duchene and Filip Forsberg. I doubt GM David Poile wants to add a fourth.

The Kraken have room on the roster and in their cap payroll. However, Kadri might prefer joining a playoff contender instead of an NHL club in just its second season of existence.

LATEST ON THE ISLANDERS

NEW YORK POST: Ethan Sears wondered what the New York Islanders will do after losing out in the Johnny Gaudreau free-agent sweepstakes. He noted that Nazem Kadri was still available but believes he’ll be out of their price range.

General manager Lou Lamoriello could go the trade route to address his club’s need for a scoring forward. St. Louis Blues winger Vladimir Tarasenko could be available but he’s a UFA next summer and has full no-trade protection this season.

Lamoriello could inquire about Patrik Laine if the Columbus Blue Jackets have difficulty re-signing the RFA winger after adding Gaudreau. He could also revisit his interest in Vancouver Canucks forward J.T. Miller.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Lamoriello is getting slammed by Islanders fans and the local media for missing out on Gaudreau as they question whether he’ll be able to address his roster’s biggest need this summer. The Isles GM never tips his hand and never speaks to the media about his intentions, which is stoking the impression that he’s doing very little.

I wouldn’t be surprised if Lamoriello is quietly going about his business searching for a scorer. Nevertheless, he could find it increasingly challenging this summer to bolster his offense. Suitable options via free agency are few and far between and the trade market could be cooling off after a couple of weeks of heated activity.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 16, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 16, 2022

The Devils believed they were a destination for Johnny Gaudreau, plus the latest on Ondrej Palat, Mitch Marner, Vladimir Tarasenko, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

SPORTSNET: New Jersey Devils general manager Tom Fitzgerald believed Johnny Gaudreau was going to sign with his club before shocking the hockey world by joining the Columbus Blue Jackets. Gaudreau, who grew up in Carney’s Point, N.J., was reportedly looking to sign with a club closer to home.

Fitzgerald said he thought he’d really connected with Gaudreau and his wife during his conversation with them. He also cited a personal connection as his son played with Gaudreau at Boston College.

We put our best foot forward,” said Fitzgerald. “He chose to go to Columbus for the reasons he chose. He could have gone anywhere. We wish him all the best.” The Devils GM subsequently signed former Tampa Bay Lightning winger to a five-year, $30 million contract.

THE ATHLETIC: Speaking of Palat, he admitted to feeling sad over leaving the Lightning after 10 seasons. “I was kind of preparing myself there was a chance I was leaving Tampa,” he said. “But it’s a business and now when I signed with New Jersey, I’m not as sad.”

Tampa Bay Lightning winger Ondrej Palat (NHL Images).

Palat admitted the past several weeks had been an emotional roller coaster, going from losing in the Stanley Cup Final to the Colorado Avalanche to free agency. However, he’s excited about bringing his experience to a promising team with younger talent.

TSN: Speaking of the Devils, they hired former Florida Panthers interim coach Andrew Brunette as an associate coach for Lindy Ruff.

SPORTSNET: Toronto Maple Leafs winger Mitch Marner admitted he endured flashbacks of being carjacked in May. He and his fiancee were unhurt in the incident but he said there were a couple of weeks where it came back to him whenever he was driving.

We were lucky enough to have people around that we can talk to and have these stories to tell and get feedback,” said Marner. “So, definitely mental health is something important to me and my family – and something that we really take serious.”

TORONTO SUN: Speaking of the Leafs, they signed forward Calle Jarnkrok to a four-year contract worth an average annual value of $2.1 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Some Leafs fans see Jarnkrok as a replacement for Alex Kerfoot should GM Kyle Dubas trade him during this summer or in the regular season. Kerfoot has been rumored as a cost-cutting trade candidate for some time.

