NHL Rumor Mill – January 1, 2018

by | Jan 1, 2018 | Rumors | 82 comments

Happy new year, hockey rumor fans! Here’s my analysis of several bold NHL trade and free-agent predictions for 2018.

Could the Ottawa Senators trade Erik Karlsson this season? (Photo via NHL Images)


SPORTSNET: Luke Fox recently made some bold NHL predictions for 2018. Topping the list is his expectation the Ottawa Senators will trade defenseman Erik Karlsson, who’s slated to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1, 2019 and is expected to seek top dollar. While Fox doubts Karlsson gets dealt before the Feb. 26 trade deadline, he’ll be surprised if the Senators captain plays out the remainder of his contract in Ottawa. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: At some point this year, Karlsson and the Sens front office will have a serious discussion about his role in the club’s future plans. The two sides cannot officially open contract talks until July 1 but they can chat about broader issues. Like Fox, I don’t see Karlsson being moved at the trade deadline but it wouldn’t surprise me if he’s dealt at some point during the summer. Karlsson’s given a lot to the Senators and clearly enjoys playing in Ottawa but he’ll seek fair compensation. The chance to play for a Cup contender could also be important to him.

With the salary cap expected to rise significantly (between $3 million to $7 million) for 2018-19, Fox predicts the Toronto Maple Leafs will re-sign pending UFA left wing James van Riemsdyk, perhaps for a slight discount. He also expects they’ll land one or two decent rental defensemen by the trade deadline. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It could cost the Leafs $6 million annually on a long-term deal to retain JvR. How that fits into their salary-cap plans – when they’ll have to pay superstar Auston Matthews and youngsters such as William Nylander and Mitch Marner – could become a headache for management, especially if they go shopping for a top-pairing defenseman this summer. 

Shea Weber will become the next captain of the Montreal Canadiens as current captain Max Pacioretty will be among the biggest pieces moved. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If the Canadiens trade Pacioretty, they’ll do so in the offseason, perhaps during the NHL draft weekend in late June. And if that happens, I agree that Weber will take over the captaincy. 

John Tavares will stay with the New York Islanders, re-signing an eight-year extension before his UFA eligibility on July 1.  

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Agreed. It’ll be expensive, perhaps $11 million annually but I believe he stays put.

Fox doesn’t anticipate the high-flying Vegas Golden Knights will sell their notable pending UFAs such as James Neal, Jonathan Marchessault or David Perron by the trade deadline. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Golden Knights have exceeded expectations this season. With the club looking like a serious playoff contender, I don’t believe management will be in sell mode. It’s possible they could also become buyers if management decides to bolster their playoff chances by landing an affordable rental player or two.

ESPN.COM: Greg Wyshynski predicts John Tavares will test the unrestricted free agent market but ultimately returns to the Islanders. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Tavares could gauge the market for offers that he can leverage for a bigger contract from the Isles. As I noted earlier, I believe he won’t be going anywhere. 

Washington Capitals defenseman John Carlson will become this summer’s most coveted unrestricted free agent. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Carlson, who turns 28 on Jan. 10, is a skilled right-shot defenseman in his playing prime. Once John Tavares re-signs with the Isles, he will definitely become the best player available in this summer’s UFA market. 



  1. I agree Tavares isn’t going anywhere, but I don’t think he’s getting over 10 mil. 8 year contract at his age, will probably come between 8-10. If he wants to win, he won’t cripple them financially. Staying put he’ll make up in endorsements

    • Of coarse he will. If you take guys like Kane and Toews or Ovechkin and Crosby and calculate what percentage of the cap their salary was i beleive yoh will find theur isnt much difference from an up coming 11 million dollar contract and cap increase.

      Agents today are going to play that card when negotiating. It will be what percentage of the cap is my client worth. That will dictate the negotiations.

    • You can’t honestly think he will sign for 8 million? I would think it is at least 10 million. Though if they did manage to sign him for 8 million then Toronto should get JVR for like 5 million which is obviously not realistic. I am positive that behind the scenes there is pressure from agents and the union to get the biggest contract possible because they view that as being in the best interest of all players.

