NHL Rumor Mill – March 18, 2019

by | Mar 18, 2019 | Rumors | 27 comments

Latest on the New Jersey Devils and Vancouver Canucks in today’s NHL rumor mill. 


ESPN.COM (subscription required): Emily Kaplan lists re-signing Taylor Hall, spending to bolster the blueline and scoring depth, and resolving the goaltending as her three offseason keys for the New Jersey Devils. 

Re-signing Taylor Hall is the New Jersey Devils’ priority this summer (Photo via NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hall has one year remaining on his current contract and is slated to become an unrestricted free agent next July. Bolstering the roster depth this summer could go a long way toward ensuring Hall signs a contract extension.

Cap Friendly indicates the Devils have over $50.2 million invested in 17 players. Kaplan feels that’s more than enough to re-sign Hall and invest in this summer’s free-agent market. That depends on ownership’s willingness to spend toward the cap ceiling, which could reach $83 million. Even then, that might not be easy. Rebuilding teams like the Devils usually aren’t preferred destinations for top free-agent talent.

A lack of quality goaltending depth in the free agent and trade markets could force general manager Ray Shero stick with veteran Cory Schneider and promising Mackenzie Blackwood. Schneider’s been hampered by injuries this season but has improved in recent weeks, suggesting perhaps those injury woes are behind him.

I believe we can expect Shero to be busy this summer trying to boost his roster and get them back on the right track. Whatever he does could determine Hall’s future in New Jersey. 


THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): In a recent mailbag segment, JD Burke was asked if the Canucks will be big players in this summer’s free-agent market. He expects they’ll attempt to pursue “support pieces”, such as Winnipeg Jets defenseman Tyler Myers. 

SPORTSNET’s Iain MacIntyre recently took to Twitter to point out the Canucks will only have $9 million left to pay out to winger Loui Eriksson over the remaining three years of his contract after his $4 million bonus is paid on July 1. He feels that could be tradeable if the Canucks retained part of his cap hit, though Eriksson full no-trade clause lasts for one more season. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As per Cap Friendly, the Canucks have over $51.4 million tied up in 17 players, with Alexander Edler, Brock Boeser, and Ben Hutton among their noteworthy free agents. If ownership is willing to spend close to the cap, they should have enough to re-sign their key FAs and to bolster their roster via trades or free agency. As Burke suggests, they’ll likely try to add affordable support players for their promising youngsters.

While Eriksson’s actual salary will drop after his $4 million bonus is paid on July 1, his annual cap hit will remain $6 million. That could make him attractive to a rebuilding club (like the Ottawa Senators) in need of reaching next season’s salary-cap minimum. Still, that depends on Eriksson’s willingness to waive his no-trade, how much of his cap hit the Canucks will have to retain, and what kind of sweetener (draft pick, prospect) they’ll have to include in the deal. 


  1. No thanks to Eriksson. There are far better players sprinkled throughout the league whose teams are in much the same “cap clearing” situation and with players they might be willing to trade, than a soon-to-be 34 y/o fading F with10g 12a in 71 gp.

    • George O, how about David Backes instead he only has 2yrs left and after his bonus is paid out for 2019 his actual salary will be $1m and in 2020 his salary is $4m both season carry a cap hit of $6m BTW he is great in the locker room, loves dogs and loyal be an excellent role model for Tkachuk. Did I mention he loves dogs.

      • LOL. 5g 11a in 60 gp and 35 y/o in May? Nah. Pass.

      • George

        JJ loves dogs; love cats; heck loves all animals

        Cap hit way less than Backes

        Make GMJR an offer ….. ANY offer 🙏

      • Pengy: Maybe JJ can go on LTIR next year (Long Term Ineptitude Reserve).

      • Anybody see Jack Johnson’s uselessness be directly responsible for the fryers tying the game yesterday? If you’re going to try and play goalie make sure you’re not screening the real goalie you Jackass.

      • Van

        Love it …. Gary , if your reading this …. I believe Van is onto a Golden Nugget here:

        A get out of Jail Free card (one per team per year) w/o having to bury a contract and still have all but $900 K count on Cap

        Gary, what day you?

