NHL Rumor Mill – October 16, 2017

by | Oct 16, 2017 | Rumors | 26 comments

Latest on John Tavares, Andreas Athanasiou, Alexei Emelin and more in your NHL rumor mill. 

NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: Marcus White believes New York Islanders center John Tavares’ pending status as an unrestricted free agent is “the biggest national storyline this season.” The longer Tavares goes without being re-signed by the Isles, the more speculation will grow about the center as the Feb. 26 trade deadline approaches. If he’s not traded by then and still unsigned, White thinks the situation will reach a fever pitch as the July 1 start of the free agency approaches. 

White feels the San Jose Sharks could be among the clubs to pursue Tavares, citing Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reporting of their interest in the Isles captain back in April. The Sharks will have “plenty of cap space” plus a need for a first-line center as Joe Thornton ages. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: White also hopes for more drama regarding Tavares’ status as the season progresses. That’ll depend upon how things go with the Islanders’ bid to build a new arena at Belmont Park. It’s widely assumed Tavares wants to re-sign with the Islanders but he’s waiting to see how that arena deal shakes out. I doubt we’ll hear much more about his possible trade status until February rolls around. If the Isles haven’t learned anything about their bid from the state by then, or if it’s been rejected, that could put the rumor mill into high gear. 

MLIVE.COM: Ansar Khan reports the lines of communication between the Detroit Red Wings and the agent for restricted free agent forward Andreas Athanasiou remain open. General manager Ken Holland spoke briefly with Athanasiou’s agent last Thursday and hopes to continue discussions this week. The Wings are offering up a two-year contract worth $1.9 million per season but the Athanasiou camp seeks $2.5 million annually.

Khan cites a source claiming the Wings aren’t actively shopping the winger but are listening to offers. So far, they haven’t received anything that intrigues them and are prepared to let him sit out the season rather than accept a sub-standard offer. However, the Wings still hope to re-sign him before Dec. 1. If unsigned after that date, he’ll be ineligible to play the remainder of the season. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE:  On Saturday, Sportsnet’s Nick Kypreos suggested things could come to a head this week. I don’t think the Wings intend to trade him. They still feel he has a key role to play with their rebuilding roster. 

THE TENNESSEAN: In a recent mailbag segment, Adam Vingan suggested Nashville Predators defenseman Alexei Emelin could become a trade chip later this season. That will depend upon the recovery of blueliner Ryan Ellis from offseason knee surgery and the development of promising Samuel Girard, who’s making a case to stick with the lineup this season. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Emelin was acquired to bolster the Predators’ blueline depth during Ellis’ absence, as he’s not expected back until late-December or early-January. Girard’s promising early performance, however, could make things interesting. If he stick with the Preds this season, that could make Emelin expendable after Ellis returns to action.

OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch reports the imminent return to action of Erik Karlsson and Johnny Oduya leaves the Senators overstocked with defensemen. To make room for Karlsson, they demoted Thomas Chabot, though he’s not expected to be there for long. GM Pierre Dorion could use one of his blueliners as a trade chip to land a forward, but the club seem content to let Chabot develop his game in the minors. Garrioch said the word around the league is nobody’s been more aggressively shopping for a trade than Dorion but most of his peers are still evaluating their rosters. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The trade market could improve by the American Thanksgiving weekend in late-November. 



  1. This isn’t necessarily a rumor. But I want to ask if anybody has seen the Flyers play this year. They are actually an exciting fast team. It’s only early but the increased team speed on the forward line is substantial.
    Also they have began to integrate their young D into the team. The one that has impressed me the most is Robert hagg. He has flown under the radar In terms of the prospects but he looks like a big bodied mobile defenceman who could move in to the top four. He has been paired with ghost and has stabilized that pairing.

    • You’re bang on with one observation Scott – it is only early.

      Detroit tied for 1st in Atlantic
      NJ tied for 1st in Metropolitan and Rangers dead last
      Colorado 1 point out of 1st in Central
      Las Vegas 1 point out of 1st in Pacific and Edmonton near the bottom

      While it’s nice to see the team you follow showing promise – and although it can be equally worrying to see your favorite team floundering – everyone will start to get a better idea as to how their team may fare by the U.S. Thanksgiving in mid-November.

      • I saw where NY was going this year early on. Trading Stepan for guys that won’t help today…. that writing was on the wall. It’s not just the Stepan trade itself, it’s the juggling of lines and chemistry throughout the line up that’s killing them. Losing Lindberg was not easy to swallow either.

