NHL Rumor Mill – November 22, 2019

by | Nov 22, 2019 | Rumors | 41 comments

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 Montreal Canadiens consider acquiring Taylor Hall? (Photo via NHL Images)

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.


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.


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.


  1. If the Flames are serious about “shaking things up” and moving Gadreau, would a move involving him for Hall (assuming Hall is willing to sign long-term in Calgary) make sense?

    The two have similar cap hits for this year, and Calgary has Frolik coming off the books after this season which would give them $10M+ to lockup Hall going forward.

    • That 5-0 s&^tkicking last night has to be reverberating with Calgary ownership and I would expect Treveling will soon react by sending his coach to the unemployment line to join Babcock before they start looking at him.

      Many think they’d be crazy to deal Gaudreau but the question remains – how long do you wait before any luster is worn right off? However, dealing him even up for Hall is a non-starter. Gaudreau is signed for two year after this at $6,750,000 whereas Hall, now at $6 mil, is a UFA and who knows what he and his agent are going to seek – term included – on what could be his final big contract? And, of course, there’s always the question – would he be interested in finishing his career in Calgary which could be in the early stages of a re-build if they don’t rebound this season.

      At the end of this season they’ll be committed to 12 players next year at a cap hit of $60,964,166 leaving $20.535,834 to sign 11. They also have UFAs Frolik, Rieder, Rinaldo, Hamonic, Stone, Davidson, Talbot, Brodie, Czarnik who account for in excess of $19 mil to either re-sign or replace. Most likely won’t be back – but they still have to replace them. Is their system deep enough to cover the departures or will they need t dip into the UFA market themselves?

      There are also RFAs Jankowsky, Mangiapane, Andersoon and Kylington to either re-sign or replace.

      • How many coaches does the core of the Flames get to burn through?

        Bob Hartley was too hard on them.
        Gully was too nice and not taken as seriously.
        Now Bill Peters, who is a decent mix of both is on the hot seat?

        I was of the understanding that the GM generally gets 3 coaches.
        The 1 he inherited.
        The 1 he chooses as his guy, and the 1 to fix his mistake.
        Treliving is on #3.

      • Well Bryan Murray, who was GM of the Sens from 2007 to 2016, went through 5 – John Paddock, Craig Hartsburg, Cory Clouston, Paul Maclean & Dave Cameron.

        Each of those stand out for one reason – not one of them ever re-surfaced anywhere else in the NHL as a head coach (Maclean, I see, was just hired by Columbus in an assistant role).

        Dorion is on his third – Boucher, Crawford (briefly) and now Smith.

      • That’s very telling about the state of affairs in Ottawa during that time frame.

        I don’t think he’ll fire Peters.

        Maybe a trade in the near future.

    • I don’t necessarily believe that moving a good player or your best player is a bad thing.

      Edmonton traded Gretzky and won a cup the following year.

      The islanders moved on from Tavares, and they seem to be doing okay.

      A Hall for Gadreau seems nice on paper. But I think they’d be better off getting picks and prospects back rather than taking on Hall who will be looking for a deal north of 10m on his next deal.

  2. You can bet if Jon Cooper is fired he’ll be on the next flight to Detroit.

  3. Again wondering why everyone, including the experts believe the Habs will chase Hall. They do not need another winger. They will not give up a high price for someone who will definitely NOT sign an extension with them. Their need is a natural centre with size, another mobile, big puck moving D, and unfortunately a better backup goalie. Kinkaid l’a performance has cost Hans points they should have had. Nope, Taylor Hall and Habs not a fit.

    • I see your point Andy but I do believe there may be a fit for Hall with the Habs. Their primary need is a top puck moving LD. But while they certainly have several solid wingers who can score, they do not have a truly high end forward. A guy like Hall could greatly lift their offense.

      • I agree I could see hall in Montreal and signing long term, he was on a terrible teAm in Edmonton and than in New Jersey which isn’t a hockey market he might love the pressure in montreal

    • Andy, likely because they need to provide content regularly.
      Agree, it does not makes sense to me for Hall to go to MTL.

    • Andy: I agree with all your points except the comment about Kinkaid. He deserved to get at least 2 Ws in the last games he played.

      Re Bergevin: he has said he is not going to empty his cupboard for a rental. And he is right: the Habs are not one player away from being a legit final 4 team; in any event rentals almost never make the difference.

    • Puljujarvi wants to play in Montreal. Apparently he loves the city and has friends on the team.
      Not sure he’d survive the media frenzy surrounding the Habs.

  4. Just because a player is looking for big bucks doesn’t mean you have to pay that. Hall is good but also a bandaid if he truly wants to win sign with Tampa Boston Edmonton St Louis Colorado or another winning team for fair money. He would make a great Bruin but not at 9 million he would also fit nicely on a Blues team.

