NHL Rumour Report: Rumours swirl as teams prepare for busy offseason

Continuing on from our previous league-wide NHL rumour update, we touch on the futures of several more big name players.

- With the NHL regular season winding down, half of the league will be entering into de facto offseason mode. The other half will be battling for the Stanley Cup, but management groups will most certainly have one eye on the developing trade and free agent markets.

- Rumbling suggest an Erik Karlsson trade in the offseason remains more likely than not. The window to cash in on Karlsson's bounceback Norris-calibre output may close at the end of this offseason when teams once again have to squish down under the salary cap. The Oilers, Panthers, Maple Leafs and Golden Knights are believed to have inquired at the trade deadline, and there should be moderate interest for the Sharks to sift through in the offseason. Karlsson's 11.5 million ticket for another four seasons all but ensures a deal would involve salary retention and/or the acquisition of another team's bad contract(s) in return.

- Juuse Saros is one of the more surprising names that emerged in the NHL rumour mill this past trade deadline season. Widely considered as one of the game's top netminders, Saros would be a hot commodity in a league where surefire workhorse starters are few and far between. Saros is still just 27 and has two years left beyond this one at a very reasonable 5 million dollar cap hit. 

- Why on earth would the Predators move Saros, you may wonder? As would I. Saros is, after all, a top five or ten NHL starter in his prime and under contract. But do the Preds see themselves as a contender before he's slated to hit the jackpot in two years time? Only new GM Barry Trotz can answer that, but the Predators' decision to sell assets at the trade deadline suggests they're not so confident. Blue-chip goalie prospect and heir-apparent to the Nashville net Yaroslav Askarov looms in the background as well. Saros could be one of the Preds' better assets to sell in the coming years amid a cast of overpaid veteran forwards. Nothing, short of a Roman Josi or Filip Forsberg trade, appears to be off the table this summer. 

- The Kings kicked tires on Saros at the deadline but ultimately made the move for Joonas Korpisalo, who is a pending UFA. If the Kings are back in the goalie market this offseason, Saros could be a name to watch.

- Carter Hart trade rumours have swirled for the past few months as well. Like Saros, many will be wondering why Hart would even be on the market. A young starting netminder with upside under RFA control after next season, Hart was meant to be the franchise cornerstone the Flyers had sought after for decades. But with Hart set for arbitration in 2024, a management group that still doesn't seem fully committed to him as 'The Guy' and a young goalie prospect in Sam Ersson battling his way up the depth chart, the rebuilding Flyers may simply be looking to cash in while his value is at its highest.

- And finally, sticking with the goalie carousel buzz: starters Connor Hellebuyck and Thatcher Demko will be other names to watch this offseason on the trade market, apart from the quality pending UFA crop that includes Tristan Jarry, Frederik Andersen and Joonas Korpisalo. Once again, a busy game of goalie musical chairs appears to be in the offing.

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