NHL Rumor Mill – September 7, 2016

by | Sep 7, 2016 | Rumors | 31 comments

New York Islanders captain John Tavares once again addresses speculation he could join the Leafs in two years as a free agent.

New York Islanders captain John Tavares once again addresses speculation he could join the Leafs in two years as a free agent.

 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. 


  1. Leafs fans, of which I am one, are the biggest tamperers going! I agree with Spector, focus on what we have as the future is very bright in Toronto. Add Andersen, Soshnikov, Leitsev, Hymen, Brown, Gauthier, and others to the list of the future for Toronto. If Tavares signs in Toronto in two years then great. But don’t hope he will because he won’t. Stick to the plan!

    • I agree. I’m a Toronto fan but enough already with every big name Canadian born all-star wanting to return home at some point in their career. It’s comments like these that propel others to stereotype Toronto fans as egocentric and believing everyone and their mothers want to play for the Leafs. The Leafs are doing well in their rebuilding plan, and I can’t wait to see how all the young talent develops over the next few seasons. Truthfully, I’d be happy with another top 5 pick, but not sure the team will lose *that* much this season.

      • You guys seem to overlook the main obstacle or problem you might say, which is the media. Their main job is to generate discussion and that will never go away. For the next 2 yrs. expect Tavaras`s name to come up frequently, but to say us leaf fans are the biggest tamperers isn`t correct at all. Every teams fans wish that the home town stars come back to play for their team. The only reason it`s bigger in Toronto is the fact the area produces the most players and the leafs have the most fans. Trust me if Ari. still has a team in 7 yrs. there will be a lot of talk there about Matthews coming home. Stands to reason, just like at the draft rumours, which a lot of them came out of Ari., not Tor.

  2. We also do not need two years of “wouldn’t it be nice” for Tavares. I am already tired of it !…….Canucks should spend their cap on the back end

  3. Glad to see there are others who realize this is a process. I for one am more excited with what we have off the ice. Shanahan has proven to be intelligent enough to bring in people smarter than himself with respect to hockey ops such as Babcock, Lamoriello, and Hunter. People seem to forget that outside of a few very good players the Red Wings, and Devils had great success with patience and systems. Shanahan has taken the best of both of these organizations to duplicate that success and it will happen.

    To be honest Tampa did the same thing by hiring Yzerman I think he has proven to be a great manager. Both of these guys (Shanahan and Yzerman) are examples of how former players can be successful in hockey off the ice. It doesn’t always happen that way.

    • Redwing had only a few good players? Let’s take it easy with they made water in to wine stories the cup that Babcick won in Detroit he had Hasek Lidstrom Rifalski Chelios Datsyuk Zetterberg Samuelson… That’s a pretty great team, the Devils teams that were good had a HOF goalie and HOF D in front of him…I get it there is lots to be excited about but let’s wait and see how things go and tune down the hype machine just a tad. lol

      • Brodeur, Neidermayer, Stevens, Brylin, and Daneyko are the only 5 players to win all three Cups in NJ. Yzerman, Shanahan, Maltby, Draper, Dandenault, Fedorov, Larionov, Lidstrom, Holmstrom, and McCarthy were the ten players to earn a ring in each of Detroit’s three Cups in 97, 98, and 02. Yes there are many great players in that list but many who were not top picks. They were found through great scouting, a willingness to play within a system, and an ability to bring in new talent when necessary to retool. Much like Chicago does now. That’s what people are pointing to Shticky! Taking a page from previous teams who blended proven talent with dependable players who understand the team concept. Many of the young players in Toronto have the opportunity to turn into players who many will look back on and make comments like the one you just made.

      • You’re leaving out the mess that Lou left behind, the bizarre signings the whole kovalchuck fiasco the fact that Babs had the benefit of coaching one of the best run organization for a decade den the train coming down the track and got out before times got tough…as I said I get it there is a lot to be excited about I am a Leaf fan too but to me it seems like some make it seem like these guys parted the seas and walk on water and it seems almost like the same kinda hype that came with Brian Burke and Randy Carlyle (they won a cup! Everything will be fine now) till things got
        tough, it’s the same thing
        as Leaf fans or media chasing Taveres around now. Just dial back the hype machine and let’s see how it plays out before we anoint anyone saviours is all I am saying it looks good so far, so did a 3 goal lead going in to the final 10 mins of game 7.

      • LOL. Totally agree, but it’s funny – when I used to make much the same observations, Shticky, I was often dubbed a “Leafs hater” and a troll for pointing out the misplaced hype. I guess it’s all in one’s perspective.

      • Lol I’m nicer than you and not nearly as abrasive so there.

    • Add Hextall to that list, they all seem to be of the same mold.

