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