NHL Rumor Mill – September 4, 2017
Updates on John Tavares and Danis Zaripov plus some possible PTO targets for the Capitals in your NHL rumor mill.
STLTODAY.COM: In a recent live chat with St. Louis Blues fans, Jeff Gordon doubted the club could afford to pursue New York Islanders center John Tavares via trade or free agency, Gordon feels Tavares wants to stay with the Islanders if the club can get a new arena. If not, he thinks the Toronto Maple Leafs have the pieces to acquire the Isles captain in a blockbuster trade.
Gordon also believes Tavares will get $10 million per season on his next contract. He points out it would be difficult for the Blues to afford Tavares and winger Vladimir Tarasenko, who’s earning over $7 million annually.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Blues have over $58 million invested in 14 players for 2018-19. Assuming they acquired Tavares and paid him $10 million per season, that would push their payroll to over $68 million for 15 players. If there’s another marginal cap increase to between $77-$78 million for ’18-’19, the Blues will have limited salary-cap space to re-sign or replace other key players, including RFAs Robby Fabbri and Joel Edmundson.
CSN MIDATLANTIC: J.J. Regan notes the Washington Capitals currently have only five defensemen (Matt Niskanen, Dmitry Orlov, John Carlson, Brooks Orpik and Taylor Chorney) under contract from last season, leaving two spots open for prospects. If the Caps decide they need additional veteran depth, Regan lists unrestricted free agent defensemen Roman Polak, Fedor Tyutin, Cody Franson and Mark Stuart as possible professional tryout offer candidates.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I daresay the Capitals aren’t the only clubs looking at those four as potential PTO candidates. The Chicago Blackhawks, for example, also only have five blueliners under contracts from ’16-’17. In July, a rumor emerged linking Franson to the Hawks as a tryout candidate. The Colorado Avalanche only have four rearguards under contract and recently invited Jared Cowen to camp on a tryout basis.
PITTSBURGH HOCKEY NOW: Dan Kingerski reports sources say the Pittsburgh Penguins are among four NHL teams interested in former KHL winger Danis Zaripov. “According to sources, the Penguins have made an inquiry and are “internally discussing” a contract offer,” write Kingerski. He also notes the Pens remain in the market for a third-line center. The New York Rangers are also thought to have interest in the 36-year-old Zaripov.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: This could depend upon how much it’ll cost the Penguins to sign Zaripov and if that leave sufficient space to bolster their depth at center. They currently have over $3.2 million in cap space, though Kingerski observes that’ll drop to $2.4 million if blueliner Derrick Pouliot cracks the roster this season. That could affect efforts to land that third-line center unless some salary is shipped out in a trade.