NHL Rumor Mill – December 5, 2019

Rumors

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.

Are the Montreal Canadiens attempting to acquire Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere? (Photo via NHL Images)

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.










NHL Rumor Mill – December 4, 2019

Rumors

Check out the latest Taylor Hall speculation in today’s NHL rumor mill.

ESPN.COM: Emily Kaplan doubts the New Jersey Devils firing head coach John Hynes will prevent them from moving Taylor Hall before the Feb. 24 trade deadline. She feels they can’t afford to lose the 28-year-old winger for nothing via free agency in July. All signs point to Hall wanting to play for a different team.

New Jersey Devils winger Taylor Hall remains a fixture in recent NHL trade chatter (Photo via NHL Images).

Greg Wyshynski believes Devils general manager Ray Shero wants to spend some time with interim coach Alain Nasreddine evaluating the roster before making any sweeping changes. He feels they’re more likely to begin selling players (like Hall) than making moves to bolster their roster this season.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON: Nick Goss lists the Colorado Avalanche, Carolina Hurricanes, Montreal Canadiens, Edmonton Oilers, and St. Louis Blues as five destinations for Hall that make sense.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hall doesn’t make sense for the Canadiens. They need skilled defensive depth, something Hall can’t address.

The Hurricanes need a scoring forward and have surplus defensemen to draw upon for trade bait. However, I believe the Devils’ asking price will be more than the Canes are willing to pay for a playoff rental.

The notion of Hall returning to Edmonton makes for sexy headlines, but I don’t think he’s a fit there. They’ve got over $57 million invested in just eight players next season. Adding Hall for the long term would push that to $68 million for just nine guys. If they want him solely as a rental, the Devils will want a significant return. My guess is they’ll want defenseman Ethan Bear as part of it. That’s a deal-breaker for the Oilers.

There’s an ongoing belief among the punditry that teams will find Hall more valuable if they know they can re-sign him. If recent reports are to be believed, his agent is telling him to wait until the off-season, when he’ll get better offers. Unless a club is willing to offer up an eight-year extension worth over $11 million annually, I doubt the Hall camp will be inclined to sign a new contract this season.

As for the Avalanche and Blues…

THE ATHLETIC: Ryan S. Clark believes the addition of Hall to the Colorado Avalanche could adversely affect the production of Andre Burakovsky and Joonas Donskoi. They’re each on pace for over 30 goals but their playing time would be reduced to accommodate Hall’s addition to the lineup. A bidding war with other clubs could also affect their chances of acquiring him.

Clark wondered if GM Joe Sakic is willing to mortgage the club’s future to win right now unless he’s convinced he can find a way to re-sign Hall. The cost of the latter option could complicate efforts to re-sign other players.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Of the teams linked to Hall, the Avs could be the front-runners. They’ve got the cap space to afford Hall in the short term and plenty of prospects and young talent to make a competitive bid. I think it comes down to whether Sakic believes Hall’s worth the price.

Jeremy Rutherford questions if the St. Louis Blues can afford the Devils’ asking price and the high cost of re-signing Hall, especially when they’ve got to re-sign captain Alex Pietrangelo before July 1. They have over $73 million invested in 15 players for 2020-21. Rutherford doesn’t think it makes sense for the Blues to part with a top prospect and a draft pick for Hall when he won’t be back after this season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Blues are riding high in the Western Conference right now. They’re in no hurry to swing a blockbuster trade. While I don’t doubt they’ve kicked the tires, they could prefer making more affordable depth moves.

Darren Haynes, meanwhile, looks at the reasons why it would, and wouldn’t, make sense for the Calgary Flames to acquire Hall. The winger would deepen the lineup and improve their core. However, the Devils’ asking price, the salary-cap implications, and Hall’s injury history are among the factors that could work against such a move.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Flames need help on the right wing. Hall skates on the left side, where the Flames already have Johnny Gaudreau and Matthew Tkachuk. And no, you can’t switch him to the right side and proclaim, “Problem solved!” He’s comfortable on the left side.

John Vogl wonders if the Buffalo Sabres should attempt to enter the trade discussion for Hall.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: No. No, they shouldn’t. The Sabres need scoring depth and can draw upon their blueline depth for trade bait, but I don’t see Hall sticking with a club that’s still struggling to secure a playoff spot.










NHL Rumor Mill – December 3, 2019

Rumors

The latest on Taylor Hall and Kyle Turris in today’s NHL rumor mill.

MORE POSSIBLE DESTINATIONS FOR HALL

TSN: New Jersey Devils general manager Ray Shero wouldn’t confirm rumors that he’s listening to offers for Taylor Hall. However, he insists the 28-year-old winger has not requested a trade. He also disputed the notion Hall was no longer focused on helping the Devils. “He hasn’t checked out. He cares. He really does,” Shero said.