        I don’t see NY as a playoff team this year without some serious changes. And if either of Zibanejad or Hayes go down with a lengthy injury, they could find themselves on the bottom of the east come Christmas.

        It’s going to be a long year for NY fans.

    • The Flyers have looked decent, I have only seen them play one game, so the sample size is small, and it is definitely too early to make big generalizations, but we aren’t far away from the point in the season where a good start turns into a lot more. There is typically more change in the standings in the first 20 games, than there is over the rest of the season, and usually, at the quarter mark, what you see ends up being pretty close to how the year finishes. That means these hot starts end up having a real big impact for a lot of these teams, if they stretch into 10 to 20 games. I think it’s because we start seeing the dreaded 3 point game start to grind the spreads down in the middle and later parts of the season.

      There will certainly be some teams that force their way into the conversation or fall out of it, but we do see the starts teams have dictate a lot of the standings.

      Montreal’s hot start last year won them a division, but after that start they played like a bubble team for 72 games. Toronto’s weak start required them to have the 5th best record in the NHL from Jaunary 1st onward just to be a bubble team that made the playoffs on the last day for the right to face the president’s trophy winners.

      While it is early, the start of the season is becoming very important in a league where the spread between playoff and non-playoff teams seems to be ever shrinking.

  2. Last time I checked two points in October is the same two points in March. All are important. You are going to need 95+ points come April
    I am sure coaching staffs break it down into 5 or 10 game segments.

    • I am not sure of the percentages, but because of 3 point games, points are actually harder to come by per game in October/November than they are in the later parts of the season, as the frequency of OT and shootout losses tends to go up as the season wears on. Hot/Cold starts that carry into November usually either make or break a lot of teams playoff aspirations.

      Throw in typically divisional match-up heavy early schedules, and you could make the argument that the points early in the year can be worth more than they are later. Despite the standings looking close, it seems to be extremely hard to gain on teams late in the season.

      • Danny, according to Elliote Friedman, historically teams that are four or more points out of the playoffs on November 1 almost always miss the playoffs. It’s early but that is sobering information.

      • They need to get rid of this three point system. It cheeses up the game. Its like giving an award to the every little kid on the losing team. I abhor the idea of teams playing it safe in the third just to get themselves a point. It deviates from the whole purpose of playing a game. I guarantee that come January when points are needed badly you would see a lot more crazy exciting hockey if there were no extra point. I have, and will continue to maintain that this extra point has taken something away from the natural spirit of the game and must be abolished.

    • No one’s denying the obvious SilverSeven. Sure, any points gained now are important to the final standings. It’s simply that, in long-season sports like hockey, baseball and basketball, early seasons standings are frequently upside down compared to the final stats – and for a variety of reasons.

  3. To Habs: Tavares
    To Isles: Galchenyuk + Lehkonen + Lindgren + 2018 2nd Round Pick

    • You don’t think Snow knows that Galchenyuk is turning out to be a bit of a dud as dies the Montreal brain-trust? Why would they want a reclamation project for a top C couple with a clutch of maybe’s? If Snow is going to deal Tavares – which I seriously doubt will happen – there are going to be far better offers pouring in from all over the league. –

      • The Tavares situation is going to play out the exact same way as Stamkos. He will wait to the last minute creating a media storm and then re-sign with the Islanders. Boring!

    • Not really, MTL for the past 2 years have been misusing Galchenyuk…trying to make him into the Centerman they’ve been missing, which resulted in what we see from him today. Then because he didn’t turn out to be a Centerman, he’s been thrown up and down the lineup. Before all of this, he was a force and a huge building block for the Habs. And this is coming from a die hard Leafs fan. With that said, maybe churn that 2nd rounder into a 1st.

      • I’ve been under the impression that C is what Galchenyuk sees himself as primarily – something two coaches gave him every chance to show and soon found he didn’t have the ability either in the face-off circle or in handling the more physical opposition.

        Maybe a destination like LV or Arizona where there is little spotlight might help him start to perform like a # 3 pick overall – but after two pretty good seasons he isn’t doping that in Montreal. And coaches are not going to jeopardize their job security by being stubborn and deliberately misusing a player out of spite. There’s likely a lot more to his “game” that doesn’t sit well with Julien (as with Therrien before him).

      • Not even close LeafsAdvocate. There are about 20 teams that would better that offer.

