NHL Rumor Mill – January 27, 2018

by | Jan 27, 2018 | Rumors | 57 comments

Latest on the top-12 unrestricted free agents plus updates on the Rangers and more in your NHL rumor mill.

SPORTSNET: Luke Fox took an early look at 2018’s top-12 NHL unrestricted free agents and the rumors surrounding them. Atop the list, of course, is New York Islanders center John Tavares, who said back on Jan. 15 he’d like to stay on Long Island. While the Isles are likely to offer Tavares an eight-year deal worth over $10 million annually, Fox believes Tavares needs to believe the Islanders can win a Stanley Cup.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I still expect the Isles to re-sign Tavares. Don’t see him hitting the trade block on Feb. 26. 

The Washington Capitals’ John Carlson could be the top defenseman available in this summer’s UFA market (Photo via NHL Images).

Fox wonders if Washington Capitals defenseman John Carlson can pass up the opportunity to become the top blueliner in the 2018 UFA market. For now, Carlson claims he hasn’t given much thought toward his contract status.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I think the Capitals very much want to re-sign Carlson and he probably wants to stay put. Cap space, however, will be an issue. Washington has over $58 million of cap space tied up in just 13 players for 2018-19. It could cost them $7 million annually to re-sign Carlson. They also have to re-sign or replace pending UFAs such as Lars Eller and Jay Beagle, as well as restricted free agents Tom Wilson, Devante Smith-Pelly and Philipp Grubauer. 

Contract extension talks are quiet for Toronto Maple Leafs left wing James van Riemsdyk. Fox wonders if the Leafs will peddle him at the trade deadline or retain him for the playoffs and attempt to sort out the contract situation after that. He notes they offered JvR in a package at last year’s draft to the Islanders in a failed attempt to land defenseman Travis Hamonic.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Leafs could surprise us by swapping van Riemsdyk for a skilled top-four defenseman at the trade deadline, but I think they’ll hang onto him for the playoffs. He’s rumored seeking a six-year deal worth $6 million annually, but the Leafs could be reluctant to invest that much for that long in JvR when youngsters Auston Matthews, William Nylander and Mitch Marner will soon be in line for big raises. 

Tavares’ linemate Josh Bailey prefers to finish his career as an Islander.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It could prove expensive for the Isles to re-sign Bailey. Given his stats over the past two seasons, he could seek to double his current $3.3 million annual cap hit. If Tavares departs, however, they’ll have a lot more cap space to invest in Bailey.

Calgary Flames center Mikael Backlund is the type of two-way player rival clubs covet, but Fox believes he’ll re-sign with the Flames.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Calgary Sun’s Eric Francis reports Backlund was hoping to put off contract talks until after the season, but of late discussions between his agent and Flames management are heating up. While there was speculation Backlund could seek a six-year deal worth $6 million annually, Francis claims a source close to the situation said the center’s asking price is closer to $5 million over five-six years, which is more in line with what the Flames prefer. 

Fox doesn’t see the St. Louis Blues parting ways with center Paul Stastny at the trade deadline. He also thinks there’s a chance Stastny could re-up with the Blues if the two sides can work out a deal. There’s no way he’ll get $7 million per season on his next contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Stastny stays put for the remainder of the season. He’ll have to accept a significant pay cut to re-sign with the Blues.

It’s believed the Buffalo Sabres seek as many as four assets for left wing Evander Kane in the trade market. The Los Angeles Kings and Pittsburgh Penguins are among the clubs who’ve reportedly expressed interest.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Buffalo News’ John Vogl recently reported the Vancouver Canucks could be a destination for Kane as they’re searching for talent as the Sedin era winds down. If the twins don’t re-sign with the Canucks this summer, they’ll have sufficient room to sign Kane this summer. While Kane’s a Vancouver native and might welcome an opportunity to play in his hometown, there’s no guarantee the Canucks will pursue him, especially if the Sedins return and Tomas Vanek opts to stick around. 

Fox cited colleague Nick Kypreos recently suggesting Vegas Golden Knights winger James Neal could seek between $6.5-$7 million per season on a long-term deal. Vegas could be hesitant to invest lengthy deals in players who are 30 or older. Fox wonders if they’ll shop Neal at the trade deadline or retain him for a Cinderella playoff run, even at the risk of losing him for nothing to free agency. Teams have also called the Golden Knights about forward David Perron. So far, Perron’s kept quiet about his plans for free agency.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ed Graney of the Las Vegas Review-Journal recently reported Neal is enjoying his time with the Golden Knights and is currently focusing on this season. His agent declined to publicly discuss his client’s contract status. Neal is in line for a big payday and the Golden Knights have the cap space to re-sign him. Given Neal’s age (31),I think term will be the sticking point here. However, I don’t expect they’ll shop Neal or Perron at the trade deadline. 