Taylor Hall continues to dominate the NHL rumor mill (Photo via NHL Images).

NBC SPORTS: Adam Gretz ranks the best destinations for Hall. Some are those that other pundits have already listed, such as the Colorado Avalanche, Montreal Canadiens, St. Louis Blues, Edmonton Oilers, Calgary Flames, Boston Bruins, and San Jose Sharks. Gretz includes the Pittsburgh Penguins, New York Islanders, Nashville Predators, and Carolina Hurricanes.

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Matt Larkin includes the Dallas Stars on his list of destinations for Hall. He also lists the Hurricanes, Avalanche, Canadiens, and Oilers.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Let the great “Where Could Hall Be Traded To? guessing game begin! I’ve already weighed in regarding the usual suspects so I won’t repeat myself here.

The Hurricanes are in the market for a scoring forward and have depth on defense to deal from. However, they lack sufficient salary-cap space to take on Hall’s $6-million cap hit and I have my doubts they’d be willing to pay the big bucks necessary to re-sign him. Hall would be a great fit with the Stars but they also lack the cap dollars to take him on. Cap space is also an issue for the Penguins.

On the other hand, the Islanders have over $8 million in cap room. Adding an impact player like Hall could turn them into a Cup contender this season. Isles GM Lou Lamoriello has made big in-season moves in the past, but it remains to be seen if he’ll roll the dice on Hall.

The Predators also lack the cap room unless they find a taker for Kyle Turris. And speaking of Turris…

WHAT WILL THE PREDATORS DO WITH TURRIS?

THE TENNESSEAN: Paul Skrbina believes the Nashville Predators have three choices with center Kyle Turris, who’s been a healthy scratch in six straight games. They can trade him, play him, or buy out his contract next summer.

Skrbina believes Predators general manager David Poile attempted to trade Turris this summer but couldn’t find any takers because of his $6-million per season salary through 2023-24. He notes Poile and Turris said the center doesn’t want to be traded. However, something’s got to give.

Playing Turris seems the obvious choice but it’s apparent the Predators are unwilling to make it. Buying him out next summer would count as $2 million in dead-cap space against their cap until 2027-28.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If they’re unwilling to play Turris or buy him out, a trade is the only choice. That means picking up a healthy chunk of his annual cap hit and including a prospect or draft pick as a further sweetener in the deal. Otherwise, they’re paying him $6 million annually to sit in the press box.










NHL Rumor Mill – December 2, 2019

Rumors

The latest Taylor Hall speculation plus updates on the Canadiens and Golden Knights in today’s NHL rumor mill.

LATEST ON HALL

THE ATHLETIC: Pierre LeBrun speculates the Colorado Avalanche, Montreal Canadiens, and Edmonton Oilers could be among several teams with interest in Taylor Hall. LeBrun broke the news on Saturday that the New Jersey Devils were listening to offers for the 28-year-old winger. He also wondered if the Calgary Flames, Boston Bruins and San Jose Sharks would come calling.

Could the Edmonton Oilers attempt to re-acquire Taylor Hall? (Photo via NHL Images)

EDMONTON JOURNAL: Kurt Leavins believes the Oilers could be among those at the top of the list with interest in Hall. He rejects the idea the Oilers can’t afford Hall due to limited salary-cap space. The Devils have over $4 million in cap space and are well-positioned to retain salary or take back a toxic contract to a team offering the best deal.

Leavins also suggests Hall could be receptive to signing a short-term contract extension with the Oilers. He cites  the change in the front office and behind the bench, as well as the opportunity to skate alongside Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl.

 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hall returning to Edmonton would certainly make an already-potent Oilers offense more powerful. Rather than loading up on their scoring lines, they’ll be better served by pursuing more affordable options to bolster their depth throughout their roster. Their biggest need right now is a third-line center.

LeBrun cited ESPN.com’s Greg Wyshynski reporting he’s heard the Devils have scouted the Avalanche at all levels this season. They have the cap space and the depth in promising talent to make a competitive offer for Hall.

The Canadiens desperately need skilled defensive depth. Hall won’t help them in that regard. Pursuing him would be a waste of assets. The Flames already have sufficient left-wing scoring depth in Johnny Gaudreau and Matthew Tkachuk. They need help on the right side.

Bruins general manager Don Sweeney and Sharks GM Doug Wilson have a history of swinging in-season deals to boost their rosters for the playoffs. LeBrun thinks they’d have to get creative to land Hall but one shouldn’t dismiss the possibility.

WILL THE STRUGGLING CANADIENS MAKE A MOVE?

