NHL Rumor Mill – April 28, 2017

by | Apr 28, 2017 | Rumors | 46 comments

If Islanders captain John Tavares hits the trade block this summer, should the Montreal Canadiens pursue him?

Updates on John Tavares, Cam Fowler, Karl Alzner and more in your NHL rumor mill. 

SPORTSNET: In his latest 30 Thoughts column, Elliotte Friedman reported the New York Islanders are working hard on their pitch for a contract extension for team captain John Tavares, who’s eligible in July 2018 for unrestricted free agency.

Given Tavares’ desire to win, Friedman wonders what effect making Doug Weight the full-time head coach, the club’s pitch to build a new arena at Belmont Park and the retention of Garth Snow as general manager could have upon efforts to re-sign the talented center. The Isles can open contract talks with Tavares on July 1. 

If the Islanders and Tavares fail to reach agreement on a new contract, Eric Engels suggests the Montreal Canadiens should pursue the center if he’s placed on the trade block this summer, despite the potentially expensive asking price. The Habs lack a first-line center, which was a key reason why they failed to advance beyond the opening round of this year’s playoffs. If Tavares is unavailable, Engels lists Colorado Avalanche center Matt Duchene and KHL forward  Vadim Shipachyov as possible options. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If Tavares hits the trade block, and that’s a big “if” right now, the Canadiens won’t be the only club pursuing him. If he still believes the Isles are heading in the right direction he’ll re-sign with them, probably an eight-year deal worth around $10 million annually. I think the Habs stand a better chance of acquiring Duchene, though that move could also prove expensive and possibly too difficult to pull off.

FANRAG SPORTS NETWORK: Chris Nichols recently cited NHL insider Pierre LeBrun telling Toronto’s TSN 1050 the first order of business for the Anaheim Ducks in the offseason is determine what to do with defenseman Cam Fowler, who’s eligible next summer for unrestricted free agency. LeBrun believes the Ducks must find out before the expansion draft what the rearguard’s intentions are.

If Fowler intends to re-sign, they can shop one of their surplus blueliners rather than risk losing one to the Vegas Golden Knights. If Fowler won’t re-sign (and LeBrun isn’t saying he won’t), he could be the one moved. LeBrun points out the Ducks can’t re-sign the blueliner until July 1.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Fowler has a year left on his contract at a cap hit of $4 million. He’ll likely want a seven- or eight-year deal worth over $6 million per season. Given his increasing value to the Ducks’ blueline, I expect they’ll re-sign him. If he does become available in the trade market, expects the Toronto Maple Leafs, Buffalo Sabres, Detroit Red Wings, Tampa Bay Lightning and New Jersey Devils to come calling. 

WASHINGTON POST: Isabelle Khurshudyan reports the Capitals limited salary cap space could make defenseman Karl Alzner their odd man out this summer. Alzner, 28, is eligible for UFA status in July, along with teammates T.J. Oshie, Kevin Shattenkirk and Justin Williams, while Evgeny Kuznetsov, Andre Burakovsky, Dmitry Orlov and Brett Connolly are their notable restricted free agents. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Capitals have over $50 million invested in just 11 players next season. They could get some additional cap relief when they lose a player via the expansion draft. They can’t afford to re-sign everyone. If Alzner hits the open market, he’ll attract considerable interest from clubs in need of a skilled shutdown blueliner. Some of them could be those noted above who could have interest in Cam Fowler.

BOSTON GLOBE: Fluto Shinzawa recently examined the Buffalo Sabres’ search for a new general manager and head coach. Whoever takes over as GM must find the right coach to work with young center Jack Eichel. If that doesn’t work out down the road, Eichel could end up getting dealt. The new GM must also fix the team culture and improve the defense. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: To be clear, Shinzawa isn’t saying Eichel will be traded by a new Sabres general manager, merely suggesting that could be his fate in the future if he can’t work with the new coach. The Sabres are a mess right now and it’s up to owner Terry Pegula to hire the right people to straighten things out. 