Contract extension talks have already begun between the Boston Bruins and defenseman Zdeno Chara.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Chara will be staying in Boston. Expect him to get a one-year, bonus-laden contract. 

The New York Islanders, Tampa Bay Lightning and Toronto Maple Leafs are among teams that could seek a defenseman. Detroit Red Wings blueliner Mike Green could be an option for one of them.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: MLive.com’s Ansar Khan speculates the Wings could get either two second-round picks or a second and a third for Green. 

The New York Rangers and winger Michael Grabner aren’t looking at the trade deadline as a contract extension deadline. His agent believes there’s plenty of time for the two sides to discuss a new deal between the end of the playoffs and July 1.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: According to the New York Post and New York Daily News, Rangers management could be ready to blow up their current roster at the trade deadline and pursue younger talent. Grabner and fellow UFA Rick Nash could be on the move by deadline day, as well as players with term remaining on their contracts such as Ryan McDonagh and Mats Zuccarello.

The Post’s Larry Brooks thinks Nash, who submitted his trade list last summer, could fetch “a legit youngster plus a first rounder.” from  contenders such as Dallas, San Jose, St. Louis and possibly Tampa Bay. Grabner could bring back “a first-rounder or a young roster player.”  He also wonders what McDonagh’s worth would be to “asset-rich contenders” such as Toronto, Boston and Tampa Bay.

Rangers fans should keep their expectations realistic for Nash and Grabner. While there should be interest in both players by the deadline, the notion of either guy fetching a young roster player or a first-round pick could be wishful thinking.

The Leafs could use a blueliner like McDonagh but I think they’d prefer an asset who’s got more than a year on his contract. Recent reports indicate the Bruins have no interest in parting with any of their young assets. The Rangers and Lightning have a trade history but there’s no certainty they’ll chase McDonagh or Nash at the deadline. 



  1. The Post’s Larry Brooks thinks Nash, who submitted his trade list last summer, could fetch “a legit youngster plus a first rounder.” from contenders such as Dallas, San Jose, St. Louis and possibly Tampa Bay.

    Larry Brooks is delusional. Nash is soft, over paid, plays small and disappears when it counts.

    • Contending teams cant fit his age, production and most importantly salery under the cap.

      I keep saying best bang for the buck is patty The Big Rig Maroon.

      • If Nash is moved at the deadline any team could take his cap hit just about before NYR even eats any.

        The NHL bases annually salary’s on the # of days in the NHL season, this year that is 186. As of Feb 26th the NHL only has 41 days remaining & Nash’s cap hit will be a little over 1.7 mil.

        Many playoff teams could easily manage that cal hit & if NYR eats 1/2 any playoff bound team could.

      • Are you his agent? That’s the only thing we hear you say!

      • I still can’t stop Laughing at how Marner or Nylander PLUS a second for Sekera, would interest the Oilers.

    • Nash sits tied for 21st in playoff points over the last 5 years, having played in the 8th most games.

      That doesn’t support your assumption that Nash disappears when it counts, it actually shows the exact opposite.

      Nash has played 61 playoff games over that time frame scoring 13 goals, 20 assists, & 33 points going +8.

      Winning is important & Nash makes his team better, he doesn’t play to his size never has but he is a solid 2 way player & kills penalties.

      All that said I would be surprised to see Nash moved before the deadline nor do I buy these NYR rumours & I hope they are false as most rumours are.

      • Rick Nash playoff line:
        12-13 12gp 1g 4a 5pts
        13-14 25gp 3g 7a 10pts
        14-15 19gp 5g 9a 14pts
        15-16 5gp 2g 2a 4pts
        16-17 12gp 3g 2a 5pts

        outside of the 14-15 playoffs nothing there that says he’s a playoff performer, if anything you would hope to see a higher goal total.

      • Putting up points in the playoffs gets allot harder & there is something more important than points come playoff time it’s called winning, something NYR has done better than all but 1 team in Nash’s 5 years in NYR. The only NHL team to have appeared in more playoff games than NYR since Nash arrived is Pit.

        Unfortunately no cups though.

      • What if the leafs flip JVR for a top 4 D and then trade for Nash? You’re right, it’s a misconception that he disappears when it matters.

        Nash & JVR would likely put up similar numbers in the playoffs but you’d gain defensively from Nash. Plus, by flipping JVR you add a top 4 D.

