NHL Rumor Mill – December 23, 2017

by | Dec 23, 2017 | Rumors | 36 comments

Update on John Tavares, pondering the notion of the Oilers shopping their first-round pick and anticipating the Red Wings’ sell-off in your NHL rumor mill. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This will be the only update to the site today. I’ll be on Christmas hiatus through Dec. 26. The next full site update will be Wednesday, Dec. 27. Merry Christmas, everyone! 


FANRAG SPORTS NETWORK: Chris Nichols cites NHL insider Darren Dreger’s Thursday appearance on TSN 1050 discussing New York Islanders captain John Tavares and his UFA status next summer. If Tavares re-signs with the Isles, Dreger believes it’ll be an eight-year term for whatever money the center is comfortable with. He could leave some money on the table, but if not, Dreger thinks the Isles will pay whatever their captain wants.

Dreger acknowledges Tavares will attract lots of interest if he tests the open market on July 1. He believes the Montreal Canadiens could make him a top priority. A case could also be made for Tavares’ hometown team, the Toronto Maple Leafs. “Auston Matthews isn’t going anywhere. But are we sure that Nazem Kadri is a lock moving forward? Bozak isn’t going to come back. Maybe Tavares would be okay being No. 2 center for the Toronto Maple Leafs and Kadri goes to No. 3.”

Later that day, Dreger also offered up this nugget: “I don’t know why I feel this way because Tavares has never said this to me directly. I’ve never heard this from (his agent) or anyone deeply associated with him. I think that Tavares would like to play for the Montreal Canadiens.” Ultimately, however, Dreger believes Tavares will re-sign with the Islanders.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bear in mind, folks, that Dreger was merely offering up his opinion regarding Tavares and the Habs. As he took pains to say, it’s not based on any info he’s received from anyone in the Tavares camp. I don’t doubt the Canadiens will be among the suitors if Tavares opts to test the market. He’ll cost them a fortune but I daresay if they can come up with the salary-cap room they’ll go for it and worry about the cap consequences later. 

The Leafs could also get into the Tavares sweepstakes, but they’ve already got a superstar first-line center in Matthews and Kadri has settled in nicely on the second line. Yes, Tyler Bozak could depart as a free agent but they could pursue other options to replace him. Tavares is a top-line center so I don’t expect he’ll be happy playing a second-line role. Besides, the Leafs priority remains landing a top-two defenseman. Blowing their brains out overpaying Tavares is wasting money on an asset they don’t need and leaving little cap room to address their blueline needs. 


THE ATHLETIC: Allan “Lowetide” Mitchell recently pondered the idea of the Edmonton Oilers shopping their 2018 first-round pick to land a skilled scoring winger. If they do, however, he believes the Oilers must ensure their current prospects list contains at least one absolute lock for future scoring success,  perhaps someone such as Kailer Yamamoto, their first-round pick (22nd overall) in the 2017 NHL draft. That could allow them to pursue someone such as Ottawa Senators winger Mike Hoffman as a potential replacement for pending UFA Patrick Maroon. After examining all the variables, Mitchell considers trading their first rounder “somewhere between high risk and damned dangerous.” 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It could also depend upon who they acquire with that pick. It needn’t necessarily be Hoffman. There could be a younger option with better long-term upside available between now and the Feb. 26 trade deadline, or leading up to the 2018 NHL Draft. 


MLIVE.COM: In his latest mailbag segment, Ansar Khan was asked if the Detroit Red Wings could commence moving players for draft picks earlier this year. Khan speculates they could if their playoff points deficit hits double digits. Still, he feels they can wait until closer to the Feb. 26 trade deadline in hopes of landing better offers. 

Khan considers defenseman Mike Green as the Wings best trade chip. He speculates Green could fetch a low first-round pick from a playoff contender or perhaps two second rounders, as Brendan Smith last season got them a second and a third. He can see them trying to move winger Gustav Nyquist but doesn’t know if they do so this season.

They’ll try to move backup goalie Petr Mrazek but Khan expects he’ll only bring back a third or fourth rounder. He doesn’t believe it makes any sense to trade veteran starter Jimmy Howard. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I think Green will certainly land a couple of picks, but I have my doubts that they’ll get a low first-rounder for him. He’s not this season’s version of Kevin Shattenkirk. Nyquist is signed through 2018-19 at over $4.7 million so I don’t see much interest in him this season. Howard’s not going anywhere. In fact, I bet the Wings are grateful they didn’t leave him unprotected in the expansion draft. He’s at least giving them a chance to stay in the playoff race this season. 



  1. Despite all the talk and rumors, I’m certain that there won’t be much trade movement until February. Too many teams, especially in the East, are within reach of a playoff spot and too few are already looking to the draft for anything other than minor moves to happen before than.

  2. Merry Christmas Lyle, to you and your family. All the best in the upcoming year.

    Thank you for all you do to keep us informed all year long.

    We appreciate it.

