Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – November 26, 2017
Latest on the Islanders and Oilers in your Sunday NHL rumor roundup.
SPORTSNET: Nick Kypreos reports there haven’t been any contract discussions yet between the New York Islanders and pending UFA star John Tavares and none are expected anytime soon. Kypreos believes ownership stability remains an issue for Tavares, as well as where they’ll be playing in a few years. Noting it could take at least three years before the Islanders have a new arena ready to play in, Kypreos said “some suggest” Tavares might not be willing to wait that long.
Elliotte Friedman adds the Isles seem content to let this play out and doesn’t think the Feb. 26 trade deadline is their decision date for a new contract for Tavares. He notes the Isles are playing very well right now. He also points out there are teams unwilling to move their best assets and preferring to retain cap space until the trade deadline just in case, but ” the feeling right now is nothing’s going to happen.” Kypreos also said Tavares’ decision could also affect efforts to re-sign fellow UFA Josh Bailey, who’s off to a terrific start to this season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: In my opinion, the Islanders’ performance this season, their efforts in building toward championship contention and their arena issue are the main factors that could affect Tavares’ contract talks. I don’t believe term or salary is an issue for either side. Yes, it could be lengthy and expensive, perhaps eight years at over $11 million annually, but I think the Isles are willing to pay whatever it takes to keep Tavares in the fold. But if the club isn’t playing well, if it appears the front office isn’t making significant progress building around him and if the arena situation isn’t suitably resolved, perhaps he’ll consider other options.
NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks suggests it’s time for the Islanders to go all-in by making a big trade this season. He cites the Isles improve play since Doug Weight took over as head coach midway through last season, as well as the assets general manager Garth Snow has acquired to use as trade bait.
While the current goalie tandem of Jaroslav Halak and Thomas Greiss doesn’t strike Brooks as Cup material, he feels the prospect of acquiring a goalie that could put them over the top this season is negligible. Acquiring left wing Evander Kane from the Buffalo Sabres as a rental player for the Tavares line seems tempting, but the Isles top-two lines (Tavares between Anders Lee and Josh Bailey, rookie Mathew Barzal centering Andrew Ladd and Jordan Eberle) are playing well right now.
Brooks instead suggests offering up a package of “either Josh Ho-Sang or Anthony Beauvillier, perhaps Brock Nelson, maybe Ryan Pulock or Scott Mayfield, and probably one of the two first-rounders (their own plus Calgary’s) they own in the 2018 draft” to the Arizona Coyotes for defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bringing in Ekman-Larsson could certainly provide a significant boost to the Islanders blueline. But if we take Coyotes GM John Chayka at his word, Ekman-Larsson isn’t available. If the Isles want to bolster their defense, perhaps their best option at the trade deadline could be Detroit’s Mike Green, depending of course on where the Red Wings are in the standings by then. He certainly won’t cost them as much as Ekman-Larsson and it’ll leave them sufficient assets for possibly a bigger move or two in the offseason.
UPDATES ON NUGENT-HOPKINS AND MAROON
Kypreos also reports the improved play this season of Edmonton Oilers center Ryan Nugent-Hopkins has renewed interest in him around the league. There was talk of the Boston Bruins “kicking tires”, while the Florida Panthers are seeking a top-six forward. Nugent-Hopkins’ salary ($6 million per season) is still high.
If the Oilers do move some assets this season, Friedman speculates pending UFA winger Patrick Maroon could be among them. He feels the 29-year-old winger could garner a lot of interest, suggesting the St. Louis Blues (Maroon’s hometown team) could be among the suitors.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Nugent-Hopkins is among the few bright spots in this otherwise lousy season thus far for the Oilers. That’s improved his trade value but also makes him invaluable to the Oilers if they hope to get this season back on track. His salary through 2020-21 could be difficult to move in-season. With the salary cap set to potentially rise by between $5-$7 million next season, there could be less pressure on Oilers management to free up some cap space. If Nugent-Hopkins gets traded I expect it’ll be an offseason move.
Maroon, on the other hand, is eligible for UFA status in July. Though he’s had his difficulties this season, he’s still on pace for another 20-goal, 40-point campaign. Should the Oilers become sellers in the new year, Maroon could be their most likely trade candidate. Should the Blues decide to load up for a Cup run this season, perhaps Maroon could be on their radar.