Early NHL Rookie Stock Watch for 2019-20


NHL Rumor Mill – October 18, 2019

Could the Oilers try to bring back Taylor Hall? Does Jonathan Quick face an uncertain future with the Kings? Are the Hurricanes shopping for a forward? Check out the latest in today’s NHL rumor mill.


EDMONTON JOURNAL: David Staples cited Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman suggesting the Oilers could be a suitor for Taylor Hall if the New Jersey Devils decide to shop the winger.

Could the Edmonton Oilers attempt to reacquire Taylor Hall from the New Jersey Devils? (Photo via NHL Images)

“It would not surprise me at all if Edmonton is a big suitor here,” said Friedman. “I don’t know if they can make a trade, I don’t know if they have enough to make a deal, but it just wouldn’t surprise me. Put it this way: it’s long been believed that if Edmonton had a chance to correct and bring him back, that they would be interested. But there’s a new GM there now, so we’ll see.”

Hall is slated to become an unrestricted free agent next July. With the Devils struggling, Friedman said the winger’s status is becoming a topic of conversation around the league. Staples notes Hall would have more value as a long-term acquisition. Re-signing him, however, would be very expensive. The Oilers would have to free up at least $10 million in salary-cap space.


SPECTOR’S NOTE: I don’t see this happening. If the Devils decide to shop Hall they won’t just give him away. I think they’ll want at least a good young player, a top prospect, and a first-round pick. Even if the Oilers came up with a suitable offer I don’t believe they can afford to re-sign him.

Cap Friendly indicates the Oilers have over $57.5 million invested in just nine players for 2020-21. Defenseman Darnell Nurse is a restricted free agent due for a hefty raise and they must re-sign or replace goaltender Mike Smith. There won’t be enough to sign Hall to what will likely be over $11 million annually. That’s assuming he’ll want to re-sign with the Oilers.


TSN: During last night’s “Insider Trading” segment, Bob McKenzie observed Los Angeles Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick’s poor performance has led to backup Jack Campbell seeing back-to-back starts. They also have promising Cal Petersen in their system but don’t want to bring him up yet, in part because Quick is on the roster but also because Petersen will have to pass through waivers next year. Quick seems the odd man out but he’s got four years remaining on his contract ($5.8 million annual average value) and isn’t tradeable right now. McKenzie feels his future is up in the air.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Some readers suggested the Kings should swap Quick with a struggling starter on another club, like New Jersey’s Cory Schneider. Easier said than done. While their cap hit is almost similar (Schneider makes $6 million annually), the Devils goalie has a full no-trade clause. Even if Schneider waived it, the Kings probably wouldn’t be interested. I think they would want to trade Quick and replace him with Petersen.


TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports Buffalo Sabres defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen was a frequent subject of trade speculation after telling management he’d welcome a trade following another losing season. However, Ristolainen indicated he’s happy playing under new Sabres coach Ralph Krueger. LeBrun doesn’t see a trade taking place at this point.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Sabres are off to a good start and aren’t in any rush to make a trade. They’ll have to move a defenseman once Zach Bogosian and Brandon Montour come off injured reserve but that doesn’t mean they’ll trade Ristolainen. If the Finnish blueliner keeps playing well under Krueger they could look at other options.


LeBrun also reports the Carolina Hurricanes are in the market for a top-nine forward. They’ve looked at New York Islanders winger Josh Ho-Sang and inquired into the Edmonton Oilers’ asking price for winger Jesse Puljujarvi.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: With the Hurricanes sitting atop the Metropolitan Division they can afford to take their time. They may have kicked tires on Ho-Sang and Puljujarvi but that doesn’t mean they’re on the verge of acquiring either guy. LeBrun pointed out the Hurricanes are also looking at other players.

Of the two, Puljujarvi has the most value. The Oilers are reportedly interested in Hurricanes winger Julien Gauthier.

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 18, 2019

The Devils pick up their first win, Phil Kessel scores his first goals with the Coyotes, John Tavares is sidelined by a broken finger, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.


NHL.COM: The New Jersey Devils picked up their first win of the season by downing the New York Rangers 5-2. Devils rookie Jack Hughes collected his first point and defenseman Matt Tennyson picked up two helpers. Devils winger Taylor Hall could face supplemental discipline after leveling Rangers defenseman Adam Fox with an elbow to the face. Hall received a two-minute minor while Fox was left dazed and sent into concussion protocol.