        I’m not going to speculate who that top 4 D is but moves like this set you up for the short term and potentially long term depending on the D acquired.

      • Striker, you start you pov with Nash is producing, then follow up after been shown that he really hasn’t been the goal scorer that NYR hoped for that winning is more important. Agree unfortunately Nash goal scoring or lack there of wasn’t enough to help NYR bring home a cup. In the end there is only one winner, everybody else lost.

      • Nash is an underwhelming playoff performer. He is not money in the postseason at all. I would consider him a secondary scorer. And if your looking for defensive players who put up points, you could find an a cheaper one than Nash. I’ve watched his every playoff game and I’m definitely not inspired by what I’ve seen.

      • Silky mits , lets try and be realistic. JVR for a top 4 dman?? What else should they add lol

      • Playoff teams trade for pending UFA’s like JVR. Playoff teams don’t trade their top 4 D for those UFA’s.

      • I think Nash could have an impact on a club where he isn’t asked to be the guy. Overall, the Rangers don’t have a lot of star power forwards and Nash is being asked to lead the offense. If he went to the Stars or Blues, he would be a great addition to their secondary scoring as the Blues already have Tarasenko/Schwartz/Schenn and the Stars have Benn/Seguin/Radulov. I get it Nash hasn’t lived up to his contract but times have changed for him where he isn’t a top line player anymore but would benefit on the 2nd or 3rd line and could make either of those two teams i mentioned a lot better

      • @SilkyMitts

        You honestly think JVR will land you a top 4 defenseman?

        No way in blue hell JVR lands a top 4 defenseman. Maybe a bottom 4 but definitely not a top 4.

      • @Striker

        Kind of going against your own conclusion about Nash.

      • Come on!! When a guy is a goal scorer like Nash and he gets no where near his goals average in playoff he’s a bust! He is a total bust in playoffs! A real goal scorer who’s a real playoff guy will average the same totals or better in playoffs, some guys just can’t handle pressure. If Nash gets 30-40 goals in playoffs he should at least get 5 goals in 10 games.

    • I agree completely. Pundits like Brooks who keep envisioning a Nash to SJ are nuts. I wish a few of the guys here would try for the jobs of Brooks or Garrioch. Those guys don’t deserve to get paid for their dart board comments on trade!

      • I wish we had a mainstream broadcaster or journalist who played devils advocate as opposed to sensationalist or worse. I don’t mind substantiated rumours being bandied about but some broadcasters & journalists make up their own rumours.

        Where is the other side of the voice similiar to my own. I don’t see these trades happening because. Isn’t that how journalism is supposed to work, 2 sides to an position, debate, or argument why does no 1 post the counter opinion?

        The facts going back to the 2004-05 lock out but especially the last 1 in 2012-13 don’t support these things happening, they are so rare as to be non factor.

        Players moved are pending UFA’s or players on low contracts with little term remaining, often bought of that final portion of their contract in the summer. That’s not to say we don’t see 1 occasionally but based on all these rumours we are discussing here that’s almost immeasurable.

        If we assume last seasons trade deadline deals started with the Stone traded to Cal on Feb 20th just over a week before the trade deadline we had 36 trades. The only non UFA players moved were Hansen, Benn, Burrows, Lazar; RFA, & Fehr. 3 players garnered what turned out to be 1st round picks, Shattenkirk, Hanzal & Eaves. 5 players garnered at least a 2nd, Hainsey, Boyle, Lazar & 2 players garnered a 2nd & 3rd, Smith & Stalberg; what was Dorion doing paying a 2nd & 3rd for Stalberg? Had he been drinking, desperate, or worse?

      • Striker: Dorion only gave up a 3rd for Stalberg and that was one of his few good trades. What have you been drinking?

      • The 2015-16 season trade deadline.

        If we say the trade deadline that season kicked off with the Phaneuf trade on Feb 9th, the deadline was 20 days later, leap year, the 29th.

        We had 38 trades. The only non UFA’s moved were Maroon, Prince; RFA, Winnik & Granlund Van; RFA, all on short term low salary contracts or RFA’s.

        Phaneuf was a salary dump by both Tor & Ott. Tor got Phaneuf’s cap hit off the books, Ott sent a ton of salary to Tor that when the dust settled only cost them 4.6 mil in real cashper season for the remainder of Phaneuf’s term if factored in.

        The only player moved for a 1st round pick was Ladd. Moved for at least a 2nd. Tor got a 2nd in the Phaneuf trade, Polak & Spalling 2 2nd’s, Hudler a 2nd & a 4th, E. Staal 2 2nd’s & a decent prospect in Saarela, Winnik & Stempniak a 2nd & 4th.

