It was a week full of intrigue leading into a week with the potential to be full of action, as some teams look to make a move before the NHL’s holiday roster freeze begins on Thursday, December 19. Here are the five biggest stories of the past seven days:
Taylor Hall Trade Talks Heating Up: The biggest story of the week remains a non-story, at least for now. The New Jersey Devils threw the hockey world into a tizzy on Friday night when they scratched impending free agent superstar Taylor Hall just minutes before their game started and after he had skated in warm-ups. This immediately sparked speculation that a trade was imminent, especially given the fact that the Devils were set to face the Colorado Avalanche and then the Arizona Coyotes the following night, two of Hall’s biggest suitors. The Devils stressed that Hall was being held out as a precaution and that no deal was in place, and so far that has been proven true. However, with the roster freeze right around the corner, the odds remain high that Hall will be dealt in the coming days.
Peter Deboer Fired By San Jose: A Stanley Cup appearance and two Western Conference Final visits were not enough to save San Jose Sharks head coach Peter Deboer, who was fired on Wednesday. The team’s poor start to the season, and statistics that show it was more than just a case of bad luck, left San Jose in need of a change. They got that and more, moving on from Deboer and three assistants. Former Florida Panthers head coach Bob Boughner has taken over as head coach, with a brand new staff, including two former Sharks players. Whether or not new guidance is enough to cure the Sharks’ woes in net and scoring slump remains to be seen, but Deboer seems unlikely to be unemployed for too long.
Dallas Dismisses Jim Montgomery: There is still almost nothing known about the firing of Dallas Stars head coach Jim Montgomery on Tuesday. Unlike Deboer or New Jersey’s John Hynes, fired for team performance, or Calgary’s Bill Peters, fired for past instances of player abuse, Montgomery’s dismissal fits into neither category. The Stars only stated that Montgomery was fired for “a material act of unprofessionalism”. Assistant Rick Bowness has taken over as interim head coach of a Dallas team that had been on a roll under Montgomery.
Bogosian and Baertschi Request Trades: Two different players have decided that they have had enough of their current situations. Buffalo Sabres defenseman Zach Bogosian requested a trade on Thursday, and Vancouver Canucks winger Sven Baertschi did the same on Saturday. Bogosian, an impending free agent, is not receiving regular play time on a crowded Buffalo blue line. The veteran is a talented defender who undoubtedly like to both conrtibute to a playoff run and establish his value ahead of next summer, but won’t have the opportunity to do either with the Sabres. However, a lofty cap hit and a penchant for getting hurt could make it difficult for Bogosian to move. Baertschi too has an unappealing salary situation. Baertschi has been a relatively productive player in his career, but with a $3.367MM cap hit through 2020-21 and a recent history of concussions, the winger is a risk. Vancouver had opted to send him to the AHL to begin the year, but Baertschi believes that he belongs at the top level and hopes that the Canucks can find him a new home.
Oskar Lindblom Battling Cancer: The Philadelphia Flyers announced sad news on Friday that young forward Oskar Lindblom had been diagnosed with Ewing’s Sarcoma, a rare form of bone cancer. Lindblom is not expected to return to the ice this season as he focuses on treatment. The 23-year old has 18 points in 30 games this year and the hope is that he can get back to health and continue his growth into a core piece for Philadelphia. Lindblom has received an outpouring of support from the hockey community and we here at PHR certainly wish him the best in this difficult process.