NHL Rumor Mill – April 25, 2018

by | Apr 25, 2018 | Rumors | 45 comments

Latest John Tavares speculation plus an update on the Philadelphia Flyers in your NHL rumor mill.

Will the Maple Leafs, Sharks and Golden Knights pursue John Tavares via free agency in July? (Photo via NHL Images)


TORONTO SUN: Steve Simmons believes the Toronto Maple Leafs “will take a run at centre John Tavares in free agency,” though perhaps not as aggressively as they did two years ago with Tampa Bay Lightning center Steven Stamkos. Simmons claims the Leafs laid it on so thick with Stamkos that he opted instead to return to the Lightning.

FANRAG SPORTS NETWORK: Chris Nichols cites NHL insider Pierre LeBrun telling Montreal’s TSN 690 he doesn’t rule out the Leafs surprising us with a bid for Tavares if he hits the open market this summer. However, he expects teams like the San Jose Sharks and Vegas Golden Knights could also get into the bidding.

LeBrun said he “knows for the fact” the Sharks will make a play. He notes the Golden Knights have plenty of salary-cap room plus there’s the allure of Vegas. It’s also possible Tavares re-signs with the Islanders.

DENVER POST: Mark Kiszla and Mike Chambers discussed the possibility of the Colorado Avalanche making a bid for Tavares. Chambers feels the Avs will make a solid pitch, citing the opportunity for the superstar center to play with Nathan MacKinnon. Kiszla feels those two would provide the Avalanche with a one-two punch similar to that of Joe Sakic and Peter Forsberg during the club’s glory days.

Chambers believes the Avs can afford to sign Tavares, though he would be an expensive addition, forcing them to buy out someone such as Carl Soderberg or Colin Wilson. He also notes GM Sakic said he could add a piece or two in the offseason. While he wouldn’t comment when asked about pursuing Tavares but he didn’t say no to the notion.

BOSTON GLOBE: Kevin Paul Dupont recently reminded us that the high cost of signing Tavares or acquiring Ottawa Senators defenseman Erik Karlsson could limit potential destinations for the duo. He cited TSN analyst Craig Button musing over the difficulty of adding a high-salaried player to a roster, especially if it means clearing out some players to make room for just one.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A lot of NHL teams would love to have a center such a Tavares (or a defenseman like Karlsson) on their roster. But as Button notes, the expense will whittle down the potential suitors to a handful of teamss, and some of those could be those that aren’t on Tavares’ list of preferred destinations. If it’s only about the money, he takes the best the offer regardless of the club’s championship potential. But if playing for a potential Cup contender is of significant importance to Tavares, he might not find many suitable options via free agency.

The Leafs could certainly check all the boxes for Tavares but their situation has changed since making their pitch for Stamkos two years ago. They now have a franchise-player in first-line center Auston Matthews, whose best days remain ahead of him.  Their biggest need is for an established top-pairing defenseman. Sure, the Leafs could surprise us by going after Tavares but that won’t address their obvious defensive issues. 

I concur with LeBrun that the Sharks or perhaps the Golden Knights could make a play for Tavares, and he could find both clubs attractive. The Avalanche could make a play but Sakic said he’d like to see his club become even youngerI think will look at more affordable options via trades or free agency. 


NBC SPORTS: James O’Brien reports Philadelphia Flyers GM Ron Hextall will be given free rein by his bosses in this summer’s free-agent market. For the first time in years, the Flyers will have considerable salary-cap space in the offseason.

O’Brien notes an $80-million salary-cap ceiling for next season would give them around $22 million to work with, and buying out Jori Lehtera could push it to over $25 million. That’s plenty of cash to pursue a big ticket potential UFA such as John Tavares. They could also address their longstanding problems in goal or some more affordable (Patrick Maroon? Michael Grabner? Ian Cole? Michael Hutchinson?) short-term options.