  5. Some one must have been very angry watching Sheldon Keefe implement a far better system after one extended practice the day after Babcock and his ego left Las Vegas.

    Anyone who wants Babcocks services might have to eat his overpaid salary. A lot of money to pay a guy who pencils his lineup on a napkin.

    Tyson Barrie and Jason Spezza handled themselves with class after suffering under this egomaniac. I’m hoping Keefe gives players who were stifled under the former coach’s system a chance to contribute and deservedly bench the overpaid figureskaters who are liabilities on the ice.

    • Frank, I didn’t watch the Leafs game last night.
      It is impressive that Keefe was able to implement a new system in one practice. So impressive that I am surprised he was able to.
      What exactly did he change vs Babcock’s?
      Is it perhaps that they actually played with more effort and attention to detail? Two things that were lacking in the recent Leaf game I had watched.
      Is that expected with a coach getting turfed and a new one behind the bench? It better be or they have serious problems.
      Hopefully it lasts for Leaf fans, and it might, in fact I think it probably will because if it doesn’t it is squarely on the players now.

      • I sure hope they do because I have them as my franchise team in our convoluted Hockey Pool.

      • On that subject, the Leafs, currently out of the playoffs, sit 2 pts back of Pha & Pitt, 3 back of Mtl and Carolina, and 5 back of Fla who all have 2 games in hand.

        Assuming the Leafs can pull back into the top 8 – especially when Marner returns – as well as Tampa who are 2 behind Tor but with 5 games in hand on them, which 2 among Pha, Pitt, Mtl, Carolina and Florida does anyone see dropping out of the picture.

        The two I see – factoring in key long-term injuries – are Montreal and Pittsburgh, although the inconsistency of Philadelphia continues to puzzle. Maybe them rather that Pittsburgh.

      • Ray, here is what changed last night – on the defensive side they are running a man-to-man defense. This system is one where the player needs to be constantly moving, as such able to create or keep speed while on the defensive side allowing you to get to loose pucks more quickly. On the offensive side, they have added alot more movement. What that means is they (this is hard to describe without drawing it out), they are turning the group of five towards the puck as the puck shifts – aka – when the puck is down low on the left side, the left defenseman would move in and everyone else would move clockwise as an example – again all movement based permitting the ability to garner\maintain speed.

        I’ve often wondered why Dubus built a speed\skill team against systems that are designed to be positional (which is Babcock’s system). I can now see the build that Dubus has put together and the systems that are needed to make the build viable.

        That’s what I saw last night anyway. It worked very well and hope it will get better and I know they will have some moments where it isn’t so good.

        We’ll see how well it works long terms and what tweeks will be introduced as they move forward.

      • Watching the Leafs last night I saw a few changes in that Matthews saw extra ice-time, Mikeyev took Marner’s spot on the Tavares line and made some solid passes and rushes, and Barrie got better PP time.

        Otherwise, the team was actually skating more than they had in the last few weeks. There were actual races for the puck on the forecheck. Players were taking more caution when exiting the defensive zone, and there were a lot less missed passes.
        Defensively though, the team still looked lost at times. The lone Coyotes goal came in the dying seconds after Kerfoot failed to clear the zone with a weak attempt, and then failed to close the gap on the guy who he was marking – the player had time to wait on Andersen before firing it high….but Kerfoot still had a few feet to go to stand a chance at blocking or hurrying the shot.
        Weird little coverage mistakes with Muzzin still amazes me. He is better than that. It just seems that the team gets in each other’s way in their own end still.

      • Well done Trekie. You actually explained it really well. We tried the man to man with Bantam 3A kids and failed, or maybe didn’t have the patience, or overly optimistic with 14 year olds, whatever, we moved to a zone after a month in. The way to beat it is the way you described for the Leafs in the O zone. Get them spinning. Need skill to make it work. B’s will do it with the top line on occasion.

        The Leafs have the talent to do it, but they are sure going to need to be more aware on ice then they have been as turnovers in the O zone can lead to odd man rushes when you rotate like that if everybody isn’t on the same page.

        Gonna be interesting against my Bruins next time as they are pretty disciplined and patient. They will wait for the mistakes and will protect home plate.

      • Sorry I didn’t have chance to reply. The one thing the tv analysts observed was what Todd Warriner described as swarming the puck, where he showed how 3-5 leafs surround the player with the puck in their zone rather than passively cover a broader area. The cycle game in the opposing zone was clear, precise and aggressively implemented. Those were the two big things that stood out along with the defensemen carrying the puck and essentially using all five similar with what Tampa Bay has done under Jon Cooper.

      • doctordave, agree with most of what you say about last night’s game – except the part where you say Matthews saw extra ice time.

