NHL Rumors: Barzal, Gaudette, Hischier, More

In today’s NHL Rumors rundown, we look at Mathew Barzal and his upcoming contract negotiations, Adam Gaudette’s status with the Vancouver Canucks, and Nico Hischier’s extension. Plus, could the Boston Bruins have interest in Jesse Puljujarvi or Josh Ho-Sang?

Related: NHL Rumors: Bruins, Hall, Trade Rumors, More

Islanders Looking to Accelerate Barzal Extension Talks?

In yesterday’s edition of Sportsnet’s Headlines, Chris Johnston was asked about New York Islanders forward Mathew Barzal who’s in the final year of his entry-level contract. Johnston believes that the two sides have yet to begin negotiations but thinks that the Islanders would prefer to get an extension done before the offseason begins. This would prevent them from having to potentially drag out negotiations into training camp. The 2018 Calder Trophy winner has had an excellent start to his career and his 147 points in his first two seasons were actually 17 more than Toronto Maple Leafs forward and 2019 restricted free agent (RFA) Mitch Marner had in his.

If you recall, Marner recently signed a six-year extension worth $10.893 million per season after his 94-point performance in his third season increased his value. While it’s unlikely that Barzal matches Marner’s 94 points, that doesn’t mean his cap hit won’t be comparable to Marner’s. Barzal is the Islanders’ first-line center, a role and position more valuable than Marner, a winger. Of course, contract length will impact the deal’s cap hit, but it’s likely that the Islanders will have interest in signing Barzal to a long-term deal to lock down their most important, and best, player.

Should Gaudette Stay in the NHL?

Following the Canucks’ 1-0 loss to the New Jersey Devils, The Province’s Ben Kuzma looked into prospect Adam Gaudette and his role on the team. (from ‘Canucks Post Game: Pettersson’s problem, Markstrom dishes, Gaudette watch, Hughes review,’ The Province, 10/20/2019) Although Gaudette is on the NHL roster, he’s only appeared in three games this season and hasn’t played since Oct. 12.

Adam Gaudette Vancouver Canucks
Vancouver Canucks forward Adam Gaudette (Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports)

He does have an assist on the season, but has played bottom-six minutes when in the lineup. Kuzma points out that while the Canucks and head coach Travis Green are big fans of him, is it better for Gaudette to be a healthy scratch in the NHL or be receiving top-line minutes in the American Hockey League with the Utica Comets?

“We’re monitoring it closely,” he said. “We’ll take it day by day, but he’s working hard and that’s the one thing about Gauds — he works on his game every day.”

Travis Green on Adam Gaudette

He excelled in the AHL last season, when he had 11 points in 14 games, and after dominating the NCAA, he looks ready to produce at the NHL level. Kuzma thinks that the third line makes the most sense for Gaudette as he has had chemistry this season when centering the line and shifting Brandon Sutter to the wing. The Canucks have gotten off to a strong start with a 4-3-0 record in 2019-20, however, they are struggling to score goals. Giving regular playing time to a talented forward like Gaudette could provide a boost to their offense while continuing to turn over the roster to a younger group of players.

Related: Gaudette Is the Answer to the Canucks’ Third Line

Hischier’s Contract a Result of Finding Common Ground

On Friday, the Devils and 2017 first-overall pick Nico Hischier agreed to a seven-year extension with a $7.25-million cap hit. He is currently in the final year of his entry-level contract and was scheduled to become an RFA at season’s end. Despite being thrown into the fire from the moment he broke into the league, he has performed well, with 101 points in 157 games while playing a quality two-way style.

Nico Hischier New Jersey Devils
Nico Hischier, New Jersey Devils (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

While it’s likely that the Devils always wanted to go long-term with Hischier, it would have been understandable for him to pursue a shorter, bridge deal in order to increase his value. However, that wasn’t the case. In interviews with NJ.com’s Chris Ryan, Hischier confirmed that he always had interest in signing a long-term contract.

“I felt really welcomed since day one here. I was really happy, was treated well,” Hischier said. “They give me the confidence a player needs. So I had no reason why I wouldn’t want to stay here. I was happy they felt the same way, so there wasn’t a lot of back and forth.”

Nico Hischier (from ‘How Devils and Nico Hischier found common ground in 7-year contract extension,’ NJ.com, 10/19/2019)

Although Hischier hasn’t produced at the levels of other number one picks like Connor McDavid and Auston Matthews, the Devils love his game and were fine committing to him long-term.

He can play top line minutes. He can play against other teams’ best players. I think in the future, he’s going to be a Selke Award winner. He has all the attributes and makings of a player like a Patrice Bergeron type of player.

Devils head coach John Hynes on Hischier

While the Devils are betting on Hischier’s development and upside by giving him a long-term deal, making the deal look a bit questionable in the present, there’s also a clear path to the contract being a bargain in the future. He may never score 40 goals in a season or hit the 100-point mark, but his strong two-way play down the middle is something every team would love to have.

Related: Devils Smart to Give Hischier Long-Term Contract

Could the Bruins Target Puljujarvi or Ho-Sang?

In yesterday’s Rumors piece, I discussed the Bruins’ potential interest in Taylor Hall in an effort to address their need for additional scoring. While adding Hall would be a high-caliber move, there are also some lower-caliber deals they could consider that would still benefit the roster.

Taylor Hall New Jersey Devils
Taylor Hall, New Jersey Devils (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

According to NBC Sports Boston’s Joe Haggerty, the Bruins should have interest in Jesse Puljujarvi and Josh Ho-Sang. He believes that both have the potential to contribute to the Bruins while being lower-cost options than someone like Hall.

Maybe it’s time for the Bruins to get out ahead of the NHL curve and take advantage of a couple of situations brewing in other NHL destinations. With so many second and third line-types shooting blanks right now, why not kick the tires on Josh Ho-Sang with the Islanders, or with Jesse Puljujarvi in Edmonton?

Joe Haggerty

Regarding Ho-Sang, Haggerty points out that he wouldn’t cost much, and while he doesn’t have a ton of upside at his point, he also can’t be much worse than Karson Kuhlman and Brett Ritchie. Perhaps Ho-Sang, who’s struggled in his Islanders tenure, could benefit from playing on a team like the Bruins that has excellent leadership.

Josh Ho-Sang - Islanders
Josh Ho-Sang, New York Islanders, September 17, 2018 (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Meanwhile, Haggerty thinks that the Bruins would have more interest in Puljujarvi. The former fourth-overall pick is currently producing with Karpat in Finland’s Liiga after he requested a traded from the Edmonton Oilers over the offseason. Haggerty believes that Puljujarvi’s size (6-foot-4) would be an excellent fit on the Bruins’ second line even though he’s never be a big producer at the NHL or AHL levels. He’s another player who could benefit from a change of scenery by moving to a more stable organization like the Bruins. Haggerty thinks that the Oilers could be looking for top-nine forward prospect and a draft pick in return for Puljujarvi, and those are assets the Bruins have plenty of. Adding Puljujarvi is the type of low-risk, high-reward deal that could pay off exponentially in the future.