NHL Rumor Mill – September 7, 2016
New York Islanders captain John Tavares once again addresses speculation he could join the Toronto Maple Leafs in two years’ time, while Kris Versteeg could be a good fit with the Vancouver Canucks.
TSN 1050 (via TODAY’S SLAPSHOT): New York Islanders captain and Mississauga native John Tavares once again addressed speculation suggesting he could sign with the Toronto Maple Leafs when he becomes eligible for unrestricted free agency in 2018. Tavares again praised the Islanders organization, insisting he wants to remain with them “for the long haul.”
While acknowledging one cannot predict the future, he maintains he wants to stay with the Isles and their management wants to keep him. “Hopefully when the time comes, we can extend and get that done,” said Tavares,
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Until Tavares and the Isles agree to a new contract, some Toronto fans and pundits will keep hoping he’ll “come home” and join the Leafs as a free agent in 2018. Anything’s possible, of course, but we all went through this nonsense with Tavares before he signed his current contract. And of course, there was the year-long Steven Stamkos watch that ultimately ended with him re-signing with the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Instead of daydreaming about Tavares playing for Toronto, those Leafs fantasists should instead focus on the promising young crop of players who could turn this club into a playoff contender in the near future. Auston Matthews, William Nylander, Morgan Rielly and Mitch Marner are the Leafs future, not veteran stars from other clubs who might be available via free agency in a couple of years.
THE PROVINCE: Patrick Johnston observes winger Kris Versteeg is returning to North America after his contract with Switzerland’s SC Bern fell through for insurance reasons. He suggests Versteeg could be a good short-term option for the Vancouver Canucks, who need skilled depth on their wings.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canucks have over $2.7 million in salary-cap space, so they have room for Versteeg on an affordable one-year deal. That’s assuming they’re interested or that he wants to play for them. While his best seasons are behind him, the 30-year-old winger did net 38 points last season split between the Carolina Hurricanes and Los Angeles Kings.