    • I don’t think Tavares is leaving anything on the table. Have you ever seen player endorsement money? Most players , even big names average much less than 1 million per year. This isn’t basketball, baseball or football type of money, apparel, or name recognition. It’s hard to wear skates in the street or subway, and hockey jerseys aren’t exactly everyday wear in 1/2 the US. And most of the US come July. Endorsements won’t make Tavares take 8. He’ll be getting 10 plus. Especially with the year he’s having.

      • Are you saying that you aren’t wearing your air Crosby’s today? To me that was what was surprising about the Stamkos fiasco, Toronto had worked with Canadian tire and other endorsements that offered him deals that went far past what his potential contract would have been. Since it’s hockey I think endorsements are far stronger with a strong Canadian franchise like Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver then many American teams. I also think it is a strategy you will see used more by teams like Toronto, maybe getting players for a bit less than market value if they can help them get lucrative endorsement deals in Canada. It is a potential advantage for a franchise like Toronto or Montreal, and amounts to Circumvention but not something I think the league can really control. If they have a player that could get 12 million on the open market and say we will sign you for 10 million and we have negotiated an endorsement deal with Canadian tire for 4 million a year then that is a potential way to get a player on a discount. Just a theory.

      • The problem with all that, the top 10 players make 16 million a year total combined in endorsements. About 8 of that goes to Crosby, Toews, Kane the drop off from there is huge. Lundqvist on a much more popular team, larger market, more recognizable face and larger fan base than Tavares made 900k in endorsements.

        Even Toronto, Montreal etc can’t really make it that more lucrative for players . I don’t think there is a player in a Canadian franchise in the top 5 on endorsements today. Not to mention the tax implications….

        Bottom line, I don’t see the NHL players anywhere near as marketable as the NBA, NHL, MLB players. I think there are multiple factors as to why.

      • And no, I take my air crosbys off Before I get in he office. Lol.

        Honestly I think I can comfortably wear a jersey about 6 times a year. I don’t even bother buying them anymore… closet dust collectors.

      • I agree with your points about endorsement deals. I’m not sure if this is a Canadian thing but celebrity endorsements have had next to zero impact on my buying patters, especially when it is for products I have already tried. I’m not buying Sprite because Lebron James was in a commercial! As Nyr pointed out, you can not wear most hockey gear out and about. An endorsement from a player for that sports equipment, ok, I’ll bite, but otherwise, the company is wasting money, IMO.

  2. Luke Fox’s comment is confusing and if I’m reading this right, he contradicts himself. He doubts the Sens will deal Karlsson before the DL but predicts Karlsson won’t play out his contract. If Ottawa keeps him beyond the DL, even though he’s a UFA on July 1, he essentially “plays” out his contract because Ottawa can’t deal him until after the playoffs are over and prior to 1 July. So even though he’s a Senator on paper, there are no NHL games to play until after 1 July anyway.

    • He isn’t a UFA until 2019 … I agree, you are confused. Try comprehending what you read.

      • Dont be an ass

      • Online tough guy! That takes guts…

      • Guy made a simple mistake and this is your response?

        Don’t be an ass.

    • He gots one more year afyer this one. He could be traded this summer or Ottawa could wait till next years trade deadline. For reason that lyle has explained quite well many a time, doing the trade like that is easier in the summer.

      Not sure why ed chooses to start of the new year so rudely. Sonethings never change i guess.

      • Yes, let’s set the tone early and make this as unpleasant as we can. I guess that guy never makes a mistake…

      • Thanks Jeff, I thought he was a UFA 1 July 18. I stand corrected. Happy New Year

  3. I agree Toronto resigns JVR, if you can find a guy who scores around 30 calls a year for around $6 million then you do it. Plus he goes to the front of the net which they don’t have a lot of and Babcock likes that kind of player. The card will work itself out, they have a lot of money coming off the books and they can always trade pieces. I don’t recall a team that wasn’t able to get out of a cap crunch. If they sign him to a decent contract they can always move him. And so far in the cup era there has not been a situation where a team has not been able to trade their way out of a contract they no longer wanted.

