NHL Rumors: Rival GMs closely monitoring Nikita Kucherov and Lightning, Islanders in on Taylor Hall, and Elvis Merzlikins an Oilers target

The NHL and rival GMs are closely monitoring the situation in Tampa. Lightning GM, Julien BriseBois said that Nikita Kucherov is on schedule for a playoff return.

If you recall, Kucherov’s injury allowed the Lightning to place him on LTIR and sign two prized RFA’s without dismantling their lineup. Both Mikhail Sergachev and Anthony Cirelli were inked soon after placing him on the injured list.

NHL Rumors: All eyes on Kucherov and Tampa

Questions are already being asked if Kucherov is ahead of schedule and healthy, wouldn’t that mean Tampa has to put him on the roster? If so, how will they handle the cap issues?

Pierre LeBrun provided a response, but I’m note sure it really covers it. “They are obliged to make room for him or in theory they can’t use him. Which, again in theory, could affect his playoff availability,” he tweeted. “Call me naive but I don’t think the Cup champs are playing around with this. The league is watching.”

Remember there is no cap for the playoffs. Elliotte Friedman noted recently that there are no rules against keeping him out until the regular season is over. Cap circumvention anyone?

NHL Rumors: Islanders and Taylor Hall

The New York Islanders have just placed Anders Lee on LTIR and are in desperate need of replacing his scoring. Could they be a player for Taylor Hall at the upcoming deadline? Several sources seem to think so.

taylor hall islanders
Feb 22, 2021; Uniondale, New York, USA; Buffalo Sabres left wing Taylor Hall (4) has his shot blocked by New York Islanders goaltender Semyon Varlamov (40) while being checked by center Anders Lee (27) during the third period at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports

Every forward option would be on the table, starting with Hall. He’s not having a great year, with two goals and 16 points, but he’s the most skilled winger who could be on the market. He has a history with Jordan Eberle, and while he’s not a Lee-style player, few are. Hall also has an expiring contract and could be a pure rental, though a costly one — if the Islanders announce Lee is out long-term, no one’s going to run to help Lamoriello.

Arthur Staple, The Athletic

Are the Islanders willing to part with the first round pick it will take to land Hall? That’s going to be the starting price and then Lou Lamoriello will have to add more if he wants him.

Track all the top trade candidates with our TRADE BAIT TRACKER!

NHL Rumors: Elvis Merzlikins in Edmonton

Mike Smith has provided the Oilers with good goaltending of late, however they are still looking to improve in net. Rumors are surfacing that they could be in on Columbus Blue Jackets goalie Elvis Merzlikins.

The 26 year-old net-minder is 4-3-2 this season with a .908 SV% and a 3.02 GAA. In 44 NHL games Merzlikins numbers are excellent as he sports a 2.51 GAA and a .919 SV% to go with a 17-12-10 record.