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NHL rumors: Sharks looking to trade Erik Karlsson, Brett Pesce gaining interest, Oilers eyeing moves

The latest rumblings on Erik Karlsson, Alex DeBrincat, Brett Pesce, Noah Hanifin, John Gibson and more.

With the Vegas Golden Knights claiming the first Stanley Cup in their franchise’s budding and already enviable history earlier this week, the NHL offseason has officially begun.

With the NHL’s first buyout window already having opened, the NHL draft just two weeks away and whispers and rumors of landscape-altering moves already abound, it appears that a weaker than usual free agent class could lead to an exciting summer on the trade front.

Here’s everything we’re hearing on the rumor front as Silly Season, and everybody's favorite time on the hockey calendar, begins ramping up.

Erik Karlsson is no stranger to the NHL rumor mill. (Photo by Kavin Mistry/NHLI via Getty Images)
Erik Karlsson is no stranger to the NHL rumor mill. (Photo by Kavin Mistry/NHLI via Getty Images) (NHLI via Getty Images)

Erik Karlsson, Sharks on the same page about trade

After becoming the first 100-point NHL defenseman since Brian Leetch in the early '90s, it has become abundantly clear that Erik Karlsson and the slumping San Jose Sharks are simply not a fit.

The two sides were nearly able to cut ties this past spring at the NHL trade deadline, though nothing ultimately materialized much to Karlsson’s disappointment. Now, three months later, the two sides are re-racking and will once again try to accommodate the Norris candidate's wishes, as Karlsson and the Sharks met last week to discuss his future.

According to reporting from Pierre LeBrun, both sides remain on the same page, as Karlsson hopes to move on from San Jose and play for a Stanley Cup contender. As there were earlier this year, there remain multiple roadblocks to getting a deal done, primarily in the form of the Swedish blueliner’s bloated cap hit and his full no-movement clause, however, teams have reportedly continued to kick tires on the Norris contender.

Clock is now ticking on Alex DeBrincat

Another player expected to be on the move, and rather quickly, is Ottawa Senators forward Alex DeBrincat.

Acquired from the Chicago Blackhawks last summer in exchange for a package of draft picks headline by the 2022 seventh overall selection, DeBrincat has made it clear he does not intend to extend with the Senators, leaving GM Pierre Dorion — or whoever replaces him with new ownership taking over — in a bind and forced to scramble to recoup assets.

The expectation, per reports, is the Senators will aim to move the two-time 40-goal scorer ahead of or at the NHL Draft, with several teams having already expressed interest in the Michigan native.

Amongst those with considerable reported interest are his hometown Detroit Red Wings, first linked to the sniper earlier this month. Wherever DeBrincat winds up, it’s unlikely to be north of the 49th parallel. DeBrincat has reportedly expressed a reluctance to play in Canada, eliminating at least six possible destinations for the All-Star forward.

Goaltender market unusually abundant

The usually thin goaltending market has suddenly turned into a buyer's dream, with several key names expected to either hit the trade or free agency market in the weeks to come and likely to be moved.

Most notably, Connor Hellebuyck has expressed an unwillingness to extend with the Winnipeg Jets, as Kevin Cheveldayoff appears destined to guide his club through a potentially painful rebuild by stripping his team down the studs.

Another former Vezina candidate that has since faded somewhat from the elite goaltending discussion is Anaheim Ducks netminder John Gibson.

The 29-year-old has had his name in trade rumors for multiple seasons now with the Ducks deep in the throes of a rebuild, and with reports that he has expressed a readiness to move on, the time could be nigh for Gibson to leave Disneyland.

Alongside the marquee pairing of Hellebuyck and Gibson, a crop of compelling UFA netminders are expected to potentially hit the market and serve as possible upgrades.

Stanley Cup hero Adin Hill, once an afterthought, now seems poised to cash in on his electrifying run should he reach the open market. Others, including Tristan Jarry, Joonas Korpisalo and Cam Talbot are other starting goaltenders from this past season staring down unrestricted free agency and likely on the move.

Even Jeremy Swayman, per Darren Dreger, is a threat to be tendered an offer sheet given the Boston Bruins' impending $4.5M cap overage charge and his pending restricted free agency. Should matters escalate to that point, however, Boston would be expected to match any offer sheet sent his way.

Blueline upgrades

As is the case on the netminder front, multiple top-four defensemen of note could be on the move this coming summer should the dominoes fall in the right direction.

The two most prominent names expected to be made available include a pair of former teammates in Hurricanes right-handed blueliner Brett Pesce and steady Calgary Flames defenseman Noah Hanifin.

Pesce, in particular, has garnered significant interest from around the league, though reports remain steadfast that Carolina is prioritizing keeping the 28-year-old. Should the two sides fail to come to an agreement, however, Carolina is expected to move on in the hopes of maximizing value, with the Buffalo Sabres and Edmonton Oilers amongst the clubs reportedly circling the waters.

Oil Country changes

Speaking of the Oilers, in addition to the club’s reported interest in Pesce, this summer seems poised to be one of significant change given the salary cap gymnastics in store for GM Ken Holland.

With just over $5 million in cap space available and the Oilers looking to add both up front and to the D-corps, along with others such as Evan Bouchard and Klim Kostin in need of raises, Edmonton is expected to be busy this summer attempting to rejig their crowded salary cap commitments.

Amongst those likely headed out the door, or at least likely to be considered to be moved, include Cody Ceci ($3.25M), Warren Foegele ($2.75M) and Kailer Yamamoto ($3.1M), with others potentially in the mix as well.

Additionally, TSN’s Darren Dreger reports that Connor Brown, set to hit unrestricted free agency for the first time after playing just four games last year due to a torn ACL, is a name the Oilers have their eyes set on.

Ivan Barbashev cashing in

As the old saying goes, timing is everything.

That couldn’t be more true for Golden Knights forward Ivan Barbashev, whose contract is set to expire after having arguably completed the most productive two months of his NHL career, concluding with a Stanley Cup.

Barbashev is expected to hit the open market come July 1 in the hopes of garnering a significant raise from his modest $2.25M cap hit, particularly given his impressive run on Vegas’s top line this spring in combination with a particularly thin free agency class.