Latest Islanders and Oilers Speculation – April 16, 2018
Another update on New York Islanders captain John Tavares plus another look at possible offseason moves by the Edmonton Oilers in your NHL rumor mill.
POTENTIAL SUITORS FOR TAVARES
NEWSDAY: Andrew Gross provided a primer on the future of New York Islanders captain (and pending free agent) John Tavares. He anticipates it could cost the Islanders around $10.5-million annually as he won’t be taking a hometown discount.
If Tavares tests the free-agent market on July 1, Gross lists the San Jose Sharks, St. Louis Blues, Vegas Golden Knights, Detroit Red Wings and Vancouver Canucks as possible suitors. He doesn’t see Tavares landing with the Toronto Maple Leafs, Montreal Canadiens or New York Rangers.
If the Isles cannot re-sign Tavares before July 1, Gross speculates they could attempt to trade his rights to a club that can sign him. Another option is signing him to an eight-year contract and then shipping him to another club.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: As per Cap Friendly, the Sharks, Blues, Golden Knights, Red Wings and Canucks all have sufficient salary-cap space to sign Tavares to a lucrative long-term deal. If he hits the open market, however, he could be leery of signing with rebuilding teams like the Wings and Canucks. Gross makes a good point that Tavares might prefer avoiding the media cauldrons of Toronto and Montreal. I also don’t see him dissing the Isles by joining the arch-rival Rangers.
LATEST ON THE OILERS
EDMONTON JOURNAL: Jim Matheson recently listed several things for Oilers fans to watch for during the offseason. Among them is the never-ending search for an offensive right-shooting defenseman, though it might mean giving up a left-shot blueliner like Oscar Klefbom or Darnell Nurse to get one, “or a first-round pick in a package for a left-shooting Oliver Ekman-Larsson, if he’s available”. He feels the Oilers’ 2018 first-round pick should be in play for Ekman-Larsson, provided it’s not in the top three.
With Colorado Avalanche prospect Cale Makar staying in school for one more season, Matheson doesn’t see them moving Tyson Barrie. He instead considers Carolina Hurricanes rearguard Justin Faulk as “the best short-term bet”, though the Canes will want a forward in return.
Once the Oilers re-sign their key restricted free agents (including Nurse, Matt Benning and Ryan Strome), Matheson doubts they’ll have enough salary-cap space to pursue a big-ticket free-agent winger such as Toronto’s James van Riemsdyk or Vegas’ James Neal. He instead proposed more affordable free agents such as Columbus’ Thomas Vanek or New Jersey’s Michael Grabner. Ottawa’s Mike Hoffman could be a trade option.
He doesn’t see the Oilers buying out the remaining five years on Milan Lucic’s contract. They don’t intend to trade center Ryan Nugent-Hopkins.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: If recent reports out of Arizona are any indication, Ekman-Larsson won’t be available. He hopes to re-sign with the Coyotes and I wouldn’t be surprised if they announce a new contract extension for him shortly as early as July 1. I agree with Matheson that Barrie’s unavailable. Given the Hurricanes’ recent management shake-up, Faulk could be available. However, the asking price could be a top-six forward.
If the Oilers aren’t shedding one of their higher-salaried players, they could consider affordable short-term UFA options like Vanek or Grabner. I can also see the Oilers packaging their first round pick in a package deal for a scoring winger or defenseman, but if that pick turns out to be first overall, they’ll keep it to select highly touted Swedish blueliner Rasmus Dahlin.