Unfinished Business: What’s Left To Resolve In The 2023 NHL Offseason?

Many storylines entering the 2023 NHL offseason remain due to the salary cap going up by just $1 million, which has made it more difficult to move players with high salaries (let alone for a fair return). A lot of players who were rumored to be on the trade block leading up to the draft are still on their 2022-23 team, meaning that this August could be more interesting than ever before. NoVa Caps looks at what remains at play for the offseason.

Winnipeg Jets — Vezina Trophy winning goaltender Connor Hellebuyck and center Mark Schiefele are both entering the final years of their respective contracts and would prefer to sign elsewhere.

Schiefele, 30, scored a career-high 42 goals and tallied 68 points in 81 games last season and has six years with at least 29 goals and eight with 60 points.

Hellebuyck, 30, ranks second in wins (199), tied for 10th in save percentage (.917 — among goaltenders who have appeared in at least 73 games), tied for 20th in goals-against average (2.65), and third in shutouts (26) since 2017-18. He went 37-25-2 with a .920 save percentage, 2.49 goals-against average, and four shutouts in 2022-23. Winnipeg already dealt center Pierre-Luc Dubois to the Los Angeles Kings after the pending restricted free agent requested a trade.

Calgary Flames — Center Elias Lindholm and defenseman Noah Hanifin have both been hesitant to sign contract extensions entering the last year of their respective deals.

Lindholm, 28, has three seasons with over 60 points during his five-year tenure in Calgary, including a 22-goal, 64-point output in 80 games last season after setting career-highs with 42 and 82, respectively, in the prior campaign when he was the runner-up for the Selke Trophy as the NHL’s best defensive forward.

Hanifin, 26, has 17 goals, 86 points, a +29 rating, 54.51% five-on-five Corsi-for percentage, 55.41% five-on-five expected goals-for percentage, and 54.26% five-on-five scoring chances-for percentage in 162 games where he has averaged 21:58 per game (1:57 on the power play, 2:07 on the penalty kill) over the past two seasons.

The team traded right-wing Tyler Toffoli to the New Jersey Devils after he expressed no desire to re-sign in Calgary.

D Erik Karlsson, San Jose Sharks — After the 33-year-old set career-highs in goals (25), assists, (76), and points (101) in 82 games, the Norris Trophy winner has expressed his desire to move to a contender with San Jose in a rebuild.

The Pittsburgh Penguins reportedly came close to acquiring Karlsson on July 1 and the Carolina Hurricanes, Seattle Kraken, and Toronto Maple Leafs are all still in the mix for his services. San Jose will need to retain a substantial amount of Karlsson’s $11.5 million cap hit for the final four seasons of his contract to get a return package that they would be satisfied with.

G John Gibson, Anaheim Ducks — The 30-year-old is coming off of a career-worse season where he went 14-31-8 with an .899 save percentage and 3.99 goals-against average. Gibson, who has made interest in getting traded clear, has not eclipsed a .904 save percentage or gotten a goals-against average below 2.98 in the last four seasons but those statistics are a product of the team playing in front of him. Over the previous four, Gibson, who has four seasons left on his contract at $6.4 million against the NHL salary cap, had at least a .917 save percentage and at most a 2.84 goals-against average in each campaign.

Washington Capitals — The team has been aggressive in trade talks this offseason but have yet to find the right fit. They are looking to make a hockey trade in their top-six forward group, which would most likely mean that they are shopping at least one of center Evgeny Kuznetsov or left-wing Anthony Mantha.

Kuznetsov, 31, has two seasons left on a contract that counts $7.8 million against the cap and is coming off of a 43-assist, 55-point season, his worst output since his rookie season in 2014-15. Though, he tallied 24 goals and 78 points in 79 games just two seasons ago.

Mantha, 28, has not lived up to his 31-goal, 72-point pace over a full 82-game season from 2019-20 when he was with the Detroit Red Wings and finished last season with just 11 goals and 27 points in 67 games and was a frequent healthy scratch. He has one season remaining on his contract that has a $5.7 million cap hit.

