NHL Rumor Mill – December 17, 2019

by | Dec 17, 2019 | Rumors | 35 comments

The fallout from the Devils trading Taylor Hall to Arizona, possible destinations for Ilya Kovalchuk, and more in today’s NHL rumor mill.


NJ.COM: After the New Jersey Devils traded Taylor Hall yesterday to the Arizona Coyotes, Chris Ryan examines where they go from here. He believes the move isn’t a sign the Devils are entering another full-fledged rebuild, but a sign general manager Ray Shero’s plan needs an adjustment.

Ryan feels they’re in a better position now compared to when they acquired Hall three years ago. Two first-round picks, Nico Hischier and Jack Hughes serve as their foundation, supported by “talented young players in Jesper Bratt, Jesper Boqvist, Pavel Zacha, Mackenzie Blackwood and more.”

THE ATHLETIC: Prior to the Hall trade, Corey Masisak suggested pending unrestricted free agents Sami Vatanen and Wayne Simmonds were also likely trade candidates.

Could the New Jersey Devils entertain trade offers for Kyle Palmieri? (Photo via NHL Images)

NBC SPORTS BOSTON: Joe Haggerty believes the Bruins were wise not to go all-in on Taylor Hall. He feels they’re better served pursuing more affordable rental assets like Ilya Kovalchuk, Tyler Toffoli, Josh Anderson and others who could become available by the trade deadline.

Nick Goss, meanwhile, speculates the Devils might not be done selling. He suggests Vatanen and Kyle Palmieri as possible trade options. LIke Hall, they’re due to become UFAs next July.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: Jim Matheson reports Oilers GM Ken Holland acknowledged speaking with Shero several times. However, he was unwilling to part with a first-round pick for Hall.

THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Matthew DeFranks reports the Stars had the cap space to acquire Hall but lacks sufficient capital to acquire him. They’d already traded away their second- and third-round picks in the 2020 NHL Draft and were unwilling to part with their first-rounder.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Some observers might be reluctant to say the Devils are still rebuilding, but that return they received from the Coyotes looks like something a rebuilding club would do. Those assets provide no immediate help. It will take several years to determine if the return was worthwhile.

Entering this season, the Devils were projected to be a playoff contender. With those hopes now dashed, and with other moves likely before the trade deadline, they’re now rebuilding around younger talent. They must bolster their goaltending, improve their scoring punch, and bolster their blueline.

I expect Vatanen and Simmonds could be shopped before the Feb. 24 deadline. Palmieri, 28, has one season remaining on his contract with an affordable annual average value of $4.65 million. He’s also got an eight-team no-trade list. Given Palmieri’s age and his UFA eligibility in 2021, Shero could be willing to listen to offers, but he’s under no pressure to move the winger before this season’s trade deadline.

I also wonder if Shero will consider moving P.K. Subban. The 30-year-old defenseman has struggled this season. While he lacks no-trade protection, his $9-million AAV through 2021-22 is a significant sticking point.


THE ATHLETIC: Pierre LeBrun wonders if an NHL team will pursue Ilya Kovalchuk once he’s officially an unrestricted free agent. The Kings yesterday placed him on unconditional waivers to terminate his contract. The Kings attempted to trade Kovalchuk but couldn’t find any takers for his contract, which carried an annual salary-cap hit of $6.25 million through 2020-21.

LeBrun noted the Boston Bruins pursued him in 2018 before the Kings signed him. He wonders if they’ll revisit their interest if they can get him for next to nothing for the remainder of the season. He also points out the connection between Kovalchuk and Carolina Hurricanes GM Don Waddell from their time with the Atlanta Thrashers.

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Jared Clinton suggests the Columbus Blue Jackets, Dallas Stars, Florida Panthers, and New York Islanders as possible destinations for Kovalchuk. He feels the Blue Jackets could use him as a power-play specialist. Adding Kovalchuk might help fine-tune the Stars’ offense. The Panthers only have around $900K in salary-cap space and might have to shuffle some salary to the minors to free up cap space. Kovalchuk also has a connection with Isles GM Lou Lamoriello from their days with the New Jersey Devils.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kovalchuk isn’t an elite player anymore. Now that he’s about to become a UFA, however, an NHL club could take a chance on him with a one-year deal worth under $1 million. He’ll have to accept a secondary role, but he could become a decent addition to a club’s power-play unit.


SPORTSNET: Winnipeg Jets head coach Paul Maurice has heard his name connected to the NHL’s expansion franchise in Seattle. His contract with the Jets expires at the end of this season, but he’s hoping to stay in Winnipeg.

“I’m here as long as Mark [Chipman] and Kevin [Cheveldayoff] want me to be here,” Maurice told reporters Monday when asked about the Seattle rumors. “This is home for me. I love this place. I’m not looking to go anywhere.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Maurice’s future in Winnipeg will depend upon the club’s performance this season. He’s adjusted well to the off-season departures of Jacob Trouba, Tyler Myers, and Ben Chiarot, plus the ongoing absence of Dustin Byfuglien. Goaltender Connor Hellebuyck’s stellar play has helped ease the pain, but Maurice should be commended for how he’s handled the defense corps thus far.


