NHL Rumor Mill – December 8, 2017
Latest on the New York Islanders, Ottawa Senators and Detroit Red Wings in your NHL rumor mill.
ESPN.COM: With New York Islanders center John Tavares eligible for unrestricted free agency next July, Greg Wyshynski lists eight destinations where he could end up. Among them is his current club, along with the Tampa Bay Lightning, Toronto Maple Leafs, Montreal Canadiens, Detroit Red Wings, San Jose Sharks, New York Rangers and Vancouver Canucks.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I recommend reading the full article as Wyshynski lists the pros and cons of each potential destination. I expect Tavares will re-sign with the Isles, especially if the club’s bid to build an arena at Belmont Park proves successful. However, if he decides to move on, I don’t believe he’ll be joining the Lightning, Leafs, Red Wings, Rangers or Canucks.
The Lightning are loaded with quality talent plus they’ve got all-star right wing Nikita Kucherov due for a big raise in 2019. They’ll put their focus on re-sign him. The Leafs already have a superstar center in Auston Matthews and are in need a skilled top-pairing defenseman. The Red Wings and Canucks are rebuilding and Tavares could prefer joining a playoff contender.
Joining the Rangers would be a big-time swerve but he won’t insult his former team by joining their hated rival. The Sharks could be an intriguing possibility, especially with this season likely the last for the fading Joe Thornton in San Jose. The Canadiens would love to land Tavares and perhaps the prospect of playing with all-stars Carey Price and Shea Weber could be enticing for him.
NEWSDAY: Arthur Staple dipped into his mailbag answering questions from Isles fans. Despite the ugly numbers of goaltenders Jaroslav Halak and Thomas Greiss, he doesn’t see management going shopping for an upgrade this season. Halak is a UFA next summer while Greiss is signed through 2019-20.
Possible options in the trade market, such as Detroit’s Jimmy Howard and Vegas’ Marc-Andre Fleury, could prove expensive in both salary and assets. Howard is now the Wings’ No.1 goalie and Fleury is the face of the Golden Knights so they’re probably not going anywhere this season.
Staple notes the Isles need a mobile puck-carrying defenseman but that type of player is difficult to land via trade. He believes Arizona’s Oliver Ekman-Larsson would be a perfect fit but there’s no evidence he’s available.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Barring an injury that sidelines Halak or Greiss for a significant period, the Isles will likely play out the season with their current tandem and look at replacing Halak in the offseason. As for a puck-moving defenseman, there could be an option available near the trade deadline in Detroit. See below after the Senators blurb.
THE ATHLETIC: Frank Provenzano makes the case for the Ottawa Senators to consider trading defenseman Erik Karlsson. He suggests the club’s current struggles could be due less to underperformance and perhaps indicative of their true competitive nature. If so, the Sens shouldn’t compound the problem by handcuffing themselves to an expensive, long-term extension for Karlsson, whose play has dipped since returning to action from offseason heel surgery.
OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch reports Senators general manager Pierre Dorion has spoken to other teams about potential deals to shake up his struggling roster. However, there’s nothing on the front burner.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Provenzano is merely offering up his opinion and isn’t claiming the Sens are shopping Karlsson or even considering it. Still, it’s an issue Dorion might have to give think about next summer, especially with Karlsson already publicly signalling he won’t accept a hometown discount to remain with the Senators.
Yes, trading their franchise player next summer would certainly send the wrong signal to Sens fans, merely reinforcing the opinion that they’re a small market club that can’t, or won’t, spend what’s necessary to retain their best players. On the other hand, if what we’re seeing of the Sens this season is what they truly are, perhaps moving Karlsson next summer for a significant return of promising young talent might be necessary if a roster rebuild is in order.
DETROIT FREE PRESS: In her latest mailbag segment, Helene St. James was asked if the Red Wings would move pending UFA defenseman Mike Green at the trade deadline for “a solid draft pick.” She feels Green should attract a nice return, noting Brendan Smith last year fetched a second-round and a third-round pick. His offensive skills could make him attractive for playoff contenders.