    • And apparently English is difficult for me on this morning after new years eve. Hopefully you guys can interpret what I meant by the gibberish above.

    • The Leafs need to shore up their defence,too many turnovers for a team that want to make a splash in the playoffs, all you need to do is time the amount of second the puck is in the Leaf zone it shouldn’t be in the defensive zone for more than 5-6 seconds max.
      I thought Babcock was ont only a coach but a teacher i think I’m wrong, that would be the first thing as a coach to do is “TEACH “
      Take Gardner, he makes so many bad plays and give always in his defensive zone every night it’s pathetic, i think he would make a good left winger not a defence man.

    • I hope Leafs sign JVR who will be 30 to a long term deal! That will mean they will be screwed for a long time with cap! Just like how at age 31 Alex Steen has falling off the map, age 33 this year and has 4 goals and they are hosed with 4 more years at almost 6 million cap hit! Go ahead sign all those 30 year old forwards to long deals

    • I hope Leafs sign JVR for maximum length. That will be fun to see. A smart GM would give him 2 years max. Or even smarter GM would trade him soon. Max Pacioretty is another guy who will be 30 last year of deal 5 time 30 goal scorer, what sucker GM gives him 7 years? I will laugh. Probably will ask for 7-8 mill

  4. Why would JVR give Toronto a discount? He is already a discount at $5m salary and $4.250 cap hit. This will be JVR last chance at a big contract, which he’ll have no problem getting, I don’t see Toronto getting a discount.

    • You could very well be right, he could be around $7,000,000. Even so I think Toronto signs him. But there are players to score closer to 40 that 7 million, I think he signs for between six and 6.5 but who knows, obviously contracts keep going up. Whatever happens, I am 40 years old and this is the best situation Toronto has been in in my lifetime. It was a great time to be a Toronto fan. Living in Hamilton there are many Buffalo fans here and even a year ago they would insist that Buffalo is in a better position with a better roster and better prospects. There were also many who said Toronto picked the wrong player when they chose Matthews first overall. As a Toronto fan it’s good to see things have worked out the way they have so far.

      • I for one thought Matthews was the right choice. I also believe if Toronto doesn’t resign JVR, Bozak or adequately replace them they are taking a step backwards. Will be an interesting time in Toronto.

      • I like Bozak as well, he is good value for what he brings to the team. He is a good face-off guy and is actually very dangerous on a break which he does not get credit for. He used to be killer at the shoot out though that has dropped off in the last couple of years. I would like them to keep him but they can’t keep everybody, they have a lot of forward talent on the farm just waiting for their shot. To me JVR is more important and should be there focus, but they may be able to get Bozak signed to another reasonable contract, it’s more if they have room for him. They are in a good position, especially when it comes to forward depth as well as being pretty strong in net. I think their defence will work out as well, hopefully Lildegrand works out, and yes I’m sure I butchered spelling his name. I think people who said that Matthews was not the right choice were more trolling than anything. Obviously you draft a potentially elite centre before and elite winger They already tried building around and elite winger and that did not work.

      • The challenge for the Leafs, in my opinion, will be staying competitive at the centre position. It’s hard to overlook JVR’s scoring and consistency but it might be more difficult to replace Bozak. One possibility would be to shift Nylander or Marner to centre but that wouldn’t necessarily solve the problem.
        Tavares will stay with the Islanders and get top dollar.
        Pacioretty will have a great second half and stay in Montreal.
        One lucky team will draft Dahlen – the kid is amazing.
        One good team will stay healthy and play well and win the Cup and, lastly, the sun will come up in the morning.
        Happy New Year!

      • BCleaffan, if Edmonton doesn’t make the playoffs they’ll win the lottery and select Dahlen.

