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 Colorado Avalanche, Ottawa Senators, and New Jersey Devils.
Rumour: Chris Johnston appeared on SN 960, where he discussed multiple NHL rumours. One of them was the fact that the Colorado Avalanche were likely to be very aggressive buyers as the season goes on.
Analysis: This doesn’t come as much of a surprise. The Avalanche were easily the most aggressive team over the summer, making plenty of additions to revamp their offence. They most notably dealt away Tyson Barrie and Alexander Kerfoot for Nazem Kadri and Calle Rosen. They also added Andre Burakovsky and Joonas Donskoi.
These additions effectively reshaped the Colorado offence. Burakovsky has 12 points, Donskoi has 11, and Kadri has 10, all in 16 games. They’ve brought a powerful punch to the team’s second-line. When combined with the terrific top-line in Colorado, the team now boasts one of the best offences in the league. Through their first 16 games, they rank third in the league in goals-for.
Colorado clearly wants to take full advantage of players like Nathan MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen while they’re in their prime. While the newly-shaped offence is one step in the right direction, the team still has a massive hole at goaltending. The recent injury to Philipp Grubauer has truly emphasized this, leaving the Avalanche with a measly goaltending duo of Pavel Francouz and Adam Werner.
If the team wants to compete with dominant franchises like the St. Louis Blues, Vegas Golden Knights in the West, they need to address their woes at goaltending. Both of these teams feature great netminders, giving them at an immediate advantage over Colorado in any head-to-head. Even despite the Avalanche’s talented group of forwards. Fans can expect this to be addressed before the Trade Deadline passes.
Rumour: Frank Seravalli noted that the Senators are poised for a very difficult decision this year. Seravalli says he believes Ottawa could fetch a first-round pick and a prospect for Jean-Gabriel Pageau in any potential trades.
OT GWG. One GM said this week he thinks #sens might be able to get a first-round pick and prospect for Pageau at the deadline. It’s early. But it’s going to be fascinating for OTT, trying to figure out whether to keep the Ottawa native – especially if the return is like that. https://t.co/cFrSJKYcN1
— Frank Seravalli (@frank_seravalli) November 8, 2019
Analysis: From the outside looking in, this take may seem a bit outlandish. Pageau has never drawn the attention of the league quite like he has this season. Prior to this year, he had a total of 142 points in 368 games. He was drafted in the fourth round of the 2011 NHL Draft and was, somehow, not even ranked in the Central Scouting Services’ Final Ranking of North American skaters. The ranking contained 210 players.
This season, Pageau has proven all of his doubters wrong. While skeptics may discount it as a mere hot-start, Pageau’s 11 points in 15 games rank second on the team. Seven of these 11 points have been goals, the most of any Senators player. On a team that has disappointed to start the year, even by Ottawa standards, Pageau has been a diamond-in-the-rough.
Issues arise with his contract, though. Pageau’s deal expires at the end of this season, leaving Ottawa with a very tough decision. The Senators are no-doubt currently rebuilding, especially after losing dynamic talents in Mark Stone and Matt Duchene. Brady Tkachuk and Thomas Chabot are the team’s future, both young stars. Pageau, on the other hand, is 26-years-old. His talents may be wasted in a rebuilding future. As Seravalli notes, the team could receive a major return if they sell-high on Pageau this season.
New Jersey Devils
Rumour: On SN 960, Johnston also mentioned that he expects Taylor Hall to be traded before the Trade Deadline, and then sign with a different team this summer.
Analysis: New Jersey fans are starting to waive the white flag on the 2019-20 season. After a summer of rebuilding, the team had very high hopes for this year. They’ve started the year with a record of 4-6-2. They rank 28th in the league in goals-for and 26th in goals-against.
It’s been a terrible start and there doesn’t seem to be much of a turnaround in the wings. In previous NHL rumours, Hall made it explicitly clear that if New Jersey wasn’t a contender this year, he planned to leave the team to find one. The terrible start to the year has certainly put a bad taste in Hall’s mouth.
Of course, Hall would be an ideal rental for any team close to Stanley Cup contention. He is a true powerhouse in the league, making the most of a terrible campaign with the Devils. This includes a Hart Trophy win in 2018, as the “player judged most valuable to his team”. He’s been a truly dominant player and any team who can afford his modest $6 million cap hit should make a move for him immediately.
Unfortunately, his dominant play also means that he is due a tremendous raise next summer. This will likely mean that any contending team to reel him in would also lose him come to the offseason. That’s an issue for the future, though. For now, fans can expect a Hall trade to be the most likely outcome.