Kaplan: Latest on Brock Boeser, Erik Karlsson and more trade buzz
There have been 25 trades in the last five days in the NHL, and the trade deadline is no earlier than 3:00 pm ET on Friday. The hockey world now moves at an incredible speed, so it was difficult to process all the changes, such as the departure of David Poyle, the architect of the Nashville Predators throughout their existence, and the arrival of Barry Trotz. This is all happening in a year when league leaders said they would be hindered by a stagnant salary cap.
“It was an unexpected level of activity, to say the least,” said one NHL general manager. “Now we are acting like we are the NBA. This is madness”. And for the next 24 hours, there will be no sign that things will actually shut down.
Here are a few things I hear:
When I asked general managers about the theories why teams were particularly happy with transactions, I heard one common refrain. The three teams that usually go for it this time of year – St. Louis, Nashville, Washington – have turned into sellers, despite being in different ranges from the playoff position.
The Predators, who haven’t been able to find a stable rhythm since their performance in the 2017 Stanley Cup Finals, are looking to break it to reboot. As Nashville shifts its lead, the team has informed the league that there are only three untouchables in the roster: captain Roman Josy, goaltender Juse Saros, and newly expanded Philip Forsberg. Make a good offer to someone else and they will listen. Trotz will get a much cleaner slate with a ton of draft capital.
As for St. Louis and Washington? This is a different approach. Both general managers are looking for faster retooling. The Blues were among the teams interested in Jacob Chychrun. Louis General Manager Doug Armstrong is expected to be active throughout the summer, using his newfound assets to find players in their mid-20s, building a new core around Robert Thomas and Jordan Kyrou.
The Caps felt like they were being harassed by injuries all season. So general manager Brian McLellan fell for the bait. McLellan had to be a salesman for the first time in his entire career, and he admitted to me that it was not easy for him. But the organization has promised Alex Ovechkin that they will try to be rivals on his current contract (three more years) and McLellan will do his best to make sure they are in the best position to start next year. Rasmus Sandin was first additionand expect more until next season.
Will Karlsson stay put?
The San Jose Sharks went to great lengths to trade Erik Karlsson, and the quarterback, who is in rebirth season, was open to doing so. But in the end, the deal never went through; Karlsson’s $11.5 million salary through 2026–27 was too much for either team.
The furthest thing the Sharks have taken sounds like it was with the Edmonton Oilers. Edmonton were looking for a puck-handling defenseman and wanted Karlsson, but wanted San Jose to keep about 50% of his salary, which became a sticking point. Then the Edmonton were traded for Matthias Ekholm.
Since no other trade offers have been made for Karlsson, he will remain in place for the time being. But expect San Jose to resume trade talks in the summer.
Bowser next from Vancouver?
Brock Boser’s name has been in the trading buzz for years. But he admitted to reporters in Vancouver on Wednesday that he feels different this time around. Behind the scenes, the Canucks and Bozer agreed that it would be best for the winger to start over. Plenty of teams have shown interest in Beser, who has always had a knack for scoring, but teams have also been refusing his salary: $6.65 million through 2024-25.
Of the teams I’ve spoken to, the Canucks are willing to keep some pay if it generates good returns, and have even talked about including other draft capital in the deal. This week it seemed like a 50/50 offer if Bozer was sold before Friday or during the summer.
Smaller moves can pay off for Carolina
The Carolina Hurricanes were poised to make a big splash. With Max Pacioretti on the LTIR, they are the rare serious contender with serious headroom. They considered replacing Pacioretti. Karolina made what I called a “very good” offer for Timo Meyer, but ended up not winning those lotteries. They also participated in the talks on Chichran. They then switched to more depth at a good price. Shane Gostisbeher, who rebuilt his game in Arizona after a debacle in Philadelphia, was a consolation for Chichran. The Canes felt comfortable abandoning their typical no-loan policy due to low acquisition costs (a 2026 third-round pick) and knew Gostisbecher was helping them play on the powerplay.
I also wouldn’t sleep with Jesse Pulujärvi, who the Reeds got from Edmonton, as a playoff breakout candidate. The 24-year-old candidate clearly needs a change of scenery. Pulujärvi’s attributes – an aggressive forechecker, a good figure skater – will fit perfectly into Carolina’s style. The Canesses score more goals than any other team, and their success depends on work. With four other Finnish players on the roster, it will be a welcoming culture after six years of tough attention in Edmonton.
Read more about Kane’s trip to New York
While many teams were interested in Patrick Kane, the winger informed his camp: if he moves, he just wanted to go to new york. So even after GM Chris Drury traded Vladimir Tarasenko for Vladimir Tarasenko, they continued to work behind the scenes to open the way for Kane to New York. I was told that Kane was more emotional than he expected when he took to leaving Chicago, which he never imagined until this year. By giving Chicago only one direction, he significantly reduced the Blackhawks’ potential profits.
Team CEO Danny Wirtz wrote a letter to staff after the deal. “These decisions are difficult,” Wirtz wrote. “And I praise Kyle [Davidson] and his team for their leadership in getting through this challenging deal deadline.”
For his part, Kane had to do what was best for him. He wanted to play in Chicago for the rest of his career, but that was no longer realistic. There were never formal renewal talks between Kane and management, but he understood that the Blackhawks chose to separate their dynastic years so they could get back to work on rebuilding.
Next Steps in Philadelphia
The Flyers have been open about their recovery since a letter John Tortorella sent to fans earlier this month. Their message got clear: they need to build a team by getting younger with more talented players, period. It takes time. So as long as they don’t ruin the team – young players like Owen Tippett, Cam Yorke and Noah Cates are likely to stay – they’ll need to make changes.
The question is what is changing? There has been some momentum to look for a trade for Kevin Hayes, but I think even if the Flyers keep their paycheck, the market is tight this week. They are trying to move Ivan Provorov, but the deal has not yet taken place. James van Riemsdyk, in anticipation of an unrestricted free agent, is the most likely flyer on the move.