  1. Merkley was a 30 overall pick. Was always considered the number two prospect behind Barzal , 10 years old and up in western Canada. A change will do him good and he will get a chance with the Devils.

    • Ryan Merkley?

      • Nick

      • Unfortunately, the kid can’t seem to put a season together without being injured. Don’t know enough about him to know if that comes from his style of play or just bad luck, but in his first 2 full AHL seasons he’s missed almost 50 of the games. So far this year he’s stayed healthy, but hasn’t exactly been burning it up with 3g 13a 16 pts in 26gp at Tucson. Arizona gave him all of 1 game 2 seasons back. He’s likely headed straight for Binghamton.

      • 50%

  2. Would Devils consider trading captain? Green is also ufa at seasons end. 37 years old and really not a fit for such a young team. Same for Simmonds. If I’m devs, I’d try to sign Vatenan to an extension. Team will only be worse for remainder of season, and good chance they’re picking in top 3 again. Lafreniere? Will have a ton of cap space next season. Could have a quick turn around, like Avs

    • I don’t see the Jackets trading Anderson as he is part of their young core. Nor do I think that Jarmo will sign Kovalchuck. Bringing in aging former superstars isn’t his style.

      • @ Paul Bowles

        Happy Holidays !

        I was surprised to see Anderson in the rumor mill with his breakout playoff performance last year !

        I would trade a pretty nice piece for him …he is exactly what my team needs in the top 6….100%

        Agree with your Kovy statement …I wander if the Yotes pick him up too ….LOL …why not at this point !


      • Paul & Kal El

        Josh Anderson as a rental ????

        If there is a player that would benefit from a change of scenery it’s JA…. he was 27-20-47 in 82 games last year ; and he is a big (6’ 3” 225) grit player…. $1.85 M and RFA in July ….. ??????

        “Hello Jarms baby …. it’s Jimbo…. how about G-Chuck (I’ll retain 50 %) and my-man Chad for Joshie “

        “Oh and just checking ….. want JJ back ? I’m feeling generous …. throw him in on the Joshie deal”

        “ What say you Jarmmy Babes”

    • I would trade Greene if possible. Not sure anyone wants or needs him for playoff run for what he costs in cap.
      I would certainly trade Greene, Vatanen, Simmonds and anyone that can bring value back in picks or top prospects. They need new leadership in that lockeroom.

    • Depends on Gary’s mood. He helped his buddy Shero not once but twice during the draft. Why not the 3rd time? He needs to support American market, so either Devils, or Red Wings will get 1st overall (unfortunately)

  3. Not saying I want Kovalchuk in Boston however at a low cost nothing to hurt and see if he could fit with Krecji.

    If Kovalchuk wants to chase the Cup he’ll have a list of teams that he may view as his best option and how he fits best.

    • @ Caper

      Happy Holidays

      I am really surprised you’d want Kovy ..I just dont see any aspect of his game fitting in with the Bs game ..Id be very unsure about this on that style team even if its next to free !

      Your team is on FIRE they don’t need a weight to drag them down !

      • Season Greetings Kal El, Boston need more production other then their first line. Im not saying Kovalchuk is the solution, but I look at the style of game Krecji plays I believe he could be a fit there. It’s low risk high reward, doesn’t work just waive him on.

    • Palmeri & Wood from NJ would be good Bruins

      what would Boston give up for that?

  4. The only team that I can see Kovalchuk joining is the Islanders.

    • Hi everdayboots

      Nice moniker BTW

      all depends on price

      If he’ll play take $1M or less (that gets him more this year than he would have earned )…. then there has to be a handful that might have interest

      I’d like him on Pens

  5. Re Kovy

    I posted this yesterday:

    “although his numbers are low ; his 82 game pace is 14-29-43 …. certainly at a league min value ($700 K)…. so can he sign right back with any one of the other 30 teams (for $700 K annual rate)…. he’d not lose a penny this year and could choose options (teams) if there appears to be bidders
    I’d think there would have to be at least one other team willing to take him on at minimal risk ($420 K or thereabouts , for balance of the year)”

    Now let’s look at G-Chuck …. his 82 G pace ….. 7-27-34…. $4.9 M annually….. UFA

    Pens would be ahead of the game by far by trading G-Chuck (and retaining 50%) for something (anything) and signing Kovy for $1.0 M (annual Sal)

    Pens gain an asset (whatever they get for G-Chuck) ; increase Cap space by $1.45 M (annual) ; and production projection increases (Kovy projection over G-Chuck)

    So that move gets them almost an extra $1.5 M in space ; probably a 3rd (or prospect) and a few extra goals…. sounds reasonable

    What would G-Chuck at 50% retained get in return???

