NHL Rumor Mill – May 22, 2020
The latest on Taylor Hall plus a look at several blueline free-agent targets for the Canucks in today’s NHL rumor mill.
LATEST HALL SPECULATION
THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): Lisa Dillman and Eric Stephens recently examined the pros and cons if the Los Angeles Kings made an unexpected free-agent splash by signing Taylor Hall. The 28-year-old Arizona Coyotes winger and former Hart Trophy winner will become an unrestricted free agent at season’s end.
The Kings’ projected salary-cap space for next season is $23 million, giving them plenty of room to sign Hall. Unlike their flier on Ilya Kovalchuk, Hall remains in his playing prime and would provide a big offensive boost. He also wouldn’t have to be the Kings’ savior, as he’d be joining a roster with veterans stars like Anze Kopitar and Drew Doughty.
Assuming the Kings could get Hall at a discount, he’d still be expensive to sign. He’s also fast approaching 30 and most of the contract would cover his declining years.
TSN: Coyotes head coach Rick Tocchet remains optimistic about Hall staying in Arizona. “I’m not saying he is going to sign here, but I definitely think we’re a team he’s very interested in staying with,” Tocchet said.
ARIZONA SPORTS: Matt Layman reports Hall believes he has a good relationship with Coyotes management and the coaching staff. “I think both sides are talking a little bit, but it’s important to know what the future looks like and to know when free agency could possibly be and what the outlook is.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I don’t see the Kings pursuing Hall or any other big-ticket unrestricted free agents this year. Dillman pointed out general manager Rob Blake last month indicated his club’s big salary-cap year would be in another year. That’s not to say Blake won’t look into the UFA market for one or two affordable options, but he’s not going to blow the wad on an expensive star.
Coyotes GM John Chayka must shed one or two contracts to free up sufficient cap room if he hopes to keep Hall in Arizona. Cap Friendly indicates they have nearly $80 million invested in 16 players for 2020-21, though they’ll get $5.275 million in cap relief by placing all-but-retired Marian Hossa on long-term injury reserve. Hall could seek around $9 million annually on a long-term deal.
SUGGESTED BLUELINE TARGETS FOR THE CANUCKS
THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): Thomas Drance and Harman Dayal recently listed eight defensemen for the Vancouver Canucks to target via free agency. They include Toronto’s Tyson Barrie, Calgary’s Travis Hamonic, Washington’s Radko Gudas, Winnipeg’s Dylan DeMelo, Philadelphia’s Justin Braun, Florida’s Mark Pysyk, San Jose’s Tim Heed, and Tampa Bay’s Jan Rutta.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Barrie and Hamonic are obviously the best of the bunch and would also be the most expensive to sign. Salary-cap space will likely be a significant determining factor here. The Canucks have over $63.4 million invested in 14 players, with Jacob Markstrom, Tyler Toffoli, and Chris Tanev are their notable UFAs while Jake Virtanen heads their list of restricted free agents.
It could cost a combined $12 million to keep Markstrom and Toffoli in the fold. Unless GM Jim Benning can shed some salary (Loui Eriksson? Brandon Sutter?), the Canucks could be forced to consider more cost-effective blueline options.