Still more Taylor Hall speculation, plus the latest on Alex Galchenyuk and Andreas Athanasiou in the Sunday NHL rumor roundup.
THE LATEST HALL SPECULATION
SPORTSNET: Chris Johnston reports some teams believe it might take four pieces to acquire Taylor Hall from the New Jersey Devils. He adds the Devils’ conversations with other teams have been one-sided thus far. They’re encouraging clubs to make their best offers, but there’s not much back-and-forth discussion.
The Colorado Avalanche, Arizona Coyotes, and Edmonton Oilers are believed to have interest in Taylor Hall (Photo via NHL Images).
Johnston said there’s a lot of teams sniffing around, but the feeling in the industry is the Colorado Avalanche are the favorites right now. He adds they’re pushing to try to get Hall, perhaps as soon as the Dec. 19 Christmas break.
DENVER POST: Mike Chambers believes Hall would make the Avalanche a Stanley Cup contender. He believes they have the salary-cap space, as well as the depth in prospects and draft picks to make it happen. He feels the left-winger would be a near-perfect addition, either on the top line with Nathan MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen or on the second line alongside Nazem Kadri and Joonas Donskoi.
Chambers feels the Avalanche are in the Hall sweepstakes regardless of whether they can re-sign him. If the winger is to be a playoff rental, Chambers suggests offering up Tyson Jost, their 2020 first-round pick, and a B-level prospect like Martin Kaut or Shane Bowers. If it’s a trade-and-sign scenario, he proposes a package of Jost, A-level prospect Conor Timmins, and a second-round pick.
COLORADO HOCKEY NOW: Adrian Dater list several reasons why he’s against the Avalanche acquiring Hall. He feels their offense is deep enough, and it could cost them a top prospect like Timmins, Bo Byram or Alex Newhook. The cost of re-signing Hall would complicate efforts to re-sign Nathan MacKinnon, Gabriel Landeskog, and Cale Makar within the next two years.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Interesting perspectives from two Avalanche beat writers. Both raise good points for and against acquiring Hall. It will come down to the Devils’ asking price and the willingness of Avs general manager Joe Sakic to pay it.
Sakic recently told The Athletic’s Pierre LeBrun he wants to evaluate his injury-riddled roster once it is healthy before deciding on which roster needs must be addressed. Depending on how long Makar and Philipp Grubauer are sidelined, he could be forced to wait beyond the Christmas deadline.
EDMONTON JOURNAL: Kurt Leavins reports sources have confirmed the Avalanche, Arizona Coyotes, and Edmonton Oilers have already had extensive conversations with the Devils. He points out the Avalanche have a self-imposed salary-cap ceiling, the Oilers are tight against the salary cap, while the Coyotes lack the depth in blueline assets the Devils covet. Leavins acknowledges the asking price for Hall could be too expensive for Oilers general manager Ken Holland, but he wouldn’t be doing his job if he didn’t look into it.
THE ATHLETIC: Craig Morgan recently reported sources confirmed the Coyotes have interest in Hall. GM John Chayka declined to comment about Hall, though he said he always has to explore opportunities to improve his club. Morgan said Chayka is happy with his roster and would prefer keeping it intact.
Morgan doubts the Coyotes are a top-of-the-list trade partner. He speculates the Devils’ starting point would be a first-round pick and a high-end prospect, with a conditional pick and a roster player or another prospect thrown in. Morgan said Chayka’s shown no willingness to move goaltender Antti Raanta. He also noted the Coyotes’ limited salary-cap space and the high cost of re-signing Hall could work against acquiring him.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Oilers don’t need Hall. They need a reliable third-line center and to shore up their defense. Jim Matheson recently observed the Oilers have given up too many goals over their last 10 games, which saw them go 5-4-1 over that stretch. Hall won’t address that problem.
The Avalanche have lots of cap space, but we’ve overlooked the possibility that could be by design. They could insist on the Devils picking up a healthy chunk of Hall’s $6-million salary-cap hit. A self-imposed cap could also make it difficult to re-sign him. If the Coyotes want Hall, the Devils will have to absorb part of his cap hit or take back one or two salaried players to make the dollars fit.
NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks believes the Islanders should get into the bidding for Hall or New York Rangers’ winger Chris Kreider. He points out GM Lou Lamoriello’s history of making big acquisitions when he believes his club has a shot at contending for the Stanley Cup, as well as his attempt to sign Artemi Panarin last summer. If Hall or Kreider prove too expensive, Brooks wonders if Lamoriello would consider a reunion with Devils center Travis Zajac.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Unless Lamoriello is willing to overpay, I don’t see the Devils sending Hall or Zajac or the Rangers sending Kreider to the Islanders, even as a rental.
LATEST ON GALCHENYUK AND ATHANASIOU
SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports Pittsburgh Penguins winger Alex Galchenyuk has surfaced in the rumor mill. He cited comments by Penguins GM Jim Rutherford to The Athletic’s Josh Yohe suggesting there might not be room for Galchenyuk on their forward lines once their sidelined players return to action. Friedman said the Pens are looking around to find the right fit. He thinks the Buffalo Sabres looked into it.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Galchenyuk’s stock has plummeted since he was dealt by the Montreal Canadiens to the Coyotes last year in a one-for-one swap for Max Domi. He had a respectable 19 goals and 41 points last season before being included in last summer’s package deal for Phil Kessel. He’s struggled through injuries and adjusting to his new teammates, managing 10 points in 21 games. Given the Penguins’ limited cap space, they could flip him for a draft pick or a prospect.
A club in need of scoring depth, like the Sabres, could be willing to take a chance on Galchenyuk. He’s slated to become an unrestricted free agent next summer. If he doesn’t work out, his new club can just let him walk away.
MLIVE.COM: In a recent mailbag segment, Ansar Khan was asked if Detroit Red Wings forward Andreas Athanasiou might benefit from a change of scenery. He thinks so, pointing to his struggles this season, including a league-worst plus-minus of minus-33.
Khan doubts Athanasiou has a future with the Wings, as GM Steve Yzerman will focus on locking up young forwards Anthony Mantha and Tyler Bertuzzi to long-term contracts. He believes the winger could be shopped by the Feb. 24 trade deadline or before the 2020 NHL Draft next June.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Athanasiou is also a restricted free agent with arbitration rights. Given his previously contentious contract negotiations and his struggles this season, it wouldn’t be surprising if he hits the trade block before Feb. 24. I agree with Khan that Athanasiou could regain his scoring touch on another team.