Shinzawa also said it’s uncertain if Mike Condon will return with the Ottawa Senators after this season. He’s an unrestricted free agent in July. He also speculates the Boston Bruins could buy out winger Jimmy Hayes. 

BSN DENVER: Adrian Dater recently reported sources say defenseman Nikita Zadorov hopes to re-sign with the Colorado Avalanche but it’s possible he could get a tempting offer from a KHL team. Zadorov, 22, is completing an entry-level contract and lacks arbitration rights. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Zadorov camp could use the threat of a KHL contract as leverage to garner a better deal. Not saying he will, but since he’s ineligible for arbitration, it’s the only real bargaining chip he has. 


  1. #1: Tavares isn’t going to leave the Islanders. #2: Even if he does, he won’t go to Montreal. #3: Please, Leafs’ fans, no Tavares to Toronto thoughts because that won’t happen either, nor do we need him. #4: Whoever signs Alzner will overpay for him because of the lack of quality defensemen on the market and the number of teams that could use help there. #5: I still think a Toronto/Anaheim trade makes tons of sense on so many levels.

    • Talking about overpaying, that’s what someone will do in spades when it comes to Shattenkirk. I’ll say right here and now that, whatever he gets in cap hit and term will serve to be an albatross around some team’s neck in short order.

      • Again George just on topic & not directed at you. Shattenkirk has made Washington worse not better. He is a 1 dimensional offensive Dman that although isn’t a train wreck defensively isn’t sound defensively either. Yandle 2.0. He’ll get 7 years & 6 to 6.75 per. I wouldn’t pay it either but someone will.

    • Agreed. Unlikely Tavares leaves, should he, no to Mtl & Tor; don’t need him keep JvR. I assume Alzner will get Petry monies.

    • The trade possibility I like now for Toronto is Vatanen. Shouldn’t have to give up any of the stud forwards. 1 of the B grade prospects, possibly Komorov although a Babcock favorite & a pick.

      There are at least 4 other teams that could cut a top 4 Dman for nothing more than prospects & picks due to protection issues for expansion. Clb, Min, NYI & Ott at a bare minimum.

      • I doubt that will get it done. there are 8 teams in desperate need of a #1 d-man and about 4 teams that have surplus of d-man before the expansion draft. The Ducks are not going to give Vatanen away for a B-prospect and a mid level pick. They will want a player under cost control who does not need to be protected.

      • Sorry my fault, I didn’t provide enough info. That was the basis of a trade not an actual trade offer. I agree with you.

        My proposal the other day was, Komorov, Kapanen & a 1st, possibly even an additional pick.

        There will be about 20 teams bidding for the 5 to 8 Dman that should be available pre expansion draft. It will cost a fortune to buy 1.

      • Lets not forget the 20 teams you mention have their own defensemen to protect. The list of teams that can trade for a defenseman and yet be guaranteed to protect him is shorter.
        For once there are several available but not enough suitors

      • Striker, with Boston looking at 7-3-1 leaving K.Miller and Mcquaid unprotected do you think there is a team that might be interested in trading for one of them, knowing they would have to protect the player?

      • Depends on the team but McQuaid & K. Miller aren’t of the same caliber of Dman that the other 5 teams are faced with losing. I think we both agree these are 5/6 guys that can play on a 2nd pairing in a pinch but not ideal.

        If you take the time to go run thru all 30 teams many have the ability to take on a Dman especially 1 of the quality of a Vantanen/Manson, Savard/Murray, Brodin/Dumba/Scandella, De Haan/Hamonic, Methot, Etc. Including Boston before expansion. Would you be prepared to lose C. Miller in expansion to make room for Brodin? I would.