O’Brien suggests the Flyers might be better off trying to improve via the trade market. He proposes pursuing someone such as Montreal’s Max Pacioretty or Ottawa’s Mike Hoffman. “The Flyers would get at least one season to see how such additions fit into their system, maybe opening the door for a team-friendly extension.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As O’Brien pointed out, Hextall’s done a good job breaking the Flyers’ front office from its long-term habit of acquiring expensive veterans via free agency. He’s also shed some bloated salaries in favor of rebuilding with younger, cheaper talent.

I daresay Hextall will be a player in this summer’s free-agent market and could swing a deal or two in the trade market. However, he could pass on adding expensive big-tickets players in favor of more affordable short-term veteran options to boost his roster depth and take some pressure off the Flyers’ developing young talent. 



  1. Perhaps a trade of Matthews to Arizona, and signing of JT. In return, receive OEL, 1st pick, and Max Domi, would solidify the defence in Tor.

    • Actually,that’s not as dumb as first thought, thinking outside the box. AM hasn’t shown he’s THE second coming yet

      • If Mathews hasn’t shown he’s the 2nd coming in his short career… wth has Tavares shown us?

      • Tavares pretty much won a playoff series by himself and hasn’t been back since.

    • Matthews isn’t going anywhere

    • in theory it works… but you don’t trade a talent like Mathews… not at all. plus the money…

      • As a Leafs fan I would happily move Matthews if JT, OEL, Domi and a 1st come back.
        Matthews will cost more than JT on his next contract.
        Clear #1C
        Clear #1D – I hope he improves his defensive game a bit under babs
        Top 6 LW – something we’ll be short on once JvR walks
        1st round pick

        Yeah i’ll take all of that for Matthews

      • with almost no exceptions the team getting the best player wins the deal. Mathews is already the best of the lot.

      • Yeah, why have your best players on the upside of their careers with a long window of opportunity when you can trade for guys approaching their best before date? Never happen.

      • There’s no way Arizona would give up what probably will be a top 3 pick, OEL and Domi…

  2. If I was Hextall, I’d be a lot more concerned at improving in the net and address that issue before anything else. Since foolishly trading Bob to the CBJ, the Flyers haven’t had a starting goalie worth anything.

    • The Flyers have talent coming in goal, with both Carter Hart and Felix Sandstrom ready to start playing pro. I would expect Hart to play for the Phantoms next year, and would get a legit chance to make the Flyers in the 19/20 season. Hart has excelled at every level and has future stud #1 goalie written all over him.

      Basically, the Flyers are treading water, waiting for the young guys. That is why we have Elliot on the 2 year deal, etc.

      Having said that..Mrazek won’t be back, I don’t think, and Neuvirth should have never been resigned. I also thought Elliot was a poor choice as a stop-gap signing.

      • I hadn’t addressed Sandstrom yesterday, being 21 he is potentially closer to the NHL than Hart but he will need to acclimatise to North America, that’s most likely a min of 2 years in the minors then at least 1 probably 2 as a back up in the NHL if he has starter potential. He hasn’t played more than 39 games in any season in his Jr career, nor in Sweden & that is cause for concern. He played 21 games last season.

        Here are my thoughts on Hart from yesterday.

        “Carter Hart is 19 years old. The # of NHL starters getting a starting gig in the NHL by 22 is exceptionally small. Most don’t become full-time undisputed starters until 26.

        Juuse Saros has been a stud in the making, he was drafted in 2013 & just turned 23 on April 19th, that’s almost 5 years ago & this is his 1st season in the NHL as the undisputed back up in Nas.

        Grubauer in Was is now 26. He’s ready for a starters role. Gibson has been Anh’s undisputed starter since Andersen was moved to Tor 2 seasons ago, he is 25 this July & was drafted in 2011, 7 years ago. He is part of the small group getting to the NHL faster than 90% of goalies. Allen was on this track as well then lost his safety net & crumbled under the pressure of being a starter, he’ll be 28 this summer. Hellebuyck will be 25 in May. Demko is 22, he won’t even get the backup role for at least 1 more full season. Murray in Pit, 23, 24 in May his 1st season as a starter & his #’s without MAF, his safety net aren’t good.