        I commented on that this morning in the headlines thread

        “Interesting stat from last night’s Leafs game was the ice-time allotted to the forwards which suggests all 4 lines were being used almost equally throughout. And whereas many were criticizing Babcock for not increasing Matthew’s ice-time from his seasonal average of around 20:00, last night he played 17:42 while Tavares was reduced to 15:49.” (source ESPN box-score)

      • Frank, Dallas Eakins actually called it the “swarm” defense during his short tenure with the Oilers. Didn’t work in Edmonton, but that may have had more to do with the mistakes he made with the players and trying to force a culture change faster than was possible. He admitted to that so good on him. or the players simply couldn’t execute it at the NHL level.
        He is ANA now, would be curious to see if he is trying the same system. They are doing pretty good considering the roster.
        Definitely worked for him in the AHL during 2 successful stints.

  6. The Sabres should consider winning games. They had a great October indeed. They disappeared in November by not scoring enough, camping out in the defense zone, losing games, and Ralph Krueger not coaching the team. The choices are clear: win now in order to win later, or add to the carousel of players, coaches, and general managers going and coming.

    • Ray , I watched the game and the continual stretch passes were missing, replaced with more short passes.
      In the defensive end it was man on man , instead of the two defensemen working by themselves.
      Andersen still made some game saving stops.
      Babcock is a great coach , but it may have been time to move on.

      • I was never a fan of the stretch passes either Vinnie. I just think the team that Dubas built was different than what Babcock wanted to fit his system, and Babcock’s system was different than the strengths of team Dubas built.
        Call me skeptical that you can win in the NHL playoffs the way they seem to want to play, but it will be interesting to watch.
        If they do, others will copy.

  7. over rated over paid over stubborn coach buyer be ware

  8. IF Buffalo is looking for additional scoring but lacks cap space would a veteran like Jeff Carter make sense? He can play wing or center.

    to LA: Vesey & Scandella
    to BUFF: Carter

    Vesey has not contributed and though Carter has only done lil more this season…he still scores. Currently .5ppg . Can help on PP unit as well in Buff

    cap works out. LA gets a younger winger who they can let go if he does not pan out.

    • Sabres are slow enough as it is.

    • Highly doubt Carter would agree to come to the Sabres, I know he doesn’t have any movement protection but I have read he and his family don’t want to leave the west coast. The Sabres wouldn’t want his contract for another two years after this year as next year a load of cap comes off the books. I think they would entertain Toffoli for that package. All three will be UFA’s after this season which would make more sense for both teams.

      • Tiffoli is a great option. I like that.

  9. I thought Buffalo played a great game last night against Boston. If it weren’t for Rask they probably tie or win that game.
    Hall will go as a playoff rental unless he agrees to a sign and trade which rarely happens.

    • Buffalo dominated the 1st period Dave, so ya they deserved to win as the rest of the game was pretty even after that.
      Tuukka seems to be on his game again this year.

      • The save on Rodrigues was outstanding…game saver for sure.

  10. Pretty sure that Hall is looking at getting the sort of money that Mitch Marner got last Summer. The question is “Who is willing and able to pay that kind of salary AND give-up assets to get his rights?”
    Honestly, I don’t see any team in that position.
    As for Calgary, they have some of their hardest workers out or not overachieving and the “star” players being put under a heck of a lot of pressure to carry the team. That didn’t work for Toronto and it seems that Calgary is too heavy on the cheaper talent to make the coach’s system work well. Just like Toronto. The temptation is going to be there to fire the coach, but this is a depth and talent issue. Guys like Lucic need to produce at the rate they are paid, or they’ll be moved out of the way.

    • Buffalo next year will have tons of cap space to make a move for him and still sign some cheap veteran players to fill the bottom 6.

      Vesey, Sheary, Bogosian, Scandella all are up creating room for a Hall signature.

      Tage Thompson can be brought up to fill the bottom 6. Other vets like a Brian Boyle,etc…can be used to fill the gaps.

      If they do go for Hall…key will be to shore up the 2C spot to ensure 2 potent lines of offense as Eichel will be 1 C with Skinner as his LW

  11. Just curious. Would a trade involving Johnny G for Jake DeBrusk make sense. Bruins would have to add but maybe the second line scoring Boston needs and a little grit from debrusk may help flames?! Just a thought.

  12. Too early to tell but this Leafs team cannot play anything but run and gun and they should be allowed to do that….they seemed to enjoy the game last night but it might have been different if Yotes scored first!

    • Agree with that jon. Go with what you do best and, whether Babcock or Keefe, that’s the way they were built by Dubas. One thing is for certain, with that personnel you won’t see them becoming any more physical in their style.

  13. Everybody knows the Leafs are great at pond hockey. What matters is what they do when the Ice Capades are over and the mens hockey begins…… in April