      • Eichel remembers the comments from your scout saying “Eichel couldn’t carry Matthews jock”…jack will burn that Leafs defense.

  5. Discounts are actually rare, That’s because results from same are equally rare- & very hard to pick out of team play if they exist.
    Stamkos gave the Bolts a beak, & they are doing well, but its hard to connect the dots as to how the 2MM a year more available to Steve Y is making the difference — easier to identify the overall team-player relationships and attitudes, wanting players who want to be in a place and play together.
    Tavares & the Isles Wanting Better Together, plus the new building committment, probably mean more than a few bucks. Cementing the key guys leadership, making the environment good for free agents…..a positive contract agreement, almost regardless of price, is what we want. Chicago managed with two big’uns, cause they really really wanted to win together & imposed their will (with the coach) on whoever else came in. You aren’t shopping for a piece of meat, you are dealing with a sentient being. We sometimes forget this. Happy New Year. Go Bolts!

  6. Look for leafs to make deal for top shelf defenseman,they know they are missing that big piece but to get something you gotta give something up!

  7. The Knights have two more years of having Vegas to themselves before the Raiders get to town. They must try to win now to hook as many fans and corporate sponsors as they can before they have to compete with the NFL.

    Tearing down a winning team because of a preconceived notion based on expectations rather than reality in the entertainment capital of the world to ice a 60 loss team for years after a 4 month tease of winning would be insanity.

    • MG, I don’t think the NHL is going to compete with the NFL for corporate sponsorship and both will have corporate sponsorship. Vegas Golden Knights will have their fans and supporters. I will counter argue that if Vegas does nothing, loses in the playoffs and lose all their ufa’s for nothing, this will also set them back years. I believe Vegas will resign Marchessault and trade Neal. It will be interesting to watch and see what the Golden Knights do come Feb 26th.

      • They can and should resign all 3 of their big UFA’s.

        The Knights are the toast of the town…right now. That’s because they are a novelty…and winning.

        A few rebuilding years and they will be an afterthought in that market…only filling seats by casinos giving away free tickets that they bought for well under face value.

  8. Glad to see the NHL spare no expense once again when it comes to top tier talent to promote an event…. Ace Frehley? Was Vanilla Ice and MC hammer busy today? Smh

  9. The camera angles and production sucks for winter classic. What are they thinking having a constantly moving camera?

  10. Leafs are not signing JVR lol…they will have to pay Matthews league max since he’s already better than anyone ever! Plus Doughty will want 12-13 million. Marner and Nylander will get big money. Why sign an older forward? Forwards these days are washed up at age 31 on average.

  11. I hope the Leafs sign soon to be 29 year old JVR to a 7 year deal, give him a huge raise. I hate the Leafs. Ask Detroit how they love having so many over age 30 forwards to deals until they are 40.

    • I’ve read your theory about 31 being the maximum age for a good forward several times that you’ve never given any evidence to back it up. I guess that’s why Ovi can’t score anymore in Washington, he’s 32…Marleau is 38 years old and has 15 goals so far.

      • Calm down shticky 🤫

      • Siri look, jello learned how to use emoji‘s! And no I am not Chris, I am not schticky… maybe I’m George? Though people have been calling me Todd my entire life so that probably isn’t it…

      • Maybe I’m Ecklund…

      • Ek? How come I’ve been banned from your site so many times?

      • Chris, you have been banned so many times because if you read hockey buzz you deserve to be band…

      • Gee. Thanks ek. I never thunked about it thataway.

        Seriously there are some good bloggers on there. The Vegas blogger gets little to no traffic but his work is solid. Pens blogger unfortunately hijacked the thread to become the advanced stat blogger (though his work in that avenue is solid).

        Nobody beats Lyle though!

