NHL Rumor Mill – March 2, 2018
Potential destinations for John Tavares, the possibility of the Rangers pursuing Erik Karlsson and more in your NHL rumor mill.
DESTINATIONS FOR TAVARES
FANRAG SPORTS NETWORK: Chris Nichols cites Darren Dreger’s Thursday appearance on Edmonton’s TSN 1260 discussing the lack of significant moves by the New York Islanders at Monday’s NHL trade deadline. Regarding pending free agent center John Tavares, Dreger believes the club’s re-signing winger Josh Bailey could have some influence on the Islanders captain. However, he remains uncertain if Tavares will re-sign with the Isles.
As for possible destinations if Tavares hits the open market this summer, Dreger doubts he’ll sign with the New York Rangers, noting they’re starting to rebuild. He feels the superstar center wants to play for a winner. He suggests the St. Louis Blues and San Jose Sharks will be “primary contenders”. Citing the good relationship between Tavares’ agent Pat Brisson and Montreal Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin, Dreger feels the Habs could make a pitch.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I could be wrong, but I just don’t get a sense that Tavares is keen to leave the Islanders. Yes, they still need improvement and their new arena is years away, but he recently said reaching the playoffs this year wouldn’t influence his decision. He also didn’t rule out re-signing before the season ends. Granted, Tavares could be engaging in public deflection, but I’m not convinced he’s ready to leave the Isles.
If Tavares does go to free agency, I don’t believe he’ll join the Habs. After all, if he wants to play for a winner, the Canadiens certainly aren’t looking like a Cup contender. And no, money won’t be enough to sway him. Sorry, Montreal fans, but Tavares signing with the Habs is a pipe dream.
COULD THE RANGERS PURSUE KARLSSON?
FANRAG SPORTS NETWORK: Chris Nichols cites Pierre Lebrun’s appearance on Edmonton’s TSN 1260 discussing the many moves made by the New York Rangers leading up to this year’s trade deadline. Noting the high number of draft picks the Rangers have in this year’s draft (three first-round picks, two seconds and two third) and their extra cap, LeBrun suggests perhaps GM Jeff Gorton could use those assets to accelerate his club’s rebuild. “What if they go out this summer – and heck – go after Erik Karlsson? Not the craziest thing in the world because they have assets now,” said LeBrun. “So we’ll see how that plays out. But I think the Rangers are well-positioned.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly indicates the Rangers have over $49.8 million invested in 13 players, with forwards Ryan Spooner, Vladislav Namestnikov, Kevin Hayes and Jimmy Vesey and defenseman Brady Skjei as their notable restricted free agents. Assuming they can get those five under contract for, say, a combined $15 million, they could have over $15 million in cap room if the ceiling rises as expected to $80 million for 2018-19. Perhaps Gorten considers pursuing Karlsson this summer. If the Rangers acquire him however, it’ll cost a big chunk of change to re-sign the all-star blueliner (perhaps $12 million annually) beyond next season.
LATEST ON THE BLUES
THE ATHLETIC: Jeremy Rutherford recently reported St. Louis Blues GM Doug Armstrong had talks “Ottawa and Montreal regarding Mike Hoffman and Max Pacioretty” before the recent NHL trade deadline. He also attempted to shop the first-round pick he acquired from the Winnipeg Jets in the Paul Stastny deal in a package deal. However, the teams he spoke with also insisted on Armstrong including one of his top prospects (Klim Kostin, Jordan Kyrou, Tage Thompson and Robert Thomas) in the deal. Blues veterans Patrik Berglund, Vladimir Sobotka and Jay Bouwmeester came up in the rumor mill but Rutherford said there just wasn’t suitable interest.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: If the Blues fail to reach the playoffs this spring, I expect there will be more changes coming to their roster. I wouldn’t be surprised if Armstrong revisits his interest in Hoffman and Pacioretty.