NHL Rumours: Toronto Maple Leafs, Arizona Coyotes, and New York Rangers

NHL Rumours
ST PETERSBURG, RUSSIA - SEPTEMBER 22, 2019: SKA St Petersburg's Alexander Barabanov (L front) and Vityaz Moscow Region's goaltender Ilya Yezhov (R) in a 2019/2020 KHL Regular Season ice hockey match between SKA St Petersburg and Vityaz Moscow Region at Ledovy Dvorets Arena (Ice Palace); midground (from L): SKA St Petersburg's Jarno Koskiranta, and Vityaz Moscow Region's Ivan Larichev and Ville Lajunen. Alexander Demianchuk/TASS (Photo by Alexander DemianchukTASS via Getty Images)

Hello and welcome to the Sunday morning edition of NHL Rumours. Even without hockey being played on the ice, general managers are hard at work off the ice getting their off-season work in early. We here at the Last Word on Hockey will continue to bring the best analysis and news regarding the current state of affairs. Today’s NHL rumours feature, the Toronto Maple Leafs, Arizona Coyotes, and New York Rangers

NHL Rumours

Toronto Maple Leafs

Rumour: According to a report first from Igor Eronko of Sports Express in Russia, and confirmed by Darren Dreger of TSN that the Toronto Maple Leafs are one of the teams in the running to sign Alexander Barabanov.

Analysis: With the KHL season officially canceled, Barabanov and his agent Dan Milstein will begin the interview process next week with NHL teams. It is believed that they will be fielding calls from about 20 teams with the Maple Leafs high on Barabanov’s list. Barabanov has spent his entire career, the last seven seasons, playing in the KHL for St. Petersburg SKA. Through 43 games this season the Russian forward has 11 goals and nine assists. This is down from last season when he set a career-high of 17 goals and 46 points in 58 games. Barabanov has averaged about 10 to 20 goals over the last four seasons.

This makes total sense if the Maple Leafs are the front runners. General manager Kyle Dubas is always looking to find ways to add depth to his cap-strapped lineup. Last year, Dubas signed Ilya Mikheyev out of the KHL. He made an impact for the Maple Leafs this season before his injury. In 39 games, Mikheyev had eight goals and 23 assists. That is pretty good for a player playing the North American style for the first time in his career. Toronto is hoping for a similar result if they can land Barabanov.

However, that won’t be easy as the Arizona Coyotes, according to The Athletic’s Craig Morgan, are also in the running to the land the Russian’s services. General manager John Chayka met with Barabanov earlier this season during a trip to St. Petersburg, Russia.

Arizona Coyotes

Rumour: Speaking of the Arizona Coyotes, Craig Morgan of The Athletic was able to speak with Coyotes general manager John Chayka in a special Q&A. They discussed numerous topics including Taylor Hall. It appears the Coyotes and Hall’s agent Darren Ferris are in early discussions about a possible contract extension.

Analysis: As everyone knows Hall is set to be an unrestricted free agent at the end of this season. Whenever that will be nobody knows just yet. The Coyotes acquired Hall back in December from the New Jersey Devils. In addition to trading for Hall, Chayka wanted to sign Hall to an extension too. But, he wanted to do this after the season was over to not interfere with Hall’s and the team’s play. According to Morgan, both sides are just gathering information and having some discussions. Right now Chayka is seeing where things go as no real figures have been exchanged just yet.

For the Coyotes, they need to sign Hall to a new contract considering what they gave up for him in the trade. They gave up three promising prospects along with draft picks. What those picks are is another matter in itself. While the record is not the greatest since the acquisition, he brings a dynamic element that has been missing from the Coyotes since the days of Jeremy Roenick and Keith Tkachuk. From the beginning of the season, it feels like Hall was going to test the free-agent market. However, with the current state of affairs and the salary cap potentially being less than expected, Hall might just be better off signing an extension with the Coyotes than not finding what he wants on the open market.

New York Rangers

Rumour: Larry Brooks of the New York Post was analyzing the New York Rangers and how it is far from a lock the team could sign Tony DeAngelo to an extension.

Analysis: The Rangers have a young and talented defenceman on their hands. DeAngelo has come into the league and has made an immediate impact for a Rangers team not expected to make the playoffs. With DeAngelo on the backend, the Rangers are just mere points out of a playoff spot. In his time with the Rangers, DeAngelo has recorded the fourth most goals and points in the NHL as a defenceman. He will be a restricted free agent at the end of this season and will be looking for a significant raise. Brooks brings up the point, the Rangers will really need to evaluate what they are going to do with him. If DeAngelo signs a long-term deal, Brooks expects it to be in the $6 million per year range.

Like with any player there are other options. If the Rangers can’t sign him long-term, they might sign him to bridge-deal for two years in the range of $4 or $5 million according to Brooks. Considering this is his best season as a pro, and the Rangers up against the salary cap, the team might want DeAngelo to sign a prove-it contract before giving him the big dollars. The team could let him go to arbitration, but that never works out for either side. They could trade him, but the team will be giving up a player with great hockey IQ, vision and speed. That is something that is hard to replace. So if the Rangers do not want to trade him, they always could move him to the left side.

New York Rangers

Rumour: Larry Brooks of the New York Post is reporting that the Rangers may have no choice but to keep forward Jesper Fast because of the current state of affairs.

Analysis: While Fast may not be one of the flashier players on the team, he has sure found his niche under head coach David Quinn. With Fast being an unrestricted free agent at the end of this season, he is putting up career numbers. Through 69 games this season, he has 12 goals, one shy of his personal best. Not only that he is playing on a line with Artemi Panarin and Ryan Strome. They have formed a formidable defensive unit surrounding only 11 goals. Prior to the trade deadline, the Rangers and Fast were in discussions about an extension, but everything fell apart. Instead of trading Fast, they kept him around for the stretch run of the season.

Like with most players this season, the market may not be as high as in previous years. With the league on hold and the salary cap set to be lower than in years past, Fast will not get what he expects to get once he hits the open market. The Rangers were already in a cap crunch, but now every team will be on an equal playing field. There will not be a lot of teams looking throw dollars to players to a guy who scores 12-goals. Fast plays a grinding style, the type of game you win with come playoff time. He is good defensively as his numbers have shown. However, if the Rangers do not find a way to keep Fast, it will not only leave a hole on the team but in the top-six as well.

That does it for the Sunday edition of NHL Rumours, stay tuned for more NHL Rumours coming this week.

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