NHL Rumor Mill – May 19, 2018

by | May 19, 2018 | Rumors | 58 comments

The weekly John Tavares update, the latest on Oliver Ekman-Larsson and possible free-agent/trade targets for the Vancouver Canucks in your NHL rumor mill.

Could the Buffalo Sabres be a good free-agent destination for New York Islanders center John Tavares? (Photo via NHL Images)


WGR 550: Joe DiBiase cites TSN’s Gord Miller recently suggesting the Buffalo Sabres could be a destination for New York Islanders center John Tavares if he tests this summer’s unrestricted free agent market. “I’ve started talking to NHL people since the lottery, I think this makes the Sabres a legit contender to sign John Tavares.  Tavares wants to win. That’s his number one thing, he wants to win and he wants to play in a hockey market. Buffalo is a good hockey market. Now you got Rasmus Dahlin coming, they already have Ristolainen, got Eichel, they’ve got an owner who’s willing to spend money,” said Miller. He also noted that Buffalo is close to Tavares’ hometown of Toronto.

Miller’s colleague Darren Dreger, however, disagrees about Buffalo as a destination for Tavares. “I wouldn’t say 0%, but I’d say as close to 0% as you can get… I don’t think that John Tavares knows anything about Rasmus Dahlin. Next to nothing. Until he and future free agents see this kid on the ice and know he can play, I don’t know the influence is there. If Tavares goes to free agency, I’m not saying he’d dismiss the possibility of Buffalo, I’m just saying Buffalo would be further down the list.”

Dreger instead suggests the Nashville Predators could be a suitor for Tavares, though they’d have to get creative from a salary-cap perspective. He also believes the Vegas Golden Knights, St. Louis Blues and San Jose Sharks could be among the bidders. Dreger also doesn’t think Tavares would shy away from playing for a Canadian team, but feels he’s more interested in which club would be the best fit when it comes to winning. That’s why Dreger doesn’t see the Montreal Canadiens as a fit for Tavares.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If playing for a winner is important for Tavares, I agree with Dreger that we can probably rule out Buffalo and Montreal. The Toronto Maple Leafs are a promising club but they’ve already got a superstar center in Austin Matthews who’s soon to receive a significant pay raise, making it difficult for the Leafs to sign Tavares to a long-term deal. While Predators GM David Poile has a reputation for making bold moves, I don’t think this is one he’s willing or able to make. I concur with Dreger’s take on Vegas, St. Louis and San Jose as potential suitors. 


FRS NETWORK HOCKEY: Chris Nichols cites NHL insider Darren Dreger appearing on Montreal’s TSN 690 discussing a recent report out of Arizona claiming the Coyotes are discussing an eight-year contract extension with defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson. Dreger said he was told the Coyotes were offering up $8 million annually. He doubts that will get it done, believing it’ll take at least $9 million per season. He wonders what might be the “kick-away” number for the Coyotes that causes them to consider trading Ekman-Larsson if they can’t agree to an extension..

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If the Coyotes feel Ekman-Larsson’s seeking too much money, they could start fielding trade offers for him. Still, they could be willing to pay him $9 million annually to keep him in the fold. Perhaps they could front load the deal to reach the $8-million annual average value. 


THE ATHLETIC: Jason Brough recently speculated over the possible left-wing scoring options for the Vancouver Canucks. One free-agent choice could be pursuing San Jose Sharks winger (and Vancouver native) Evander Kane, but with the Sedins gone, Brough would be surprised if the Canucks land a big fish this summer. Former Canuck Thomas Vanek is another, but unless they can get him cheap, Brough feels they should pass. A trade option could be Pittsburgh’s swift-skating Carl Hagelin, who has a year left on his contract, kill penalties and could be used as a trade-deadline bargaining chip. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Brough also suggests the Canucks could look toward internal alternatives such as Jake Virtanen or Nikolay Goldobin. They could go with younger players within their system, but I can also see them bringing in an affordable veteran for short-term depth via trade or free agency. With the Canucks looking to get faster, Hagelin might be the best option, depending upon what the Penguins want in return. 



  1. Tavares to the Flyers? Philadelphia has 20 million in cap space and is ready to be a contender. Hard to best a forward group like this :

    Giroux Tavares Konecny
    Lindblom Couturier Vorachek
    Simmonds Patrick Weal
    Rafl Laughton Weise

    3 solid scoring lines.Not saying it should or would happen but signing Tavares would make the Flyers legit Cup contenders despite the goaltending weakness.

    • that post made me feel good. even if the flyers add in a superstar for no assets given up but money they still dont have a forward line up to match the pens.

      good times.

      • Flyers problems are on the back end and in the net. JT helps them what lose 7-5 nightly?

      • Kind of same problems we have right now with the Isles

      • That may well be true, but the Capitals did and thats good enough for me for now. Anybody but the Penguins, lol.

      • Flyers sign JT, trade Giroux+Carter Hart for Price. ;-0

      • It sounds really bizarre but part of me was almost relieved when the pens lost. It’s exhausting being emotionally invested until June every year. I can go to bed before 10 pm now-a-days and get some good sleep before I have to wake up at 5 am for work.

