Justin Williams has not played in the first half of the 2019-20 NHL season, but he could be coming back to the ice soon.
Returning to the Carolina Hurricanes might be the most likely move for Williams, but TSN's Pierre LeBrun reported Tuesday that two other contenders, the Boston Bruins and Toronto Maple Leafs, have shown interest in the 38-year-old forward.
All things being equal, it’s clear that Williams’ priority remains coming back with Carolina where his family remains. But there is obviously interest from some other contenders...— Pierre LeBrun (@PierreVLeBrun) January 7, 2020
Longtime NHL reporter John Shannon reported the Hurricanes made a final offer to Williams on Monday.
Hearing the ‘Canes made a final offer to Justin Williams today, to return to Carolina for the remainder of the season.— John Shannon (@JShannonhl) January 7, 2020
If Williams doesn’t sign with Carolina keep hearing Boston, Washington and perhaps Tampa will try and sign “Mr Game 7”.— John Shannon (@JShannonhl) January 7, 2020
Williams helped lead the Hurricanes to an improbable run to the Eastern Conference Final last season, where they were swept by the Bruins. The veteran forward tallied 53 points (23 goals, 30 assists) in 82 games for Carolina in 2018-19.
The Hurricanes enter Tuesday with a slim one-point lead in the wild-card playoff race in the East, and they definitely could use the scoring depth and leadership Williams would provide.
The Bruins, who lead the Atlantic Division, need to bolster the scoring production from their bottom-six forward group, and Williams would be an upgrade over players such as Brett Ritchie and David Backes. The Leafs have won eight of their last 10 games, and Williams' playoff experience would prove valuable for a young Toronto team. Williams is the all-time leading scorer (15 points) in Game 7s, and the Leafs have lost their last three Game 7 matchups (2012-13, 2017-18 and 2018-19 to the Bruins).
Teams that miss out on Williams have until the Feb. 24 trade deadline to make roster improvements before the Stanley Cup playoffs.