Notable signed unrestricted free agents:

  •  LW Patrick Kane (21 goals, 57 points in 73 games with Chicago Blackhawks, New York Rangers last season but may not be ready for the start of the season after undergoing hip resurfacing surgery on June 1)
  • RW Vladimir Tarasenko (18 goals, 50 points in 69 games with St. Louis Blues, New York Rangers)
  • D Matt Dumba (four goals, 18 points, -8 rating, 49.07% five-on-five Corsi-for percentage, 48.52% five-on-five expected goals-for percentage, 48.91% five-on-five scoring chances-for percentage in 79 games with Minnesota Wild)
  • LW Tomas Tatar (20 goals, 48 points in 82 games with New Jersey Devils)
  • RW Phil Kessel (14 goals, 36 points in 82 games with Vegas Golden Knights)
  • LW Nick Ritchie (13 goals, 26 points in 74 games with Calgary, Arizona Coyotes)
  • C Pius Suter (14 goals, 24 points in 79 games with Detroit)
  • LW Zach Parise (21 goals, 34 points in 82 games with New York Islanders)

Notable unsigned restricted free agents:

  • RW Troy Terry (38 assists, 61 points in 70 games with Anaheim)
    • Arbitration hearing set for Wednesday
  • C Trevor Zegras (42 assists, 65 points in 81 games with Anaheim)
  • C Shane Pinto (20 goals, 35 points in 82 games with Ottawa Senators)
  • C Morgan Frost (27 assists, 46 points in 81 games with Philadelphia Flyers)
  • LW Alexis Lafreniere (23 assists, 39 points in 81 games with New York Rangers)
  • D Evan Bouchard (32 assists, 40 points, +6 rating, 56.95% five-on-five Corsi-for percentage, 57.68% five-on-five expected goals-for percentage, 58.24% five-on-five scoring chances-for percentage in 82 games with Edmonton Oilers)

While there are usually a couple worthy things to look out for across the NHL heading into August, there are still major pieces of the puzzle that have yet to be solved as there is still elite talent on the trade market as well as a couple of worthy unrestricted free agents available. It may has been an underwhelming offseason to date but will August make up for it?

By Harrison Brown

About Harrison Brown

Harrison is a diehard Caps fan and a hockey fanatic with a passion for sports writing. He attended his first game at age 8 and has been a season ticket holder since the 2010-2011 season. His fondest Caps memory was watching the Capitals hoist the Stanley Cup in Las Vegas. In his spare time, he enjoys travel, photography, and hanging out with his two dogs. Follow Harrison on Twitter @HarrisonB927077
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24 Responses to Unfinished Business: What’s Left To Resolve In The 2023 NHL Offseason?

  1. Anonymous says:

    What about Lindholm and Hanifin (with extension) for Kuzy and MF.

    • hockeydruid says:

      Why would Calgary make that trade? And why do you want to get rid of a 23 year old who is only going to get better when this team needs youth?

      • Anonymous says:

        Easy. Two players who are upcoming UFAs who have no interest in resigning with Calgary. They get assets before they leave for nothing. Hanifin is only a couple of years older than MF and much better. Fairly obvious answer. Only question would be what else would we need to add.

        • hockeydruid says:

          LMAO, its is not only NOT fairly obvious but to be honest with you have you put on the stupid cap and are sitting in the corner? So if you were the Gm you would trade young players for players who would be free agents after the season. What then happens if the player does not want to resign in DC? You trade a young player and have NOTHING!! Sound like a great plan for keeping the team at the bottom of the division for years to some. As one player makes $4.95 and the other $4.85, both are going to be looking for raise after this season. MF is locked in at $2.675 for the next 3 years and Kuzy good for the next 2 and may be tradeable during the season IF and only IF he is having an outstanding season. However if he is playing like he has the past several years and with that salary no one is going to touch him. Attention new GM…..you trade value you get value and there is no value in trading signed players for pending free agents for Wash or any team unless they are challenging for The Cup and Wash is not for the next several eyars!