    • I think JT to Philly is a legit possibility. With two 1st rounders and prospect capital, the back end help will come via trade. Goaltending solution is Lehner, I feel Hex is just waiting on Buffalo to refuse his arb award.

      • @ds….I’ll assume you were being sarcastic, cause that ain’t gonna happen

      • Kenn: exactly
        And JT will sign with the Islanders if he picks a team without a goalie to win NOW

        Back to Buffalo- They should be planning for two seasons from now-

      • That would be an awesome solution for Philadelphia.

      • Sorry Lehner that is, Tavares isn’t going to Phi nor does it make sense. Their top 2 C’s positions are set for the next decade at least.

    • Hey dreamer, they have about 10 million in cap with Mrazek needling an extension + his previous salary was 4 mill. Not sure where you pop out 20 mill bro. Philly is one of the most cap strapped teams in he NHL. Check your references.

      • Flyers wont be resigning Mrazek. The already have Elliott and Neuvirth signed for next year. One of Alex Lyon and Anthony Stolarz will move up to the NHL to be the backup with one of Elliott or Neuvirth being traded/bought out. Carter Hart (WHL mvp) is the goalie of the future.

        Philadelphia has 20 million available in cap space, 25 if they buy out Lehtora.

      • @ds Hart is unproven but worth the gamble as the future of the Flyers goaltending. Price is already overpaid and emotionally shaky in Montreal, Philadelphia is no less pressure. A player thinking long term has to see that Philadelphia is a team on the rise

      • INCORRECT.

        The Flyers goalie by end of 2018 beginning of 2019 will/should be Carter Hart. Mzarek will not be resigned as he is the 3rd string goalie right now. Either Elliot or Neuvirth will be traded, maybe both as Stolarz and Lyon are worthy in the interim.

        Defense is not the issue either. They have 3 youngsters already playing, with 2 more on the way.

        What the Flyers lack is someone like a Tavares and a Shea Weber to be that monster on the back end like Pronger was.

        I can see the Flyers being very active this offseason. Simmonds is almost assuredly going to be traded. MacDonald, Gudas, Manning and 2 first round picks gives them a lot of flexibility trade wise.

        Take away Simmonds cap (6 mil) , MacDonald (4mil)one of the back up goalies cap (2.5) and the Flyers have close to 20mm in cap space.

        2017 is the last year of the rebuild. 2018-2019 is when Hart, Myers, Morin all set their sights on Philly. Put them together with a JT and a Weber like defensemen, with kids like Lindblom and Frost coming as well and Philly is a contender in the East by 2019.

    • I think the lack of a Vezina quality goaltender would make Tavares wary of Philly. He has already had his fill of that on the island. Tavares wants the chance to win a cup and I think having a Vezina quality goalie is essential to go deep and win a cup.

      • I agree. Philly needs a massive upgrade between the pipes.

      • Do none of you know whom Carter Hart is?
        Best goalie in the world not playing in the NHL. Not even 20. His time is 2018 or 2019 at latest.

        JT would fit right in with youth movement and young vets under 30. Passionate fan base. Cap space. Good management. east coast living and travel schedule.

        It is a distinct possibility with Giroux staying on the wing.

    • I can’t believe I agree with Chris and two times in one day no less but even with Tavares those Flyer lines cannot compete with a healthy Penguins roster. And I am not really disappointed at all about how this past season ended. I got addicted to that winning rush but the Penguins were a team playing on fumes all season. With this break and a full training camp for Brassard, Sheahan and Oleksiak and a new 3RD this team has to be not just a contender but a favourite to win next year if healthy. They are deep everywhere it matters. I think Haglen moves for decent futures and another winger as well. I love the summer more than any other time of year but I am looking forward to next year.

      • Koombaya!

    • Nobody should rule out Montreal. Last year was an outlier. Price will return to his normal self and Weber is the best defensive D in the league. On a prorata he would of have 9 points less than Sabban while plying 81.5 games on a torn ligament and brooken foot. Pacioretty a 35 goals scorer with way inferior centers than Taveres. Add Zadina who’s numbers compares to Hischier, add Galchenyuk Drouin and a hell of a lot cap space. Don’t forget the Habs were 2nd most injured counting cap hits. They will be on top of the league with or without Tavers. You don’t go from 103 points to 71 without a reason, by the way did Tampa make the playoffs last season? No. Why? injuries. On team Canada, Taveres did play with Price and Weber, he knows his hockey than just to look at last season standing, which means nothing now.

  2. STL or SJ are his best options. Though the depth in STL is better IMO. I think with JayBo off the cap the following summer, and letting more youth come up tot he roster….JT puts them into Cup Contender again. Perhaps, after signing JT, even trade Fabbri and Bouwmeester to MTL for Patches and something.

  3. Tavares will sign…. somewhere. You’re welcome!

    • LOL, thanks! Finally someone with some actual insider info

    • Somewhere is nowhere close to winning yet, Tavares wants to win. I put my money on him signing Someplace, maybe even Anyplace. But Somewhere, naw, it’s not a good option.