        The other best goalies not playing in the NHL. Samsanov Was 21 still won’t even be in the NHL next season. Sorokin NYI 23 this summer, I’m sure NYI would love to get him to the NHL now. Shesterkyn 22 not coming to NYR yet.

        Hart is years away & will need to be mentored for at least 2 then sheltered for at least 1. Considering the state of Philly’s G they may rush him but unlikely, He should start to see a cup of coffee in the NHL at 21, start as a back up for 2 years at 22 then assuming the starters role at or near 23.

        I think a great short-term solution is Lehner, Buf doesn’t respect what they have, the only thing that ails Lehner is Buf, another would be Grubauer in Was. Lock 1 of these guys up for 4 or 5 years & let them, man, the #1 role until Hart is ready, being his safety net as soon as he is.”

        Another thought since yesterday. With expansion coming to Seattle not yet confirmed, might Philly send Hart back to Jr. next season to remove the need to potentially have to protect him in the expansion draft? Most pundits are saying expansion will happen 2 summers from now, but where would Seattle play till the Key Arena is completed? The Tacoma Dome? The only thing we know for certain is the NHL will expand before the current CBA expires as they don’t & won’t share the expansion revenue with the NHLPA & you know that’s getting written into the next CBA.

        Hart is probably 5 years from being Philly’s undisputed #1 what are they doing in the meantime?

      • Murray’s numbers weren’t great because of multiple injuries and having to deal with the death of his father who was his biggest supporter in life and his tether to his home and youth it has nothing to do with no MAF at all. 22 year old Tristan Jarry is a more than capable starter in the NHL as well but couldn’t get the minute down the stretch so he played in the AHL to actually play. Next year the Murray/Jarry tandem will be one of the better ones in the league. And both will still be years away from 26. I don’t believe age is the reason why these new guys don’t get a chance I think it’s about the availability of minutes, or the lack of at the NHL level. If a kid is talented enough and there is a spot available no coach is going to say “nope he’s not 26, he can’t do it.”

      • Deeeee was not meant to slight Murray in any way, just show normal development timelines. Murray is a stud & was my rookie of the year last year as I have posted here several times. Unfortunately, votes are counted before the playoffs. 2 Stanley Cup wins well still rookie eligible in the NHL as essentially Pit playoff starter! Unbelievable & he played exceptionally.

        All player suffer what Murray is suffering, parents die, their kids die, the sustain injuries, get divorced, etc. but the mental portion of the game, especially for goalies is a huge part of who succeeds or fails. the pressure is intense.

      • Matt had some bad times this year and some legit excuses. But not having MAF, or more specifically a 1b guy behind him definitely effected him. everything from knowing he was being pushed, to the expectation of starting more games, to feeling like he needed to return from injuries sooner because a legit number 1 wasn’t holding down the fort. His head is definitely not where he should be. After the first round and 2 shut outs and some spectacular play murray still played awful enough in spurts to make him the biggest question mark of the team… you want to reach through the tv and throttle him sometimes. actually, malkins health is up there too…

    • Flyers just lost in the first round. Knowing Bob’s post season tracker record, how exactly would Bob have improved that situation.

      Did you watch the Jackets series?
      Have you watched Bob in the playoffs over his career?

      Not only has he never ever won a series in the playoffs, he has not exactly looked all that good either.

      Times yours…

      • This “too young to start in the nhl” crap is annoying. They used to think that about lots of positions in sports. These kids are in major spotlights at much younger ages now and are not overwhelmed by pressure in the pros anymore because of it.

  3. It is not necessarily true that Stamkos’s motivation was negative by the leafs as opposed to positive by Vinick & Tampa Bay.
    A good owner, a good team, and a market where it is possible to go out and live a normal life are serious virtues. Environments like Toronto (and some others) don’t always bring out the best in a player; some thrive in the pressure and some shun it. The pro athletes I’ve known all say the pressure of the game is what they live for, and different that the life pressures of the market which differ widely.

