In today’s NHL Rumors rundown, we look at some of the rumors brought up in Elliotte Friedman’s latest 31 Thoughts post, including Taylor Hall’s potential contract extension and what the Washington Capitals plan to do with Nicklas Backstrom and Braden Holtby.
Can the Blues Re-Sign Pietrangelo?
In Tuesday’s 31 Thoughts, Friedman provided information on a number of notable topics. One of the biggest names included in the post is St. Louis Blues captain and top defenseman Alex Pietrangelo, an unrestricted free agent at season’s end.
As I’ve discussed in previous Rumors posts, it’d be hard to believe that the team and player don’t come to an agreement before free agency starts. According to Friedman, this couldn’t be more true. He cites an executive who believes that a Pietrangelo extension is a foregone conclusion unless either side doesn’t want it to happen.
It is hard to believe things won’t work out between St. Louis and Alex Pietrangelo, unless, for whatever reason, one side doesn’t want to make it work.
Plus, with the Blues in Toronto to face the Maple Leafs early in the season, general manager Doug Armstrong will have the opportunity to meet with Pietrangelo’s agent. Granted, the league may be moving in a younger direction, and extending a 30-year-old Pietrangelo to an extension may be risky, but he is a vital part of the team and was key to the Blues winning the franchise’s first Stanley Cup in 2019. Acquiring Justin Faulk shouldn’t be viewed as an omen that the team is looking to move on from Pietrangelo either, just a protection against potentially losing him.
Will the Islanders Trade Ho-Sang?
Since the New York Islanders drafted him 28th overall in 2014, Josh Ho-Sang has failed to develop into a regular NHLer. In three seasons, he’s appeared in 53 NHL games with 24 points. The Islanders have had four head coaches and two front office regimes in Ho-Sang’s tenure and he’s failed to stick through it all. Friedman quoted GM Lou Lamoriello to speculate that the Islanders may be looking to move on from the player:
He came in and did everything that you could ask of a player to try and win a spot. In my opinion, he was given every opportunity and it just did not work out.Lou Lamoriello
If the Islanders feel that they provided Ho-Sang with every chance to make the NHL roster this season and he still didn’t cut it, perhaps there is reason to believe a trade may be coming. The question is, which team will have interest in him? He was recently placed on waivers and went unclaimed, so a team parting with assets to acquire him seems difficult to believe.
That being said, Ho-Sang is still only 23 and is talented, so perhaps a new setting will help him reach his potential. According to Friedman, one possible landing spot is the Edmonton Oilers as he and Connor McDavid had chemistry as teammates with the Toronto Marlboros in 2011-12. Whether that chemistry, now eight years ago, is still present remains to be seen.
Are the Oilers Receiving Interest in Puljujarvi?
Speaking of the Oilers, Friedman reports that, according to Oilers GM Ken Holland, there hasn’t been noise regarding restricted free agent Jesse Puljujarvi. He remains unsigned after he requested a trade out of Edmonton and is currently playing in his native Finland with Karpat where he has six points in seven games.
Related: Two Trade Fits for Jesse Puljujarvi
The 2016 fourth-overall pick was disgruntled with his lack of playing time and has no interest in remaining an Oiler. Although there was reportedly traction regarding a Puljujarvi trade this summer, those discussions have simmered as Holland is hoping that Puljujarvi’s trade value increases with his play in Finland. It should be noted that in order for him to play in the NHL this season, he must be signed before the Dec. 1 deadline.
How Does Kuemper Contract Impact Coyotes’ Goaltending?
The Arizona Coyotes acquired Antti Raanta in June 2017 to be their starting netminder. They believed in him enough to sign him to a contract that has a $4.25-million cap hit and expires after the 2020-21 season. He has been excellent in his Coyotes tenure, with a .925 save percentage (SV%), 2.37 goals-against average (GAA), and 3 shutouts in 58 starts across two seasons. His only problem has been injuries that kept him to just 12 appearances last season. In his absence, Darcy Kuemper has been incredible, with a .921 SV%, 2.46 GAA, and 6 shutouts in 65 starts in parts of two seasons with the Coyotes.
Kuemper was so good last season that he finished fifth in Vezina Trophy voting and the Coyotes like him enough that they recently gave him a two-year contract extension worth $4.5 million per year. That duo, plus prospect Adin Hill and recent waiver claim Eric Comrie, give the Coyotes an excess of goaltending talent, something Friedman believes the team could use to their advantage.
With the Coyotes pushing for a playoff spot this season, could GM John Chayka, who’s never afraid to make a trade, use his surplus of netminders to add talent elsewhere on the roster? A lot of that will depend on Raanta’s health as he missed the preseason with injury. If Raanta doesn’t appear 100 percent healthy, it’s likely the Coyotes hold onto their goalies.
Taylor Hall to Negotiate Mid-Season?
According to TSN’s Bob McKenzie, New Jersey Devils winger Taylor Hall has given his agent, Dan Ferris, the go-ahead to work on a contract extension mid-season. Appearing on TSN 1050’s OverDrive program, McKenzie stated that he believes Hall has interest in re-signing with the Devils and likes the direction the team has taken by drafting Jack Hughes and acquiring P.K. Subban this offseason.
After mixed reports got out last week regarding the progress made in recent discussions, news that Hall wants to negotiate an extension during the season is great news for the Devils and their fans. Hall has one year remaining on his contract at a $6-million cap hit. The 2018 Hart Trophy winner as league MVP has 511 points in 562 career games, including 183 points in 181 games with the Devils.
Can Capitals Re-Sign Both Backstrom and Holtby?
Although the Washington Capitals are still in their Stanley Cup window, it’s obvious that the roster is aging and that an era could be coming to its conclusion. According to The Washington Post’s Samantha Pell, Capitals GM Brian MacLellan has every intention of keeping the team’s core together by re-signing center Nicklas Backstrom and goaltender Braden Holtby, both free agents at season’s end.
I am not ruling anything out. I mean, obviously it will be tough to do, especially if they both have good years. It is going to be hard to do, but I wouldn’t rule it out.Brian MacLellan (from ‘With Nicklas Backstrom and Braden Holtby in contract years, Capitals could be facing an era’s end,’ The Washington Post, 10/01/2019)
Backstrom and Holtby both played key roles in helping the Capitals capture the 2018 Stanley Cup and losing either would be a tough pill to swallow. Backstrom is in the last year of a 10-year, $67-million contract, while Holtby is in the final year of his five-year, $30.5-million deal he signed in 2015. Given the cost of top-tier netminders, including Sergei Bobrovsky’s seven-year, $70-million contract he signed this offseason, it may be difficult to retain Holtby unless he takes a significant hometown discount. Plus, with Ilya Samsonov the likely heir apparent to the Capitals net, retaining a 30-year-old netminder may not be in the team’s best interest. Furthermore, with just over $17.1 million in cap space for next season, extending both Backstrom and Holtby will be a very tight squeeze.