NHL Rumor Mill – October 14, 2017
Latest on John Tavares, Dustin Brown, the Lightning’s defense and yes, Matt Duchene in your NHL rumor mill. Enjoy!
THE MERCURY NEWS: Paul Gackle wonders if San Jose Sharks general manager Doug Wilson will try to acquire New York Islanders center John Tavares via the Feb. 26 trade deadline or next summer’s free-agent market. The 27-year-old center could be the perfect fit to help the Sharks transition from an aging Joe Thornton.
Gackle acknowledges reports suggesting Tavares could prefer re-signing with the Islanders, but the center won’t commit to a long-term deal until the club finally locks down a permanent new home. He also notes the potential cost of adding Tavares could be a salary-cap headache for Wilson.
It’s unclear if Tavares will remain a dominant into his 30s, noting his production has declined over the last two years. Gackle suggests Colorado Avalanche center Matt Duchene might be a better option.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: If Wilson is interested in landing Tavares, he’ll have plenty of company. Tavares will be the best player in next summer’s unrestricted free agent market. However, he might not be available by then. If the Isles win the bidding for a new arena at Belmont Park, I think Tavares re-signs soon afterward. He’s very loyal to that franchise but wants assurances that they’ll get their arena issue sorted out before committing to a long-term deal.
FANRAG SPORTS NETWORK: Speaking of Duchene, Chris Nichols cites NHL insider Elliotte Friedman appearing on Calgary’s Sportsnet 960 discussing the Avs’ plans for the center. The club’s strong start to the season has reduced the noise over Duchene’s trade status and Friedman believes the club intends to hold onto him for a bit. He also believes the Avs will do some heavy scouting of team prospects, as rival clubs are reluctant to part with talent from their rosters.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Duchene’s start to this season should improve his trade value but it could also give the Avs second thoughts about trading him. Mind you, the relationship between Duchene and Avs management needs some serious repair work.
Friedman also discussed the strong start to this season of Los Angeles Kings winger and former captain Dustin Brown, who’s improved under new head coach John Stevens. He adds that Brown had grown frustrated under the stifling defensive system of former coach Darryl Sutter, but he’s now getting first-line minutes and is making the most of it.
Friedman feels the Kings have moved from trying to trade Brown and his lengthy contract to trying to improve his play. He thinks Brown has a no-trade to Canada but thinks it’s possible his name came up in offseason trade discussions between the Kings and Ottawa Senators when they were discussing Dion Phaneuf.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Brown’s contract and the decline in his production over the last several seasons made him impossible to trade. Even if he regains his former 20-goal, 50-point form this season, I don’t see the Kings finding any takers for his services. It’s in the Kings’ best interest to find a way to help him improve his game.
TAMPA BAY TIMES: Joe Smith reports something has to give with the Tampa Bay Lightning’s “eight-deep” blueline. Slater Koekkoek, who’s off to a good start to this season, needs more playing time to develop. Smith believes teams have inquired about Koekkoek’s availability. There’s also been rumblings Andrej Sustr is being shopped.