SPORTSNET: With the Montreal Canadiens mired in an eight-game winless skid, Eric Engels wonders what GM Marc Bergevin will do to address the issue. An impact trade would help, but that could prove costly at this time of the year. No teams are willing to do any favors for a slumping club like the Habs. Replacing head coach Claude Julien could be another option.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A coaching change won’t address the Canadiens’ lack of experienced blueline skill. Making a trade is the only way, but Bergevin will be forced to overpay by giving up at least one or two of his good young players, something he claims he’s unwilling to do.

Maybe Bergevin can pull off a steal of a deal, but I think he’s stuck with the roster he’s got right now. If he’s unwilling to sacrifice the future for immediate help, the Canadiens will miss the playoffs this season.

GOLDEN KNIGHTS HAVE AREAS TO IMPROVE

LAS VEGAS SUN: Justin Emerson believes the Vegas Golden Knights have several roster issues to address if they intend on turning their season around. They need a reliable backup goaltender, a top-end defenseman, and consistency on their third line.

Emerson notes the Golden Knights have made a splash at the trade deadline over the past two seasons. If they do so again this season, he believes it’ll be for a defenseman.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A consistent effort by Malcolm Subban could alleviate that backup goaltending issue. Those third-line issues are likely tied to injuries to Alex Tuch and Cody Eakin.

Finding a top-pairing rearguard by the trade deadline could prove difficult. St. Louis’ Alex Pietrangelo is the only one slated to become a UFA next summer and he’s not available. They might have to explore adding a good second-pairing rental.










Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – December 1, 2019

Rumors

The New Jersey Devils are reportedly listening to offers for Taylor Hall. Check out the details, plus the latest on the Oilers, in the Sunday NHL rumor roundup.

DEVILS ENTERTAINING OFFERS FOR HALL

TSN: Pierre LeBrun yesterday reported the New Jersey Devils have started listening to offers for Taylor Hall. While that doesn’t mean for sure they’ll trade the winger, LeBrun feels their position in the standings and the magnitude of a potential deal has general manager Ray Shero in listening mode.

The New Jersey Devils are listening to offers for pending UFA winger Taylor Hall (Photo via NHL Images)

If and when Hall’s traded, LeBrun believes the deal could be conditional in nature. In other words, if Hall re-signs with his new club, the Devils receive additional assets. If this trade takes place, he believes it isn’t necessarily a move that must wait until the Feb. 24 trade deadline.

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman believes Hall’s former team, the Edmonton Oilers, could be in on a Hall trade. Other suitors could include Montreal, Colorado, and St. Louis. He thinks a lot of it depends upon the Devils’ asking price.

NORTHJERSEY.COM: Abbey Mastracco reports Hall was asked about the report following yesterday’s game against the New York Rangers. “I’ll let my agent speak but I have not asked for a trade,” he said. “I don’t know what gets out there sometimes.” He also declined to discuss his contract status, adding he’ll leave that to his agent and Shero.

NJ.COM: Chris Ryan suggests Shero listening to offers doesn’t necessarily mean Hall will be traded soon or leading up to the trade deadline, but rather allows him to gauge the trade market to evaluate potential returns. If Shero believes he can’t get Hall re-signed before Feb. 24 or an offer too good to pass up is made, Ryan believes he’ll pull the trigger.

NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks wonders if Shero might instead fire head coach John Hynes, perhaps providing Hall with a reason to stay and re-sign if a new coach can ignite the team.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I think we’re well past the point where a coaching change can save the Devils’ season or convince Hall to re-sign. Shero wouldn’t be listening to offers if he was confident of getting the winger under contract. Hall will be traded at some point before the trade deadline.

Hall is the Devils’ leading scorer with 21 points in 25 games, putting him on pace for 70 points, well below his Hart Trophy output of 93 in 2017-18. While that could affect his trade value, some general managers will be convinced he can regain that 90-point form on a better roster. One could be willing to pay a significant return to get him.

The Oilers need secondary scoring but I think they’re better served to pursue a third-line center like Ottawa’s Jean-Gabriel Pageau. The Canadiens need defensive help, not a scoring winger who’ll likely depart via free agency in July. The Blues could use a short-term replacement for sidelined sniper Vladimir Tarasenko. As long as they’re riding high in the standings, however, there’s no urgency to swing that deal.

The Avalanche could be an intriguing option. They’ve got the salary-cap space, plenty of good young talent, and a general manager in Joe Sakic unafraid of making a big move to help his team. Nevertheless, Sakic could be reluctant to invest too much in an expensive rental or someone who’ll cost a fortune to re-sign.

UPDATE ON THE OILERS

EDMONTON SUN: Jim Matheson reports it’s unlikely the Oilers will trade Jesse Puljujarvi before today’s 5 pm ET signing deadline. The 21-year-old restricted free agent is skating in Finland awaiting a trade by the Oilers. If unsigned by today’s deadline, he’ll be ineligible to play in the NHL for the rest of this season.

