Latest on John Tavares, Travis Hamonic, Steven Stamkos (again!) and more in Part Two of your Sunday NHL rumor roundup.
Latest Islanders rumors.
NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks speculates New York Islanders captain John Tavares could grow frustrated of playing in Brooklyn and bolt to the Toronto Maple Leafs as an unrestricted free agent in 2018. Brooks cites the club’s unwillingness thus far to build a practice facility in Brooklyn as one source of this frustration. If the Isles also fail to progress as a playoff club, that could also play a role in Tavare’s potential departure.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I recall back in 2009 when there was speculation out of Toronto claiming Tavares would refuse to report to the Islanders if they drafted him, and in 2011 suggesting he’d stage a holdout after his entry-level contract expired to force a trade to Toronto. Given how those prognostications turned out, we should take this one with not just a huge grain of salt, but the whole damn salt shaker.
NEWSDAY: Arthur Staple reports it’s increasingly unlikely the Islanders will move defenseman Travis Hamonic by the Feb. 29 trade deadline. He cites two sources claiming the club’s appetite for an in-season move is “exceedlingly low.” Even moving him in the summer could be problematic.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Unless the Islanders get blown away by an irresistible offer, Hamonic won’t be going anywhere this season.
Stamkos to the Sabres?
THE BUFFALO NEWS: Mike Harrington suggests the possibility of Steven Stamkos signing with the Buffalo Sabres, rather than the Toronto Maple Leafs, if he fails to re-sign with the Tampa Bay Lightning. He claims the Sabres are closer to winning than the Leafs and already have core pieces in place, plus they also have deep-pocketed ownership willing to spend top dollar to land him.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Well, if you’re gonna dream, why not dream big. Actually, Harrington makes some good points, but the Sabres and Leafs won’t be the only clubs pursuing Stamkos if he hits the open market. There could be some closer to winning than those two teams.
Trade deadline predictions for the Vancouver Canucks.
THE PROVINCE: Jason Botchford predicts the Canucks will trade defenseman Dan Hamhuis to the Pittsburgh Penguins, they won’t acquire any first-round picks at the trade deadline, they won’t trade winger Radim Vrbata if still in playoff contention, they’ll find a taker for fading grinder Brandon Prust (perhaps the Washington Capitals?)while Chris Higgins won’t be dealt.