Latest Tavares Speculation – March 31, 2018

by | Mar 31, 2018 | Rumors | 17 comments

The John Tavares rumor mill grinds on. (Photo via NHL Images)

Check out the latest speculation regarding the future of New York Islanders star John Tavares in your NHL rumor mill.

FANRAG SPORTS NETWORK: Chris Nichols cites NHL insider Bob McKenzie yesterday telling Toronto’s TSN 1050 he doesn’t know what plans New York Islanders center John Tavares has in mind for this summer, when he’ll be eligible on July 1 to become an unrestricted free agent. However, McKenzie’s gut feeling is Tavares is “more likely to explore free agency than not, but I don’t know that for a fact. That’s just an opinion.”

Nichols also cites insider Elliotte Friedman appearing yesterday on Toronto’s Sportsnet 590 discussing the dynamic between Tavares and the Islanders. There’s a rumor Tavares was unhappy over management’s inability to improve the club at the trade deadline, but until Tavares publicly says so, Friedman thinks that’s just a guess. He also believes the Isles will approach their captain following the season to try and find a way to work things out.

Earlier in the week, Nichols cited McKenzie’s colleague Pierre LeBrun’s on Montreal’s TSN 690 where the topic of possible destinations for Tavares via free agency was discussed. He thinks the Montreal Canadiens could pursue the Isles captain but they’ll have competition from clubs such as the Vegas Golden Knights, St. Louis Blues and San Jose Sharks “where the glare wouldn’t be the same.” The Canadiens could  use Carey Price and Shea Weber as selling points, as they played alongside Tavares on Team Canada in the Olympics and World Cup of Hockey.

THE ATHLETIC: In a recent Toronto Maple Leafs mailbag segment, James Mirtle was asked about the possibility of the Leafs pursuing Tavares. He feels the Leafs will look into it this summer, suggesting they have the salary-cap room (though it would be a tight fit) to address their hole at center. Mirtle suggests the Leafs don’t have to go nuts and offer Tavares $13 million per season but the opportunity to play in his hometown for a team that has an excellent chance to win a championship could be a selling point. However, he guesses the Leafs would have a 10-15 percent chance of landing the Isles captain.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Tavares and the Islanders faced off last night against the Leafs in Brooklyn, which explains in part the increased interest in his future. Bear in mind that none of these pundits are saying for certain that he’s a goner come July 1.

Tavares and the Isles have kept things quiet regarding contract talks. He’s said all the right things about wanting to stay and management’s indicated their willingness to re-sign him. Perhaps that changes once the Isles’ season ends next month and contract discussions pick up in earnest. The closer we get to the start of free agency and the longer he goes without a new contract, the more speculation we’ll see over his future.

Cap Friendly indicates the Canadiens have over $62.3 million invested in 21 players. Should the cap ceiling increase as projected to $80 million they’ll have plenty of room to ink Tavares to an expensive contract, perhaps more if they trade winger Max Pacioretty ($4.5-million cap hit) this summer. But with the Canadiens looking like a club in need of a rebuild, Price and Weber might not be sufficient selling points for Tavares if he wants to join a potential Cup contender.

With $49.7 million invested in 16 players for 2018-19 (and that includes Nathan Horton on permanent LTIR), the Leafs have even more room to take on Tavares this summer, re-sign restricted free agent William Nylander to a hefty raise and maybe add a top-four defenseman as well. But as Mirtle also noted, things get tight  the following season when Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner are due for hefty raises. And if the Leafs don’t add a top-four rearguard this summer, they won’t be able to afford pursuing someone such as Ottawa’s Erik Karlsson, Los Angeles’ Drew Doughty or Arizona’s Oliver Ekman-Larsson via free agency in 2019.

The Leafs would be better off bolstering their defense than blowing their brains out in an expensive pursuit of Tavares. He won’t take a discount to play in Toronto. I think they would be lucky to get him for less than $11 million annually.  If they wish to address their depth at center, they could find more affordable options this summer via trade or free agency, leaving sufficient cap room next year to re-sign Matthews and Marner and to improve the defense corps. 




  1. For the record I doubt its going to happen as more and more I feel like Shannahan wants as much of a homegrown team as he and his team can put together.

    But, to hear Babcock talk about Nylander many nights it makes me wonder if they would make a decision to move him in the summer for a dman and sign Tavares.

    Truth be told I would enjoy watching Tavares as much as I would Nylander…but is Tavares a Babs player?

    • Flames can send TJ Brodie to the leafs for Nylander and their 1st

  2. Not sure why the Leafs would bust their plan for Tavares. This Lightning fan is looking forward to a Lightning-Leafs rivalry with both anticipation and trepidation. The two are likely to meet in a fierce first round playoff series, and the Crunch and the Marlies are 1-2 in the AHL and should meet down the line as well. Both have the assets to prosper on their plans for many years –both seem smart enough not to blow things up by overpaying. And Coop & Babcock still may have some scores to settle from a couple of Bolts-Wings series. With Boston also good, ths division promises to be a tough road for many years

  3. If I’m the Habs, I try and sign Tavares. If that fails, I try and trade Price (if he’s willing).

    Signing a first line centre – of which Tavares is the only one available – is the only chance to not rebuild. When that fails, I think they need to tear it all down.