  3. Hahahaha, try these lousy arm-chair GM trades

    To TML: Tavares
    To NYI: Bracco + Kadri + 2018 1st + 2019 2nd

    To TML: Karlsson
    To OTT: Reilly + Liljegren + 2019 1st + Soshnikov

    • Add Conner Brown in both trades and add an extra 1st rounder. Remove Bracci, Soshnikov , and the 2nd rounder.

    • If Kadri became an Islander I’d stop being a fan of the club. I know Leafs fans love the guy but I can’t stand him. I also don’t see any possible way that someone, anyone, doesn’t come up with a better offer for JT if he’s moved.

      • Leafs fans will love him until about a year after he’s traded and then realize he’s a legitimately hateable player. Talented, sure, but dirty as hell.

  4. Rebuttal to Striker, first it doesn’t matter how often we agree or disagree. I see things differently then you and I try to view it in the case from the side of the Vegas golden knights. You stated what message is being sent by trading any of their ufa’s and then follow up with that it won’t send them to the bottom of the standings next year if Marchessault, Neal and Perron walk for nothing
    My view is Vegas drafted these players with the intentions of getting future value for them. We may agree or disagree what their value will be by the trade deadline. Vegas is doing great which no one anticipated and have a strong hold on a playoff spot. This may change how vegas views things, but one view should remain the same, what r we building for our foundation and future. Making the playoffs and maybe an early exit or a trip to the finals should that change the thinking? No, it shouldn’t. If the players cannot be signed by the trade deadline and there is no indication that they want to resign or at a value you want then you have to trade, for picks, prospects or young players. By losing their 7 ufa’s or the top 5 ufas, furthermore the three I mentioned who occupy 3 of the top 4 point getter on this team, will have a dramatic affect on them next year and they’ll have nothing to show for them, which makes the point of drafting them in the first place mute.

    • By that argument any team that doesn’t trade their ufas and doesn’t win the cup screwed up. Meaning only one team a year was justified taking the risk. Lv is a viable contender.

      • No not at all Chrism, but in a lot of cases yes. Generally most teams have a couple of ufa, if you want to make a direct comparable I would suggest Toronto with JVR, Bozak and Komarov. Then I would argue what was Vegas short term and long term goals and should they alter them because of the team first year success? Toronto players were drafted and put in place a few years back. Vegas has surprised everyone including themselves.
        If Vegas see themselves as Stanley Cup contenders then maybe they keep all of them and go for it. Be a nice storey. But if they miss and lose all for nothing how does that impact their short and long term goals?

      • That’s not the same thing at all. Most teams have an established group of young prospects that may boom or bust. Vegas has one year of picks. Their top 3 are good bets but are a few years away. So he’s not saying that every team should do it but a first year team with no assurances that the player would re-sign absolutely should move them for futures or young players with lots of years of team control. Making the playoffs one time and then losing all those guys and being terrible for 5 years is not worth it.

    • We don’t agree on this matter. We had the same debate about Eriksson in Boston before & after the trade deadline the season he was a pending UFA.

      I respect your opinion but don’t agree & as always 1 of us will be right & 1 of us will be wrong or some combination there of as 1 or 2 or more could be moved. Would moving Sbisa or Perron, or Sbisa & Neal, I don’t see both Neal & Perron being moved unless Vegas goes into a tail spin, Having watched them play now 7 times twice live this is a very good team & has as good a chance as any team in the NHL of winning the cup this year.

      No team is throwing that opportunity away even if it means these players all walk as UFA’s. The planets may never align as the are currently for Vegas again & you don’t throw that opportunity away. Vegas doesn’t get nothing, they get the cap space to spend else where. You can spout of about 8 UFA’s but only a few have any real value.

      Perhaps several of these players choose to resign after testing the UFA market in the week leading up to July 1 or shortly after.

      Personally I would like to see them trade Neal & Sbisa for the best deals available, promote Tuch to Neal’s spot, & roll the dice on the remainder. Do I think this will happen? No but’s that’s what I would do.

      • Vegas does not have a chance at winning the cup let’s get real here. They don’t have a real 1C and they don’t have a real 1D. They have MAF in net who is either really good or terrible in the playoffs depending on the year. Teams have underestimated them and they are playing above their heads but they cannot win 4 rounds in the playoffs with that formula. And if all those guys leave that’s 2-3 first round picks in a strong draft with a lot of good young dmen that they lose out on. You want to build a team that is perennial contender first and foremost. Making the playoffs one time is not worth it long term. Who cares about 1 years playoff revenue when you can build a team that makes playoff revenue for a decade or more. That’s not to say McPhee doesn’t share your thinking, he’s not very bright or good at his job, or his past record hasn’t been great.

      • McPhee got a ton of futures at the expansion draft. Is it ideal to lose three good players for nothing? No. But they have shown they are playing legit hockey. Ain’t no one underestimating them now and they still win. How many extra picks does vegas still have coming up? How much cap space for ufa? ( which will be harder to sign if Vegas looks like they give up a legit cup chance?) if vegas becomes buyers are Neal Jesse Perron more likely to resign? I’d think so. People advocating them giving up a chance at the cup for futures are a bit to much into the armchair gming.

