NHL Rumour Roundup: Trade Freeze Edition

Would the Oilers really trade Taylor Hall? (Jason Franson/CP)

Will there be a blizzard of trade activity before Christmas?

The National Hockey League’s holiday roster freeze sets in Dec. 19 at midnight and lasts until Dec. 27, so we could see a minor flurry of moves this week as general managers have a good sense of their lineups’ strengths and weaknesses 30 games into the season.

We took a look around at rumblings around the league as the mini deadline approaches. (Note: Nothing to see here, Calgary Flames fans. Your freeze kicked in last week.)

Could Taylor Hall be traded?
In the wake of Dallas Eakins’ firing, the name of the team’s best player, Taylor Hall, hit the rumour mill.

“You hear things,” Hall told reporters in Phoenix. “Whether the rumours are true, you never really know, [but] the best teams in the league don’t break up their core. They’re not trading guys because they’re winning, so it’s on us to improve and do whatever we can to get respectability back this year.”

Once again, a coach took the fall for the Oilers’ poor play. We would be shocked to see Hall traded — talents like him don’t come around often — so perhaps his name was floated out there so the players don’t think they run the show. (They do.)

Boston Bruins looking for offence
A favourite to contend for the Eastern Conference crown, the underwhelming Boston Bruins sit on the outside of the playoff picture. Sure, their defence has been hampered by injuries (and the Johnny Boychuk trade didn’t help), but the Bruins’ offence ranks just 22nd, scoring 2.47 per game.

GM Peter Chairelli is looking to upgrade his roster, but with the team hard against the salary cap, it appears the players will have to battle themselves back into the thick of the race.

“I am patient,” Chiarelli told the Boston Herald. “We’re always trying to improve the team. But you can’t force things, you just can’t force things. I see what everyone else sees: We’re squeezing our sticks. We’re competing, but I feel we have to be more competitive. We’ve lost seven of nine, and we’ve got to be better.

“So to specifically answer that question: I’m looking.”

Will the Bruins make a trade this week? Maybe for Chris Stewart?

“You never know,” Chiarelli said. “But I don’t expect anything.”

Jagr: Big mistake if Devils fire Coach DeBoer
Publicly, New Jersey Devils GM Lou Lamoriello has thrown support behind his coaching staff, but the losses continue to pile up — fuelling speculation that head coach Peter DeBoer’s job may be in jeopardy.

“That would be one of the biggest mistakes they could make,” Jaromir Jagr told The Record. “To be honest with you, without our coaches and the system we play, it would be a lot worse.”

Workhorse goaltender Cory Schneider has his coach’s back, too.

“It would be a shame if it fell on the coaches because they’re giving us the X’s and O’s and it’s up to us to execute,” Schneider said. “I’m not really sure what’s going to be done or what needs to be done, to be honest.”

Look at the Devils roster, experienced but talent-thin. On paper, the team does not scream “playoffs.” They’re generating a paltry 26.2 shots per game; only Buffalo’s offence is generating fewer. We don’t see a coaching change resulting in a surge to the post-season.

Chris Stewart, forever on the trading block
Buffalo forward Chris Stewart, a healthy scratch last week, is still getting interest. “The concern is he has really struggled… really struggled,” a league executive told Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun. “He’s done it before but he’s clearly not getting it done this year.” Stewart has three goals in 30 games.

Garrioch also reports that the Oilers, Detroit Red Wings and Anaheim Ducks have all shown interest in acquiring defenceman Tyler Myers from Buffalo.

Landing spots for Keith Yandle
As Don Maloney’s club slides deeper into the basement, there has been speculation the Coyotes GM might part with some of his established players.

Zbynek Michalek and Antoine Vermette are both in the final season of their deals, and defenceman Keith Yandle (a regular rumour muse) could spark a bidding war if he is indeed on the block.

Dave Lozo took a look a five teams that could take a run at Yandle.