    [Note: I think there’s little chance Habs sign him]

    • If Tavares is unhappy with the Islanders because they didn’t get better forward help to play with him then why would he sign with Montreal after they sign away their best winger in Patches?

      • I’d think Patches would also be held onto if Tavares signs (as part of the sales pitch). Again, if he doesn’t sign, Patches will be gone, too.

        Just my thoughts as to what makes sense. Though Bergevin and I rarely see eye to eye on such things :p

      • Paddy, I agree totally. I do not things really get clearer until the new cap is announced and the draft lottery happens. Dahlen could be a major game changer, totally kick-starting any teams rebuild/retool. The Ilses have two shots at him in the draft and I do think that was the reason behind the lack on an Ilse trade at the deadline. For sure any major acquisition required a first but how confident would anyone be that such an acquisition would make the Ilse legit Stanley Cup contenders? Playoffs would be likely but not necessarily guaranteed.

      • 100% Habsfan1 – will be really interesting to see how both the cap & draft lottery go!

        As a Habs fan, I say, bring on the offseason! 🙂

      • Yes, good point. Montreal is in a tough spot right now. I think the contract they gave price was a big mistake but I’ve been wrong before and I will be wrong again.

  4. Leafs should sign Jeff Finger

    • Matt must be from CapFriendly since they are always making Finger jokes… I think he still has the record for the highest percentage of GWGs out of his total though :). Islanders were pretty good at forward… So I think if he was upset it was w/ the defense not getting boosted by trade like Ian Cole for a 3rd over DAvison who scored twice on his own goalie in back to back games ;).

    • Lol.. everybodys gonna sign with the Leafs or the center of the universe. Doughty, Karlsson, Tavares. Just like in the past. They are most likely to sign another Jeff Finger or Mike Komisarik

  5. If (and it is really unlikely to happen) the Habs get Tavares, then they are no longer a rebuilding team. Put him between Pacioretty and Gallagher on the first line, and have Drouin and Galchenyuk on the second line – they could actually score enough to win some games. Until they fix their defence however, they still would not be a SC contender, but would be a lot more fun to watch.

  6. If Tavares leaves NYI, I think Vegas would be his best option to land. Toronto last came close to being a legit cup back in 93ish same year Kings should have played Islanders in the final ;). The REimer meltdown was probably the next closest highlight to them doing anything worth it :). I don’t think PRice along w/ Shea Weber being on MOntreal would help attract Tavares… Hell maybe 8 years ago when they played at the Olympics together haha ;). I don’t think anybody likes Babcock if they are a player who is sane or in demand. Hence I think any team w/ him as head coach isn’t going to attract a player unless he is down and out ;). Sharks would be another team that could be ideal for him on the ice if he left for the West… Even the Blues or Jets couldn’t be that bad if not the Avalanche ;). Off the ice he might like a place like Florida/Tampa or Dallas since they probably have better tax rates and warmer weather :).

    Slanders should have like 10/11th worst record for Calgary Flames depending… They probably will be like 6.5% w/ their own pick combined with like 2% for Flames… So does that give Islanders a 8.5% chance or about nearly 10% to land 1st overall? NHL would be less rigged if they had the lottery prior to the upcoming season at the draft… So say at or before the draft even after the SCF maybe… They should draw the lottery to show what place each team will pick depending on how they finish in the upcoming season… That way if know the team w/ the 2nd or 3rd worst record would get 1st overall… It would make a better trade deadline along w/ final few games when teams fight to win to avoid last to get the 1st overall pick :). Imagine last game of year has the 2 worst teams knowing who wins would get the 1st overall 100%… Now that would be a much better way than rigging the lottery for Edmonton Oilers or Penguins to get Crosby to save their franchise… Why not rig it for a team like NYI for once so they can fix their defense :). I saw a post on a site saying how Leddy was a Norris level D-man hahahha ;). He is more like Mathiew Schneider 2.0 only not that bad on defense or good on offense ;).

    • The Habs dominated the kings in the 93 finals, Gretzky was all the kings had

      • Kelly Hrudey was playing w/ Mono which didn’t help matters in Net… Then factor in Barry Melrose as the head coach instead of an Al Arbour who beat the Bowman Penguins after Turgeon had got cheap shotted… If not for the Dale Hunter hit I think it would have easily been the Islanders in the finals… Kings I think came down from like 3-1 in series to beat Toronto to make the finals… Those Kings teams in the 90’s had studs like Bernie Nichols or Steve Duchesne :). They might have had Jarri Kurri or Lucky LUc back then hehe… Maybe even Coffey since it seemed teams would try to load up on all they could from former Oilers teams. I guess people in CAnada have to cling to 93 as some sorta beckon since its the last Cup any won there unless Winnipeg changes that :). Kelly Hrudey might not be a hall of famer or Kontos or some others… Though the Silver/Black Kings teams had their fair share of great players and HOFers. Maybe they were not in the prime of career or didn’t want to be there like Wayne who took his jersey off at his news conference which was a bad sign :).

      • Lol the kings last 2 cups might have been the luckiest cups of all time, both finalists teams were sick with the flu the whole finals