In today’s NHL rumor rundown, there is news on the Winnipeg Jets and how far apart they are with forward Kyle Connor. There is also news on negotiations starting between the New Jersey Devils and Taylor Hall. What’s going on with Michal Neuvirth in Toronto? He’s fighting for a backup role but not seizing opportunities. Finally, will Brayden Point’s new contract affect negotiations for players like Mikko Rantanen and Matthew Tkachuk?
Jets and Connor Miles Apart
The Winnipeg Jets seem to be the focus of the off-ice hockey rumor mill the past few days. In a bit more bad news for the team, both Bob McKenzie of TSN and Pierre LeBrun of The Athletic are reporting that things aren’t close with Kyle Connor on a new extension. LeBrun goes so far as to quote Connor’s agent Rich Evans who said that any reports or speculation that the two sides are close to a deal is “just not true.”
While the rumors aren’t good, there are also reports, Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff is working to get Connor signed. As LeBrun writes:
“We will keep on working at them until we reach an agreement,” Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff said Monday, keeping consistent with his reluctance to say much while negotiations on both fronts are ongoing.source – ‘LeBrun: RFA pressure mounts after Point signing, Taylor Hall’s value and Winnipeg’s options with Byfuglien’ – Pierre LeBrun – The Athletic – September 23, 2019
Part of the issue for the Jets is that Cheveldayoff is now forced to wait for Dustin Byfuglien to decide on his future and if a decision isn’t made, Darren Dreger suggested the Jets might consider terminating Byfuglien’s contract. Going that route would be the far end of the extreme where the Jets felt they had no other choice. It would also require the involvement of the league. He also said the Jets are talking to teams about potential trades but the Byfuglien situation complicates things.
Taylor Hall Talking With Devils?
LeBrun also reports that Taylor Hall’s agent Darren Ferris is having preliminary talks with the New Jersey Devils about a new contract. The Devils are taking their time with this knowing that a decision from Hall now or later likely doesn’t change his value in trade, should they be forced to move him.
LeBrun says his gut feeling is that Hall stays in New Jersey, choosing not see if the grass is greener elsewhere. Should he stay with the team, it will probably cost the Devils $11 million or more per season if Hall bounces back healthy from an injury-riddled season.
What’s Up with Neuvirth in Toronto?
The Toronto Maple Leafs played Monday’s game against the Montreal Canadiens without goaltender Michal Neuvirth who was originally scheduled to play. Michael Hutchinson instead played and made 38 saves for the shutout victory.
Maple Leafs head coach Mike Babcock told reporters including Kristen Shilton of TSN that Neuvirth “wasn’t feeling up to playing”. Minor injuries were the reasoning but it’s not good that Neuvirth is missing crucial time as he battles with Joseph Woll for the backup spot. On a professional tryout with the Maple Leafs, this is leading to speculation Neuvirth could be on the list of upcoming cuts.
How Point’s Deal Affect Other RFAs
TSN’s Bob McKenzie noted on the recent Insider Trading segment that Brayden Point’s new contract likely won’t affect negotiations for players like Mikko Rantanen with the Colorado Avalanche or Matthew Tkachuk with the Calgary Flames. He added that the Patrik Laine and Kyle Connor deals in Winnipeg are completely different.
McKenzie doesn’t think these other teams will get such team-friendly deals because they all have state or provincial taxes, they aren’t Stanley Cup contenders like the Lightning and their franchises don’t have a history of players taking less to stay.
Jim Parsons is a freelance writer who covers the Edmonton Oilers and news and rumors posts here at The Hockey Writers.
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