NHL Rumor Mill – April 9, 2019
Latest on Taylor Hall and Jeff Carter plus updates on the Vancouver Canucks in today’s NHL rumor mill.
HALL: DEVILS MUST UPGRADE ROSTER
NHL.COM: Mike G. Morreale reports left wing Taylor Hall wants to see the New Jersey Devils improve their roster for next season. Hall, 27, is slated to become an unrestricted free agent next summer. “There is only so much patience you can have at this age,” he said. “The League is getting younger and Father Time is undefeated. You only have so many years left, so for me to be done halfway with my career and to only have played five playoffs games is disappointing.”
Hall said he likes the culture and character in the Devils room but feels they’re still lacking talent at some positions. He added he’s enjoyed playing with the Devils and believes discussions regarding his future will happen at some point. Hall also said his rehab for a season-ending knee injury is going well and he expects to be ready for training camp in September.
Devils general manager Ray Shero said adding more talent to his roster will be a priority this summer. He pointed out the 10 picks his club holds in this year’s NHL Draft leaves them well-positioned to address that need via trades if necessary. Shero also said he appreciated Hall’s honesty on the subject.
NJ.COM: Chris Ryan speculates Shero could draw upon his depth in draft picks this year, including three in the second round and two in the third, as possible trade bait to bring in an NHL-ready player. Ryan also speculates the possibility of moving Hall could come into play if he’s not signed to an extension before training camp this fall. He also wonders if this is the summer when Shero makes a significant signing via the UFA market.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hall’s made it quite clear that bolstering the roster is necessary if Shero hopes to re-sign him to an extension. The Devils GM must make a big move or two via the trade and/or free-agent market to show his franchise player that the club is serious about becoming a perennial playoff contender.
I expect Shero will be among this summer’s busiest general managers. The Devils have over $47 million invested in 13 players for 2019-20 with Pavel Zacha, Will Butcher, Stefan Noesen and Connor Carrick among their notable restricted free agents. They should all be affordable re-signings, giving Shero plenty of room to swing a big trade or sign a noteworthy free-agent player.
CARTER NOT RETIRING
THE ATHLETIC: Josh Cooper reports Los Angeles Kings center Jeff Carter denied any talk he’s considering retirement, adding he intends to complete the three years remaining on his contract with the Kings. He also noted his lack of no-trade protection but said: “whatever happens, happens”.
Trading the 34-year-old, however, won’t get the Kings a real return. A contract buyout also won’t bring them any significant salary-cap relief over the next three years. Cooper speculates Dion Phaneuf could be a more likely buyout candidate.
Lisa Dillman, meanwhile, noted the Kings’ interest in former Edmonton Oilers coach Todd McLellan but the Buffalo Sabres have emerged as a serious suitor for McLellan’s services. Dillman listed former NHL head coach Alain Vigneault, Tampa Bay Lightning assistant coach Todd Richards, and Dallas Stars assistant coach Todd Nelson as possible options.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: If Carter is determined to keep playing and if Kings GM Rob Blake simply wants to shed his salary he could try to move him for a draft pick and a prospect. However, the return Blake got for Jake Muzzin (a first-round pick, a prospect and a promising player in Carl Grundstrom) suggests he’ll want at least a decent, affordable player as part of the return.
Given Carter’s age, the remaining tenure on his contract, and the decline in his production this season, it’s unlikely Blake will find that type of deal.
LATEST ON THE CANUCKS
THE PROVINCE: Ben Kuzma believes the Vancouver Canucks will have to spend in free agency this summer to bring in a right winger for center Bo Horvat’s line. However, there’s not much to choose from because UFAs either make too much money or are aging. He also believes the Canucks need another top-four defenseman and secondary scoring depth.
Ed Willes noted GM Jim Benning’s recent comments about being careful with their spending and how salary-cap space can fill up fast. He believes the Canucks won’t be pursuing expensive free agent talent like Columbus’ Artemi Panarin this summer.
Willes also noted Benning’s desire to add a defenseman and thinks he’ll go the trade route, wondering what Jake Virtanen or Ben Hutton might fetch via trade. It appears their big move on the blueline will be re-signing Alexander Edler.
If Benning is inclined to seek a forward via free agency, Willes suggested Buffalo’s Jeff Skinner, Columbus’ Matt Duchene, and the New York Islanders’ Anders Lee as possible options. Down-scale targets could include Carolina’s Micheal Ferland and Columbus’ Ryan Dzingel.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canucks have over $52 million invested in 19 players for 2019-20. New contracts for Edler and RFA Brock Boeser could total $12 million, but would still leave sufficient room to re-sign other RFAs and bring in a quality player or two.
After overpaying for Loui Eriksson in 2016, Benning likely remains reluctant to go down that road again. Forget about Skinner, Duchene, or Lee, as they’ll be too expensive for his liking. Ferland or Dzingel might be more affordable but might not be suitable wingers on Horvat’s right side. The notable UFA right wing options include Gustav Nyquist, Mats Zuccarello, Jordan Eberle, and Wayne Simmonds.