NHL Rumor Mill – March 19, 2021
The latest on Taylor Hall, Nick Foligno, Kyle Palmieri and more in today’s NHL rumor mill.
TSN: Darren Dreger reports Taylor Hall is considering all his options, which include signing a new contract with the Buffalo Sabres. The 29-year-old left-winger is seeking stability either with an extension from the Sabres or a trade to a club that will extend him.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Give Hall credit for wanting to stick with the struggling Sabres. Whether he stays in Buffalo beyond this season depends on how much he’s asking for and for how long, and the willingness of Sabres ownership to make that investment. They probably regret that hefty eight-year deal they gave Jeff Skinner two years ago and don’t want to risk repeating that mistake.
Hall will certainly generate interest among playoff contenders if the Sabres shop him before the April 12 trade deadline. Sportsnet’s Mike Johnston believes the Toronto Maple Leafs, Colorado Avalanche, New York Islanders, Florida Panthers and Boston Bruins could be potential destinations.
Of those clubs, the Islanders and the Panthers would have sufficient cap space to take the remainder of his $8 million cap hit without having to shed salary. The Isles recently placed left winger Anders Lee and his $7 million annual average value on long-term injury reserve while the Panthers have over $16 million in trade deadline cap space. The Avs have around $8 million in LTIR space but that could quickly evaporate if Erik Johnson and Pavel Francouz return before season’s end.
Frank Seravalli reports Dallas Stars general manager Jim Nill remains focused on his club reaching the playoffs. They’ve got plenty of games in hand and are awaiting the return of center Tyler Seguin and goalie Ben Bishop from offseason surgeries. Both are three-to-five weeks away. If they remain close enough to playoff contention by the deadline they could become buyers. If they drop out of the playoff race by then they could entertain calls on pending UFAs like Jamie Oleksiak and Andrew Cogliano.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Stars (25 points in 26 games) are eight points behind the fourth-overall Chicago Blackhawks in the Discover Central Division. They have five games in hand on the Blackhawks but if they don’t start stringing some wins together soon they’re not going to make it.
If the Stars become sellers maybe they’ll consider moving backup Anton Khudobin. The Athletic’s Saad Yousuf points out Jake Oettinger is playing well and gaining more starts of late. He suggests shopping Khudobin at the trade deadline and get the best value they can rather than risk losing him to the Seattle Kraken for nothing. Oettinger, of course, is exempt from the expansion draft. Whether Nill makes that move remains to be seen.
Speaking of teams hoping to remain in playoff contention, Pierre LeBrun reports the Columbus Blue Jackets are also chasing the Blackhawks in the Central. He said teams are calling the Jackets about captain Nick Foligno. He’s got a 10-team no-trade list but the Jackets hope to keep him on board for a playoff run. LeBrun said the New York Islanders and Toronto Maple Leafs are the teams to watch regarding Foligno.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Following last night’s action the Jackets (31 points) are just two behind the Blackhawks, who’ve dropped three in a row. Foligno won’t be going anywhere if they remain in contention or overtake the Blackhawks.
LeBrun also reports the New Jersey Devils are expected to speak with winger Kyle Palmieri soon. He’s slated to become a UFA this summer and there will be considerable interest in the right-winger if he ends up on the block before the trade deadline.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: There was speculation earlier this year suggesting Palmieri and the Devils might come to an agreement but there have been no updates or any solid info indicating they could be close to a deal. His situation will be closely watched as there will be playoff contenders interested in his services by deadline day.