        Bos, Buf, Car, Col, Dal, Det, NJ, Phi, TB & Tor, that’s a 3rd of the league that could all take on a Dman of the quality I’m talking about before the expansion draft. Several others could in trade moving out an asset at forward to move to the 8 skaters format. There are several teams that have 3 Dman to protect but barely 5 obvious forwards & keeping 1 of the Dmna & losing the forward would serve most better. The question being cost.

        The Dman of the quality available pre expansion from at least 5 teams faced with losing 1 are almost never available.

    • Hey Thirstydeer,

      I agree with all of the points and fully anticipate that the Leafs and Ducks will be dealing with one this summer. Each has exactly what the other needs. That may not JvR and Fowler as is the usual assumption, but I would be surprised if there is not a swap between these two involving a forward for defence and prospects either way. The fact that they are from opposite also adds to this possibility.

  2. Most guys who get paid on July 1 are overpaid. Alzner will get his money, but I think he’s worth a hefty payday. His skills will compliment his defensive partner. Buffalo needs to sign him to play with Risto.

    • I agree with you on everything except the Ducks trade. Don`t think Toronto will trade any of the kids and it`s sounding more and more like they really want to keep JVR. Dreger and Bobby Mac both say T.O. could be very quiet this summer

      • That should have been for Thirstydeer

      • I don’t think Toronto will do anything blockbuster worthy, especially in the UFA market, but Lou has made comments several times about seeing what could possibly be done heading into the expansion draft.

        So I do think that with teams like Anaheim, Minnesota, Columbus, the Islanders, and possibly even Nashville looking to move a good D before the expansion draft, that the Leafs will likely be heavily involved.

        The prices won’t require one of the big 3 out of Toronto (or at least not in any deals Toronto is likely to be involved in) as these teams, while deep on D are still trading their 4-5th most valuable defender in their opinion, so while these trades are rare and large, we aren’t talking Jones-Johansson, Subban-Weber blockbuster deals in this instance.

      • As I said yesterday, LW is the Leafs weakest position along with RHD. Losing your best player in the weakest position is a recipe for disaster

      • I agree Taz. Use Marchand as a bench mark, comparable. Get JvR signed for nominally less than that on similiar term.

    • Players of his skill set, a solid shut down Dman that can play 1st pairing minutes & is only 28, 29 when next season starts. 5 to 5.5 per for 7 years.

      There will be a ton of teams bidding for his services any will be a great landing spot including Buffalo.

    • alzner is a younger version of gorges something buffalo already has. buffalo needs puck moving defense not more stay at home and get paid to not score defense.

      • Well that explains why Buffalo gave up more shots against per game than any team in the league, tied for 10th worst in goals against.

        Alzner is a way better skater & defensive player than Georges ever was or is & this isn’t meant to slight Georges. He plays with in his abilities & has a strong mental game.

        Buffalo needs both but Alzner can potentially be had for nothing more than cash so could Shattenkirk. Both will be in high demand.

        McCabe has far more to give Offensively & Guhle may step straight into the NHL depending upon what Buffalo does at D in the off season.

        Buffalo likes to run 4 forwards on their #1 PP regardless. At least currently.

  3. Pardon the language – but what the hell does anyone from the Boston Globe know about the inner workings of the Sens and their players that isn’t known to Ottawa journalists? And I have yet to see or hear ANY indication locally that Condon won’t re-sign in Ottawa.

    He is a UFA – but signing him before the expansion draft would be dumb in the extreme – there’s no way LV is going to draft a UFA – they will re-sign him immediately following the draft.

    • Condon is from Mass and it maybe that connection. Boston like to follow kids from their area to see how they are doing and progressing and where they might be playing.

      • I can see that – but if there had been ANY inkling that Condon might not re-sign in Ottawa don’t you think someone in the Ottawa media would have commented on it by now? Shinzawa is clearly speculating simply based on the fact he’s a UFA.

  4. I read the interview where McPhee says he has already started having discussions with teams about picking or avoiding players in return for picks as part of his way to accumulate assets.