        Galchenyuk has been given multiple opportunities as a centerman, as a winger and on PP units. He just hasn’t worked out.
        This is the classic case of mediocre talent for an elite player, the Islanders have enough depth in young forwards to basically laugh this proposal off.

      • He did score 30 goals & 56 points playing as a LW the season before last, 20 & 46 the season prior.

        Still only 23 & he is being held to a far higher standard than many of his teammates.

    • Whether or not Galchenyuk can turn into a solid player again won’t dictate his value in this type of trade. It’s all about the league’s perception of him now, which isn’t great.

      IF, that’s a big IF, Tavares is traded this year, it will be near the Deadline, and likely because NYI falls well out of the playoff hunt, and he makes it publicly known to them he won’t be re-signing. Otherwise, they will hold out hope. If that is the scenario, they will want teams to pony up prospects and picks, and assets with little to no blemishes thus far. Most likely, the teams interested this year will be teams feeling they can make a run for the cup, and have the assets outside of their current roster. It’s way too early to say who those teams might be, as I don’t think that type of trade makes sense for anyone involved this early.

      • Meant to change “publicly known” to “known to them” but accidentally included both.

        I meant to say, if Tavares makes it known to management, that he is uninterseted in signing in NYI, then he may get moved. But as long as the Islanders feel there is a chance to make the playoffs and a chance to re-sign Tavares, then he will almost assuredly stay put.

    • I see your crazy and raise you:

      Turris, Brown, Cleassen and a 1rst for Tavares.

    • Can’t see that. Tampa Bay or Toronto now that they have turned it around. He is from Mississauga.

  4. ” …. as DOES the Montreal ….”

  5. My concern about John Tavares is that he’s become a player of name recognition. As an Islander fan who watches every game, it’s becoming increasingly evident that the game is getting to fast for him. With that said, I’m not sure I’d like to see him signed to a long-term contract with the Islanders. The speed of the game and his lack of foot speed and overall quickness has him accelerating out of his prime quickly.

    • Wow, really? Too fast for him? Maybe that comment would suffice if he was a 45 year old Jagr, or former NHLer Jason Allison.

    • I was just thinking the same thing the other day Jay Z. I was wondering if a team signed Tavares to a 7-8 year deal might end up regretting the overall length and term after 4 or so years because he will obviously trend slower as the years progress. He is definitely worth his money in front end of such a deal, but will he be worth that much money to a team in the back end? I just don’t get to see Tavares enough to make an intuition. But, what I do see of him, intuition tells me he is going to have to rely on intelligent positioning rather than foot speed to be able to continue to be a dominant scorer in upcoming later years.

  6. I might be very wrong here as I rarly watch games with Tavares as well but I can’t shake the feeling that the hype is more due to his pedigree than his play. His stats most season are not out of this world, albeit playing for many ”bad” teams on the island.
    I will echo yesterdays comment that a new deal with NYI absolutly can not hinge on a new arena as it will get built in the twilight of his playing days.

    Can you argue he should get more than Stamkos? Should he get as much as then cap-strapping Hawksplayers Toews and Kane? Or the outrages deal for Kopitar?
    Tarasenko money is more like it, it would seem?

    • As a life-long Islander fan, I cringe at my own honesty when it comes to having the opinion that many other players in the league are better than Tavares. A lot of fellow Islander fans have a tremendous emotional attachment to Tavares, I don’t. I like Tavares, but there are things about his game that concern me.

      At 27 years of age, both his numbers and his overall game play is already on the decline. The game has gotten so fast, and he can’t seem to keep up. He was never known for his fluid skating, though he did improve markedly from his first year, going forward, but these newer players are so fast and so skilled, dare I say “His game is too old fashioned” already?

      The most noticeable players on the Islanders thus far are Josh Ho-Sang and Matt Barzal, two rookies with great speed and agility. Their players who aren’t fluid skating; Tavares, Lee, Ladd, struggle to get and maintain control of the puck while not being quick enough to get it away from their faster opponents.

      Skating is the name of the game, perhaps like never before, and the strong board play is only as useful as your wheels are once you’ve won that battle.

      The game has evovled, and I’m not so convinced that Tavares can evolve with it as being THE GUY. He’ll still be an above average NHL player, but he’ll need the right teammates.

      With all that said, it is worth it for the Islanders to re-sign him. It will be a PR nightmare if they don’t. On the other hand, if land a massive haul in a trade, they have to give that a really close look.