The Vancouver Canucks overcame a 3-1 deficit to nip the St. Louis Blues 4-3 on a shootout goal by Josh Leivo. Thatcher Demko kicked out 34 shots while Josh Leivo netted the only goal in the shootout. The Canucks have won four consecutive games while the Blues have dropped three straight.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The young Canucks showed a lot of character rallying back against the defending Stanley Cup champions. It’s still early in the season but the Canucks are looking better compared to last season.

Phil Kessel tallied his first two goals with the Arizona Coyotes in a 5-2 win over the Nashville Predators (Photo via NHL Images).

Phil Kessel scored his first two goals with the Arizona Coyotes in a 5-2 win over the Nashville Predators. Nick Schmaltz, Clayton Keller, and Derek Stepan each had two assists. Coyotes defenseman Jordan Oesterle left the game in the first period after being struck in the back of the head by the puck.

Victor Mete and Nick Suzuki scored their first NHL goals while Carey Price made 17 saves as the Montreal Canadiens blanked the floundering Minnesota Wild 4-0. Following the game, the Wild held a players-only meeting. “Bruce (Boudreau) has got to be better. We’ve got to be better. Everybody’s got to be better. That’s it,” said winger Jason Zucker following the meeting.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Things are getting ugly for the Wild and aren’t likely to improve. There’s not much that coach Boudreau can do about their aging core and their lack of skilled young talent. 

Buffalo Sabres goalie Carter Hutton made 47 saves for his second straight shutout in a 3-0 blanking of the Los Angeles Kings. Casey Mittelstadt scored twice and picked up an assist.

The Vegas Golden Knights downed the Ottawa Senators 3-2 on a shootout goal by Jonathan Marchessault. Senators netminder Anders Nilsson made 52 saves in a losing cause. Earlier in the day, Golden Knights forward Valentin Zykov received a 20-game suspension by the league for violating the PED policy. Zykov’s agent blamed an over-the-counter protein supplement for the suspension, claiming the winger was unaware if it contained any banned substance. The team, meanwhile, supported the league’s decision. It’s the second straight year a Golden Knights player received a lengthy suspension for violating the PED policy.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Golden Knights were less supportive of Zykov compared to their defense of Nate Schmidt a year ago. In Schmidt’s case, they claimed his usage was unintentional. President of hockey operations George McPhee stated the two cases were different as Zykov acknowledged using the supplement for several years.

Steven Stamkos tallied the only goal in the shootout frame as the Tampa Bay Lightning edged the Boston Bruins 4-3. Andrei Vasilevskiy made 34 saves for the win. David Pastrnak tallied two goals and added an assist for the Bruins.

Mark Giordano and Derek Ryan each had a goal and an assist in the Calgary Flames 5-1 win over the Detroit Red Wings, handing the latter their third straight defeat. Flames center Sean Monahan also collected two assists.

Mathew Barzal scored twice and Semyon Varlamov made 32 saves to lead the New York Islanders to a 3-1 victory over the Winnipeg Jets.


TORONTO SUN: A broken finger will sideline Maple Leafs center John Tavares will be sidelined at least two weeks.

TRIBLIVE.COM: An allergic reaction to a suspected spider bite is what’s delayed Alex Galchenyuk’s debut with the Pittsburgh Penguins. He was already nursing a lower-body injury.

SPORTSNET: Anaheim Ducks winger Nick Ritchie was fined over $4,100.00 for roughing Buffalo Sabres forward Vladimir Sobotka.

WINNIPEG SUN: Rising ticket prices is cited by Winnipeg fans for the early-season decline in the Jets’ attendance.

Red-Hot NHL Scorers Most Likely To Cool Down


NHL Rumor Mill – October 17, 2019

Are the Canadiens scouting the Sharks’ Marc-Edouard Vlasic? Could the Devils poor start affect Taylor Hall’s contract talks? Check out the latest in today’s NHL rumor mill.


TVA SPORTS: cites a report by The Athletic’s Kevin Kurz observing the Montreal Canadiens have heavily scouted the San Jose Sharks. Canadiens coach Claude Julien said his club seeks a top-four, left-shot defenseman.

Kurz refers to Sharks blueliner Marc-Edouard Vlasic. The Montreal native carries a no-movement clause in his eight-year, $56-million contract that runs through 2022-23. He’s currently pointless with a plus-minus of minus-eight.

Are the Montreal Canadiens scouting Marc-Edouard Vlasic of the San Jose Sharks? (Photo via NHL Images)

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If the Canadiens are scouting Vlasic they might not like what they’ve seen thus far. He’s struggled but so has the Sharks as a team. They’ve won three straight but dropped their first four contests.

