Taylor Hall could be the biggest NHL star to hit the free-agent market and potentially change teams during the upcoming offseason—unless the Arizona Coyotes can stop things reaching that point.
According to Craig Custance of The Athletic, the 28-year-old and the team "have re-engaged in contract talks." However, he also noted new president/CEO Xavier Gutierrez is "running point on negotiations," rather than general manager John Chayka.
Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman later reported that Hall, Gutierrez and Coyotes owner Alex Meruelo (along with his son, Alex Jr., who works in the team's front office) had a dinner meeting last week.
Arizona acquired the left winger in a deal with the New Jersey Devils in December in exchange for a package that included its first-round pick (top three protected) in the 2020 NHL draft. In 35 games so far for the Coyotes, he had 10 goals and 17 assists.
When the NHL season was suspended in mid-March, the Coyotes were outside of a playoff spot in the Western Conference despite adding the former Hart Trophy winner. However, they will now have an opportunity to go on a postseason run with him, as they are set to face the Nashville Predators in the Stanley Cup qualifying round, with the best-of-five series scheduled to begin Aug. 2.
Over his first 10 NHL seasons with the Edmonton Oilers, Devils and Coyotes, Hall has played in only five playoff games but has never a postseason series. He'll certainly want to play for a team that gives him an opportunity to be a Stanley Cup contender, so if he works out a deal with Arizona, that should show how he feels about the team's future.
Latest on Cirelli's future in Tampa
The Tampa Bay Lightning have several key players set to become restricted free agents this upcoming offseason, including center Anthony Cirelli.
The 2015 third-round draft pick has emerged as a solid player for the Lightning the past three seasons, and he appears likely to get a decent raise on his next contract.
However, with the NHL salary cap set to be $81.5 million for the 2020-21 season, Tampa Bay may have difficulty bringing everybody back. So, could it be looking to trade one of those RFAs? According to The Athletic's Joe Smith, there would be "many teams interested" if Cirelli was available, with the Minnesota Wild and Buffalo Sabres among them.
But if the Lightning listen to offers for the 23-year-old, Smith believes there would have to be a substantial return coming back to them.
"There would have to be a significant prospect and pick coming back to land Cirelli, who has been the Lightning's top shutdown center and Selke-caliber player," he wrote. "The coaching staff loves him, and ther's no doubt GM Julien BriseBois will do anything in his power to sign the RFA."
In 68 games this season, Cirelli has a career-high 44 points, tallying 16 goals and 28 assists. He played his first full NHL season in 2018-19, recording 39 points on 19 goals and 20 assists while playing all 82 games for Tampa Bay.
Who will be on Ruff's coaching staff?
The New Jersey Devils have their new leadership team in place, with Tom Fitzgerald taking over as general manager on a full-time basis and Lindy Ruff getting hired to be their new head coach.
However, there are still decisions to come regarding who will work under these new leaders.
Mike Grier has been an assistant for the Devils since July 2018, but The Athletic's Corey Masisak noted it's "not a slam dunk" that he'll remain on their staff under Ruff but there are reasons to believe he'll return.
"He has a strong connection to Ruff and has received nothing but positive reviews from people in the organization about his first season as an assistant," Masisak wrote.
Masisak added that Alain Nasreddine, who served as interim head coach after John Hynes' firing, and Rick Kowalsky are "both candidates to remain on the staff," noting that for Nasreddine, "it could come down to how well he meshes with Ruff and what other opportunities might be out there."
Nasreddine has never been an NHL head coach outside of his interim stint for New Jersey. In his 43 games leading the Devils, they went 19-16-8.
James Patrick has spent 11 seasons as an assistant under Ruff with the Buffalo Sabres and Dallas Stars. Masisak noted that the head coach of the Winnipeg Ice in the WHL "could be a possibility."