In today’s NHL rumors rundown, James Neal kicks off the NHL’s preseason with a hat trick for the St. Louis Blues. What does this mean for potential employment with an NHL club? Meanwhile, Jakub Vrana is not having an auspicious start to his season. The Montreal Canadiens have learned they’ll be without Mike Hoffman for a while and the Dallas Stars could move a handful of players before the season ends. Finally, what are the Edmonton Oilers going to do with Josh Archibald considering the team is owned by someone heavily invested in the Pharmaceutical industry?
Neal Scores Hat Trick in First Blues’ Preseason Game
James Neal scored three goals on Saturday for the Blues, sending a statement to the rest of the league that he should be considered for a regular role on an NHL roster. Neal spoke with the media after his performance and confirmed that he was offered a few PTOs by other teams. He chose the Blues, saying, “This is a good team, this a good culture. You could tell right from the start of camp.”
It’s not clear if the Blues will offer Neal a contract based on one game or see it for what it is, just one game. Neal has a tendency to score goals in bunches and he’s not likely to join a roster and be a 20-30 goal scorer. Still, his three goals should be enough for a team that wants scoring depth to know that Neal can offer that.
In other Blues news, St. Louis has officially announced a five-year extension for GM Doug Armstrong. The new deal will kick in at the end of this season and make him the longest-tenured GM in franchise history.
Of course, there was also the trade on Saturday that saw the Blues acquired Logan Brown and a conditional fourth-round pick in 2022 from the Ottawa Senators in exchange for winger Zach Sanford. The draft pick will not transfer if Brown plays in 30 regular-season games with the Blues this season.
Red Wings Potentially Lose Vrana Early
Jakub Vrana did not get off to a good start this season. As per Kevin Allen, Vrana arrived late to training camp due to visa issues and joined the team late on ice. To make matters worse, less than ten minutes into his first on-ice session, he suffered a shoulder injury and left. Head coach Jeff Blashill would only say, “He will be reevaluated later on and we will see where he is at.”
Stars Could Make Trades Before Season Ends
As per Matthew DeFranks’ of The Dallas Morning News, there is a lot of speculation over John Klingberg’s future with the organization. Klingberg is slated to become an unrestricted free agent and will be finishing off a seven-year contract with an annual average value of $4.25 million. He’s slated to earn a huge raise.
Looking at what other defensemen have made this past offseason on new deals, — including in Dallas where Miro Heiskanen signed for big money — Klingberg could price himself out of Dallas. Can the Stars afford to keep Heiskanen, Esa Lindell, Ryan Suter and Klingberg?
It might not be just Klingberg who leaves either. DeFranks suggested other players on expiring contracts could be departing the team as well. That includes Joe Pavelski, Braden Holtby, and Alexander Radulov, who could become trade bait at the NHL Trade Deadline.
Mike Hoffman Out Longer-Term for Canadiens
The Canadiens signed Hoffman to a three-year contract that carries an average annual value of $4.5 million per season this summer. He was expected to be a big part of the team’s offense this season. Unfortunately, Hoffman failed his pre-camp physical and a lower-body injury will keep him out of action for a while.
Eric Engels spoke with Canadiens head coach Dominique Ducharme on Saturday and it was confirmed Hoffman could be out for up to four weeks. The good news here is that Hoffman should be back with plenty of time left in the regular season and if he stays healthy, should be a strong contributor for them.
Oilers Won’t Have Unlimited Patience With Archibald
As per Kurt Leavins of the Edmonton Journal, he believes there may be some patience for Archibald to make a decision about getting the vaccination, but not an unlimited amount. Leavins writes:
After all, what must Oilers owner Daryl Katz be thinking? Mr. Katz is a man who has made much of his considerable fortune from the pharmaceutical industry. As a result, he would surely be a firm believer in science and the reputable vetting and rewarding of patents.source – ‘The Edmonton Oilers’ Josh Archibald Conundrum: 9 Things’ – Kurt Leavins – Edmonton Journal – 09/26/2021
Leavins believes there are some cap benefits to the Oilers if they leave Archibald on the team, but also wonders how much friction could be created between the teammates if he misses 3/8ths of the team’s games this season.
Jim Parsons is a senior THW freelance writer, part-time journalist and audio/video host who lives, eats, sleeps and breathes NHL news and rumors, while also writing features on the Edmonton Oilers. He’s been a trusted source for five-plus years at The Hockey Writers, but more than that, he’s on a mission to keep readers up to date with the latest NHL rumors and trade talk. Jim is a daily must for readers who want to be “in the know.”