NHL Rumor Mill – November 22, 2019
Could the Canadiens make a pitch for Taylor Hall? Where could former Leafs coach Mike Babcock end up? Are the Sabres shopping around for a scorer? Read on for the latest in today’s NHL rumor mill.
COULD THE CANADIENS PURSUE HALL?
SPORTSNET’s Eric Engels took to Twitter citing colleague Elliotte Friedman wondering if Montreal Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin will make a big move in this season’s trade market. Engels believes speculation is bound to increase over the possibility of Bergevin pursuing Taylor Hall as a playoff rental. The New Jersey Devils winger is slated to become an unrestricted free agent next July.
Engels thinks it’s possible, pointing to the Canadiens’ good play this season, their 12 picks in next year’s draft, and their deep prospect pool. So far, however, all’s quiet on this front.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’ll depend on where the Canadiens are in the standings by February. If they’re riding high in the Eastern Conference, Bergevin could pursue a big-ticket rental like Hall. If they’re struggling to reach the playoffs, it’s not worth wasting assets on a player who might make them, at best, a marginal postseason team.
WHAT NEXT FOR BABCOCK?
TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports Mike Babcock wants to take some time and decompress following his firing as head coach of the Toronto Maple Leafs. His contract could be a sticking point, as the Leafs could insist on his new club picking up the entirety of his remaining term. He’s owed $5.875-million annually in guaranteed money for the next three seasons, as well as what he’s owed for the remainder of this season. LeBrun speculates the Seattle expansion franchise could come calling if Babcock’s interested.
THE HOCKEY NEWS: Jared Clinton also believes the “Seattle Whatchamacallits” could be among Babcock’s suitors. Others could include the Minnesota Wild, New Jersey Devils, San Jose Sharks, and Tampa Bay Lightning.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Clinton points out the interest from those existing franchises depends upon this season’s performance. Another missed postseason could spell the end of Bruce Boudreau’s tenure with the Wild. Ditto John Hynes with the Devils. The Sharks have overcome a poor start to this season, but an early playoff exit could spell the end for Pete DeBoer. The same goes for Jon Cooper with the Lightning.
LATEST ON THE SABRES
TSN: Darren Dreger reports Buffalo Sabres GM Jason Botterill has made offers for forwards but the trade market is gummed up a bit. There are several teams with players on long-term injury reserve, making it difficult to find a fit within their salary-cap constraints. Some observers believe Botterill would like to make one or two trades soon but he’s got to find the right fit and the right match.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: After a hot October, the Sabres have cooled off in November. Jack Eichel is the only Sabres to reach double-digits in goals. Sam Reinhart has just three goals in his last 10 games, Jeff Skinner only two in his last dozen contests, Marcus Johansson only two in 13 games before he was sidelined on Nov. 9, and Victor Olofsson only one since mid-October. If Botterill can’t find a suitable scorer or two soon, his club will fall into a hole too deep to climb out of.