If Vlasic won’t waive his no-movement clause it’s a pointless exercise trying to acquire him. Just because he’s from Montreal doesn’t mean he wants to play there. Many Quebec-born NHL players haven’t been keen to experience that fishbowl existence.


SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports there no reason to believe the New Jersey Devils aren’t considering any option other than re-signing Taylor Hall to a long-term extension. The 27-year-old left-winger is slated to become an unrestricted free agent in July.

It remains to be seen what Hall wants to do. The Devils know being a consistent playoff contender could be key to determining his future.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If the Devils don’t turn things around soon they risk falling into an insurmountable hole this season. That could affect Hall’s decision. If he’s not under contract as the Feb. 24 trade deadline approaches and they’re out of the playoff race by that point, GM Ray Shero could entertain trade offers.

Friedman also believes the Canadiens looked at Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Juuso Riikola.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Riikola played 37 games last season but only one this season and that was as a winger in last night’s 3-2 win over the Colorado Avalanche.

The Buffalo Sabres are looking to move a defenseman. Friedman thought the Arizona Coyotes could be an option with Niklas Hjalmarsson sidelined for three months. Given the Coyotes’ salary-cap constraints, a big move isn’t likely.

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 17, 2019

Connor McDavid nets five points against the Flyers, Evander Kane pots a hat trick against the Hurricanes, attendance is down for most Canadian teams, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.


NHL.COM: Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid scored a goal and set up four others in a 6-3 victory over the Philadelphia Flyers. Oilers goalie Mikko Koskinen made a career-high 49 saves while Leon Draisaitl scored twice. Flyers winger Jakub Voracek tallied two goals and added an assist. Earlier in the day, the Oilers announced Joakim Nygard is sidelined two-to-four weeks with a rib injury while Joel Persson is in concussion protocol for seven-to-10 days.

Connor McDavid’s five-point performance led his Edmonton Oilers to a 6-3 win over the Philadelphia Flyers (Photo via NHL Images)

Evander Kane netted a hat trick to give the San Jose Sharks a 5-2 win over the Carolina Hurricanes. Sharks goaltender Martin Jones kicked out 36 shots and Tomas Hertl had three points. After dropping their first four games, the Sharks have won three straight.

The Pittsburgh Penguins edged the Colorado Avalanche 3-2 on Brandon Tanev’s shorthanded overtime goal. His shot caromed in off the stick of Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog. Penguins captain Sidney Crosby and Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon each scored in this contest. Penguins defenseman Juuso Riikola made his season debut as a fourth-line winger.

Three quick second-period goals by Evgeny Kuznetsov, Nicklas Backstrom, and John Carlson rallied the Washington Capitals to a 4-3 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs. Carlson collected three points in his game.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Another shaky effort by Leafs backup Michael Hutchinson. That could raise concerns over Toronto’s goaltending depth.

Sonny Milano’s highlight-reel third-period goal was the winner as the Columbus Blue Jackets held on to nip the Dallas Stars 3-2, handing the latter their fourth straight loss. Jackets head coach John Tortorella was behind the bench after undergoing minor surgery on Tuesday to remove skin cancer from his forehead. Corey Perry made his season debut with the Stars.

The Anaheim Ducks all but neutralized the Buffalo Sabres’ league-leading power play en route to a 5-2 win. The Ducks killed off six of seven penalties. Adam Henrique tallied twice and Jakob Silfverberg collected three points for the Ducks.


NORTHJERSEY.COM: New Jersey Devils general manager Ray Shero downplayed speculation head coach John Hynes could be replaced as assistant GM Tom Fitzgerald joins the coaching staff. It was Hynes’ idea to have Fitzgerald, a former assistant coach, join him behind the bench to provide additional perspective.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Devils poor start (0-4-2) has some of their supporters calling for Hynes’ dismissal. Shero is willing to remain patient but the pressure for a coaching change will grow if things don’t improve soon. 



SPECTOR’S NOTE: A variety of factors could be at play here. A roster rebuild amid fan disenchantment with cantankerous owner Eugene Melnyk could explain the Senators’ poor numbers. A recent winter storm in Manitoba, the time of year, and the fading novelty of the NHL’s return to Winnipeg have been cited for the Jets’ slumping attendance. Economic factors and high ticket prices could also account for the decline.

Whatever the reasons, Campbell is correct that’s not good news for the NHL. Those seven franchises account for between 35-40 percent of league revenue.

LAS VEGAS SUN: NHL commissioner Gary Bettman believes sports betting could help grow the league’s audience and in turn its revenue. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The league could need that revenue if the Canadian clubs keep slumping at the gate.