The feel around the NHL is that the Boston Bruins will be all in for Patrice Bergeron at or before the NHL trade Deadline.
Could the New Jersey Devils Add Another Hughes?
The NHL trade market is ready to pick up but sudden uncertainty over the projected salary cap for the 2023-24 season and beyond has created a holding pattern.
Off The Record is back on the National Hockey Now network:
1. 'Bruins All In For Bergeron And Pastrnak'
It has been reported numerous times by yours truly on Boston Hockey Now that the Boston Bruins have looked into what it may cost to acquire future Hall of Famer and Chicago Blackhawks winger Patrick Kane on the NHL Trade market before the March 3 NHL Trade Deadline. Those reports have continuously been confirmed here but the Bruins trade inquiries have not been limited to Kane, or for that matter playoff rentals.
Off the record:
"Their goal has always been to win one more for Bergeron," a trusted NHL source told Off The Record recently. "But I know they're exploring all sorts of trade options. Make no mistake, they would love to make a trade and prove to 'Pasta' they're not heading into a rebuild after this season. They think they can win now and keep winning."
2. Could The Devils Score A Hughes Hat Trick?
On December 17, Sportsnet Insider Elliotte Friedman reported that forward Elias Pettersson was the only untouchable on the Vancouver Canucks roster. Multiple NHL sources have since confirmed that report to still be true as the calendar year winds down. So as the March 3 NHL Trade Deadline comes into focus in the next two months, that at least means that the Canucks are willing to listen on potential franchise defenseman Quinn Hughes.
"I don't think that the Canucks really want to do that or are they anywhere close to doing it," an NHL executive source told OTR recently. "I do think it's getting to that point that they will listen though. They are really rethinking things."
Off the record: That statement prompted yours truly to look into what teams could make a major push for the 23-year-old Hughes who has one goal and 29 assists in 31 games. Of course the New Jersey Devils, with Quinn's brother Jack already their best player on their roster, and his other brother Luke, a top prospect, were an instant topic of conversation. A Hughes hat trick would be epic for the Devils but can it really happen?
"You bet it can," said another top-ranking NHL source. "Tom [Devils GM Tom Fitzgerald] already has that in target and he's got the goods to make it happen."
3. 'It's Gonna Get Ugly'
Color this puck scribe as not so surprised and full of regret recently. When Gary Bettman indicated to the Board Of Governors in October that the NHL salary cap was going to increase by potentially $3-4 million, one of my most trusted NHL sources was baffled.
"This doesn't make sense," he said at the time. "None of this matches up with what owners are telling me."
This source has a long-standing working and personal relationship with Commissioner Bettman so as you can imagine, this came as an ominous surprise. However, mistakenly I didn't follow up. Fast forward to earlier this month, and Bettman went into back-track mode and projected only a $1 million increase for the 2023-24 NHL salary cap. He then put the onus on the players and left the door open for a better cap increase if the players' escrow balance from the pandemic and revised CBA in 2020 could be paid off. Well, lets just say that not only has the NHLPA been seething since Bettman essentially threw them under the bus for the mistaken projections, but plenty of NHL general managers are as well.
Off the record:
"It's gonna get ugly," the aforementioned top NHL source told OTR recently. "This has really set plenty of teams backwards in their plans. It's a complete logjam with player movement. Meanwhile owners are pressing hard if their team is a contender but GM's can't do anything. I still don't understand why Gary said [the NHL salary cap] was going to go that high but even worse why some owners let their GM's believe it."