EDMONTON, AB - DECEMBER 3: Taylor Hall #4 of the Edmonton Oilers skates against the Phoenix Coyotes during an NHL game at Rexall Place on December 3, 2013 in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. The Coyotes defeated the Oilers 6-2.(Photo by Derek Leung/Getty Images)

PHT Morning Skate: Taylor Hall argues he’s improving defensively

PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

In addition to excelling offensively, Taylor Hall thinks his defensive game has improved lately despite some criticism to the contrary. Edmonton Oilers coach Dallas Eakins backed his assessment. (Edmonton Journal)

Editor’s Note: Pro Hockey Talk’s partner FanDuel is hosting a $2,000 Fantasy Hockey league for Tuesday’s NHL games. It’s just $10 to join and first prize is $400. Starts Tuesday at 7:00 p.m. ET. Here’s the FanDuel link.

Kris Versteeg isn’t sure why he was traded by the Florida Panthers, but Panthers GM Dale Tallon told him “he had to do it.” Either way, Versteeg doesn’t have any regrets about his time with the Panthers and he’s been solid since rejoining the Chicago Blackhawks. (South Florida Sun-Sentinel)

As we await Jarome Iginla’s return to the Scotiabank Saddledome, here’s a look at his 12 greatest nights in that arena. (Calgary Sun)

Jesse Joensuu obviously doesn’t like the fact that he was a healthy scratch for two straight games, but thinks it might prove to have been beneficial for him. He’s been struggling to find his game since returning from a back injury. (Edmonton Journal)

Winnipeg Jets forward Mark Scheifele is trying to guard against getting too confident as he heats up. (Winnipeg Sun)

After a shaky start, the New Jersey Devils have turned into a strong road team with a 7-3-1 record in their last 11 contests away from home. (The Star-Ledger)

Highlights from Pittsburgh’s 2-1 win over Columbus:

Diaz could leave Rangers for Europe

Raphael Diaz, Mike Sislo
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Could Raphael Diaz be on his way back to Switzerland?

We’ll know in a month.

Diaz, who lost out on the Rangers’ final blueline spot in training camp, has reported to the club’s AHL affiliate in Hartford but doesn’t seem pleased with his current situation, per the Post:

The 29-year-old Diaz, who cleared waivers last Saturday after the Blueshirts opted to keep rookie Dylan McIlrath as the club’s seventh on the blue line, is interested in the European option if he is not in the NHL.

The Blueshirts have told Diaz they will revisit the situation at the end of October, but have not promised to release him or assign him to a European team at that point.

If Diaz, a Swiss native who represented Switzerland in the 2014 Olympics, does play in Europe during the season, he would have to go through waivers in order to return to the NHL.

Diaz’s agent, Ritch Winter, told the Post that Diaz signed a one-year, $700,000 deal with the Rangers “to play with the Rangers.”

And it’s understandable if Diaz — a journeyman offensive defenseman — isn’t happy with this situation.

While some believe McIlrath earned his roster spot on merit, some think it’s because of his contract status. McIlrath, who’s only 23 and a former first-round pick, would’ve needed to clear waivers to go back to Hartford, and it’s believed he would’ve been claimed by another club.

Canucks say Markstrom (hamstring) out another week — could it be longer?

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Bit of uncertainty out of Vancouver regarding the health of backup goalie Jacob Markstrom.

Markstrom, a late drop from the Canucks’ 5-1 opening-night win over Calgary, has suffered a hamstring injury that will keep him sidelined for another week, the club announced on Thursday.

With Markstrom out, backup duties will stay with AHL call-up Richard Bachman, who served as Ryan Miller‘s No. 2 on Wednesday.

Now, the focus turns to how long Bachman keeps those duties.

Per a Sportsnet report, Markstrom could miss up to three weeks of action with his injury. If that’s the case, Bachman will almost certainly be called into action; the Canucks will play eight games in 17 nights starting with Saturday’s home-opener against the Flames, which includes back-to-backs in Los Angeles and Anaheim on Oct. 12 and 13.

It would be asking a lot of the No. 1, 35-year-old Ryan Miller, to shoulder that entire load.

Bachman does have some NHL experience, with nearly 50 games to his credit. That includes a 3-2-0 record with the Oilers last year, in which he posted a 2.84 GAA and .911 save percentage.