    Or knowing from TSN/SN that Buff had some thoughts on G-Chuck and looking to move a D….

    G-Chuck (1/3 retained); ZAR; Ruhweedel for Scands

    ….. and sign Kovy 1.0M

    No Cap change for either team

    Pens D improves tremendously; offence output will not decrease and may increase (Kovy & Scands vs G-Chuck, Ruhweedel, ZAR)

    Sabres can waive Ruhweedel (available for call up) save $700 K in space ; and turn the extra D into 2 Fwds


    • pengy why not just trade JJ & AG for KOVY straight up?

      win win for pittsburgh

      • Kovy can sign with anyone now…no need to trade for him.. he is a free agent

        he still has a world class shot and the penguins do need help on the power play he can play off side wing.

        Not sure about his attitude /the dressing room is he a problem, and he was -36
        My worries is he goes to the Capitals or islanders someone like that and lights it up..he still can be a world class player…just didn’t work in LA

        The penguins still need another top 4 quality D or we aren’t going anywhere period..
        Letang looks lost half the time and well there J.J who is somehow in the top 4 STILL>>

        on a positive note Crosby has been skating the last 6 days..lightly but progress…

      • BNG…yea now

        i guess i was thinking of before he did to rid JJ off the roster to make pengy and you have a very good new year lol

        Now that kovy is a UFA has he played enough to qualify for a playoff team? how does that work?

      • Probably because L.A. want NO part of Johnson – under any circumstances.

      • Fans … and hockey writers – need to stop looking at names with some good past history and figure they can somehow, despite all indications that they have reached the end of the line, suddenly become an effective “blast from the past” simply by changing jerseys.

        Even at league minimum, giving him ice-time better taken up by prospects in the systems who deserve a chance, sends the wrong message to the team.

      • Hi BNG

        fantastic attic news re Sid

        I kept looking everywhere to find out re: his recovery

        Crucial road swing coming up

        I had originally though Sid’s return would be home 28/12 vs Preds

        If so IMHO Pens MUST get at a very Minimum; 3 points (of 8 on this road swing)…. just to get in then they would need 600 hockey for balance of year once Sid returns

        Below ; based on 28/12 return are points attained (of 8 ) in the road swing and what Pens would need post Sid return ; as a min ; for balance of year just to get in….

        0 pts (in 8)…, 0.633 for bal of year

        6-567 (IMHO that’s the ceiling)


        Now if Sid not back until home against Sharks 2/1/20…. then IMHO Pens will need 13 points in the next 6 games just to get in


        I’d sign Kovy if he can be gotten for $1M…. better than G-Chuck

      • Hi IHC re qualifying to play in playoffs…. I believe (not 100 % sure) all he needs to do is be on a Roster at TDL ; play one game after that AND be on 23 man roster at YE

        I’d take him if $1M or less

        Can’t have Isles nab him

  6. Wonder if Palmieri would be a good target/fit for the leafs. I would suggest nylander straight up for Palmieri. I think given Nylander’s age and upside fits more in line with the Devil’s timeline. Palmieri would give the leafs some salary cap relief and much needed veteran presence and consistency.

    • thinking Palmieri fits in with Boston as TML may have other needs (back up goalie and back end) IMO to address first

      • My thinking was the salary cap relief would give them the option to upgrade backup goal situation

  7. So, with LA in last place in their division and seemingly going nowhere, would they entertain trading Doughty?

    I still don’t understand why he signed an extension there…i can’t see them being relevant for a while.

    Maybe i’m wrong??? who knows…

  8. When I bounced this one off fellow hockey players yesterday the Leaf fans quickly said they wanted no part of of Subban….

    Nylander for Subban at 4.5 million and a significant additional player or draft pick

    • Hi OBD

      Not out of the realm but I think PK gets moved July 2nd after SB paid out…. then he’s only owed $10 M for balance of contract (2 years)

      50 % retained then has many teams bidding (and therefore higher return) as

      Cash AAV is $2.5 M and Cap AAV is $4.5 M

  9. Kovalchuk is a lazy player. I have never seen any player give up on a play faster than he does. He is a defensive liability every time he’s on the ice. As a Kings fan I’m glade he’s gone. Nothing personal but he’s just painful to watch. The Kings suck no doubt but he is way past his prime.

    • chucrocks88

      I’m with you I cant see why anyone would want him on their team at this point in his career. There is certainly no fit in Carolina. I’m shocked Lebrun would even suggest it.
      Justin Williams having not played since last spring could rejoin the team and be more of a positive impact than Kovalchuck.

      Carolina could use an experienced right handed center to play 4th line, kill penalties and take critical draws. They really don’t need anything else. Glendening from Detroit would be a much better addition to Carolina than Kovalchuk.

    • Austin Matthews…

  10. Kovy is fool’s gold..Palmieri for Nylander? That won’t, and should not, happen, and if there is a player out there the Leafs should go for it is Josh in CBJ land!