Welcome back to another Thursday’s worth of NHL Rumours at Last Word on Hockey. Our site is with you every day to give you a snapshot of different rumblings from the world of hockey. The waters remain somewhat choppy around the league, as teams look to rectify slow starts or even look forward to next year’s free-agent frenzy. Today we’ll look at some new developments involving the New York Rangers, Edmonton Oilers, and Winnipeg Jets.
New York Rangers
Rumour: Highly-touted prospect Vitali Kravtsov‘s season has not gone as planned, as he didn’t earn a spot out of camp. Insider Igor Eronko reports on Twitter that the player is considering his European assignment clause to return to the KHL.
Hearing Vitali Kravtsov considers a return to the KHL. Has a European assignment clause in his contract #NYR
— Igor Eronko (@IgorEronko) October 16, 2019
Analysis: Kravtsov, after most expected him to make the Rangers out of camp and contribute immediately, didn’t even make the team. Even in the minors, he’s only collected one assist in three games so far with the AHL’s Hartford Wolf Pack. The ninth overall pick in 2018, Kravtsov still has an extremely high ceiling but is still getting used to playing on the smaller North American ice surface.
In this case, a return to Russia may not benefit his development at all. His talents already shined through with 21 points in 50 games last year with Traktor Chelyabinsk. If the issue is rink size adjustment and not skill, it makes very little sense for Kravtsov to limit his own experience.
However, for Kravtsov, the frustration is still understandable. His entry-level contract with the Rangers is a two-way deal, meaning that his base salary is cut from $832,500 at the NHL level to only $70,000 at the AHL level (figures via CapFriendly). As he was projected to make the team, the serious dip in salary is significant for Kravtsov, and going back to the KHL allows him to make more money.
Rumour: Given the New Jersey Devils‘ struggles so far this year, star winger Taylor Hall‘s patience may run out quickly. Not only that, but a return back to the Oilers is a serious possibility, per Elliotte Friedman on SN590.
Analysis: This sport has a way of coming full circle, doesn’t it? While Friedman doesn’t speculate on the possible return Edmonton would have to give up if he were to be traded, it could very well include Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, as the arrival of Hall would presumably allow Leon Draisaitl to settle in nicely to the second-line centre role. It could also include one of the Oilers’ many defensive prospects, a list that includes Ethan Bear, Caleb Jones, and Evan Bouchard.
The Oilers’ benefit from Hall would be felt immediately, regardless of the trade terms. Presumably playing on Connor McDavid‘s wing, he’d help create one of the most lethal offensive attacks in the NHL. It would also give coach Dave Tippett the option of letting Draisaitl anchor a separate line, giving the Oilers an absolute two-headed monster down the middle. Additionally, with the apparent bounceback of James Neal, an Oilers offence with Hall (even without Nugent-Hopkins) would be among the scariest in the league.
Rumour: While Dustin Byfuglien‘s name has come up often in NHL rumours since the beginning of the season, TSN’s Darren Dreger reports on Insider Training that the likelihood of him returning to the Jets is growing.
INSIDER TRADING: #TSNHockey Insiders discuss…
— TSN Hockey (@TSNHockey) October 15, 2019
Analysis: The Jets have held their own so far this season, staying afloat with a 4-4-0 record. That’s impressive for a team that once had Carl Dahlstrom playing 24:19 in a game against Pittsburgh. The return of Josh Morrissey from injury certainly helps bolster the blueline, but Byfuglien’s return would be much appreciated.
The Jets have allowed 30 goals so far this season, most in the Western Conference. While Byfuglien isn’t a defensive stalwart by any means, he swallows up minutes and allows the younger players to receive more favourable matchups. Byfuglien, if anything, would bolster an already impressive offence. Currently tied for the league lead in points, Mark Scheifele and Patrik Laine lead a deep and skilled attack. The Jets are close to firing up, and Byfuglien’s return would speed up that process.