The NHL season is underway and there have been plenty of surprises thus far. This has sparked plenty of NHL rumours, adding to the excitement of the early-season. As long as NHL rumours remain around, Last Word on Hockey will look to keep fans up to date. Today, we’ll cover rumours surrounding the Arizona Coyotes, Colorado Avalanche and the Edmonton Oilers.
Rumour: Elliotte Friedman appeared on Edmonton’s CHED 630 this week where he discussed many things surrounding New Jersey Devils star Taylor Hall. Among the things he touched on was the fact that the Coyotes are one of the teams heavily involved in trade talks.
Analysis: This comes as a bit of a surprise. The Coyotes have not been mentioned among any NHL rumours thus far, although trading for Hall would make a lot of sense for the team. Arizona’s offence has been relatively terrible to start the season. They currently rank 20th in the league in goals-for, with a mere 85 through their first 30 games.
This lack of scoring comes in the wake of the trade that saw Phil Kessel join Arizona this summer. The Coyotes dealt promising youngster Alex Galchenyuk to the Pittsburgh Penguins in a one-for-one deal for Kessel. The idea behind this move was to bring a star goal-scorer to the desert; one with a long NHL career and a Stanley Cup championship. Nothing seemed sure when the trade happened but Coyotes fans were excited to see how Kessel could reshape their offence. So far, he has done anything but.
Kessel currently ranks fourth on the team with 17 points in 30 games. Of these 17, six of them are goals: tying him with four others for third on the team. This is a far cry from what fans expected before the season started. Names like Christian Dvorak and Conor Garland have done considerably more for the team this season, leading some to second-guess the trade. While these doubts may be premature, Kessel does need to step up. Reeling in the highly-productive Hall would be a great way to fill the shoes Kessel hasn’t been able to.
Rumour: The Avalanche have been among the front runners in the ‘Taylor Hall Sweepstakes’ but, per Friedman’s appearance on CHED 630, they may be starting to shy away. He notes that the Devils are, among other assets, asking for one of Samuel Girard or Bowen Byram.
Analysis: The Avalanche would be admittedly ignorant to deal away either player for Hall, who is all but confirmed to be a rental talent for any team that acquires him. While he would add an unprecedented boost to one of the best offences in the league, in Colorado, the price of Girard or Byram is simply too high. Both defencemen have tremendously bright futures with Colorado and the team clearly hopes to make them backbones of their roster moving forward.
This asking price could effectively remove Colorado from trade talks. General manager Joe Sakic has been notoriously niche with trade talks. If he doesn’t get his way, he has no problem walking away. This would be especially true this season and in regards to Hall. In an interview with Pierre LeBrun earlier in the week, Sakic sounded very indifferent about any potential trades. While this could just be a poker face, it may also signify his impassivity towards the Hall talks. Colorado currently boasts elite offensive talent in Mikko Rantanen and Nathan MacKinnon. With great talents like Nazem Kadri, Gabriel Landeskog, and Cale Makar backing this tremendous duo, Colorado has managed the third-most goals in the league through their first 28 games.
Adding Hall to this offence would surely provide a boost. Hall has six 20-or-more goal seasons through his 10-year career and is a through-and-through producer. But his inclusion in the Avalanche’s roster is more of a want than it is a need. With or without him, the Colorado offence is among the best in the league and, with or without him, they’re among the current favourites to win the Stanley Cup. If Sakic doesn’t get a more attractive asking price, Colorado could quickly pull out of trade talks.
Rumour: Despite being confined to the SM-Liiga for the remainder of the year, NHL rumours still swirl around Oilers winger Jesse Puljujarvi. In their latest ’31 Thoughts’ article, the crew at Sportsnet notes that the Oilers have received calls from multiple teams briefly touching on a possible Puljujarvi trade.
Analysis: Among the teams mentioned are the St. Louis Blues, Tampa Bay Lightning, and New York Rangers. Of the three, the Rangers have been the deepest-involved. Sportsnet notes that the team apparently discussed swapping Puljujarvi with Lias Andersson but the offer ended up falling through the cracks.
This offer would seem to make both parties very happy, though. Both Andersson and Puljujarvi are seen as high-potential but low-result players and have disappointed their respective fanbases in the early-goings of their careers. Andersson has netted a sole assist so far this season, in 17 games, and a career total of only nine points in 66 games. Puljujarvi has set a career total of 37 points in 139 games: doubling Andersson’s point-per-game pace.
Likely Reasons Why a Deal Has Yet to Happen
Swapping the two 21-year-olds could satisfy both fanbases, who would likely see the greener pastures that each player has to offer. Yet, a deal has yet to come to fruition. This could be for a variety of reasons. Puljujarvi’s departure (and confinement) to Finland’s top league this season could have deterred New York. Edmonton could have been deterred by Andersson’s slow start to the season. Or, probably most likely, New York was not able to agree on including an additional asset.
Edmonton has been notoriously stingy in trade talks involving Puljujarvi, seemingly wanting to sell-high on their former first-round pick. With Andersson struggling to produce relative to Puljujarvi, New York would undoubtedly need to include another piece to finalize a deal. With their track record of selling high, Edmonton may be asking too much with the additional asset. That is left to speculation, though, as Edmonton focuses more on the ‘Hall Sweepstakes’ they have been rumoured to be caught up in.