NHL Rumors: John Klingberg for Leafs defense, Cole Caufield contract, and Erik Karlsson back to Ottawa?

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Today’s latest NHL Rumors takes a look at the Toronto Maple Leafs and their situation on defense now that Jake Muzzin is on LTIR.

Plus what’s the latest on Cole Caufield and his contract talks with the Montreal Canadiens. And could Erik Karlsson be heading back to the Ottawa Senators?

Let’s dive in.

NHL Rumors: Toronto Maple Leafs defense

The Maple Leafs have placed defenseman Jake Muzzin on LTIR after learning he will be out until late February with a cervical spine injury.

Muzzin, 33, has just 1 assist in 4 games this season and is the third year of a four-year deal with an AAV of $5.625 million. Losing a veteran defenseman has GM Kyle Dubas in the market for a blue-liner.

According to Frank Seravalli of The Daily Faceoff, he laid out some potential trade targets for the Maple Leafs:

  • John Klingberg
  • Vladislav Gavrikov
  • Matt Roy
  • Carson Soucy
  • Nick Jensen
  • Dmitry Orlov
  • Matt Dumba

Of the names mentioned, I feel like Klingberg would be the best fit for Toronto.

Klingberg, 30, has 8 points in 16 games for the Anaheim Ducks and is a solid defender with offensive pop. He signed a one-year deal for $7 million this summer and will certainly be moved at the trade deadline either way.

NHL Rumors: Cole Caufield

NHL Rumors Cole Caufield
Nov 12, 2022; Montreal, Quebec, CAN; Montreal Canadiens forward Cole Caufield (22) celebrates with teammates after scoring a goal against the Pittsburgh Penguins during the third period at the Bell Centre. Mandatory Credit: Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports

Cole Caufield is having a great start to his sophomore season with 16 points in 16 games. The 21 year-old was selected by the Montreal Canadiens 15th overall in the 2019 NHL Draft. This is the final season of his entry level contract with an AAV of $880K.

Jeff Gorton, who leads hockey ops for the Habs made an appearance on The Sick Podcast with Tony Marinaro to discuss Caufield’s contract situation.

“I have no worries at all about Cole being a Montreal Canadien,” Gorton said. “Cole wants to be here. Whether that’s a week, a month, or two months, I would say don’t worry about it because he’s going to be here.”

Erik Karlsson back to Ottawa?

A lot of noise is circling around San Jose Sharks defenseman Erik Karlsson after GM Mike Grier said he was open to trading him.

Karlsson, 32, has enjoyed a renaissance season in 2022-23 with 24 points in 18 games.

Trading him will be a challenge for Grier as Karlsson has a full no-move clause and five more years remaining with an $11.5 million AAV. However, there’s speculation that a return to the Ottawa Senators could be in the cards.

Today, Elliotte Friedman poured cold water on that idea.

“I think those conversations have happened between the Sharks and the Senators,” Friedman said. “I just don’t know if it’s going to be possible– I heard it’s just not cap possible even with salary retention.”

Karlsson really is an intriguing name but his contract really makes a deal prohibitive.

Any team that will take on his contract will either require the Sharks to retain 50%, which is unlikely. It’s possible that Grier may have to actually add a sweetener to unload Karlsson to a team on the rise with cap space.

The Detroit Red Wings and New Jersey Devils immediately come to mind.