  2. Erickson is done . Grandpa Munster will sign some 3&4 line plumbers.

    Not sure why you wouldn’t go into the season with Mackenzie Blackwood as your starter. Seen him a couple of times and looked solid. Also remember him from junior. Schneider as his mentor and backup is not a bad tandem.

  3. Been out of the loop due to pressing work items but did have a chance to watch live not only the Leafs /Flyers game but also took a jaunt up to George’s fair city and saw Leafs/Sens live.

    Before I had a fair hope that Leafs might eke out to get a third home game in the first round; but watching the horrendous play live; I’m leaning towards a Bruins sweep. They must shore up their defensive game.

    One thing that is truly visible live but rarely seen on TV due to camera angles is floaters. No wonder Hyman gets so many breakaways and EN goals. He is floater extraordinaire. I started counting in the second period of the flyers game …. 13 times for the balance of the game he was behind all Flyers but the goalie AND w/o Leafs having possession . When it pays off, it pays off and he certainly has speed and is the Leafs most tenacious player; but floating that many times during a game effectively giving Leafs’ opponents a 5 on 4 in front of Freddy just in the hopes that they can get possession and spring him free is too much of a gamble IMO


    Unbelievably sad…. JJ strikes again. Not only did he cost his goalie a shutout but also the team a victory. He chose to swerve towards a Flyer already tied up with a Pen to leave his man open …. goal with 18 seconds left .. . Forcing OT where they lost

    Hart was great no doubt …. but when you only have to cover for 18 seconds … do it right. That’s now 6 losses entirely on JJ’s shoulders. Entirely. They got the tie-point …. so he’s cost them 11 game points himself… they’d be at 99 points, second in the league . Now Pens are in a position that making the playoffs is not a certainty

    Only 3 Pens have played in every one of their games this year …. and JJ, the costliest Dman in the league, bar none, is one of them ☹️☹️

    Sully …. you can’t say he has to play due to injuries of other DMen , because Riikola is available and is waaaaaaay waaaaaaay waaaaay less of a liability than JJ

    Fingers crossed on quick return of Letang:

    Letang Dumo
    Shultz Riikola
    Gudbranson Petterson

    JJ press box tallying stats

    When Maata returns:

    Letang Dumo
    Shultz Maata
    Gudbranson Petterson

    Riikola – press box

    JJ – home in Minn. writing apology letters to all his team mates and coaches and one general one to the fans

    He ABSOLUTELY MUST be traded in the off season 🙏🙏🙏🙏🙏

    Rant over ☹️☹️☹️☹️

    • Wow Pengy, your more nervous than Bruin fans about pending playoff doom.
      And we didn’t beat Montreal in the playoffs for 35 years straight. Repeat we had a 35 year playoff drought against the Habs.
      Like the B’s, the Leafs need to get healthy. Both lost key players on their blue line and then lost some games.
      Gardner is scary because it is a back issue, those have a tendency to hang around for a while. B’s have 3 guys out and while they have some depth on the back end compared to T.O., they need at least 2 of them back.
      Methinks most healthy team wins that series.

      • Hi Ray

        Yes part of my Leaf rant was tongue ‘n cheek (note: not the Pens rant … that was real) but part was heartfelt.

        Two full and healthy squads … I can’t honestly see Leafs winning the series . Bruins, to me, just much more of a playoff type of team.

        Neither team is getting by Bolts

        Both teams with rosters exactly as they are right now …. I still give Bruins the nod

        Completely and fully healthy Leafs; and Bruins still with Pasta , Krug; Miller; Grzelcyk out …. Leafs win at home in 6

        I’m just a pragmatist

        Leafs off-season….must move one/both of WW/Marleau after SB paid (1/7) and bring in D upgrade…. or they lose out again to Bruins in round 1 in April ‘20 as well.