  4. Have to agree with everyone. Trying to land the big fish in the pond is the reason why the Leafs have ducked, well, forever (honorable mention to Pal Hal). For the first time in my lifetime, the organization with drafting smart, trading smart and developing smart. Why do something stupid?

    If Matthews, Nylander and Marner play to the level we think they can, along with Kardi and a few more kids I won’t mention, where is there room for Traveres?

    I love the Toronto media…. ugh.

    • You hit the nail on the head! It’s the media spewing out this crap, but I guess it’s their job. I don’t even think that signing Stamkos was a good idea anyhow. That would totally alter the plan and speed things up necessarily which would lead to mistakes. I think the Leafs will be surprisingly competitive this year. But a great effort and another good pick come June is not a lost season for the Leafs.

  5. Speed things up unnecessarily sorry!

  6. I agree with the consensus that we have a lot to look forward to. It’s been quite enjoyable to see fans of other teams in the office be quite.. quiet when the Leafs come up as there hasn’t been a dumpster-fire quality management decision for some time that they can slag the leafs brass for.

    Note: I’m sure a stinker of a move will eventually come, I just hope it’s a small scale gaffe.

    That said, the one thing about Tavares I will say is that I think he would have been a better fit for Toronto than Stamkos, Tavares as 1C and Matthews 2C, Kadri 3C is a pretty fun scenario.

    • Vancouver has taken over the “easy to slag” Canadian team. Their management is horrible and I can’t think of one good move made by Benning since he took over as GM. Montreal is approaching that status as well and they better hope Weber is really good the next 5 years before he inevitably declines.

      If Toronto gets another top pairing quality defenseman in the draft or via trade over the next couple seasons, look out. I agree that it would be best for them long term to have one more top 5 draft pick before becoming a regular playoff team. If they luck out and get Nolan Patrick or Timothy Liljegren next year (consensus top 2 like Stamkos/Doughty years ago), they could be a cup contender in 3 to 4 years.

      • That’s the point of the Weber deal; get him now while he still has something to offer. I believe the first few years of that deal are quite fair. But the real thing for Montreal, as we all know, is whether Carey Price can stay healthy. If he can Montreal is a playoff team; wildcard albeit.

      • Agree there. Vancouver and Toronto will be 2 of the teams in this seasons lottery draft vying for Nolan Patrick.

  7. Ive been a leaf fan for over 50 years. I cannot ever recall been this excited about this team. The Gilmour years were pretty good and we should have won it at least once with that group. The management team we have now have changed the culture and the whole organizations attitude. I believe if we stay the course and develop our own stars from scratch,leafs fans everywhere are going to be more proud to wear their favorite jersey.

    • Hear hear to that.

      I for one recently started investing in the team through merch again, something I avoided during the previous rounds of mgt.

      • lol maybe I’mjust jaded, I never quit buying merch or anything like that and still went to games but anyway excited yes definitely, but can’t shake the scepticism that we’ve been down this road before hope it turns out better this time

    • I’m not a leafs fan, but definitely curious to see how some of the leafs young talent performs this year in the NHL- particularly matthews and marner

  8. Kris Versteeg to a Cup contender as a depth addition makes perfect sense. A bottomfeeder like Vancouver signing him only fouls the air with more of the Dim Jim “retooling to save my job” odor. Any roster spots the Canucks deem available should go to a prospect so they gain experience. Canucks are a lottery team, adding Versteeg gains them nothing. Versteeg makes sense in Sa Jose, Chicago, Pittsburgh, Anaheim, St Louis, Tampa as a spare part, not a top six need you to score addition. Rebuild Jimmy, rebuild not retool.

    • I would agree….rebuild. But I wouldn’t lay all the blame on retooling on Benning and Linden. I think they believe a full fledged rebuild to be the best choice as well. But I think ownership (Aquilinis) misses the playoff gate. And so even if Benni g and Linden are shown the door, their replacements won’t be rebuilding either. They’ll do what ownership wants, and that’s to go for the playoffs.

  9. Go away shticky!

    • Agreed.

      • +1?

  10. Tavares has a couple of seasons on his contract. Asking that question is idiotic for a reporter.

    • I could not agree more Doctor Dave which points exactly to the media and Leafs fans as being tamperers. It’s both foolish and wishful thinking rather than focusing on what we have which is a great future with a lot of young talent!

  11. When is Seguin’s contract up? After Traveres we will hear about that one.

    I think TO has a good group coming up and a good organization going forward. A little luck and good health during a play-off run can produce a cup. When I was growing up in the sixties I just expected the Leafs to win the cup. Now not so much. Hope fully I see one more cup before I die.

  12. You will have six leafs carrying your coffin…..so they can let you down one more time 🙂