STLTODAY.COM: Blues GM Doug Armstrong isn’t going down the trade-rumor rabbit hole with Vladimir Tarasenko like last summer. Despite Armstrong’s recent claim that the winger’s “trade demand” was no longer an issue, a report emerged during the 2022 NHL Draft indicating that Tarasenko hadn’t rescinded the request. “He’s under contract and I expect (to have) him,” said Armstrong.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Tarasenko becomes an unrestricted free agent next summer. He carries a $7.5 million average annual value but will earn $5.5 million in actual salary. He also carries a full no-trade clause.

THE PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER: Mike Sielski doesn’t buy into the theory among Flyers fans that their club went downhill after team owner Ed Snider passed away and Ron Hextall became general manager followed by Chuck Fletcher. He believes the rot within the front office extends back to 2006, long before Snider’s death and before Hextall and Fletcher came along.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Whatever the reason, there’s no denying the Flyers are a mess. Another poor performance by this club will mean the end of Fletcher’s tenure as general manager. However, the on-ice product won’t change much unless ownership charts a new, clearer direction and hires the right people to make it happen.

PHILLY HOCKEY NOW: On the topic of the Flyers, they signed former first-round pick Morgan Frost to a one-year, $800K contract.

TSN: The Nashville Predators signed forward Zach Sanford to a one-year, $850K contract.

THE DENVER POST: The Colorado Avalanche signed defenseman Brad Hunt to a one-year, $800K contract.










NHL Rumor Mill – July 14, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – July 14, 2022

Will the Flames search for a replacement for Johnny Gaudreau? Are the Sharks done dealing? What’s the latest on Patrik Laine, Jeff Petry and Jakob Chychrun? What’s next for the Jets, Islanders, Penguins and Leafs? Find out in today’s NHL rumor mill.

WILL THE FLAMES FIND A REPLACEMENT FOR GAUDREAU?

CALGARY SUN: In the aftermath of Johnny Gaudreau departing the Flames to sign with the Columbus Blue Jackets, Wes Gilbertson speculated they could be in the bidding for center Nazem Kadri.

CALGARY HOCKEY NOW: Steve Macfarlane also included Kadri on his list of possible “Plan B” options for the Flames. Others include Chicago Blackhawks winger Patrick Kane, Dylan Strome and Nino Niederreiter.

Could the Calgary Flames pursue Nazem Kadri via free agency? (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As per Cap Friendly, the Flames have $19.7 million in cap space. It will probably cost them $10 million annually to re-sign Matthew Tkachuk. However, with Sean Monahan (hip surgery, $6.25 million cap hit) likely to go on long-term injury reserve in 2022-23, they should still have room to find a replacement for Gaudreau.

I don’t see Kane waiving his no-movement clause to go to Calgary. Kadri would be their best bet via free agency but he rejected a trade that would’ve sent him from the Toronto Maple Leafs to the Flames three years ago. Strome or Niederreiter would be affordable options but won’t replace the offense Gaudreau brought to the club.

POTENTIAL SHARKS TRADE CANDIDATES

SAN JOSE HOCKEY NOW: Sheng Peng wondered which Sharks players will be trade candidates after the club shipped defenseman Brent Burns to the Carolina Hurricanes on Wednesday. “Need a ride to the airport, Erik Karlsson, Logan Couture, Tomas Hertl, or Timo Meier?”

Peng considers Karlsson almost untradeable given his expensive contract. He suggested Couture could draw a taker now if the Sharks retained part of his $8 million average annual value.

Hertl recently re-signed a long-term contract with the Sharks but Peng wonders if he’s having second thoughts following the Burns trade. Meier is slated to become a restricted free agent next summer so his future is wide open.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Mike Grier is wasting no time charting a different course for the Sharks since taking over as general manager. I don’t see him peddling Karlsson, Couture or Hertl unless they ask to be moved.

Meier, however, could get shopped this summer if he appears reluctant to sign a long-term extension. He’ll draw plenty of attention if Grier starts gauging his value in the trade market.

