NHL Rumors: Gardiner, Hall, Wild, Penguins, More

In today’s NHL rumor rundown there are updates on unrestricted free agent Jake Gardiner and pending unrestricted free agent Taylor Hall, there is speculation the Pittsburgh Penguins might look to trade a top defenseman and the Minnesota Wild are narrowing down their search for a new GM.

Gardiner Not Talking

Steve Simmons of The Toronto Sun wrote on Twitter that he spoke with Jake Gardiner on Saturday and said the unrestricted free agent defenseman wouldn’t talk on or off the record about his current situation.

Jake Gardiner
Toronto Maple Leafs defenceman Jake Gardiner speaks to reporters after a locker clean out at the Scotiabank Arena in Toronto, on Thursday, April 25, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Christopher Katsarov

There have been rumors Gardiner has a handshake deal with a team but he’s not signed anywhere and he wouldn’t take any questions about his free-agent status.

Related: Ron Hextall – First 3 Years as Flyers’ GM

Wild Have It Down to Three

The Athletic’s Michael Russo writes that the search for a new general manager in Minnesota is down to three finalists. Those are, Pittsburgh Penguins assistant GM Bill Guerin, Montreal Canadiens assistant GM Scott Mellanby and former Philadelphia Flyers GM Ron Hextall.

Philadelphia Flyers general manager Ron Hextall
FILE – In this April 11, 2016, file photo, Philadelphia Flyers general manager Ron Hextall speaks with members of the media during a NHL hockey news conference in Voorhees, N.J. The Flyers fired Hextall on Monday, Nov. 26, 2018. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke, FIle)

Saying Hextall’s personality may be too close to Paul Fenton’s and knowing there were issues in Philadelphia, Hextall may have too much dirt on him. Mellanby impressed, but not as much as Guerin.

Russo writes:

Anything, of course, can change this week, but I really feel at this point Guerin has separated himself from the pack and is the frontrunner to become the fourth full-time GM in Wild history. But as I said, anything can change, and Hextall and Mellanby are smart hockey men.

source – ‘Ask Russo: On Wild’s GM search, Winter Classic, future of key players and more’ – Michael Russo – The Athletic – 08/18/2019

Related: Top 10 Weirdest Goalies in NHL History

Justin Schultz to be Traded This Season?

Jonathan Bombulie of the Pittsburgh Tribune Review writes that the Pittsburgh Penguins have a history of trading players in the final year of their contracts and defenseman Justin Schultz fits the bill. He carries a $5.5 million salary cap hit and unless he’s willing to take a discount to re-sign, may not be around by the end of the year.

Justin Schultz, Pittsburgh Penguins
Justin Schultz, Pittsburgh Penguins, March 7, 2018 (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Next offseason, the Penguins need to sign players like Matt Murray, Alex Galchenyuk and Jared McCann, so Schultz may not be in their future plans. As a right-handed, top-four puck-moving defenseman, Schultz will have some attraction for other teams.

Related: Oilers News and Rumors: Nygard, Bouchard, McDavid, More

Talk Around Taylor Hall Continues

We reported not long ago that there were some unsubstantiated rumors Taylor Hall might have an interest in returning to the Edmonton Oilers if he becomes an unrestricted free agent. While there’s been no follow up on those rumors and most believe it’s a longshot at best, it doesn’t change the fact a cloud will hang over Hall this season or until he’s signed.

New Jersey Devils Taylor Hall
New Jersey Devils left wing Taylor Hall (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

The latest comes from Scott Billeck of NBC Sports who looked at whether or not Hall would sign a long-term extension with the Devils.

The Devils added a lot of pieces by getting Jack Hughes, P.K. Subban, Wayne Simmonds, and Nikita Gusev. Is it enough? Billeck writes:

“… a genuine attempt to make the team better has to sit well in Hall’s camp. But there’s always going to be that allure of having the world at his feet with truckloads of money and the ability to chose his destination next summer.”

Related: Devils Need Post-Draft Roster Upgrades

Couture Says Thornton Will Sign With Sharks

San Jose Sharks center Logan Couture, says he would be shocked if Joe Thornton isn’t back with the Sharks next season. Couture said to NHL.com, “I talked to Joe a month ago and asked him what was going on and he said, ‘Oh don’t worry about it,’ so I took that as he’ll be back.”

Related: Sharks Must Finally Make Couture Captain