        I see no reason that this years trade deadline will be any different than the last 2 & I could simply go back further as the pattern holds. The chances that Patches, Hoffman, McDonagh, etc. are going anywhere although not impossible are slim to non existent & if they do it will have to be a real hockey trade the reason most, if they happen at all, will be in the summer when all teams can bid as giving these players up solely for prospects & picks is ridiculous.

      • Striker: Looks like you had a bad source because ESPN is wrong. It was only a third round pick as shown on both the NHL and TSN links below. Ottawa gave up their 2017 2nd round pick in the Phaneuf trade and their 2018 2nd round pick in the Brassard trade.



        Capfriendly is another good site to check when draft picks were traded.

      • Gaborik was also a soft playoff performer. Until he won it all in LA and scored some pretty huge goals.

        If put in the right situation, Nash can have a big positive impact.

    • we’re talking about larry brooks. he’s taken to many falls of the rangers bandwagon to think straight.guess theres a reason why tortorella doesn’t like him

    • Me thinks Brooksie is delusional, too.

  2. It wont suprise me if the leafs aquire Green.

    I dont see Vegas shopping any of their UFA’s, but i also didnt see them in a playoff spot. Time will tell.

    The TML should trade JVR, they wont tho. Less the aquire a few key pieces they are first round losers. Story of their lives!

    The leafs are in a weak division and wouldnt be a play off team otherwise.

    • Don’t agree. So many things can happen in the final two months. For example, the Leafs could finish strong and go in to the playoffs on a high note. Boston have been really, really good but they could level off a bit. Suddenly that first round series is pretty even. I could be somewhat biased though, unlike objective writers like yourself.

      • High notes mean nothing man. It’s a whole new season. You’re a Laughs fan so yes yup are very biased on this subject alone.

    • Filpulla was dealt on deadline last year, he wasn’t unrestricted, could be on the move again too, u missed one Striker

  3. Bruins definitely have a boatload of young promising D Man and you can never have to many. I wouldn’t trade any of them unless a good right winger is coming back.

    • Agree
      Also loaded with forwards
      I think Boston shouldn’t make any moves.
      When Mcavoy returns will have two extra defenseman.
      Who will sit with Postma either Maquaid,Miller or Grzelcyk.
      Also have plenty of forwards in providence ready to come in for injuries.

    • Boatload of Promising defensemen? Hmmm, dunno about a boat load.

  4. I think Carlson on open market looks a 8-9 mil. Green might pull back a 1st if more d men don’t enter market.

  5. Zibanejad is 24, Kreider 26, Miller 24, Hayes 25, Fast 26, Buchnevich 22, Vesey 24 & Skjei 23, that’s a ton of youth. Zuccarello is 30, Shattenkirk 28, McDonagh 28 & Smith 28. That’s 1/2 the roster, what are you blowing up exactly?

    That’s 8 kids that still aren’t fully developed at the NHL level most yet to enter their prime.

    I just don’t buy it. You have Andersson & Chytil coming fast & others like Letteri, DeAngelo, Day & Shesterkin waiting in the wings.

    Mr Gorton please lets not do anything rash or stupid like buying out Girardi only to replace him with Smith who when factored into Girardi’s buyout costs more money for a lesser Dman for the entire term of what you could have paid Girardi.

    Also just a request but long over due, can you please can Vigneault, he hates young players & your roster is already a 3rd kids with more coming. I’m getting pretty tired of Buchnevich getting sat, his icetime reduced & how can Skjei not get some power play time.

    • I read Brooks story this morning and it’s really not anything that hasn’t been discussed here. Only he thinks they’re shopping Mac and Zuc. He thinks they should be traded but if they can’t get top value, leave it until off season. What intrigues me is that if he really had info that they’d go full rebuild, why no mention of Lundquist? I doubt he’d want to waste his last few years and I wonder sometimes does team leak these stories through Brooks just to get other teams to start calling. I could see Lundquist request a Trade if he thought they where going full sell mode. Again, I agree with Striker, that there’s no reason to sell. Still in thick if it and will have Kreider and Shattenkirk back for playoffs. Still don’t see a dominant team in east.

  6. As always many teams do get numerous things if they retain their UFA’s at the deadline. They get to use them for a playoff run & each gate is worth 3+ mil in revenue, for big market teams significantly more, they gain the cap space in the summer should they choose not to resign & they send a strong message to their players & fans they want to win & that winning will create new fans & increase corporate sponsorship.

