NHL rumor roundup: Should teams jump at the chance to acquire Carter Hart?

Hart and star Jets goaltender Connor Hellebuyck are both reportedly available to the right suitor this summer.

There's a lot of moving parts around the NHL this time of year, as the NHL Draft and the looming free agency season period coincide with the Stanley Cup Final, while it's business as usual on the trades, transactions and coach-searching fronts as well.

As Florida and Vegas head into a pivotal Game 3 on Thursday, here's some offday catch-up fodder on Carter Hart, the Flames and Rangers, Erik Karlsson, Timo Meier, the Jets and more.

Carter Hart

It was reported a few months back that the Flyers, under the watch of new GM Daniel Briere, would be open to trading their No. 1 goalie along with other veteran pieces as the team prepares to plunge into a full-on rebuild.

On Tuesday, the Hart rumor mill started spinning into overdrive as several insiders and outlets reported that the Flyers were either working on or getting close to a deal for the 24-year-old netminder. TSN's Darren Dreger provided some clarity to the chaos on Tuesday afternoon, clarifying that the Flyers are still in the "listening" stage of the process as Briere and Co. gauge trade interest in Hart from around the league.

As we know, these things can move pretty fast once they get moving, so it wouldn't be surprising at all to see this get done sooner rather than later.

The Flyers acquired goaltender Cal Petersen and his $5-million cap hit from the Kings on Tuesday as part of a complex three-way trade involving the Blue Jackets and Kings. Hart is entering the last of a three-year, $11.9-million deal, which carries a $3.9M cap hit for the 2023-24 campaign.

The rumored list of potential landing spots is fairly lengthy, as you'd expect, with the Leafs, Oilers, Senators, Sabres, Canadiens and Kings expected to be right in the mix to acquire Hart's services.

In 201 career NHL appearances, basically all behind a middling-to-bad Flyers team, Hart is sporting an 84-84-26 record with a .906 save percentage.

Connor Hellebuyck

Another starting goaltender — one who sits a tier or two above Hart — could be on the move this summer, as perennial Vezina candidate Connor Hellebuyck's name has been circulating in trade rumors the past couple months, with rumblings heating up over the past week or so.

Frank Seravalli placed the Winnipeg netminder No. 2 on Daily Faceoff’s Top 25 "trade targets board" late last week, tapping him and a trio of star Jets forwards in Mark Scheifele (No. 4), Pierre-Luc Dubois (No. 7) and Blake Wheeler (No. 19) as some of the impactful options available via trade this offseason.

"It’s not out of the realm of possibility that all four players will be leaving Winnipeg this summer," Seravalli wrote.

Will Connor Hellebuyck find himself in a new NHL jersey to start next season? (AP Photo/Tony Avelar)
Will Connor Hellebuyck find himself in a new NHL jersey to start next season? (AP Photo/Tony Avelar) (AP)

As far as Hellebuyck goes, there will surely be a plethora of squads at least inquiring on the services of a durable, workhouse, Vezina Trophy-winning goalie in his prime who's posted a .916 save percentage over the past five seasons while appearing in more games than any other netminder in the league during that time.

On Monday, Daily Faceoff's Matt Larkin floated several possible trade destinations for Hellebuyck, including the Kings and Senators, along with a trio of Metropolitan Division squads in the Hurricanes, Devils, Penguins and a bit of a surprise (although it probably shouldn't be) seventh team in the Vegas Golden Knights.

Hellebuyck has one year remaining at a cap hit of $6.17 million.

Alex DeBrincat

Two days after a report surfaced that the Ottawa Senators were shopping impending restricted free agent Alex DeBrincat, the forward and his camp have reportedly submitted a list of preferred trade destinations, according to TSN's Pierre LeBrun.

DeBrincat is coming off a three-year, $19.2 million bridge deal he signed with the Chicago Blackhawks in 2019. The Senators will likely look to move the 25-year-old to a team he would feel comfortable signing a long-term contract with.

Scheifele and Dubois

Scheifele and Dubois, who sit fourth and seventh, respectively, on Seravalli's trade board, both carry different skill sets and circumstances.