    • Well said Richard, not every player wants the spot light on them when they are away from their work place.

      • I can’t blame them either. Several years ago an acquaintance of mine was riding shotgun in a car in Boston. At a red light, Manny Ramirez pulled up next to him with his family. Rather than wave and smile, this idiot thought it would be appropriate to hop out and bang on Manny’s window and ask for an autograph. He thought that Manny was a jerk for not rolling his window down!

        Those types of occurrences are probably common place for many professional athletes, particularly in sports-crazed cities….no thank you!

  4. I think the Flyers will focus on a 3rd line centre and potentially a scoring winger. I can’t see them empty in the bank for an Evander Kane but someone at a lower tier.

    I do see him making a play for an experienced defenseman. If Jacob Truba becomes in play because of his RFA status and wanting out of Winnipeg. I can see the flyer is offering a package. With them caring 2 first rounders I could see a first rounder and a young D going back. A 2nd stud dman would take the work load off of Provorov.

    A big deal would potentially include Ghost. A Rough play off and being left-handed shot he showed the flyers a weakness.

  5. Curious why never a mention of Tavares making sense in Columbus. None of their important players are older…
    Bob has 5 great years left.

    • Because Columbus hockey interest does not exhist outside Columbus. And I’m saying that as a fan.

      • True enough. I just look if I was JT and wanted to go to a contender with chance at serious Cup chances.
        Goalie-check. Top pairing D-check. Game breaker on my wing -check. Second line center-Dubois check.
        Forward depth-check.
        JT+ a 2nd pairing D is all this team needs+ staying healthy

      • columbus hockey exists in Pittsburgh! I know lots of people who travel to columbus for pens games.

  6. Here is question of the day. Will Rask show he is elite tonight or confirm my notion that Boston cannot win with him as their number 1 starter.

    • Thanks for increasing my anxiety Caper! So far he has seemed to bounce back after a tough game, so I am going with that.
      The refs seem to be letting them play in this series, the Bruins need to take advantage of that and push the physical play and get off to a fast start.

      • I agree Ray that is bounces back after a tough game and he did that in game 6, made some keys saves late in the game to keep them in it. I want to see him get his first shutout of the playoffs tonight.
        Striker you and I agree on that trade, but now Boston need Rick Nash to produce, he has been close.
        I’ve lost 2 of my teams LA and Columbus here hoping it stays at 2 after tonight.

      • I guess you mean the referees letting Bruins get away with murder, right?
        Boston is only in game 7 because referees have managed the games very much tilted in Bruins’ favour. 2 games won by Toronto were games against B’s and the referees.
        With fair officiating Boston stands no chance even with last change advantage.

    • Arghhhhhh! Ha-ha!

      There are far bigger concerns than just Rask & he hasn’t played anywhere near well enough.

      McAvoy has seriously disappointed making very questionable decisions, Marchand looked lost last game turning the puck over numerous times, several on the PP.

      I’m still hating the Nash trade. I liked Spooner playing on Krejci’s RW. Nash has 1 PPG scored in game 2, the 4th goal to make in 4-0 3/4’s of the way through the 1st in a 7-3 game. He has the 2nd worst +/-; -3, at forward to Backes; -4. I don’t like this change of chemistry.

      I had this series as a coin toss due to Tor’s 12 forwards, their 3rd & 4th lines are better than Bos’s. Andersen after a shaky start in the 1st 2 games has been exceptional. Bos outplayed Tor in game 5 for all but the 1st 5 or 6 minutes of periods 1 & 2 but that & Andersen standing on his head cost Bos that game.

      Extremely nervous, nor do I like how the odds of probability are playing out. I sit 6-1 so far in round 1. My upset team Columbus lost so the odds say we are getting an upset in round 1, none of the other series qualify, that leaves this 1.

      Arghhhhhhh! Sweeney may have doomed this team trading for Nash messing with chemistry. Reminds me of Bos acquiring Jagr, relegating Seguin to the 3rd line. I hated this trade & with each passing day I am hating it more & more.