      • It is shticky 👍 he used to call me jello when I first found this site! Chrisms meet shticky, shticky Chrisms

      • Brad Richards, Mike Richards, Vinnie LeCavlier, all done at age 31. Today’s game forwards are no good on long term deals at age 30. You have some rare examples like Jagr and Marleau but for the most part you don’t sign any forwards age 30 to longer than 2 years. Trust me I can name many guys washed up at age 31-32. Sure guys can play in league at age 35-38 but they are no where near there regular skill and speed level. Do some research and you’ll agree with me, the proof is out there…

        P.S ask Detroit and L.A how they will like those huge contracts when those players are late 30s-40…Boston has a ton of forwards signed long term who are over 30. Remember I’m talking about forwards not D men or goalies.

      • I call you Jell-O because when I started reading this site years ago I think you were posting under the name Jell-O. I am not Schticky, I think I used to post under the name TML_gm if I remember correctly. Or maybe I’m Striker, you be the judge: I was at Taco Bell and wanted to upgrade to fries supreme but didn’t have the moneys to flush out my meal…

      • I can’t wait to see how Washington likes that T.J. Oshie contract when he’s 38 lol ha ha..and yes I will be here to SS I told you so. I’m going to compile a list for you of the history of guys over age 30 at forward and how much their production fell off…Johnny Bucyk is the only guy who scored reall well 35-40 goals past age 35.

      • Rick Nash done washed up age 31…Gaborik some age 32, no where near his normal self. I’m sure the Kong’s GM is happy to have him signed until next lunar eclipse

      • Matt, that is fine but to be fair also include all the forwards who dropped off before age 31. There are many jordan tootoos out of there as well. And are you ever going to get anywhere with the team but refuses to offer a superstar player at 28 no longer than a three-year contract? Good luck with that… I would love to be at that meeting, sorry syd, you are the face of the franchise and have one several cups but Matt says you’re probably drop off soon so we are only offer you a one year contract… Wait, where did he go? Of course forwards drop off in their mid to late 30s, nobody is arguing that. But if you have good players that is part of the process you need to give them contracts to the end of their career. You need to balance old players, Marlo, with young players. Also in the cap world teams will be cyclical, they will be good for a number of years and bad for a number of years in most cases. You will not to be successful if you will not give your best players contracts after they are 28 years old, and they will not take three-year deal when they reach unrestricted status, that is just reality.

      • Thomas Vanek after age 32 never scored 20 goals or more again, his best seasons 35-40 goals all way before age 30

      • Being honest will really help with your recovery shticky

      • Dale Hawerchuk the hall of fame player did research on when players drop off production and its at age 29, sure you have Gretzky and Messier who had 100 points age 33-34 but today’s NHL it’s all about smaller younger faster high end skill guys. Look at Alexander Steen yet another example the Blues signed him long term and already he can’t score now. Age 31 he no longer could get 20 goals now they have all those seasons at 5.75 cap hit lol. Mark my words Washington will hate that Oshie contract very soon, what forwards today are going to be stats still at age 35-38? 8 years for a 30 year old is not smart for forwards…goalie and defensemen seems to be fine.

    • This is the only name I’ve ever posted on this site, I don’t hide behind troll accounts.

      • You’ll find Bucyk the only guy who had 50 goals aat age 35 or older and at age 40 he had 36

      • Teemu Selanne Was the second best scorer after age 35. Pretty much everyone else is done in today’s modern NHL age 33-34 at forward…Jagr hasn’t scored a single playoff goal since George Bush was President, sure he plays in the league but not at his normal high level, giving guys long term big money deals is just insane when you think about the cap hit. Kopitar is having a good season but do you think he will be worth 10 million when he’s late 30s?

      • I don’t use troll account, I posted under a few names over the years because I’ve left for long stretches at a time. I’m posting under TB, those are my initials. My name is Todd.

      • Come on shticky be honest🤥

    • Wait I was wrong Vanek done age 31 not 32

      • Vanek scored 48 points in 68 last year , currently 28 in 39,,,,, by wat of comparison ….. Vanek today would be the 3rd best scorer in buffalo…. Making ROR and everyone under him …..washed up trash? What a HOMER!

