An update on the Devils, the Canadiens are linked to Alec Martinez and Shayne Gostisbehere, and more in today’s NHL rumor mill.
HIGHLIGHTS FROM FRIEDMAN’S LATEST “31 THOUGHTS”
SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports the Taylor Hall trade talks have intensified, but that doesn’t mean it’s going to happen soon. New Jersey Devils general manager Ray Shero seeks first-round picks, including conditional options. Shero also wants high-level NHL-ready prospects.
There’s a lot of focus on the Colorado Avalanche as a trade partner. They think they can win now and have lots of defensive prospects to tempt the Devils. Several teams believe the Arizona Coyotes could make a serious attempt, while the Dallas Stars and St. Louis Blues could also be among the pursuers. Friedman feels the Edmonton Oilers might be interested, but they could be unwilling to meet the Devils’ asking price.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: As I pointed out yesterday, recent reports indicate the Hall camp could be advising their client not to sign anything until the off-season. That’s when Hall will receive more lucrative offers from multiple teams. If so, that will have an effect upon his trade value and possible suitors.
I don’t think the Coyotes will go after Hall as a rental player. They’ll want to keep him beyond this season, but there’s no certainty he’d agree to that. Arizona Sports’ Matt Layman reports the Coyotes have limited salary-cap space this season. He believes the Coyotes would have to send one or two salaried players to the Devils as part of the return.
The Avalanche could be a good fit for Hall, but that depends on whether GM Joe Sakic is willing to gamble valuable assets on a rental. Sakic could be swayed if Hall is willing to re-sign.
The Stars and Blues could be checking into Hall’s availability but I’m not convinced they can land him. Cap Friendly indicates the Stars are pressed for cap space this season, while the Blues must ensure they have sufficient cap room later in the season when sniper Vladislav Tarasenko returns from shoulder surgery. I concur with Friedman’s take on the Oilers. Besides, their biggest need is for a quality third-line center, not another top-line scoring winger.
Friedman also reports the Devils have put winger Miles Wood on the trade block. He’s signed through 2021-22 with an annual average value of $2.75 million but isn’t as aggressive or edgy as he was in the past.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: A club seeking a speedy winger with power-forward potential could make a pitch for the 24-year-old Wood. No word on the Devils’ possible asking price, but it could be an NHL-ready player.
The Montreal Canadiens took a long look at Los Angeles Kings defenseman Alec Martinez before his wrist injury. The Shayne Gostisbehere rumors were denied.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Martinez is signed through next season with an affordable $4 million annual salary-cap hit. Maybe the Canadiens revisit that interest once he returns to action.
As for those Gostisbehere rumors, Friedman could be referring to this one (stick tap to Habsterix.com) from Martin McGuire of Montreal’s 98.5 FM. He claims the Habs and Flyers are in discussions regarding the puck-moving defenseman.
Before the coaching drama that recently went down in Calgary, rival clubs were trying to see if they could steal Sam Bennett from the Flames. The club has laughed off lowball offers. In the past, the Anaheim Ducks, Montreal Canadiens, and Nashville Predators attempted to acquire him.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bennett has frequently surfaced in the rumor mill in recent years. The Flames, however, show no interest in moving the versatile forward.
Friedman suggests keeping an eye on the Kings with most of their veterans except for Anze Kopitar and Drew Doughty. The Buffalo Sabres have surplus defensemen, while the Carolina Hurricanes remain in the market for a top-nine forward. A rival GM predicts the Blues still think they can win again and could go for it. Meanwhile, things have calmed down in Minnesota as the Wild have surged in recent weeks.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Martinez and Tyler Toffoli could draw the most interest among the Kings’ veterans. Jonathan Quick, Jeff Carter, and Dustin Brown carry expensive contracts that are difficult to move.
The Blues could “go for it”, but they’ve also got to ensure they don’t gut their future. Right now, they’re riding high in the standings and are in a good place. I can see them making one or two affordable moves but I will be surprised if they pursue someone like Taylor Hall.
The Edmonton Oilers are believed to have spoken to clubs that had interest in winger Jesse Puljujarvi before the Dec. 1 RFA signing deadline. That includes the New York Rangers, St. Louis Blues, and Tampa Bay Lightning. Friedman believes they discussed Lias Andersson with the Rangers, but couldn’t agree on a deal.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Perhaps those discussions will resume in the off-season. I expect the Oilers will move Puljujarvi sometime in June, likely around the 2020 NHL Draft weekend.