LATEST ON LAINE, PETRY AND CHYCHRUN

THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: Brian Hedger reports Blue Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen continues working on re-signing left winger Patrik Laine. Having signed winger Johnny Gaudreau on Wednesday, Kekalainen will have to shed salary to make room for Laine’s presumed $8 million-$9 million annual cap hit on his next contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Gaudreau and Laine on the same line could give the Blue Jackets a potent scoring punch. With just $3.1 million in cap space, they must dump a contract or two in the trade market to keep Laine in the fold. If not, he could become a trade candidate.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Stu Cowan reports the Canadiens haven’t found a trade partner to take Jeff Petry and his $6.25 million AAV off their hands. GM Kent Hughes said he won’t move the 34-year-old defenseman unless he finds a deal that advances the Canadiens’ interest. The Habs are pressed against the $82.5 million cap.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Montreal Hockey Now’s Jimmy Murphy cited reports indicating the Canadiens had discussed Petry with the Dallas Stars. However, a deal has yet to materialize and remains unlikely as long as the Habs are reluctant to retain a portion of Petry’s annual cap hit. Murphy speculated the Seattle Kraken could jump into the bidding as they still have sufficient cap space ($15 million) to acquire him.

GOPHNX.COM: Prior to the start of the free-agent market, Craig Morgan reported he didn’t put much stock into recent buzz linking Jakob Chychrun to the Ottawa Senators. He anticipates the 24-year-old defenseman will start the season with the Arizona Coyotes and could be shopped leading up to the 2023 trade deadline.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Ottawa Sun’s Bruce Garrioch reports the Senators are done making additions this summer as they still have an eye on adding to the top end of their defense chart. However, Chychrun might not be in their sights given the Coyotes’ high asking price.

WHAT NEXT FOR THE JETS, ISLANDERS, PENGUINS AND LEAFS?

THE ATHLETIC: Murat Ates reports Pierre-Luc Dubois’ agent Pat Brisson told TVA Sports on Wednesday that Montreal is a place his client would like to play but added the interest in the Canadiens was theoretical.

The Winnipeg Jets center is a restricted free agent who has indicated his desire to test the 2024 UFA market. Ates said he was told the Canadiens had reached out to the Jets about Dubois but their trade proposals were inadequate.

Ates also reports Jets captain Blake Wheeler remains a trade candidate and there’s interest in defenseman Brenden Dillon. However, GM Kevin Cheveldayoff maintains he likes his current roster.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cheveldayoff could move Dubois, Wheeler or Dillon if a rival club makes an irresistible offer. However, that doesn’t seem to be in the cards for now. It appears the Jets GM wants to gauge how his club performs in 2022-23 under new head coach Rick Bowness.

THE ATHLETIC: Kevin Kurz wondered what the New York Islanders’ “Plan B” is to address their need for a scoring winger after missing out on the Johnny Gaudreau sweepstakes. Trade options could include St. Louis’ Vladimir Tarasenko or Vancouver’s J.T. Miller while Nazem Kadri remains available (for now) in the free-agent market.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Isles reportedly discussed Miller with the Canucks at the draft last week. Maybe GM Lou Lamoriello will revisit that option.

PITTSBURGH HOCKEY NOW: Dan Kingerski wondered if Penguins GM Ron Hextall could use the trade market to free up his blueline logjam. He’s got nine defensemen under contract for 2022-23 and needs to free up some cap space as well as pursue a forward.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Penguins blueliners John Marino, Marcus Pettersson and Brian Dumoulin have surfaced in the rumor mill in recent weeks. As Kingerski pointed out, however, their contracts might not be easy to move.

TORONTO SUN: Terry Koshan reports Maple Leafs GM Kyle Dubas will turn to the trade market to add depth to their defense corps and forward lines. Alex Kerfoot and Justin Holl could be trade candidates.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Dubas remains handcuffed by his limited salary-cap space. I don’t expect he’ll get much of a return for Kerfoot or Holl but maybe a deal will appear following the frenzy of signings from the opening day of free agency.