      Fingers crossed.

      • Striker, I generally don’t get into playoff game discussion as it is generally very homer bias and I’m a Leaf homer. That game 5 was the worst referring I have ever seen in a playoff game. It kept half our team on the bench for upwards of 20-30 min real time. That’s my opinion on the referring, I’m sure every Boston fan will see it different.

        Two of the Boston goals came off pucks hitting stanchion onto Boston sticks into the net – unbelievably lucky. And yes, Anderson stood on his head.

        I’m hoping tonight, the refs stay out of the game – yes call penalties that have a direct chance to score. Don’t call placing a stick on someone’s stick that breaks a penalty – the phantom slash on Nash’s stick that was assumed by the ref – my God assuming a call in a playoff game. The Polak stick break was not a slash but a stick check in front of the net – a standard defensive play called simply because the stick broke. I can go on but won’t.

    • Here’s hopin’, Caper. Goaltending will likely be the deal-breaker.Should be a beauty.

      • BCLeafFan Anderson stole two games, Rask one, i’m hoping Rask doesn’t need to steal one but hopefully his T-Ask. I know you hope he isn’t. Enjoy the game, should be a good one.

      • My son said prior to the playoffs, this would be the best series in the opening round, spot on!

        I thought Philly-Pittsburgh would be the most entertaining.

      • It has been great but like Bob Mackenzie my favourite so far was LA@Vgs. Sure, wish we had seen more than 4 games of that.

        Really looking forward to Win@Nas just wish it was in the conference final not round 2. That blows.

  7. IF the Leafs sign Tavares then Nylander and/or Marner are traded away for defence. It would have been posable to keep them and Tavares if Lou didn’t sign Marleau for 3 years. IMO it was a huge mistake for Lou to have Marleau’s contract to go into the season that Matthews, Nylander, and Marner become RFA’s.

    • Look at the structure of the deal, in the final year he makes something like $1 million in actual salary. Lou said on Bob mccowan’s show that this was to make him tradeable in the final year. This isn’t the obstacle people think it is.

      • His salary is 1.25 his final year, his bonus is 3.0.

      • So I guess it depends when the bonus is, if it’s on July 1 they can pay it then trade him, if it’s performance-based for the end of the year it would be an issue. I’m not saying they will go after JT, just bought this contract won’t be the problem I don’t think.

      • It would have to be after July 1st then as that’s when Marleau’s signing bonus monies are due & payable, 4.5 mil this July 1st, 3 mil the following. Bonus monies essentially count towards salary just not paid out in the same way. He also has a full NMC so he would have to approve any trade.

      • I fully expect Marleau to be back in SJ for the final season of this deal

      • The don’t think that’s going to happen Taz. The only reason he signed in Toronto is SJ only put 2 years on the table, and wouldn’t budge on the 3rd year. It’s hard to imagine they’ll flip on that now.

        The only place in pro sports for a sentimental deal, is the one day contract hang me up deals.

  8. Seeing the TOR AM for JT idea ….

    Would this work??

    TO AZ: Ghost & Giroux
    TO PHI: OEL, Domi, 1st

    Flyers clear more space to make a pitch for JT and assets to trade for Patches or Hoffman??

    Or leaving room for the following summer to make a pitch for Doughty who would look good in a Flyers uni.

  9. If Taveres ends up in TO then it would be Nylander who goes for defense help. They could get any right handed available. I would want Manson plus a pick which solves problems for both teams. Leafs need a physical defenseman and the Ducks need speed. If Taveres would come for 8 million and Matthews signs for a bit more they might still be able to sign JVR. Matthews, Taveres, Kadri and Altonen makes a pretty good center core. Add Manson with Reilly to go with Gardner/Zaitsev and Dermott/Hainsey plus Carrick and Borgman and you got a defense core waiting for Liljgren to replace Hainsey the year after. This doesn’t even mention the wingers that fill out the roster..