NHL Rumor Mill – December 23, 2017
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.