Matheson said GM Ken Holland has received so-so offers over the last couple of weeks. He said Holland is juggling two trade scenarios: “Does he want to trade Puljujarvi in a one-off or maybe as part of a package at the trade deadline for a rental in February? Or does he want to use Puljujarvi as an asset in a buyer mode to help his team’s playoff drive?”

Holland also said he wouldn’t trade his club’s first-round pick in the 2020 NHL Draft if there’s a chance the Oilers miss the playoffs. “If it’s somewhere between 20 and 30 (in round 1), that’s different,” said Holland. “You watch the draft lottery and you see Philadelphia going from 13 to two, and Chicago from 12 to three because they have a first-round pick and you don’t want to give up your chance at that.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I believe Holland lets Puljujarvi play out this season in Finland and revisits efforts to trade him during the off-season, perhaps during the NHL Draft weekend in June.










NHL Rumor Mill – November 30, 2019

Rumors

The latest on the Canadiens and Maple Leafs, plus updates on Jesse Puljujarvi and Julius Honka in today’s NHL rumor mill.

CANADIENS WON’T TRADE PRICE

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Pat Hickey observes a growing chorus among Canadiens fans who feel the struggling club should cut their losses and trade Carey Price. He feels that option disappeared when the goaltender signed his eight-year, $84-million contract. It would be tough shopping Price when he’s playing well, but no one’s interested in a struggling goalie with six years left on his contract and a $10.5-million annual average value.

Don’t expect the struggling Montreal Canadiens to put Carey Price on the trade block (Photo via NHL Images)

Hickey suggests general manager Marc Bergevin could help by bringing in a top-flight defenseman. The Habs carry over $8 million in salary-cap space, but that would mean parting with some of the prospects Bergevin has been reluctant to move.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Price’s no-movement clause is another deal breaker. Even if he agreed to waive it, the Habs would have to  absorb a significant chunk of his cap hit or take back a toxic contract in return.

Bolstering the blueline should be Bergevin’s priority. The Buffalo Sabres and Carolina Hurricanes are reportedly shopping a surplus defenseman. The Anaheim Ducks could also consider moving a rearguard. Chicago’s Erik Gustafsson and Calgary’s T.J. Brodie have surfaced in recent trade speculation.

Those clubs seek a forward, preferably a scorer, in return. They could attempt to squeeze Bergevin into parting with Nick Suzuki or Jesperi Kotkaniemi as part of the asking price.

Given the bad blood between Bergevin and Hurricanes management over his attempt to sign away Sebastian Aho, it’s doubtful a deal could be made between those two clubs. Brodie’s recent health scare probably sent his trade value plummeting, while Gustafsson isn’t the shutdown rearguard the Habs need.

UPDATES ON PULJUJARVI AND HONKA

THE ATHLETIC: Daniel Nugent-Bowman recently spoke with Edmonton Oilers GM Ken Holland over the possibility of trading winger Jesse Puljujarvi. The 21-year-old restricted free agent is playing in Finland awaiting a trade. If he’s not re-signed by 5 pm ET on Dec.1, he’ll be ineligible to play in the NHL for the remainder of the season.

Holland indicated he’d spoken with a few teams in recent days, but he’s not optimistic a deal can be done before tomorrow’s deadline. He confirmed he’ll want a young player for Puljujarvi, or maybe a younger player/prospect and a draft pick. “I’m not looking to trade him for somebody who’s old,” said Holland.

THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Matthew DeFranks recently reported Dallas Stars defenseman Julius Honka is maintaining a positive outlook as the Dec. 1 signing deadline approaches. Like Puljujarvi, Honka is a restricted free agent playing in Finland while waiting for a trade to another NHL club.

Stars GM Jim Nill said he’s still talking to teams, but he hasn’t liked the offers he’s received that far. Honka, meanwhile, is focused on improving his game in Finland.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Both players could be re-signed and traded to new clubs before tomorrow’s deadline. However, it doesn’t sound like either guy will be skating in the NHL this season. I expect they’ll be shopped by their respective teams next summer, probably during the 2020 NHL Draft weekend in June.

LEAFS NEED A BACKUP GOALTENDER

TORONTO SUN: After watching Michael Hutchinson drop his sixth straight game, Steve Simmons believes Maple Leafs GM Kyle Dubas must go shopping for a backup goaltender. “What he needs to do now is to find another option, a way to open salary-cap space, a way to alter his payroll, a way to find a backup goaltender who is both capable and ridiculously inexpensive,” said Simmons. “And around the league, nobody is about to do the Leafs any favors.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Some Toronto-based pundits suggested Pittsburgh’s Tristan Jarry as a trade target for the Leafs. He’s young (24) and carries an affordable $675K salary. The Penguins, however, aren’t in any hurry to part with Jarry, who’s done a good job spelling off Pittsburgh starter Matt Murray.