    This may be entertainment & pro sports but it also a business, big business & they are in it to make money just like everyone else.

  7. Just saying. Easy schedules have to balance out over the course of the season. Here’s 1 of Steve Cangialosi latest Twittes.

    “Since starting the season 9-2, the Devils have been in a huge slump.

    In fact, the Devils have won only 15 of their last 35 games after their hot start.”

    • Difficult schedule ahead for the Devils.

  8. It scares me to think what Buffalo is asking for Evander Kane! Especially when you realize that, as recently as the Sabres’ January 10th practice dust-up with the Justin Falk, nothing has changed with Kane.

  9. Kane needs to move before the deadline. I saw him play twice this week and nothing. He usually goes wide with speed and nothing. But like I said his centerman is a LW with 7 points. Who you play with makes a difference. 2 points since Jan 1 and not counting

    Green will get at least 2 seconds

  10. Buffalo can ask whatever they want for Kane doesn’t mean they will get it.
    They have to move him at the deadline regardless.
    So might as well ask for a high return and take the best one offered.

  11. A lotto protected first and two seconds for Derick Brassard with Ottawa paying $2 million a year for the 1.5 years left on his deal.

    Who says no?

  12. Mike Green will net the Red Wings a 1st round draft pick plus something or at least a solid A prospect considering the prices for capable offensive defensemen especially ones that can do well in their own end as well.

    • I agree. This talk they can’t get a 1st is funny. Right shot offensive dman who can instantly improve your PP. GMs will overpay when they think they can win now. Sure it might not happen. But smith got a 2 and 3 last year . If that’s the rate, green is a 1st

  13. It’s a common theme for former Rangers to win a cup the following a year or two after NYR departure. See..Richards, Hagelin 2x, Gaborik 2x, Roszival and potentially soon to be Girardi, Callahan, Stralhman etc.

    What I’m trying to say is I wouldn’t be surprised where ever Nash ends up he will turn into a fireball and win a cup. Call it good luck or bad luck, I just wouldn’t be surprised.

    • John, you have the makings of a Leaf fan.

  14. The only way JVR is being traded, is for maybe a late pick plus a return of a Dman that’s also pending free agency…or a prospect plus the same Dman.

    • Or maybe adding something along with JVR…

      To Tor: M.Green + 3rd rd pick
      To Det: JVR + 2nd rd pick

      • Why would Detroit take JVR who is going to be a UFA? They are going to be sellers.

    • any Team that is playoff bound won’t trade a top 4 d for JVR. Plain and simple.
      His cap hit isn’t high, but for a 1/4 of the money could have Maroon… JVR won’t be moving

  15. Personally I’d love NY to blow it up at the deadline and off-season.
    I said in June it looks a lot like what they were thinking.

    The difference between this team, and the team we’ve seen for the last 5-6 years is they don’t have the luxury of having guys like Brassard, Richards, Boyle, Moore etc in that 3rd and 4th slots. they went from strong down the middle to nearly non existent down the middle.

    They couldn’t have possibly gone into this season feeling good about this team. The Shattenkirk deal was a head scratcher and the Smith deal was mind blowing.

    Overall, I like the direction of this team. They have stockpiled some good young pieces for the future, why not add to it? Move some of these ufa’s and certainly listen to anything on the table for Mcdonagh, Zuccarello etc.

    This does not need to be a 5-10 year rebuild. The last time NY blew it up they were back in the playoffs the next year after missing 7 consecutive years.
    I’m not saying they’ll have that kind of success overnight. But I’d certainly wouldn’t mind seeing them take 2-3 years to build another great team. Right now they’re not even a team that looks like a playoff team, nevermind a contender.

  16. Kane, JVR, are not worth the asking prices. JVR top 4 d man… for a descent winger on an expiring contract… those are pipe seams… 4 pieces for Kane, less they are mid level prospects and 3rd round picks… once again dream on…. that’s too much cancer in the room.

    Wait and see everyone’s lining up for Maroon, at that cap hit he will fetch a great prospect and maybe a mid round pick…

    Let’s be realistic here folkes

    • I admit… I am sooo looking forward to twin redrawing the line in the sand over the coming weeks. it was a first and a good prospect… now a great prospect and mid round pick… if twin goes on holiday break and I have to wait to see the next twist I will be absolutely devastated.

      • @chrisms…I think twin is his agent!

  17. You keep saying tavares is resigning with islanders but what if islanders do not make playoffs? what if they do nothing substantial at deadline? what then?

  18. It makes his decision that much easier?