  5. Dreger is moving into full scale BS reporting. When did he start becoming this type of reporter, broadcaster what ever you want to call him. He’s starting to become a sensationalist. It’s unfortunate as it doesn’t look good on him. It makes it look like he’s all about the money & is tarnishing what was a solid reputation.

    • He might have well have heard something off the record and this is his way of conveying it, BUT…

      If he is literally just talking out of his own … based on nothing, then he can no longer be taken seriously.

      He was already down to his final strike after reporting that Kris Letang might play with a BROKEN NECK in last year’s SCF.


      Regarding Vegas, if they should sell then so should 25 other teams because I only see about 5 legit Cup contenders right now.

      They are a young team. They are a good team.

      The idea of breaking up a good young team you already have to try to build a different good young team though the draft when you might build the Buffalo Sabres instead and be terrible makes no sense.

    • My Christmas as a Pens fan….








      • Pens are not trading maatta a young number 3 d-man with number 2 potential for a Ufa in Bozak …and Bozak is fat from gritty and fat from a great 2 way player …he Alan had no offensive upside ..at this point he is what he is …I’d say soft as butter and a liability defensively …he can’t ok either

      • Zero chance Ottawa makes that deal. A top 4 , 24 year old Rfa at years end for a 28 year old 5-6-7 seeking 4+ On his next deal? Sure… these deals make Pittsburgh back in the running for a cup… but I don’t believe GMs out there care to assist them in that goal while hurting their own club

      • I don’t see either of those deals either. And Bozak is hardly a gritty defensive force. I constantly see leaf fans posting about him skating around with eggs in his pockets. I wouldn’t hate the Pens trading for him but not for Maatta. Oli has been pretty good this year considering he’s been carrying Ruhwedal most of the season.

      • really penguins fan 4 life….so your telling me Tyler Bozak is not better than Riley sheahan..cmon dude..and Codei ceci is 23 (YOUNG AS mATTA) and a better all around defense man than OLLI Matta period.


      • Penguins fan 4 life… we both love the penguins did you see Toronto’s trip into Pittsburgh two weeks ago. Tyler Bozak, 2 goals and a assist in a 4-3 maple leafs win

      • Why would any team help the ugly birds

    • Striker we come on here and read yours and everyone’s BS that comments on here. It’s his opinion as Lyle pointed out

      • DEE…MAYBE your right aboUt on bozak some, but the penguins forwards are all pussys outside of Hornqvist and Reaves…

        If we can get D-MAN Codi Ceci 23 from Ottawa hell yes move Matta..He is better than Olli..
        Ceci scored a terrific goal last night along with Brassard too..


      • Non of us are being paid to be objective, I’m neither a journalist, broadcaster or blogger.

        Dreger is moving into Neil McRae territory, well if you know who Neal McRae was.

        Another year of this type of sensationalism & he’ll be right there with Larry Brooks.

    • Agree completely. Dreger needs to give his head a shake and maybe for a while keep his mouth shut. Lately it seems he only opens his mouth to change feet.

  6. Oilers won’t trade their first unless they are sure they are not in the Lottery which will likely happen after the trade deadline
    I have watched Maata a few times this year and Why would you move him ? Young with size and a couple of rocky years to start but he is solid and an all day number 3 at a reasonable price and term.

    Opinions are like @&$*holes everyone has one and everyone is entitled to one

    • I’m not sure that’s what that saying is but…..

    • Not everyone has an @$$hole.

    • Silver seven ,
      The hate you have on for chiarelli and the oilers has me thinking your a disgruntled x hot dog vendor let go for the wrong reasons … lol . No sense , just hate for Pete and the boys . You were amongst those who claimed they were all but dead way back in November . Christmas morning they sit 4 pts out of the playoffs and coming off 4 straight , 7 straight with talbot . The ship has turned , eventually you , Dave poulin and the others who wrote them off will have to acknowledge that and offer pete some praise . I’ll remind you in the coming weeks .

      • Things have away of balancing out over an 82 game schedule & like most things in life follow the 80/20 rule. The 20% swinging wildly in 1 direction or another, give or take 5% year to year.

        My biggest misses were Butcher in NJ, didn’t have him stepping straight into the NHL & Vegas. Had them as the best expansion team ever but still really bad. Nor did I expect NJ to be as good as they are, I had them better but not this good. Going to be interesting to see if they can maintain a playoff spot over the 2nd 1/2 of the season. Fun to watch for the 1st time in well over a decade.

  7. JVR + 3rd for Letang

  8. Ok don’t kill me…just reporting what i heard from my friend who is a beat writer for the Pittsburgh sports scene…..that big deals are coming soon after the freeze.

    They had a deal in place before the trade freeze couldnt get it done in time.. Galchenyuk WAS A strong possibilty…also they are listening hard on Kris Letang who has finally played better the last three games…he can ake a good team really good an we can get some valuable pieces back shed some salary…

    • Heard Pens’ big deals are coming soon after the freeze as well.

  9. Letang is going to mtl