It’s time once again for another edition of NHL rumours. These are the first set of rumours for the month on December. It’s almost Christmastime and some general managers are looking to fill out their wish lists with an acquisition that will put their team into the Stanley Cup mix. Today’s NHL rumours will focus on the Colorado Avalanche, Dallas Stars, and Edmonton Oilers.
All NHL rumours come from the original source and are subject to change.
Rumour: Trade talks for Taylor Hall have reportedly finally started up, per Pierre LeBrun, although they remain preliminary. Greg Wyshynski linked the Colorado Avalanche to the Hall talks, above all else. He also emphasized the preliminary nature of the trade talks, as mentioned by LeBrun.
That said, the Devils have played around a 91-point pace for nearly 20 games and have stabilized some of the problems it had in that horrible start. Not convinced they're selling this early.
— Greg Wyshynski (@wyshynski) November 30, 2019
Analysis: Avalanche general manager, Joe Sakic, has spent 2019 drastically improving the Avalanche’s roster. In the Spring, he inked Cale Makar and Adam Werner to their first NHL deals. He followed that with a successful appearance at the NHL Draft, where the team reeled in strong names like Bowen Byram and Alex Newhook. Over the summer, the Avalanche made a handful of moves, including dealing away disgruntled defenceman Tyson Barrie for Nazem Kadri, among other assets. They also acquired Joonas Donskoi and Andre Burakovsky.
In short: Sakic has burst from his shell. Once thought as a stingy, no-move GM, he is now doing all he can to bank on the star power his roster boasts. He beautifully rounded out the team’s offence this summer. This newly built offense has dazzled 97 goals-for so far this season, second-highest in the league. With this, Colorado seems to be only a few steps away from Stanley Cup-potential. Reeling in an elite talent like Hall would defiantly place them among the league’s best.
Rumour: The deadline to sign restricted-free-agents is today, at 5 p.m. and many are speculating whether Stars defenceman Julius Honka will ink a new deal. In his latest piece, Chris Johnston notes that Honka has hope to return to the NHL, making a potential deal plausible.
Julius Honka would like to return to the NHL and there’s hope that he’ll do so.https://t.co/MVmd0mroFE
— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) December 1, 2019
Analysis: Honka is a former first-round pick and is playing in Finland where he has three assists in 13 games and averages nearly 20 minutes of ice time. This is a far cry from the ice time that he received in Dallas He’s averaged a career total of only 13:57 per-game and was a healthy scratch for most of the latter parts of the 2018-19 season. This low playing time is what drove the young defenceman away from the NHL to begin with and, if he can’t receive more ice time in Dallas, is going to be what keeps him away.
Unfortunately, things in Texas aren’t looking very promising for Honka. The team’s defence has thrived despite his absence, allowing the fewest goals-against in the month of November. There doesn’t seem to be a spot for Honka, making a trade the ideal course of action.
With that said, the 23-year-old could be a good low-risk, high-reward acquisition for a team looking for some defensive help. There have been rumoured trade talks since the summer. Stars GM Jim Nill notes that these talks are ongoing but nothing has mounted just yet. He also emphasized that, above all else, what’s best for the Stars is what comes first. Ideally, the Stars will find a trade, and Honka will sign with his new team, before the 5 p.m. deadline, although that’s as unlikely as it is complicated. At the very least, any new deal is sure to come down to the last minute.
Rumour: The RFA deadline also means tough decisions for the Edmonton Oilers, who has struggled to re-sign Jesse Puljujarvi. They’ve also resorted to trade talks, again with no results. Chris Johnston reports that Puljujarvi has seemingly shut down these trade talks by claiming that he’s content with staying away from the NHL even if traded.
Analysis: This claim makes a trade for Puljujarvi pointless. If he refuses to return even after a being dealt, the receiving team will have effectively sent Edmonton free assets. Yet, the claim kind-of makes sense for Puljujarvi. If he doesn’t sign, he’ll continue into the 2020 summer still an RFA.
However, he’ll have much more time to prove his worth. Like Honka, Puljujarvi complained that he wasn’t receiving nearly enough ice time in Edmonton and has refused to re-sign as a result. This season, in Finland’s top league, he has done a good job of backing this statement. He has 24 points in 25 games, sixth-highest in the league. He only averaged 12:28 in ice time throughout his career with Edmonton and mounted a mere 37 points in 139 games as a result. As Karpat’s star in the SM-Liiga, Puljujarvi has thrived.
If he doesn’t sign, Puljujarvi would receive an extra four months to continue the dominant play he’s boasted so far this year. Ideally, he’d enter next summer with a host of teams hoping to offer-sheet him, effectively ridding of the middle-man Oilers. The added months of play could also mean a much higher salary, relative to the one he’d likely receive if he signed today.
Call His Bluff
However, teams could easily attempt to call Puljujarvi’s bluff. While he’s shined in Finland, there’s still no doubt that he wants to return to the NHL. His trade value has reached an all-time low as a result of these claims and, for a likely very meager price, any team could deal for him and see if he wants to make said return sooner rather than later. If he doesn’t the deal would still give the respective team his rights for a very cheap price, meaning they could easily sign him next summer. The only issue is the pesky middle-man Oilers, who aren’t likely to accept any low-ball offer despite Puljujarvi’s claims. His rights will surely spike once again as the summer nears.
NEWARK, NEW JERSEY – SEPTEMBER 20: Taylor Hall #9 of the New Jersey Devils skates against the New York Rangers at the Prudential Center on September 20, 2019 in Newark, New Jersey. The Devils defeated the Rangers 4-2. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)