Last week, we pointed out how Pittsburgh Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford was looking at signing unrestricted free agent Erik Haula for the upcoming season. While there is no doubt he will need to shed salary in order to take on Haula’s, it seems like Rutherford is still working hard at trying to add the veteran forward to his lineup.
He is however not the only one… According to Jimmy Murphy of Florida Hockey Now, the Dallas Stars are also in the mix, ready to battle to get their hands on Haula. And we can understand why : Dallas was handled quite the tough blow last week when it announced that both goaltender Ben Bishop and center Tyler Seguin would be sidelined for five months following recent surgeries. Help is needed up front, and Stars general manager Jill Nill’s eyes are on Haula.
Haula has reportedly already rejected below-value offers and would need to right number to join the Penguins or the Stars.
The 29-year-old would be a great addition to the Penguins who are looking for consistency and more production on their bottom-six lines up front. His stats speak for themselves: last season, he put up 24 points (12g, 12a) in 48 games. In 2018-19, he scored 55 points (29g, 26a) in 76 games with Vegas. And, for most of his career, Haula has been over 53% in the faceoff circle. He could therefore become the Pens’ most prolific third-line center since young Jordan Staal.
We can only imagine what he would bring to the Stars, who won’t want to fall behind at the start of the 2020-21 campaign, especially if the calendar gets shortened, and after going all the way to the Stanley Cup final in September. Haula would bring the much-needed help from the start.
Last season, Haula made $2.75 million and should make at least that much going forward. The Penguins would need to shed salary to take him on as they have about $1.3 million before Zach Aston-Reese is placed on LTIR, which will up their cap space to about $2.3 million. The Stars have a few dollars left on their cap, but would also need to make some moves or place someone on the LTIR to free up funds for Haula.
This will be an interesting battle to come between the Penguins and Stars, and Haula might be the ultimate winner in the end. Dallas could also decide to get help in between the pipes during Bishop’s absence and sign free-agent goaltender Jimmy Howard.
It’s been over a month since the free agent market opened, but as you can see there is still a lot happening!