          • Anonymous says:

            Read the post moron. It says Hanifin extended. so we would have a 26 year old proven dman. Not the hope that MF becomes who you want him to be. Lindholm is young as well if we wanted to extend him. Put down the alcohol.

            • hockeydruid says:

              Seems that every young player that we trade away improves and gets better. When are numbskulls like you stop playing as a useless GM and wishing that this team wins the cup next season when they wont be a viable contender for 5-7 years maybe longer if you keep trading their young talented players. Why not just trade CMM, Lapierre, AA, Protas and Malenstein while you are at it and ask for the other teams aging high priced players just to make yourself happy but decimate this team worse that it already is! And all a team can do is OFFER and extension they cannot make the player sign it. The players mentioned here along with Wilson I believe will test the FA waters to see what money they can get and who would like the. Also many playres DO NOT want to go to or stay on a team that is going to go through a rebuild and whatever you want to call it this team is in a rebuild mode however they are not going to promote and play a lot of their young talent as long as they keep signing players like Edmundson and Pacioretty (this one baffles me as at 34 and on the IR when signed and rebuilding and we have younger talent that needs playing time and worst of all no idea when he will be coming back so if he doesn’t that what a waste on money and player slot).

  2. franky619 says:

    The smartest move Maclellan could have done is buy out Backstrom. Finally ranked as one of the worst contract in the league by the Athletic.

    • hockeydruid says:

      Either that or have him retire or put him on LTIR. I think that Backy does not want to give up his money and therefore will stick around no matter how bad he plays, Actually there is one other option to tell Backy either retire or we cut you and then you are free to try and find a team that will take you. Yeah it sounds cold but that’s life and sports.

      • novafyre says:

        Doctors have to agree that he cannot play in order to put him on LTIR. The Hockey Guy says that has to occur at least twice a season. If Nicky can play at even a 50% performance I just don’t see the doctors calling him injured.

        THG has an interesting video on the subject. Points out that the players are owed that money by their contracts so why would they want to retire and lose it. Sure, owners could pay them out but THG says that insurance can pay up to 80% of LTIR salary. So while his team is taking a hug cap hit, the salary might be costing the owner only 20% of it. So is Cap space or salary more important to the owner? Jeff Vinik (owner of Tampa Bay Lightning) is reported to have told his GM Julien Brisebois: make the best team possible, if it requires lots of LTIR contracts, it’s fine, I will pay, just make this team the best possible.

        • Prevent Defense says:

          Fascinating stuff, Novafyre!
          The most sinister Medieval Despot couldn’t come up with a more convoluted and bizarre construct as the current NHL/NHLPA collective bargaining agreement. The Caps Fan is reduced to praying to his Higher Power that somehow Backstrom doesn’t utterly S**K this season

          • hockeydruid says:

            Then terminate his contract as unable to perform. More or less put Backy in the corner and tell him for the betterment of the team we want you to happily retire now but if you don’t we will terminate your contrast as unable to perform. He then can always work out a payment plan with Ted who loves his older players and maybe pay him to sit in the owners suite.

  3. Prevent Defense says:

    The reason that the P Bergeron retirement is important for the Caps: CGY Flames C Elias Lindholm would look great in a Caps Red uniform and is subject of a “hockey trade” speculation, primarily Kuznetsov-for-Lindholm or something close to that. Lindholm presents much less knucklehead-factor than Kuznetsov, and is potentially a major upgrade.

    With Bergeron retiring and probably Krejci too, BOS is now yet another competitor for Lindholm’s services. We want what’s best for the Caps and this adds more difficulty

    • Anonymous says:

      Why would Calgary trade Lindholm for Kuzy? All the reasons it would be great for the Caps are why it makes no sense for Calgary. The Caps would have to sweeten that up a lot.

      • Anonymous says:

        Cause Lindholm has made it clear he won’t resign in Calgary.

