NHL Rumor Mill – November 28, 2016
Recent speculation on John Tavares and Evander Kane in your NHL rumor mill.
FANRAG SPORTS (via Chris Nichols): The ongoing struggles of the New York Islanders led to TSN’s Bob McKenzie and Pierre LeBrun recently being asked about the possible impact it could have upon John Tavares’ future with the club. He is slated to become an unrestricted free agent in 2018.
While Tavares has repeatedly said he wants to help the Isles become a winner, the club’s decline this season is raising questions. McKenzie believes it’ll be fascinating to see where the Isles finish this season and what effect it has upon what Tavares does or doesn’t do regarding a contract extension.
LeBrun noted Tavares’ repeated insistence on being an Islander for life, but concedes the club’s poor showing thus far could affect his future a bit. He points out this season was going to be a significant one for the club’s new ownership in showing Tavares what their vision is. He feels they’re on the clock to prove to their captain they’re going to do all they can to create a winning environment.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Islanders obviously don’t want to trade Tavares and certainly won’t be shopping him this season. However, if they miss the playoffs, it’s going to generate considerable interest next summer in his future plans. The Isles can open contract extension talks on July 1. The longer he goes unsigned, the more speculation will grow suggesting he’ll move on as a UFA in 2018. And of course, there will be non-stop “Tavares to Toronto” chatter.
Nichols also cited TSN’s Darren Dreger’s recent appearance on Buffalo’s WGR 550 to discuss the ongoing trade rumors regarding Buffalo Sabres left wing Evander Kane. Dreger insists the rumors are for real, but they died down over the past week. He doesn’t know if that’s because of lack of interest in Kane, or the club’s asking price or if a deal made any sense. Dreger suggests Sabres GM Tim Murray wants to get a decent return. Despite Kane’s off-ice issues and current on-ice struggles, Dreger maintains he’s a valuable piece.
Bob McKenzie, meanwhile, noted the recent trade talks between the Sabres and Vancouver Canucks regarding Kane were shut down real tight, so we can put those to rest.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I don’t doubt there’s interest in Kane, despite his issues. However, it seems the Sabres want too much in return. The ongoing speculation suggests they want a top-four defenseman. If those trade talks with the Canucks are truly closed, it means Murray sought far more (Chris Tanev? Ben Hutton?) than the Canucks were willing to give. It also means perhaps the Sabres could be stuck with Kane for the rest of the season unless Murray lowers his asking price.