NHL Rumor Mill – March 16, 2018
Updates on John Tavares, James van Riemsdyk, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Mike Hoffman in your NHL rumor mill.
LATEST FROM TSN’s INSIDERS
TSN: Pierre LeBrun speculates a sign-and-trade scenario could be an option this summer for the New York Islanders and center John Tavares if the latter decides to depart via free agency on July 1. While not saying that’s going to happen, LeBrun feels it could make sense if Tavares wants to ensure he gets an eight-year deal, which he’d only get from the Islanders and could then be flipped to another club. That eighth year would lower the annual average value and the cap hit. The Isles, meanwhile, would get something in return for a player who’s departing.
Darren Dreger reports Tavares will meet with agent Pat Brisson at season’s end to map out their strategy. They’ll then meet with Isles management to inform them of their intent.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: LeBrun said a sign-and-trade hasn’t happened in the salary-cap era, but Marian Hossa was signed to a new contract by the Ottawa Senators on Aug 23, 2005 and hours later shipped to the Atlanta Thrashers for Dany Heatley. However, Cap Friendly indicates Hossa wasn’t up for unrestricted free agent status at that time and his new deal lacked no-trade protection. He didn’t have any say over where he would be dealt.
Tavares has no-trade protection on his current deal. Still, a sign-and-trade scenario would give him control over where he could be dealt. He probably won’t want to be shipped to a struggling club such as the Arizona Coyotes or Buffalo Sabres. The Isles would likely give permission to interested clubs to speak with the Tavares camp to determine those that would be acceptable options and their willingness to take on what is likely to be an expensive eight-year contract.
Noting the lack of contract talks between Toronto Maple Leafs management and pending UFA winger James van Riemsdyk, Dreger suggests the Leafs should get ready to adjust to life without him. He thinks van Riemsdyk is “a $6 million-plus player on a seven-year term according to some teams, and if he goes slightly under, maybe on a five or six-year term, then he’s probably closer to $6.5 million.” Considering the cost of re-signing young stars Auston Matthews, William Nylander and Mitch Marner, the Leafs could be unwilling to go that high.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Leafs have just over $50.4 million invested in 17 players for next season. If they re-sign Matthews and Marner this summer, their new deals won’t kick in until July 1, 2019. Nylander is the only one whose new contract would count against their 2018-19 cap payroll. Assuming an $80-million cap ceiling for next season, that leaves more than enough to re-sign van Riemsdyk and Nylander with plenty left over to sign or replace such notables as Tyler Bozak and Leo Komarov and perhaps leave enough to add a quality defenseman.
However, Leafs management will be looking beyond 2018-19, when the new contracts for Matthews and Marner kick in. Sure, they could play hardball with the talented duo in hopes of signing them to affordable bridge contracts, but it’s unlikely they’ll go down that road. Factor in the obvious need for a skilled top-four defenseman, and van Riemsdyk’s chances of re-signing with the Leafs appear slim.
NO NUGENT-HOPKINS FOR HOFFMAN DEAL ON THE HORIZON
OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch poured cold water on the notion of the Ottawa Senators shipping winger Mike Hoffman this summer to the Edmonton Oilers for center Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. “Indications are the rumoured deal was never discussed, and it’s highly doubtful the Senators would move Hoffman after resisting offers to trade him at the Feb. 26 trade deadline because he’d developed such strong scoring chemistry with centre Matt Duchene.”
Dorion’s presence at two recent Oilers games was merely part of his Western scouting trip that saw the Sens GM take in some college games, the Western Hockey League and pro games in San Jose and Calgary as his staff prepares for the 2018 NHL Draft (June 22-23) in Dallas.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Well, the Hoffman-for-RNH speculation was fun while it lasted.