    I never really though of it so much in this light before, but I wonder how many teams will pay a premium to have the Knights take a bad cap hit but not because they are looking to protect a particular player. The interview made mention of a conversation between McPhee and Murray, obviously irrelevant now, but I wonder if it was around something like the Knights taking Moulson in exchange for also receiving a pick. The Sabres aren’t going to be exposing a player that is really worth a lot to protect, but if you can get out from under a $5M cap hit, you can actually benefit from the draft.

    Also, given that Vegas is going to be pretty weak up front, they will likely need to bank on getting some talent by taken under performing overpaid forwards and hope for rebound seasons if they want to get some offense. I believe one of the protection lists I saw had the Knights being able to acquire two 20 goals scorers, basically creating four 3rd and 4th lines.

    • Danny, they may try to take a dip into the UFA market for guys like Marleau, Oshie, Vanek, Sharp etc. Could be a struggle for them as I think these veteran guys want a chance to win as they get late in their careers.
      It will be interesting to see how LV decides to go. The owner says he wants to build a winner quickly, not sure that is based in reality and might just be meant for a non traditional hockey market fan base. A strategy of acquiring as many young assets and picks is the blue print, just depends how patient they are willing to be.

      • And which pro team becomes a “winner” first – the hockey or the transplanted NFL team.

      • George, I would bet on the NFL.

    • Danny, it was also rumour to be that they had a deal in place with Buffalo and that Murray knew who he was losing off his Sabres roster. Have to wonder how that changes now that Murray been relieved of his duties.

      • I heard an interview with Rutherford the other day that left me with the impression he might have already agreed to deal MAF to Vegas.

    • Your on the right track but I think it will cost teams more than just a 2nd round pick to drop 10 mil in cap hit & 8 mil in salary over 2 more years. I think it would take a decent prospect or another player as well, or additional draft pick compensation.

      The Cap is still under significant pressure. The Canadian Dollar is in decline. Cash is king. Look what it cost Chi to dump Bickell, a solid young player in Teravainen. Flo paid NJ a 2nd to take Savard who had 1 year remaining & only 575K in salary due.

      I assume Vegas will take Ullmark unless Buffalo entices Vegas to pass on him. A player like Ennis might appeal to Vegas especially if Buffalo entices them with a 2nd to pass on Ullmark. Ennis although carrying a 4.6 cap hit, his salary declines to 3.65 over the final 3 seasons.

      Quantity & quality of ice time will allow those former 3rd line players to be more productive than on the previous teams they played for. Vegas’s best hope will be scoring by committee as they won’t have any true superstars & enticing any really good UFA’s this summer will be difficult as numerous teams will have needs following the expansion draft.

      I’m really looking forward to how this is all going to play out.

  5. I don’t give Tavares 10 mil per. Stamkos just signed for 8.5. That should set the bar for Tavares. Hell Cosby the best player in the world, OK maybe the 2nd best player in the world is making 8.7. There isn’t a player in the NHL today, in this cap world worth 10.

    The Canadian dollar has dropped almost 4 cents since the start of February & further declines are coming. 9 cents in the NHL’s last 2 fiscal years. Projections are 70 cents by the end of the year, 67 by the end of 2018. That’s some serious lost revenue for the NHL.

    • There my whole point about the salary Cap, Striker. With the fluctuating Canadian dollar it’s never a safe bet. Trump announces at 20% tax on Canadian Lumber and our dollar goes down half a cent. Can’t pay players based on if the salary cap might go up. NOT making a political statement here just point out the relationship from the Canadian dollar to the NHL salary Cap.

      • Unfortunately the Canadian dollar is just part of every day life for Canadians now. Including us avid hockey fans. It ties into player personal decisions, & really has nothing to do with politics except that politics has a significant impact on such.

        I would love to see the NHLPA vote down the escalator this summer. That would make it even more exciting.

