In this newest episode of Inside The Rink’s NHL News & Rumors column, we will be discussing some rumors centering around the Toronto Maple Leafs, Montreal Canadiens, Pittsburgh Penguins, and San Jose Sharks.
Michael Bunting Done in Toronto?
Toronto Maple Leafs forward Michael Bunting is one of the top pending unrestricted free agents heading into the summer. Although he has been a solid piece for the Maple Leafs since his arrival, there is reason to believe that a new contract may not be finalized between the two parties. In a recent article for The Athletic, James Mirtle wrote that, even before Bunting’s suspension, he did not believe Bunting will be a Leaf next season.
Mirtle went on to explain that a mixture of the Maple Leafs’ salary cap issues, Bunting’s discipline (or lack thereof), and a potential change of management could lead to Toronto moving on from him. If the Maple Leafs do let Bunting walk, look for several teams to pursue him this summer.
In 82 regular-season games on the year, Bunting had 23 goals, 49 points, 103 penalty minutes, and a plus-21 rating.
Canadiens Linked to Damon Severson
In a recent mailbag for Montreal Hockey Now, Marc Dumont wrote that he believes that Montreal Canadiens general manager (GM) Kent Hughes will look to sign a right-shot defenseman during the offseason. From there, Dumont listed New Jersey Devils defenseman Damon Severson as a potential target.
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Severson is one of the top pending free-agent defensemen expected to hit the market, and multiple teams will look to sign him because of it. Although he would certainly make sense for the Canadiens on paper, Dumont also wrote that he has heard that Severson would “prefer to avoid playing in a market like Montreal.” However, if the Canadiens send him the right offer, perhaps he would be open to being a key part of their top four. Money talks, after all.
John Gibson Linked to Penguins
The Anaheim Ducks had a horrible 2022-23 season that ended with a 13-game losing streak. As a result, they are reportedly open to moving star goaltender John Gibson so he can have the chance to play for a postseason team next year and onward. Now, a new team has been linked to him, as Joe Starkley of Pittsburgh Post-Gazette wrote that he could be a trade target for the Penguins this summer.
The Penguins just missed out on the playoffs this year, and the primary reason for that was their inconsistent goaltending. With Tristan Jarry set to become a UFA, it could open the door to the Penguins bringing in Gibson as an upgrade. It also does not hurt that Gibson is a Pittsburgh native, so it is quite likely that he would be ecstatic to be a Penguin.
Sharks GM Discusses Possible Erik Karlsson Trade
While speaking with reporters, San Jose Sharks GM Mike Grier had this to say about a possible Erik Karlsson trade: “If there’s interest in him, we’ll listen and see if it makes sense, and if something does come up, we’ll take it to Erik. But as it stands right now, he’s a big piece of our team.”
With Grier’s comment, it is clear that the Sharks are still open to moving Karlsson for the right price. However, it also seems that he is not against keeping the 100-point defenseman around, too. We will need to wait and see what happens with the star from here, but look for multiple teams to express interest in him.