Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – December 15, 2019
The latest Taylor Hall trade speculation, plus updates on Ilya Kovalchuk and Sven Baertschi in the Sunday NHL rumor roundup.
HALL TRADE WATCH CONTINUES
SPORTSNET: As the New Jersey Devils sat out Taylor Hall for his second straight game, Chris Johnston reported the Arizona Coyotes (who fell 2-1 to the Devils last night) are considered the front-runner to land the 28-year-old winger. Johnston said the Florida Panthers, St. Louis Blues, and a couple of other clubs were involved in trade talks for Hall, but the Coyotes are believed to have the best offer on the table.
Elliotte Friedman said the Coyotes top-two prospects (Barrett Hayton and Victor Soderstrom) aren’t believed to be in that offer. It sounds like the two clubs are haggling over prospect defenseman Kevin Bahl. Friedman feels the Devils are trying to leverage the Coyotes’ trade package into better offers from other clubs, but they’re struggling to find a willing suitor. He added the Devils haven’t granted permission to interested clubs to talk contract extension with the Hall camp.
ARIZONA SPORTS: Matt Layman points out if the Coyotes include a first-round pick in the deal, it could be later in the round if they finish the season as a playoff club. He also reminds us the Coyotes have limited salary-cap space, while Hall’s salary-cap hit is $6 million.
TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports the Florida Panthers and Colorado Avalanche are also among five or six clubs that have inquired about Hall.
THE ATHLETIC: George Richards reported the Panthers could be in play for Hall whether they need him or not, pointing out they have an abundance of talented wingers on its roster and in its farm system. He observed they have a lack of depth at center and could use some defensive help.
Jeremy Rutherford reported the St. Louis Blues have had interest in Hall and are monitoring the situation. At this point, however, they don’t appear engaged in serious trade discussions with the Devils. He also said the Montreal Canadiens are among the clubs with interest in Hall.
With the Devils looking to move the winger before the holiday trade freeze, and Blues GM Doug Armstrong’s tendency to be patient when pursuing trades, Rutherford doubts Hall will be coming to St. Louis. However, if he’s still available following the holiday freeze, Armstrong could remain interested leading up to the February trade deadline.
NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks believes the sooner the Devils move Hall, the better it’ll be for the Rangers, as it’ll improve the trade value of winger Chris Kreider. Mark Fischer, meanwhile, reports Hall’s girlfriend may have confirmed the trade rumors by having an apparent goodbye party on Friday night with several wives and girlfriends of Devils players.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: If Devils GM Ray Shero can’t leverage the Coyotes’ pitch into a better offer, it’ll be interesting to see if he accepts it before the holiday roster freeze kicks in at midnight on Dec 19 or uses it as a bargaining chip once the freeze is lifted by midnight on Dec. 27.
I daresay the Devils will retain part of Hall’s cap hit to alleviate the Coyotes’ cap concerns, but the latter must include a salaried player to make the deal work. For those who were wondering, they’re already getting LTIR cap relief.
The Avalanche were thought to be front-runners entering this weekend. If the Coyotes have topped their offer, it suggests Avs GM Joe Sakic isn’t offering up a top prospect like Bowen Byram or Alex Newhook.
The Blues, Panthers, and Canadiens may be among the interested parties, but it sounds to me like they’re in the tire-kicking stage. That might change if the Devils are trying to leverage the Coyotes’ offer.
SPORTSNET: Chris Johnston reports the Los Angeles Kings will soon speak with Ilya Kovalchuk about finding his way back into NHL action. The 36-year-old winger has been a healthy scratch for over a month. He’s still skating and traveling with the team. He wants to play and believes he can help a team offensively.
Kovalchuk’s final bonus ($2.65 million) will be paid out today. After that, he’ll be paid a prorated amount of his $700K base salary for this season. That could interest clubs seeking cheap scoring help. Johnston suggests the Kings might terminate his contract, or perhaps see if his trade value improves once that bonus is paid out.
NBC SPORTS BOSTON: Joe Haggerty thinks Kovalchuk would look good in a Bruins uniform for the right price. He feels the veteran winger could regain some of his offensive mojo skating alongside second-line center David Krejci.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Kings want the Kovalchuk saga brought to a close as soon as possible. He has a no-movement clause that prevents demotion to the minors and a seven-team trade list, but he could expand that listing if he’s keen to get back into action. A sticking point could be the remaining year on his contract with a $6.25-million salary-cap hit, though in actual salary he’ll be paid $4.25 million.
The Bruins need secondary scoring. Given Kovalchuk’s age and his struggles with the Kings, however, I’m not convinced he’s the right fit there.
CANUCKS SHOPPING BAERTSCHI
VANCOUVER SUN: Ed Willes reports Canucks GM Jim Benning confirmed a report they’re working with Sven Baertschi’s agent to try and find him a new NHL home. They’ve been shopping the winger for about 10 weeks.
“I’ve been talking to Andre (Rufener, Baertschi’s agent) once or twice a week. We’ve been working on this. I don’t know why he decided to come out publicly,” said Benning. He also confirmed he’s not seeking a lot in return.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Perhaps Baertschi’s agent went public to put pressure on Benning to move his client or to drum up more interest from rival clubs.