        It is what it is

      • Pengy, in an article in the Toronto Sun, Lance Hornby refers to the “ragamuffin Senators??? That adjective is as far removed from reality as he can get since a ragamuffin is typically a child in ragged, dirty clothes. “Child” maybe fits that young roster, but their uniforms are just as clean as every other team 🙂

        Right now I’d rate the Sens young D (and that game was without Chabot) as, generally speaking, head and shoulders above anything the Leafs currently ice overall. Yeah, right at the moment the Leafs have the most potent offense (one of the best in the league) but that counts for nothing if they are prone to repeated defensive “disinterest” on nights when the opposition are in a “play hard for 60 minutes” mode and they are not.

        Some in LeafsNation are calling for the head of Mike Babcock because he doesn’t bench those who commit repeated gaffes or give lack-lustre efforts. Well, right now, from this vantage point it’s because there aren’t many options in the system to play in place of poorly-performing F and D. Their top scorer with the Marlies, Mueller (28g 29a) is a 33 y/o career AHLer. Their best bets down there are probably Bracco and Sandin. And now that they’re consistently in the Top 10 league wise, their draft picks will be late round choices for the foreseeable future. As Ottawa found out with several years of picking in the mid to lower range of each round, that requires a whole lot of luck. By biting the bullet and trading off their top 3 scorers (Stone, Duchene and Dzingel) – who were not getting them out of last place anyway – they’ve picked up a passel of prospects and picks which, in a couple of years, COULD – and note I’m NOT saying WILL – give them a well-balanced roster, without the headache of seeing more than half their cap taken up by 4 or 5 players.

      • George,

        I’m with you re: Sens and bright future for their young D core. They have a good G in the pipeline; and the F group is not too shabby. They have prospects and picks coming… I can see a great core for a playoff competitor in 3-4 years

        Only serious trade they need to make is at Ownership …. LOL

        Maybe once his Seattle cheque clears he sells to an Ottawa based owner(s)?

        It will be tough slogging for another 2-3 years; but they will bounce back!

      • I truly don’t think it will take 2-3 years before they’re back as a competitive team. The crop currently playing now will be augmented by Batherson, Branstrom, Logan Brown, Alex Formenton and, possibly, Josh Norris from Michigan next season. Nilsson will be re-signed (UFA) in goal – he’s generally played very well for them since coming from Vancouver – and it’s quite possible that they will trade for a solid back-up type goalie rather than elevate either Hogberg or Gustavsson to play limited minutes as back-ups in the NHL. Another years in the AHL won’t kill them. I have a feeling Dorion will also use some of those assets (picks/prospects) he acquired in those trades with San Jose, Columbus and Vegas to bring in a solid mid-range veteran D from a team needing to clear cap space, rather than a “toxic” contract just to get to the cap floor. He might also g after someone like Ferland.

      • Seemed like a pretty spot on assessment of the situation by Babcock. He fired a shot over the bow at the players as well, and a little one at himself.
        They need to not make this an excuse for the team to underachieve as sometimes these types of statements make it worse. If the coach is making excuses…..
        Just because it’s true doesn’t mean it is a good decision to say it to the media, if your goal is to win. Now reporters will ask the players about it.
        Maybe this was a planned attempt to wake the boys up, but I’m not so sure that it won’t have the opposite effect. We will know soon enough.

    • It was Crosby that Couturier walked around at the Pens blueline.

      • Hi Ron

        Sorry, but I must disagree completely on this. This is 100% on JJ

        Coutoure didn’t meet Crosby head on; he was parallel and ti the side and moving forward relative to Crosby ; as the play moved in to the zone ; JJ swiveled to his left to try and take a Flyer already engaged ; by the time he saw his idiotic mistake … and started to swing back to his right ; the shot was taken ; tie-game…. this is JJ’s modus operandi…. he has the individual skills but fails miserably at positioning and seeing the whole ice…. he is often within arms reach of his D partner who 9 times out of 10 is already covering a player( then leaving a player uncovered)…. earlier in the year he was completely ruining young Petersson’s play

        All on JJ on this one

        It’s so very clear game in and game out .

