In today’s NHL rumor rundown, Ilya Kovalchuk was paid his bonus so what happens next? If the reports on Monday are accurate, the next steps are surprising. The Arizona Coyotes are high up in terms of odds to land Taylor Hall but one team who has dropped out of the conversation isn’t really out of it. Will the Maple leafs trade a forward based on their depth and what are the Montreal Canadiens and Chicago Blackhawks talking about?
Kovalchuk to Be Suspended by Kings?
According to a statement by the Los Angeles Kings, “Ilya Kovalchuk has left the team and been placed on unconditional waivers for the purpose of terminating his contract with the club.”
Pierre LeBrun of TSN and The Athletic reported updates on the Kovalchuk situation and he writes that Kovalchuk was expected to leave the Kings as early as today and not wait for his contract termination. This puts him in breach of contract, which would bring on a suspension and an official parting of the ways this week. He would be UFA by the end of it. LeBrun adds that the Kings remain with his $6.25 million cap hit this season and next, but would no longer have to pay him in real life.
Chris Johnston of Sportsnet writes, “By leaving the team and terminating his contract now, he gives up roughly $400,000 in salary this season and $4.25M next.”
Oilers Not Out on Hall
There are a few NHL insiders saying that this Taylor Hall situation in New Jersey is becoming such a fiasco that a few teams once considered interested but likely out of the running are not necessarily out of it. Among them are the Edmonton Oilers.
Ryan Rishaug of TSN wrote the Oilers are interested but only at the right price. He said:
My sense on Hall remains the same as before. Oilers won’t want to pay premium for him (Broberg/Bouchard/1st rounder) so they’ll wait to see if prices drop over time and if so, will try and find a deal. Just don’t see them mortgaging much for A level futures at this stage.
Jason Gregor of TSN 1260 said that the Oilers and Devils have been talking for the past three weeks, he’s just not sure if the offer on the table from Edmonton is as good as some others.
All that said, NJ.com’s Chris Ryan cites reports indicating the Arizona Coyotes, Florida Panthers, St. Louis Blues and Colorado Avalanche are the leading contenders to acquire Hall.
Oilers to Talk to Maple Leafs?
In other Oilers news, if the Toronto Maple Leafs keep the Ilya Mikheyev-Alex Kerfoot-Pierre Engvall third line, one of Andreas Johnsson or Kasperi Kapanen would be on the fourth line – not ideal at their salary.
According to James Mirtle of The Athletic, teams are keeping an eye on Kapanen and he could become a trade chip. Mirtle writes:
If the third line keeps playing like this, however, those tough decisions could become trade chips, as that talk heats up around the league, thanks to the Taylor Hall sweepstakes.source – ‘Mirtle: Should the Maple Leafs trade from a strength — their forward depth — to help them on D and in goal?’ – James Mirtle – The Athletic – 12/14/2019
Trading Kapanen for a defenseman makes some sense and the Edmonton Oilers are in need of some additional top-six scoring help. Could Kapanen and Adam Larsson become the central pieces in a trade?
Canadiens Targeting a Player From Blackhawks?
TVA Sports writes that Montreal Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin’s recent scouting of the Chicago Blackhawks suggests there might be something to a Canadiens deal with the Blackhawks. Defenseman Olli Maatta’s name has surfaced, Erik Gustafsson could be the target.
There is speculation the Blackhawks are willing to listen to offers on Gustafsson.