Latest John Tavares Speculation – August 8, 2017
If John Tavares doesn’t re-sign with the New York Islanders, could he land with the Montreal Canadiens, New York Rangers or Toronto Maple Leafs?
NHL.COM: In a recent mailbag segment, Dan Rosen stated his believe that center John Tavares will re-sign with the New York Islanders before his eligibility next summer for unrestricted free agency. Assuming that doesn’t happen, he doesn’t think Tavares would sign with the arch rival Rangers. Rosen feels the Montreal Canadiens are a more likely destination as veteran center Tomas Plekanec and his $6 million salary-cap hit comes off the Habs books next July.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Rangers have over $51 million invested in 11 players for 2018-19, with J.T. Miller, Kevin Hayes, Jimmy Vesey, Brady Skjei and Matt Puempel becoming restricted free agents. If most of those players have strong performance this coming season, it could cost the Blueshirts around $15 million to re-sign them. As tempting as Tavares would be, I doubt they’ll want to handcuff themselves by tying up $10 million (or more) annually on just one player.
Tavares would be the answer to the Canadiens’ prayers at center. While the Habs have $57 million tied up in 15 players for 2017-18, all of their core players are under contract. They’ll have room to make a competitive bid, but would it be enough to entice Tavares to Montreal? That could depend upon how many other clubs pursue him, what they’re offering and if they’re in position to become a Stanley Cup contender.
SPORTING NEWS: Michael Augello recently examined how the Toronto Maple Leafs could make room for Tavares if he hits the open market next summer. Having two superstar centers in Tavares and Auston Matthews could be intriguing for Leafs management, who staged a failed attempt last summer to land Steven Stamkos before he re-signed with the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Augello notes the Leafs will have nearly $30 million in salary-cap space with Tyler Bozak, Dominic Moore, Ben Smith, Joffrey Lupul, Leo Komarov, James van Riemsdyk and Eric Fehr coming off the books, along with the buyouts of Jared Cowen and Tim Gleason. That doesn’t include rookie bonuses or new contracts for Matthews, William Nylander and Mitch Marner.
Adding Tavares would likely mean trading center Nazem Kadri to clear additional cap room to bolster their depth elsewhere on the roster, such as the blueline. It could also force them to make a choice between Nylander or Marner unless both can be re-signed to cost-effective bridge deals or long-term contracts below market value.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a hundred times: the Leafs don’t need Tavares.
Look, it’s not as though he wouldn’t be a good addition, but they already have a homegrown superstar in Matthews and two other promising forwards in Nylander and Marner. Kadri has finally developed into a reliable two-way center for their second line. Why not stick with those kids and let them become the foundation for a Stanley Cup contender?
Yes, they went after Stamkos last year, but that was before Matthews and Marner had even played an NHL game,before Nylander skated a full season for the Leafs and before Kadri finally established himself. If the Leafs are going to spend heavily in free agency next summer, they should invest those dollars in addressing their blueline depth than blowing their brains out chasing a superstar center they really don’t need.