        JJ almost caused 3 other goals in the game the very same way (out of position) …. free shot on Murray …. Murray’s great saves bailed JJ out

        As of 2 weeks ago there was a stat posted that broke my heart:

        Team GF% with him on the ice is <40%

        With him off the ice almost 60%….. massive 20 point swing w/o him on the ice…. I’ve seen no improvement since then

        So, I humbly disagree here.

        Pens can make playoffs and have a chance to meet Bolts in ECF if Letang gets back soon and if Sully either sits (U dream) or lowers JJ’s minutes

        GO Pens GO
        GO Leafs GO

    • Oh well Pengy you still have your Pens – maybe if you picked a third team to cheer for, you might get lucky.

      • BCLeafFan

        LOL… I love all hockey and the playoffs will be exciting …. would love Pens Leafs to go far …. but realistically it’s now more logically trying to figure out who Bolts will meet in SC…. 2 of the 6 WC favs will be gone after 1st round due to this silly playoff format…, Ahhhhhh!! ☹️

      • Pengy, if you had to bet $100 on either TB or the field to win the East, who would you take?

        Tough call but I go field.

      • BCLeafFan

        It’s $100 and since that’s much much less than what I paid in travel, parking concessions for the two games on the weekend…. then $100 loss isn’t much… so I’d bet TBay (gut)

        Now if it’s much more…. you have to go with mathematical odds …. field

        It’s much akin to what George has rightfully and repeatedly pointed out…. Colorado has almost 20% chance of getting 1st overall ….. but almost 80% chance of NOT getting it.

        My gut still thinks ( barring cataclysmic injuries (read : one Wilson hit to the head plus a separate weird spill into Vazy knocking him out) Bolts win cup

        I can’t even fathom guessing the West finalists right now

      • The west will boil down to San Jose or Nashville – the Jets and Calgary are just too damned inconsistent – especially in goal.

      • I’d go Tampa for $100 over the field. Where is this team weak? To put things in perspective, they have a +93 goal differential…. the next best in the league is Calgary +50, and Toronto +43 = 93! I’m not sure there has been a gap like that in a long time, if ever?

        Even if one or 2 players dry up in the playoffs, they are dangerous everywhere.
        Barring a miracle, I don’t see any team in the league this good, this consistent in scoring…. and goaltending isn’t so shabby either.

        I think Tampa will roll to the cup without much resistance.

      • Nyr4life – in the 80 game 1976-77 season the Habs lost 8 games with a goal differential of +216 and went 12-2 in the playoffs to win the cup. In those playoffs the 2 losses came against the Islanders and in the 14 gp they outscored the opposition 54 – 23. I doubt we will ever see that like again.

      • Nyr, I know TB is locked and loaded. Which is why it is a tough call vs the field. Usually the field is a no brainer.
        TB pays 5-2 in Vegas right now, also as low as I have seen. Perhaps you should place a wager?
        George – Don’t sleep on Vegas in the west, starting to look tough again. I like SJ too, other than their goal tending and Karlsson. Which Martin Jones shows up? Is Karlsson gonna be ready? But also a deep team with experience and Joe needs a cup.
        If my B’s get punted, I will be rooting for Jumbo to get one.

  4. Some of Babcock’s moves confound me but he has a bit of experience doing this job while we are just amateurs.

    I would suggest that he use the following pairs until Dermott and/or Gardner get back:
    Reilly-Olizganov (spelling??)

    This gives Holl some stability that he seems to need because he has not played much but seems to have the tools to be an effective third-pair guy.

    I bet a lot of fans did not think they would miss Gardner but now they see how good he is regardless of the occasional high profile mistake.

    If both Dermott and Gardner return for the playoffs I would like to see Gardner with Reilly with Gardner and Dermott with Hainsey. That still gives Hainsey more ice time on the PK.

    I think the key to the playoffs for the Leafs is the defensive play of the forwards. The offense will work from that. If done properly the defensive play creates more puck possession for the offense and less defensive zone time.

    Unless things change by the playoffs the Bruins are going to eat my Leafs.