NHL Rumor Mill – December 16, 2019
The Taylor Hall trade watch continues, plus the latest on the Leafs, Canadiens, Blackhawks, and Canucks in today’s NHL rumor mill.
THE LATEST HALL SPECULATION
NJ.COM: Chris Ryan cites reports indicating the Arizona Coyotes, Florida Panthers, St. Louis Blues and Colorado Avalanche are the leading contenders to acquire New Jersey Devils winger Taylor Hall. He speculates the Devils could seek several pieces, including a high draft pick, an additional conditional pick if Hall re-signs with his new team, a top prospect or one or two other solid prospects.
Ryan examined the possible returns the Devils could receive from these clubs. He suggests targeting Coyotes prospect Barrett Hayton or Victor Soderstrom, Panthers prospect goaltender Spencer Knight, Blues defenseman Niko Mikkola, or Avs prospect Bowen Byram.
SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports multiple sources claimed the Coyotes aren’t offering up Hayton or Soderstrom, but the two sides could be haggling over prospect defenseman Kevin Bahl. He doesn’t know the details of the Coyotes’ package offer to the Devils, but it’s believed to be futures-based. The Coyotes could go in a different direction if this continues without a resolution for too long.
Friedman also cites sources claiming the Devils may have received an offer or two that revolve around younger, established NHL players. Devils general manager Ray Shero could face a choice between a futures offer or a hockey trade that can provide immediate help.
The Devils haven’t yet permitted interested clubs to speak with Hall or his agent regarding a contract extension. However, Friedman suggests that it doesn’t mean they won’t if they receive an offer they like that’s contingent on one. He also wonders what the Devils will continue to sit Hall if he’s not traded before the upcoming holiday trade freeze.
VANCOUVER SUN’s Patrick Johnston cited a source claiming the Panthers’ offer includes forward Vincent Trocheck and several Boston-based prospects.
EDMONTON JOURNAL: David Staples believes the Hall trade saga is becoming a farce that could affect his trade value. “The deeper we go into the season, the less Hall’s value, especially as a rental,” said Staples. “The more complications that come up in moving him — and surely a major league complication came up to thwart a trade this weekend — the less his value.”
Jim Matheson took to Twitter musing about what Oilers GM Ken Holland could offer up to acquire Hall as a rental player. He speculates the offer would be winger Jesse Puljujarvi’s rights plus a second-round pick that becomes a first-rounder if the Oilers reach the playoffs. Kurt Leavins asked, “Why would the New Jersey Devils grant negotiation status to a club that Taylor Hall doesn’t want to sign with?”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It certainly seemed like a Hall trade was imminent when the winger was held out of the lineup over the weekend in consecutive games against two clubs – the Avalanche and Coyotes – reportedly interested in acquiring him. A deal could still go down soon, but it appears Devils management could be using the upcoming week-long holiday roster freeze (which begins at midnight ET on Dec. 19) as a deadline to pressure interested parties into improving their offers.
On Saturday, Chris Johnston reported the Coyotes had emerged as the front-runner for Hall. Friedman felt the Devils were trying to leverage the Coyotes’ trade package into better offers from other clubs.
In other words, “Here’s what the Coyotes are offering us for Hall. Can you match or beat it?” The lack of news since then suggests no one has done so, though it’s possible the haggling is continuing.
If the Panthers are offering up Trocheck, it will leave them thin at center. The Boston-based prospects could include Spencer Knight, defenseman Benjamin Finkelstein, and winger Logan Hutsko.
SHOULD THE LEAFS SWAP A FORWARD FOR A GOALIE OR DEFENSEMAN?
THE ATHLETIC: James Mirtle believes the Toronto Maple Leafs will face some tough decisions once sidelined forward Andreas Johnsson returns to action in January. With the third line of Pierre Engvall, Alexander Kerfoot, and Ilya Mikheyev keeps playing well, the Leafs could be reluctant to break them out. That could mean demoting Johnsson or Kasperi Kapanen to the fourth line, which doesn’t make sense given their experience and salaries.
Mirtle said Kapanen is a player rival clubs lacking depth on the wing are keeping an eye on. He wondered if someone like Edmonton Oilers defenseman Adam Larsson might be a good fit.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Leafs reportedly don’t want to move Kapanen. If their depth issues in goal and on the blueline persist, however, they might not have much choice, especially if it could derail their playoff hopes. It doesn’t necessarily have to be Larsson, but I think the Leafs would prefer a good second-pairing rearguard in return for Kapanen.
LATEST ON THE CANADIENS
TVA SPORTS: Speculation persists over Montreal Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin’s recent scouting of the Chicago Blackhawks. Defenseman Olli Maatta’s name has surfaced, but Yvon Pedneault suggested Erik Gustafsson could be the target. He doubted the Blackhawks want to part with Maatta, but they could be willing to listen to offers for Gustafsson.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Blackhawks acquire Maatta during the summer. He’s under contract through 2021-22. Gustafsson, however, will become a UFA in July. He’s the more likely trade candidate.
— Ben Kuzma (@benkuzma) December 14, 2019