NHL Rumor Mill – December 1, 2017
Latest on John Tavares, Evander Kane and Drew Doughty plus update on the Oilers and Canadiens
TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports New York Islanders captain John Tavares is sounding more like someone making excuses to re-sign rather than depart via free agency. Tavares is eligible next July for unrestricted free agency. LeBrun said there’s still no guarantee the Isles captain stays put, as he wants to take his time before making what could be the biggest decision of his hockey career and could wait until the offseason to do so. Still, he remains open to all options.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Isles are playing very well so far this season. If they maintain that solid performance throughout the remainder of the schedule it could prove to Tavares that the club is heading in the right direction. That could be a significant factor in his decision. For all the speculation suggesting the Isles could moves Tavares by the Feb. 26 trade deadline if he’s unsigned by then, I believe they’ll also be patient and wait for their captain’s decision, even if it takes until late-June for him to reach it.
Darren Dreger reports it’s “very unlikely” Edmonton Oilers general manager Peter Chiarelli will make a significant deal comparable to yesterday’s deal that saw the Anaheim Ducks ship defenseman Sami Vatanen to the New Jersey Devils for forwards Adam Henrique and Joseph Blandisi. However, Chiarelli has admitted he’s dabbling in the trade market and is willing to discuss “certain players” such as Drake Caggiula, Jujhar Khaira and Anton Slepyshev.
FANRAG SPORTS NETWORK: Chris Nichols cites Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman’s appearance Thursday on the NHL Network discussing possible moves by the Oilers. Regarding speculation suggesting Chiarelli should shop center Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Friedman feels the Oilers GM doesn’t want to make that move as he’s been among their better players this season. He speculates if Chiarelli were to move Nugent-Hopkins he’ll want an “even better return” than the one he got for winger Taylor Hall, who was traded last year to the New Jersey Devils for defenseman Adam Larsson.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s important to remember the Hall-for-Larsson swap occurred in late June. As I’ve frequently said, if the Oilers trade Nugent-Hopkins it’ll be in the offseason,when the Oilers stand a better chance of getting a solid return. As for Caggiula, Khaira and Slepyshev, they won’t fetch a return that turns the Oilers’ season around.
THE BUFFALO NEWS: John Vogl reports Sabres GM Jason Botterill is very pleased with the play of left wing Evander Kane, who is the club’s only consistent scorer this season. However, he remains undecided if he’ll re-sign the 26-year-old winger or move him before the trade deadline. The Sabres have multiple roster needs and risk losing Kane to free agency in July. In 25 games, Kanes has 12 goals and 23 points.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s a difficult decision for Botterill. Sure, it’s easy for fans to yell out suggestions, but this won’t be an easy move for the Sabres GM. If he trades Kane, he gives up his best scorer with no guarantee of getting back a return than will significantly improve the Sabres. On the other hand, he can’t risk losing Kane next summer for nothing. This could come down to how much Kane seeks on his next contract and the willingness of ownership to pay it.
SPORTSNET: Luke Fox examined “6 reasonable reactions” to Los Angeles Kings defenseman Drew Doughty’s recent comments regarding his free-agent status in 2019. Doughty believes he should earn more than Nashville’s P.K. Subban ($9 million annual cap hit) on his next contract, adding he will touch base with Ottawa Senators blueliner Erik Karlsson (also eligible for UFA status in 2019) regarding contract negotiation strategy and how much he loved playing for Toronto Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock in the Olympics.
Fox cites colleague Nick Kypreos saying this is a huge distraction for the Kings and Senators, something they don’t need right now. While Kypreos said Doughty’s stance isn’t out of the ordinary it’s not something that’s mentioned in public by a player a year and a half before his UFA eligibility. He points out Doughty and Karlsson are both represented by Newport Sports Management so it’s only natural that they would exchange information.
Fox also notes Doughty, though he returns regularly to Ontario, wasn’t a Leafs fan growing up, but a good way to start a bidding war would be mentioning hockey-mad Toronto. He adds that Doughty is an outspoken player who didn’t do anything wrong or slam anyone with his latest comments.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kings GM Rob Blake downplayed Doughty’s comments and claims it won’t be a distraction. But of course, what would you expect him to say? It’s refreshing that Doughty isn’t beating around the bush. Sure, he could opt to test the UFA market in 2019, especially if the Kings can’t afford to re-sign him or if the club hasn’t returned to Cup contender status by then. Heck, yeah, he could sign with the Leafs or maybe join them via trade before his UFA eligibility, maybe as early as next summer. It’s also just as likely that he’s making these public statements to leverage the best deal he can get from the Kings.
CANADIENS SHOPPING DAVIDSON
SPORTSNET: Eric Engels reports a source saying the Montreal Canadiens are shopping defenceman Brandon Davidson and have informed the other NHL clubs via e-mail that he’s available. The 26-year-old Davidson was a healthy scratch from several recent games and appeared in just 13 contests with the Habs this season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Don’t expect a significant return, Habs fans. Montreal will likely get a draft pick for Davidson.