        • hockeydruid says:

          So the Caps are going to do something to help another team by taking their pending freeagent, give them a player under contract and then lose the player they just traded for at the end on the season to free agency. I doubt that either pending FA in Calgary will a contract anytime soon or even before next summer as they both are going to be looking for a huge payday. Asa new Gm you have just assured that you have given away 2 players and have nothing to show for it. Congrats you are following in the footsteps of GMBM and making some boneheaded trades!!

  4. Anonymous says:

    Caps are going to have to move a veteran contract when Pacioretty is ready to play to be cap compliant unless they go with a roster of 21 players unless someone else ends up on LTIR. So if everyone stays healthy who is going? Kuzy? Mantha? Jensen? TVR? Will Backstrom be healthy and ready to go? Assuming a hockey trade can’t be made, what’s the move?

    • hockeydruid says:

      In Backy’s case it is not if he is healthy instead it is can he play at a level higher than what he did last year? I doubt that you are going to see the Backy of several years ago ever again and I doubt that he can be an asset to this team. Backy wants his money. So maybe the solution is to offer his several choices retire and become a scout or possible a coach and give him the his current salary as compensation or put him on LTIR or if he is determined to play just cut him and let him see if ant other team wants him. May seem harsh but thats life and sports cold and harsh.

      • Prevent Defense says:

        TOR just put Goalie Murray on LTIR and he didn’t resist. The NHL didn’t scream and yell about it, nor did NHLPA or the player. This sets a precedent that using LTIR as a sort of “buyout” is acceptable NHL practice

        • hockeydruid says:

          I would think that sooner than later GM’s will start to give guys over 29 shorter contracts like 2 or 3 years and let them walk if they don’t like it as dollars are hard to come by. Why should a team play for your past performance when it is not an indicator of your future performance once you reach 30? I also think that more Gm’s in the future will start to mutually terminate contracts so that greedy agents can go out and see that the market is not what they thought it would be dollar or contract length wise. I think you will especially see this with teams with alotof olderplayers.

      • dwgie26 says:

        We don’t really know if Nicky just wants his money. I don’t know either, but I would think first reason is he wants to play hockey and prove to himself and world he can come back. Second reason is being part of OV breaking the goals record. And then sure money is the third, but that can be solved for.

        Also, you seem to always assume that a player comes here and doesn’t re-sign. Often you do it to see the fit for both sides. That is what happened with Strome and Millano and NAK as FA’s. Sandin is an example of a trade. If both sides like the situation then a deal gets done.

        • hockeydruid says:

          I wonder why would a player who is good want to come to and resign with a team that is going to go through a rebuild. And honestly at this point in his career and with the job of the Gm and HC is not to see that Backy gets to play with Ovie while trying to break a record but instead put the best team on the ice. And after watching him at the end of last year he is not worth playing on the 4th line as we have better players and younger players. Oh and he already proved he could come back last season and it was not pretty at all. Honestly many players in all sports have a hard time retiring and I think Backy is one of those.

          I would not have been upset at all if NAK was not resigned as that slot could have gone to a younger player and the same with Milano. I realize that both are 27 but I would rather see what our draft picks like Protas, Malenstyn, McMichael, Snively and Riley could do instead of guys taken off dumpster dives can do. If the Gm has no faith in the guys he drafts then either he drafts poorly or they don’t develop as surely dumpster dive players can not really be better than what he drafted.

          • dwgie26 says:

            There are two things to answer your question of why:
            1. Team Culture – this is something you have continuously been against preferring a more cut-throat culture. Caps have built a great culture and that matters when recruiting players. Salary Cap issues prevent us from going after marquee names today but it will help in future.
            2. Vision and team direction (and good fit for player). Caps look for specific fits (think both goalies last year, Strome resigning, and Patches and Edmundson this year. All specific fits that are good for player and team.

            Why resign Milano and NAK… On Milano he has the ability to be a legit middle 6 scorer and at 1.9M is cost controlled and (as you mentioned) young. He might not be here all three years, but he is the best option today and will be a tradeable asset if Protas and CMM can play middle 6 roles. NAK was easy. Don’t have a 4RW ready. Sutter could be in a year but he has had one good season so a one-year contract made sense.

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