NHL Rumor Mill – August 20, 2017
Latest Toronto Maple Leafs speculation in your Sunday NHL rumor mill.
TSN: If New York Islanders center John Tavares hits the open market next summer, Craig Button believes the Toronto Maple Leafs should ink him to a one-year deal while Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner are still on their entry-level contracts. He feels the Leafs can fit the elite No.1 center under their cap payroll for 2018-19 and suggests pairing Tavares with Marner on the Leafs’ second line.
Button notes there’s a precedent for this, pointing out Marian Hossa inked a one-year contract as a UFA back in 2008 with the Detroit Red Wings. Hossa helped the Wings reach the 2009 Stanley Cup Final and suggested Tavares might do the same for the Leafs.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: An interesting suggestion by Button, something that just might work…assuming, of course, Tavares heads to free agency next summer, accepts a one-year contract and would be content playing second fiddle to Matthews.
A lot can happen between now and next July. We know Tavares is very loyal to the Islanders, but he wants to ensure the club is heading in the right direction before committing to a new contract. If the Isles stumble again and continue to face uncertainty regarding their arena issues, Tavares could opt to join a more stable organization with a better chance of winning the Cup.
The Leafs won’t be Tavares’ only option. Depending on their performance in the upcoming season, they might not even be part of the equation.
For now, it’s all pointless speculation during the dog days of the NHL offseason. Tavares’ future will become clearer by June 2018.
TSN: Dave Poulin expects it will cost the Toronto Maple Leafs between $6-$7 million annually to re-sign forward William Nylander, who is entering the final season of his entry-level contract. He points to the bar being set this summer by the new contracts of Edmonton Oilers stars Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, plus Nylander’s potential status among the Leafs core. If the Leafs have determined Nylander is to be part of their core, Poulin suggests Calgary Flames forwards Sean Monahan and Johnny Gaudreau as contract comparables.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Nylander tallied 61 points in 81 games last season and four points in six playoff games. A significant improvement in his performance this season will ensure he gets a big raise on a long-term deal for perhaps as much suggested by Poulin. Unless, of course, the Leafs decide to shop him for a top-two defenseman. That rumor surfaced occasionally last season and could pop up again if the Toronto blueline struggles in 2017-18.