Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – October 15, 2017
Latest on John Tavares, Zdeno Chara and Andreas Athanasiou in your Sunday NHL rumor roundup.
NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks reports there’s every indication New York Islanders captain John Tavares is waiting for certainty on the club’s long-term future before committing to a long-term extension with the club. The Isles are awaiting the state’s decision on their bid to build a new arena in Belmont Part. He believes Tavares is also willing to wait for the state of New York’s decision until the free-agent market opens on July 1.
However, if the Feb. 26 trade deadline approaches with no rapid, favorable decision for the Isles, the club could face a difficult choice. They could ride it out with Tavares and risk losing him for nothing to free agency on July 1 or move him at the trade deadline for a big return, preferably to a team he’d be willing to sign with, such as Tampa Bay, Toronto or Montreal.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: If the Islanders decide to trade Tavares by the deadline, there’s no certainty he’ll end up with one of those three clubs listed by Brooks. The Lightning seem set at center with Steven Stamkos, Tyler Johnson and Brayden Point. Ditto the Leafs with Auston Matthews, Tyler Bozak and Nazem Kadri.
The Canadiens could certainly use Tavares but they lack sufficient assets to pry him away from the Isles. Habs GM Marc Bergevin could prefer waiting for free agency to pursue him.
The cost of re-signing Tavares (seven years, over $10 million annually) would be difficult for those clubs to absorb.
The Leafs need sufficient cap room to re-sign Matthews, William Nylander and Mitch Marner to the expensive new contracts they’re sure to command (especially Matthews), plus they must re-sign or replace pending UFAs James van Riemsdyk, Tyler Bozak and Leo Komarov.
Lightning right wing Nikita Kucherov will certainly be due a $10 million per season raise by 2019. The Canadiens have over $60 million invested in 16 players for 2018-19. Signing Tavares will eat up a huge chunk of their remaining cap space.
I’m not suggesting there won’t be any suitors for Tavares if the Isles put him on the block at the trade deadline. There will be teams with sufficient trade assets and cap space to land him. However, I doubt the Lightning, Leafs and Canadiens can pull it off. The Lightning and Leafs don’t need him. The Canadiens probably can’t afford him.
SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports there were “some rumblings” that some teams had contacted the Boston Bruins to inquire into the trade status of veteran defenseman Zdeno Chara. The 40-year-old Bruins captain is in his 20th NHL season and eligible next summer for unrestricted free agency. Bruins general manager Don Sweeney said he isn’t planning to trade Chara and instead hopes to re-sign him. Chara has also expressed interest in remaining with the Bruins after this season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Chara’s no longer the dominant defensemen he once was, but he’s still a very effective top-four rearguard. Teams in need of short-term help on the blueline could benefit by his presence. However, it’s apparent he and the Bruins aren’t in any hurry to part company. I can see the two sides agreeing to a one-year, bonus-laded contract.
Nick Kypreos reports Detroit Red Wings GM Ken Holland met with the agent for restricted free agent winger Andreas Athanasiou on Thursday in Arizona. The Wings aren’t moving off their contract offer of a two-year worth $1.9 million per season and still see him as part of their future. Kypreos expects a resolution one way or the other by this week, with Athanasiou either re-signing with the Wings or playing some meaningful games in Europe.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I believe Athanasiou should take the Wings’ offer as he’s not doing his NHL career any favors with this impasse. However, it’s up to him. It’s been suggested there’s more to this standoff than money.