It’s August and the news is slow. Here’s my short takes on some of the NHL stories I’m following right now.
- For Jake Gardiner to still be unsigned, he must have a handshake deal in place that is pending some of the RFA contracts still not done. I’m sure Jake isn’t sweating the fact that he’s currently unsigned.
- Brian Boyle is the most interesting unsigned UFA. There aren’t many teams, looking to be in the playoff picture, that couldn’t make usage of Boyle’s services. He also doesn’t command a huge salary. Really surprising to me that he’s not signed up somewhere.
- Marcus Pettersson has not signed a contract with the Penguins yet. Reports say Rutherford says the deal will be done before camp, but we’ll see. If I’m a team that is uncomfortable with my defensive depth, I’m on the phone inquiring about this player. The kid could really be something this year and the Penguins know it, but their defensive situation is so cluttered that they might be open to moving Pettersson for the right price.
- Taylor Hall was ranked as the 15th best wing in the league following a season where he only played 33 games. That’s really a testament to how high the regard for Hall is around the league. They call a guy the 15th best wing in the league, “Right now” and nobody knows for sure that his knee is properly healed. There’s no doubt in my mind that his lack of a contract extension as of August 13th is a calculated move by both his camp AND Ray Shero. Shero does not want to throw big money at Hall if that surgically repaired knee doesn’t give him back an Team MVP caliber player.
- Andrei Markov needs 10 games to get to 1000 NHL games played. He wants it to be with the Habs, but I don’t see Bergevin giving it to him. The Canadiens very unceremoniously jettisoned Markov a couple years back, and I haven’t seen anything to make me think they have an interest, currently, in trying to repair that breach they created. Markov probably comes pretty cheap and even though he’s 40, he has shown the ability to still play in the KHL. His skillset, and esteem in which he is held, league wide, would be beneficial to almost any locker room. Somebody should give him a shot.
- The Right Handed defender market somehow became flooded with expensive, middle pairing talent. It seems the NJ Devils might consider moving on from Vatanen and want to give Severson and Carrick the 2nd and 3rd pairing roles going forward. Calgary has allegedly been trying to find a buyer for TJ Brodie, while Buffalo and Ristolainen seem to be on different pages. I could see Anaheim being in the market for Brodie or Ristolainen and I could see Winnipeg being interested in all of them.
- Chase Priskie has said he will not sign with the Capitals. He was a four year starter and 2 year Captain at Quinnipiac as a high offensive output defender. Somebody is going to get an NHL capable right handed defender, and expend ZERO assets to acquire him. He obviously has somewhere in mind, if he’s turning down a chance to play in Washington. That, or he figured he can’t take a job from Jonas Siegenthaler and Radko Gudas and wants to find somewhere where he will have an easier time making an immediate impact. Vegas could be a good landing spot for him, as could Toronto, and Winnipeg.
- The only member of their defense that the Toronto Maple Leafs have under contract beyond this season is Morgan Reilly. I’d like to think Dubas is not sitting back and relying Sandin and Liljegren to make the jump, but their right side if they started the season today would be:
Jordan Schmaltz/Justin Holl
That doesn’t fill me with a ton of confidence.
- Jesse Puljujarvi is looking after his own brand in demanding a trade and I don’t disagree with his tactic here. In his 139 NHL games over the last 3 seasons, Puljujarvi has amassed 37 points. In his limited AHL action, he has 37 points in 53 games. He obviously thinks that he’s capable of more than this and he obviously holds the Oilers accountable for stunting his growth into a force at wing in the NHL. By vowing to play overseas this season if not traded, he’s betting on himself that he can be better outside the Oilers system and prove that he’s still destined for greater things. I’m not sure what the Oilers would demand in trade at this point, but Puljujarvi could be a great bet for a team like the New York Rangers, who are bringing in a ton of European Talent to preseason camp.
- Speaking of the Oilers, they’ve gone out and done the thing that I always harp on NHL teams needing to do. The Oilers have brought in Gaetan Haas from Bern of the NLA and Joakin Nygard from Farjestad of the SHL. Both players are 6’0 tall, 180 pound forwards from overseas leagues who have been accomplished scorers in their respective leagues. Haas really came into his own the last 3 seasons in the NLA average 0.79 points per game in a low scoring league. Nygard has averaged 0.63 points per game in the SHL but is more of a goal scorer, averaging 18 goals per 52 game season. These players aren’t likely to play beyond a depth role for the Oilers, but they are “free” depth that can possibly provide a jump in secondary scoring. When you combine these players with the value signings of Markus Granlund, Tomas Jurco and Josh Archibald along with the acquisition of James Neal for Milan Lucic, the Oilers have quietly had a very productive offseason.