      • Wow, never heard from bbb during the habs losing streak. Crept up and is now full swing troll again

      • Vanek is slower than a sloth and lazy, he isn’t even close to being any good anymore! That’s why he’s on a new team every year. Is he close to his normal in the prime scoring rate? Nope. Buddy check out Alex Steen he hit age 31 signed long term now he can’t score, enjoy almost 6 mill cap hit for a guy 33-38 lol

  12. Buffalo winter classic 10 years ago was professional not this low class nonsense Rangers put on, you can’t see anything at all! Let’s film game with a drone What the heck?

    • You don’t truly believe that the Rangers organization has anything to do with camera angles etc. do you? I’m pretty sure that’s not their call….

      • I remember Danny Briere scored a playoff goal vs Rangers while with Buffalo and the high dollar Rangers had one camera angle so NO goal, it was a news camera that showed goal later. Trillion dollar city and have cameras from 1997. Just terrible.

      • technically speaking, Buffalo is actually the host and home team…. is it now their fault the decisions NBC and the NHL made for filming the game? Or is it still on NY? Lol… I hope they don’t unearth Hoffa when they’re cleaning up, or James Dolan is going to prison! I think he was moved from giants stadium a few years back.

      • This is an NBC national televised game… not msg… I’d wright a strongly worded email to NBC…..

      • Oooops!

      • They could fix the cameras but all you are going to see is the Sabres anyway so who really cares? ZING!

      • Your humour still hasn’t gotten any better shticky👎

      • Why would a game played outside Buffalo be a home game? Th y should of had the game in Buffalo at Bills stadium like 10 years ago, it was double the people and more professional job by our owner who has 4 Billion dollars

      • Ehhhh last time I checked , city field isn’t Manhattan…. and the last time I checked …. every single sports game ever played… the home team is listed as ny vs Buffalo! If ny we’re home it would be Buffalo 2 ny 3 on every sports page!

        I agree camera angles sucked ! Buffalo really screwed up this winter classic! They should NEVER get another nationalized game EVER again! God ! What a putrid organization for putting on such a terrible show!

        And to boot Hiring Ace Frehley, and the goo goo dolls should have them lose the franchise altogether! What is this 1982 entertainment? Maybe they could have hired the cast of Footloose and Flashdance!

      • Rangers have zero chance at a cup. Look a Rich Nash worse playoff scorer ever! Washed up at age 31.

  13. Pacioretty should be traded sooner rather than later. The longer he hardly scores the lower his value goes!

    • Hear that bbb. Let’s talk habs instead of trying to figure out if TB is shticky

  14. What is Plekanec worth?? Think he can garner a 2nd?

    • He might want to score a goal or two first. Talk about a slippery slope out of the NHL.

  15. He might retain a 2nd round draft pick if Montreal retains some salary…

    He is 35 on an expiring contract so?

  16. Charlie McAvoy, in my opinion has to be “1” of the biggest steals ever, in an NHL draft ..

    Wow … Have the Bruins ever turned it around !!’

  17. If I was Toronto I’d give Montreal a call and offer them something they can’t refuse for Weber ….

    Give JVR, Nylander and it’s a done deal … JVR is a UFA and since they are teams in the same division I think it would take Nylander and a sweetener like JVR ….

    Montreal would now need to trade Pacioretty to a team like Ottawa for Logan brown and T.chabot and a first round pick ….

    I’d trade also JVR , Gallagher, and Lindgren to Edmonton for a first round pick and Nurse and Pajjulvari

    • Frank you should have stopped drinking on the 31st man…..

    • No way Ottawa makes that trade. Why would they do that? No way Edmonton makes that trade either. Someone is overvaluing JVR. Edmonton is supposed to take a UFA, a little pest and a meh goalie for a top pairing dman, a top 6 winger AND a first round pick? I wouldn’t trade Chabot for Patches and Galchenyuk and you think Chabot, a decent prospect and a first round pick for a guy who forgot to score is reasonable?