The former is entering the final year of a deal that carries a team-friendly $6.13 AAV while coming off a career offensive season. One of the premier goal-scoring centers in the game, Scheifele notched a whopping 42 goals for the Jets in 2022-23 and carries a reputation as one of the smarter, more in-game savvy players in the league.

Dubois, meanwhile, declined to sign a long-term deal with Winnipeg last offseason which doesn't look good for his long-term prospects with the Jets. LeBrun reported on Wednesday that Dubois's agent Pat Brisson has informed the team that his client would like to be traded this offseason.

The 24-year-old plays a heavy game and posted 63 points, including 27 goals, last season.

Erik Karlsson

The No. 1 Sharks blueliner found his superstar form in a monster way during a resurgent 2022-23 campaign where he became the first defenseman to record 100 points since Brian Leetch did it way back in 1991-92.

It was a remarkable turnaround production-wise (25 goals and 76 helpers) for the two-time Norris winner, who put up more points while playing in all 82 games for the Sharks last season than he did in the three combined injury-shortened seasons prior.

Teams definitely made a few serious plays for Karlsson at the trade deadline, but as Seravalli points out in his piece, with plenty of term and a monstrous cap hit at the forefront of any potential deal, Karlsson being moved was always more likely to happen in the offseason.

Karlsson still has four seasons remaining on his deal at a whopping $11.5-million cap hit.

Timo Meier

Not a whole lot to report with Karlsson's former Sharks teammate, but Devils GM Tom Fitzgerald said Tuesday that negotiations are set to begin with New Jersey's marquee in-season acquisition as the team tries to lock the pending restricted free agent up to a long-term deal.

Fitzgerald says he plans to speak with Meier's agent, former NHLer Claude Lemieux, in the coming days in an attempt to ink the star forward to a multi-year deal. Meier is one year away from unrestricted free agency, which is something the Devils have said they'd like to avoid.

"We would love nothing better to tie him up long term," Fitzgerald told at the draft combine in Buffalo. "That's our goal. That's what Claude and I will go through.

"I want them to understand what New Jersey is, what the organization is, the living — I think New Jersey is a diamond in the rough — the travel, all the positive things. Give him a chance to settle in and go: 'OK, I hope you want to be here.'"

Meier, who was one of the most coveted deadline targets last February, was acquired by New Jersey in a trade with San Jose. The 26-year-old had 31 goals and 52 points in 57 games with the Sharks and nine goals and 14 points in 21 games with the Devils during the 2022-23 regular season, before posting two goals and four points in 11 playoff games as the Devils fizzled out to the Hurricanes in Round 2.

Rangers and Flames coaching searches

As of now, only two NHL head coaching vacancies remain after the Blue Jackets reportedly hired Mike Babcock last week.

The most marquee of those is of course the job on Broadway, with two names surfacing as what appear to be the finalists for the coveted Rangers gig: Peter Laviolette and John Hynes.

Arthur Staple of The Athletic wrote on Wednesday that GM Chris Drury may also be waiting to throw Joel Quenneville's name into the mix — who's reportedly "requested a meeting with Gary Bettman after the final to try and get reinstated."

The Rangers apparently also eyed Babcock before he inked with the Blue Jackets, but the former Leafs and Red Wings bench boss reportedly told the Rangers he "wasn’t interested in restarting his NHL coaching career in New York." As far as another seemingly hot name floating around the coaching market goes, it was reported last week that Hall Of Famer Patrick Roy, who just won a Memorial Cup last Sunday with the QMJHL's Quebec Remparts, wouldn't be considered for the job.

It looks like if Roy were to make his highly-anticipated return to an NHL bench for next season, it'll have to be with Calgary as the Flames are the only squad besides with the Rangers with a current head coach opening — unless sheldon Keefe gets the axe in Toronto.

On Wednesday’s 32 Thoughts episode, Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman broke down where the Flames meticulous head coaching search stands as of now:

“I don’t know this for sure, but here’s who I think some of the group is. I think Ryan Huska (Flames assistant coach) is still there, I think Mitch Love (head coach of Flames' AHL affiliate) is still there, I think Travis Green (former Canucks head coach) is still there and one other person I’ve heard there is Todd Reirden."

Craig Conroy was named the new general manager of the Flames on May 23.