  6. I can certainly see Zadarov trying to use the KHL for leverage but he’s firmly entrenched in NA. He came to Canada at 16 to play in the OHL. He’s been here for 5 years & just turned 22. A stud in the making. He will get a decent raise but I assume be bridged. He might even get even nominally better money than Trouba did on his 2 year bridge deal.

    Not that he necessarily deserves to but Colorado can’t afford Zadorov to be unhappy. He played a good portion of the season as Colorado’s #4 & should do so again for most of next season potentially even moving into the top 3 before year end.

    Depends what Sakic has planned this summer.

    • I would argue Zadarov is already the Avs #3,and future #1(as much as Johnson anyway) When EJ went down Zadarov was the best defensemen on the team, easily. At 22, He was developing very nicely with the extra toi and responsibilities.Avs will pay him,very solid future and the center piece of the R$R trade
      Really unfortunate that he missed the end of the season with an injury suffered in practice.

      • I agree.

  7. Duchene won’t solve the Habs scoring problems. He has averaged about 57 points per season over his career and last year with 41 points had 1 more point than Danault. He is a very good player but don’t count on a big offensive boost by adding him to the lineup.

    His production as been better than Galchenyuk’s but Galchenyuk has spend most of his career on LW and is 3 years younger than Duchene.

    • Well Bob nobody in Colorado did anything offensively this year, so I get where your coming from.

      However,he’s 26, had 30 goals last year on another dismal team , often without much talent on his line(MacKinnon has always gotten the best players to play with!) He’s much better defensively than he gets credit for, led the league in FO% and the last time he had decent wingers was almost a pp player. He’s a legitimate 1st line C

      • I agree. Weird factors in play. Duchene would be my 1st choice right now for a big bounce back season, even in Colorado.

        I’ve been trying to buy low to no avail.

  8. TO needs a physical dman. They have three top four guys but none of them are a #1 but they could all be good #2 types with the right partner?

    They could use Carrick as a starting point to go for Trouba but I think they should look at Manson, Gudbranson, Kulikov, Brodin, Pullock or Franson to start with then bring Pollak back. They have lots of prospects and picks to use. Leipsic would be a good starting point and then add from there. I expect teams are more interested in Leivo or Rychel than JVR. Leivo has to play in the top nine but as long as JVR is on the roster there really isn’t a spot unless Hyman drops to the fourth line. Nice problem to have. Based on their draft position chances are that there will only be forwards available unless Hague or Foote falls a bit?

    • I can see Toronto hooking up with Minny. Minny can’t protect all their defenceman and needs to unload a bad contract. I can see Toronto taking Dumba and a bad contract for someone not necessarily JVR. Lou hinted at that type of scenario. Toronto still has a couple of years before they have cap issues. Then they can bury or buy out the contract

      • Toronto is not landing Dumda or Trouba for spare pieces and b-grade prospects.

      • @Taz, Toronto has the one thing that Minny needs, cap space. Minny would be sending Dumba and Pomminville for let say Kapenen and a pick. That gives Minny 2 extra spots for the expansion draft and 8.1 mill cap space that they desperately need. Dumba is a 3/4 guy, all tho he is a righty, not a #1. Minny can`t really take back salary, nor can they protect anyone at the draft. I do agree this would not land Trouba, Winnipeg isn`t in the mess Minny is.

  9. Scott Darling to the Hurricanes for a 3rd. Let the deals begin

  10. Maybe if the new Sabre coach can’t coach Eichel, he shouldn’t be hired in the first place. First line centers don’t grow on trees. Where do these hair brained thoughts even come from?
    I’m surprised you didn’t suggest he would be going to Toronto.

  11. Maybe if the new Sabre coach can’t coach Eichel, he shouldn’t be hired in the first place. First line centers don’t grow on trees. Where do these hair-brained thoughts even come from?
    I’m surprised you didn’t suggest he would be going to Toronto.