The 2023 NHL Draft is one day away and the new league year begins this weekend, which means the hot stove is picking up.
With the offseason in full swing, here is a summary of all the latest news and rumors from around the NHL:
Panthers among teams interested in Bertuzzi
With free agency set to begin on Saturday, one player positioned to cash in is forward Tyler Bertuzzi.
The 28-year-old, who ranked second on Yahoo’s list of available free agents, is expected to be pursued by a “handful of teams,” including the Florida Panthers, according to a report from Andy Strickland of Bally Sports Midwest.
Bertuzzi spent the first part of last season with the Detroit Red Wings before a midseason trade to the Boston Bruins. The power forward scored four goals and 12 assists in 21 games with Boston before an outstanding playoff performance that saw him register five goals and five assists in seven games in the opening-round seven-game loss to Florida.
The Panthers, who would have scouted Bertuzzi closely in the playoff series, have approximately $10.2 million in cap space available, according to Cap Friendly, but have only 16 of 23 players signed for the upcoming season. Eric Staal is the only forward that played significant minutes last season expected to hit free agency, but the team could use some more depth as star forward Matthew Tkachuk will be coming off a significant injury, as he suffered a broken sternum in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final.
Strickland also reported that the Bruins have made re-signing Bertuzzi a priority, but they have not had any formal discussions to re-sign him.
The Bruins opened up significant cap room earlier in the week when they traded Taylor Hall and Nick Foligno to the Chicago Blackhawks. Per Cap Friendly, the Bruins have $10.9 million in projected cap space heading into the new league year.
Maple Leafs focused on Kampf before start of free agency
New Toronto Maple Leafs GM Brad Treliving has some critical roster decisions to make with Ryan O’Reilly, Luke Schenn, Michael Bunting, Alex Kerfoot, and David Kampf all scheduled to be UFAs as of July 1.
The Maple Leafs are staying in the market for a lot of their pending free agents but TSN’s Darren Dreger reported on Tuesday that the team’s current focus appears to be on Kampf.
Kampf, 28, has been a steady defensive forward for the Maple Leafs since signing a two-year, $3-million contract in July of 2021. He scored seven goals while appearing in all 82 games last season before adding three assists in 11 postseason games.
The Maple Leafs will need to get creative to fill out the bottom half of their roster, as Treliving has just $9.1 million to work with in available cap space and only 15 of 23 players signed, per Cap Friendly.
Canadiens not gaining any traction with Dubois trade
One team hoping to make a splash up front this week is the Montreal Canadiens, according to Dreger.
One of the forwards the Canadiens were being linked to was Pierre-Luc Dubois of the Winnipeg Jets, but Dreger considers them a long shot to land the pending RFA because the Canadiens do not have an NHL ready forward available in a trade that would appeal to the Jets, who want NHL-ready talent in exchange for the 25-year-old.
Both Dreger and Pierre LeBrun of The Athletic wrote this week that Los Angeles is emerging as the favorite for Dubiois, who reportedly is hoping to land with the Kings. Dubois, who has requested a move from Winnipeg, scored 27 goals and 36 assists in 73 games with the Jets last season.
Montreal is scheduled to pick No. 5 overall in Wednesday’s draft and should land an impactful player even if it loses the Dubois sweepstakes.
Avalanche still interested in bringing Compher back
The Avs now have their second-line centre, but according to LeBrun, this does not “close the door” on re-signing pending UFA forward J.T. Compher.
Compher, 28, scored 17 goals and a career-high 52 points last season after being a key depth contributor to the team’s Stanley Cup run in 2021-22.
According to LeBrun, the Avalanche just need to find a number that works within their salary cap, as Compher could command up to $5 million per year on the market.
NHL holding up DeAngelo deal
The Flyers agreed to send defenseman Tony DeAngelo back to Carolina in exchange for a prospect, while Philadelphia was to retain 50% of the $5-million salary. The NHL didn’t love the idea of DeAngelo returning to the Hurricanes less than a year after his trade to the Flyers, and there were questions about whether this violated the CBA.
Here’s why it raised some red flags for the league, per LeBrun
“My understanding is that the NHL took issue with DeAngelo going back to Carolina within a year of his trade from the Hurricanes. There’s language in the CBA about a player returning within 12 months, especially on a retained salary, as being possible circumvention.
I believe both the Flyers and Hurricanes have argued with the league about this, saying: 1) His contract wasn’t even signed with Carolina; it was Philadelphia that signed him last summer to a two-year, $10 million deal. And 2) Chuck Fletcher was the GM who traded for DeAngelo and signed him, and he’s no longer there — so how could any of this be a circumvention?
My understanding is that the league will talk to the teams this week in Nashville about it. Either the league will sign off on it or it will want the teams to wait until July 9 to complete the trade, following the 12 months rule.”