NHL Rumor Mill – December 20, 2017
The holiday trade freeze is in effect but the rumors persist. Check out the latest on the Islanders, Penguins and Senators in your NHL rumor mill.
COULD NEW ARENA HELP ISLES RE-SIGN TAVARES?
FANRAG SPORTS NETWORK: Chris Nichols cites the reaction of TSN’s Darren Dreger regarding the news of the New York Islanders’ winning bid to construct a new arena at Belmont Park and its effect upon efforts to re-sign John Tavares. Dreger believes “the future of this organization in terms of their home was pretty high on the list of his (Tavares) criteria.” He feels this news “bodes well for Tavares potentially staying there long term.”
NBC SPORTS: James O’Brien notes hockey analysts Jeremy Roenick and Keith Jones “feel a lot better about Tavares re-signing with the Islanders after recent developments.” He points out the chemistry between Tavares and linemates Josh Bailey and Anders Lee this season could also convince the Isles captain to stay put.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I also believe the arena news and the Isles on-ice performance this season could sway Tavares into re-signing a long-term deal. Yes, it’ll be expensive, probably eight years and over $11 million per season, but I don’t think term and salary are a sticking point for either side.
WHAT NEXT FOR THE PENGUINS?
TRIBLIVE.COM: Jason Bombulie reports Pittsburgh Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford said one reason he acquired defenseman Jamie Oleksiak yesterday from the Dallas Stars was the ability it gives him to make other deals. “If we were to move a defenseman going forward, I don’t get locked into having to get a defenseman back,” Rutherford said. “I have more flexibility now. If the right forward’s available, we can do it that way also.”
THE ATHLETIC: If Rutherford decides to shop a defenseman, Josh Yohe speculates it could be Ian Cole (a recent healthy scratch), Matt Hunwick or Chad Ruhwedel. The acquisition of Oleksiak give the Pens eight legitimate NHL defensemen.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Despite the early-season addition of Riley Sheahan, the Penguins still haven’t suitably addressed last summer’s departure of third-line center Nick Bonino via free agency. They need to find a skilled two-way center with skills comparable to Bonino. That move, however, likely won’t come until perhaps mid-January at the earliest. Cole was frequently mentioned as a potential trade candidate but Rutherford might have to package him with a draft pick or prospect to find that center for his third line.
UPDATE ON THE SENATORS.
OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch reports it’s well documented Senators GM Pierre Dorion was working the phones over the last 10 days in search of help for his struggling roster. With the holiday trade freeze in place, Dorion can continue talking to other GMs but he won’t be able to make a move until the freeze ends on Dec. 28 at 12:01 AM ET. However, he could wait until January to see where his club sits in the standings by that point before making a move.
It’s believed if Dorion makes a move he’ll want to bring in younger talent. “There’s interest in several of the club’s top players including winger Mike Hoffman, defenceman Cody Ceci, centre Jean-Gabriel Pageau and centre Derick Brassard,” said Garrioch.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: If the Senators don’t show any significant improvement over the next couple of weeks it could be time to go into sell mode. Most of the recent buzz suggests Hoffman could attract the most interest in the trade market.