NHL Rumor Mill – January 16, 2018
Latest on John Tavares and Paul Martin plus updates on the Leafs and Senators in your NHL rumor mill.
TAVARES HOPES TO REMAIN AN ISLANDER
NEWSDAY: Arthur Staple reports New York Islanders center John Tavares hasn’t made any decisions yet on his future, but indicated his preference is to remain an Islander. “There’s a lot of positive things going forward with the organization and the team here. I haven’t thought about being anywhere else but with the Islanders,” said Tavares.
Tavares, 26, is eligible for unrestricted free agent status in July but so far there’s been no contract talks between the two sides. “When Tavares and (agent Pat) Brisson are ready to talk numbers, the Isles will be all ears. They seem ready to lavish the biggest contract in the NHL on their captain,” write Staple.
SPORTSNET: Mark Spector suggests the Islanders could improve their chances of re-signing Tavares by improving their goaltending before the Feb. 26 trade deadline. He points out the tandem of Thomas Greiss and Jaroslav Halak is “borderline bad”, which could prove costly to their playoff hopes this season.
With “Buffalo, Ottawa, Montreal, Arizona, Vancouver and Edmonton” as potential deadline sellers and Florida and Detroit close to joining them, the goaltending pickings are slim. Spector suggests Buffalo’s Robin Lehner, Detroit’s Jimmy Howard and Montreal’s largely unproven Charlie Lindgren as possibilities and rules outs Edmonton’s Cam Talbot and Ottawa’s Craig Anderson. He notes Isles GM Garth Snow has extra picks in the first and second rounds of this year’s draft to use as trade bait.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Islanders will likely pay whatever Tavares wants to keep him in the fold. Getting approval to construct a new arena in Belmont Park could also help them in their negotiations with their captain. However, Tavares will need assurances the club is building toward Stanley Cup contention. Their play this season could factor into his decision.
Improving their goaltending could help but there’s not much available in the trade market right now. I don’t see the Sabres parting with Lehner and Howard could be unwilling to accept a trade to the Islanders. I don’t believe the Habs want to part with the promising Lindgren. Talbot and Anderson aren’t going anywhere.
GREEN, SEVERSON AND THE LEAFS
THE ATHLETIC: Craig Custance reports Detroit Red Wings GM Ken Holland hasn’t approached pending UFA defenseman Mike Green about waiving his no-trade clause. Custance suggests the Toronto Maple Leafs and Tampa Bay Lightning could benefit from an experienced right-shot defenseman, though the Leafs could prefer one with a more physical edge. He also noted the Washington Capitals could also use another defenseman but doubts they could have interest in bringing Green back. The Wings’ could set an asking price of a second- and a third-round draft pick. While Green carries a $6-million cap hit, the Wings could be willing to retain part of his salary.
In a recent mailbag segment, James Mirtle was asked about the possibility of the Leafs pursuing a defenseman such as New Jersey’s Damon Severson. Noting the decline in Severson’s ice time this season and the fact Leafs general manager (and former Devils GM) Lou Lamoriello is a fan, Mirtle thinks it’s plausible the blueliner could be available. However, adding Severson and his $4.17-million annual cap hit could affect efforts to add a top-pairing blueliner down the line.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: If the Leafs are looking for a rental player, Green could be the best available option. If they’re seeking a more physical rearguard, however, they could prefer someone like Vancouver’s Erik Gudbranson. As for Severson, I don’t believe he’s available. In a recent mailbag segment, NJ.com’s Chris Ryan said he doesn’t expect the Devils to make any blockbuster deals at the trade deadline. “The Devils may look into a very cheap rental, but don’t expect them to move any major future assets unless they’re bringing in a piece that helps them beyond this season,” said Ryan.
SHOULD THE BRUINS PURSUE MARTIN?
NBC SPORTS BOSTON: Joe Haggerty wonders if the Bruins might consider plucking veteran defenseman Paul Martin off waivers from the San Jose Sharks. He observes the Bruins are in the market for an experienced minute-munching blueliner who could perhaps pair with Charlie McAvoy. Haggerty notes they kicked the tires on Pittsburgh’s Ian Cole but the asking price at the time was too high. “Why not pick up Martin for nothing aside from his contract when he’s been a top-4 defenseman his entire career rather than trade for a guy like that’s never averaged 20 minutes per game during his entire NHL career?”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: If Martin was in the final season of his contract, maybe the Bruins might consider plucking him off waivers. Given his age (36) and $4.85 million cap through through 2018-19, there will be questions over how much longer he can remain effective as a possible top-four blueliner. If the Bruins have interest in Martin, a trade might be the better way to go. The Sharks are reportedly willing to consider picking up part of his contract to facilitate a trade. Boston won’t have to give up much, perhaps a third-round draft pick, to get him.
OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch reports the Senators won’t lack for suitors near the Feb. 26 trade deadline. He cites league insiders claiming the “San Jose Sharks, Florida Panthers, Winnipeg Jets, Pittsburgh Penguins, New Jersey Devils, Vancouver Canucks, Edmonton Oilers and Anaheim Ducks” may be in the market for a forward at the deadline.
Garrioch said the Senators have indicated defenseman Erik Karlsson and Mark Stone aren’t available. He adds most of the inquiries from rival clubs are about forwards “Mike Hoffman, Zack Smith, Jean-Gabriel Pageau, Ryan Dzingel and Derick Brassard” While the Sens are listening to offers for Pageau, Dzingel and Brassard, Garrioch would be surprised if any of them are moved.
Garrioch suggests keeping an eye on the New Jersey Devils as GM Ray Shero could try to add scoring before the deadline. Hoffman could address their needs, provided the Devils are on his 10-team list of preferred trade destinations.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: NJ.com’s Chris Ryan (see above) doesn’t expect the Devils will make a major deadline deal but could instead consider an affordable rental option. That would rule out Hoffman, who has two years remaining on his contract with an annual average value of over $5.18 million.