NHL Rumors: Islanders, Maple Leafs, Rangers, More

In today’s NHL rumor rundown, there is news that new Toronto coach Sheldon Keefe is sending a message to his players, the New York Islanders might be a team interested in a free agent Taylor Hall and will the New York Rangers have any luck moving Lias Andersson once the roster freeze ends?

Keefe Sending Early Message to Leafs Roster

On Saturday night, Toronto Maple Leafs head coach Sheldon Keefe effectively sent as clear a message as he could to William Nylander, Kasperi Kapanen and any other member of the roster not ready to give 110% of their effort at all times.

William Nylander Toronto Maple Leafs
William Nylander, Toronto Maple Leafs (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

After a lazy back-check, Keefe limited Nylander to just three shifts in the second period and none in the final 13 minutes. This came after Nylander exploded the night before offensively. Clearly, it wasn’t about continued poor play.

Nylander ended up playing only 16 total shifts through the full 60 minutes of the game, which got a lot of attention by media after the game. The message seemed to be, play hard or your ice time will virtually disappear. That said, Keefe is known to load up on the guys who are working hard and performing well. If Nylander or anyone else shows they have it going, they could make up those minutes in a hurry.

Some are thinking there’s a possible issue here between Keefe and Nylander but there likely isn’t. Keefe is simply setting the boundaries early about what he’ll accept and what he won’t. And, he’s not afraid to set those boundaries with his top players.

Related: The New York Islanders Exclusive 40-Goal Club

Islanders to Get In on Taylor Hall Sweepstakes

Should Taylor Hall make it to free agency, Kevin Paul Dupont of the Boston Globe writes that no one should be surprised if the New York Islanders are the biggest bidders on the star forward.

Taylor Hall Arizona Coyotes
Taylor Hall, Arizona Coyotes (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

Dupont writes:

Meanwhile, it’s possible Hall falls in love with the desert and signs an eight-year uber free agent deal there on or before July 1. More likely he hits the open market, where one of the more aggressive suitors should be the Islanders. 

source – ‘What would Bruce Cassidy tell his former 37-year-old self about coaching?’ – Kevin Paul Dupont – Boston Globe – 12/21/2019

The Islanders have lots of in-house work to do, including getting Mathew Barzal signed, but general manager Lou Lamoriello will still have plenty of cap space to bring in Hall and a number of insiders are predicting the Islanders to be the team that outbids everyone.

Speaking of Hall, he scored his first goal as a member of the Arizona Coyotes on Sunday versus the Detroit Red Wings.

Related: Nashville Predators: Top 5 Draft Busts

Rangers Will Have Trouble Moving Andersson

According to Rick Carpiniello of The Athletic, the New York Rangers could have a tough go of it trying to move Lias Andersson in trade. This comes after Andersson asked to be moved, didn’t report to the AHL team and was suspended by the team.

Lias Andersson New York Rangers
Lias Andersson, New York Rangers, Nov. 23, 2018 (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Carpiniello writes:

“The NHL has really put people like Lias Andersson in a tough situation because this kid’s going to be 21 and he’s already — in his mind — gone through an organization and is ready to move on,” a source said.

source – ‘With Lias Andersson drama as a backdrop, Rangers put on a show against the Ducks’ – Rick Carpiniello – The Athletic – 12/22/2019

Ironically, this type of attitude seemed prevalent in Jesse Puljuarvi out of Edmonton. There were rumors the Rangers tried to move Andersson to the Oilers but this was prior to Andersson making his trade request public and the Oilers didn’t bite. Elliotte Friedman wondered during the Saturday Sportsnet broadcast if the two teams might revisit those talks.

Related: NHL Rumors: Rangers, Oilers, Capitals, Blackhawks, More