    • Nah.. Tavares always wanted to be a potato farmer in idaho… everyone knows that. He ain’t signin nowhere. If you grow enough potatos I bet you could find one that sort of looks like the stanley cup.

  4. JT will go to the Flames. He wants to win, he’d like to play in Canada, he wants to get paid and his best friend is Travis Hamonic. You can promise JT that he’ll have one of Gaudreau or Tkachuck on his win every game and puck moving Dmen who will have more freedom with a new coach. Having center depth like JT, Monahan, Backlund, Jankowski & Shore really helps a teams chance to win. The Flames can then move one or two of their D for help on the RW (dream scenario is Mark Stone).

    I mean if I can do it on be the GM mode, a real GM should be able to do it!

    Realistically I see JT going to a strong team to make them even stronger. The Preds seem like a good bet to dominate.

    • Hey Paul that would be awesome. I think Treliving is creative enough to make room in the cap for Taveras.
      Personally I would really like to see the flames go hard after Mark Stone. He is exactly what they need. We don’t have any draft picks to give up but we have strength on the back end plus some excellent prospects

  5. Winnipeg, Vegas, Washington and Tampa of the 4 who was considered by most as a Stanley Cup contender before the season started? That would be Tampa. Winnipeg and Vegas were not considered by most to make the playoffs, Washington window has closed and are now in a retool stage. Boston who was also considered a bubble team to make the playoffs became one of the favorites to win it all by season end.
    Each hockey year book I had for 2017-2018 only had 50% of the predicted teams make the playoffs.
    Excuse me if I disagree and say why not Buffalo? Why not Arizona? Why not Carolina? why not.

  6. look up dysfunction and you will see (1) Pegula and (2) Sabres. Why would Tavares sign there ? they have no goaltending and questionable depth

  7. I don’t expect the Canucks to do much if anything. Let the real rebuild commence.

    Baertschi, Horvat, Boeser.
    Goldobin, Pettersson, Eriksson.
    Leipsic, Sutter, Gagner.
    Granlund, Gaudette, Virtanen.
    Spare Gaunce.

    As always move wingers around as you choose.

    Waiver issues are now in play for the Canucks, the only waivable forwards are Boeser, Pettersson & Gaudette. I would be shocked if any get sent down but if 1 does it will be Gaudette, moving Gagner or Granlund to C.

    Dahlen may also be NHL ready, or very close. A little seasoning in the AHL makes sense at least until in juries hit.

  8. I agree with Nyr4life, he will sign somewhere!

  9. Didn’t Buffalo have Eichel and Ristolanen last year? Didn’t they finish dead last in league? So adding an 18 year old kid automatically makes that the place to go? Smh. Buffalo fans are dillusional

    • I’m a Sabres fan and I don’t want Tavares. I’ve not talked to any fans who think we have a chance to sign him…but I will say this, our owner does have money and has no issues with front loading deals so if John T wanted to get say a 7 year deal with 90% of money in first 3-4 years he would do that. He is not an owner that cares about making a profit at all. Not a cheap skate like Ottawa and Aves owners

  10. I hope Tavares chooses to stay in NYI & resigns after listening to offers like Stamkos did in TB.

    If he chooses to move there are really only 6 to 10 teams that aren’t in a position to bid or Tavares might reject for numerous reasons.

    Tavares makes the worst team in the league for the last decade Buf & still the worst today, into a contender? I don’t think so. The gong show that is Carolina? I’ll pass no slight to the talent & roster Francis built but better the evil you know.

    How would Cal make the contract work? Trade that Dman that’s been rumoured? That doesn’t make Cal better nor do they need Tavares. Monahan, Backlund, Jankowski & Shore are their C’s.

    Phi moved Giroux to LW to allow for Patrick to get a C ice position in the top 3, now Phi’s #2, Giroux’s move allowed Couturier to become the #1 C. Nothing to see here move along.

    • Striker, didn’t you have Arizona fighting for a playoff spot this season, Boston and Winnipeg bubble teams, etc.
      Who to say by adding JT and Having Eichel and Sam Reinhart not a bad 3 to start. With Ristolainen and Rasmus Dahlin on d, also not a bad start. Now you have your top C that can compete with any top c in the league and you now have a number 1 pairing on D. So how far is Buffalo? What happens with O’Reilly if traded he’ll bring back some decent pieces. Does this make Buffalo a contender next season? Probably not but we’ll have to wait to see what they do at the draft and trade and/or Ufa’s they may sign.
      Who said JT wanted to sign with an immediate contender? That could be one and done SJ? LA? or sign with a team that maybe a year or two out from being a perennial contender.
      If he wants to sign with an immediate contender and who can contend for the next 5, 6 seasons, may I suggest the Winnipeg Jets. Playing with Laine and Ehlers behind or above Scheifele, Wheeler and Connor, not sure if there would be to many teams that could match that 1, 2 punch.
      My point isn’t that he’ll sign in Buffalo or not resign in NY; It’s each season we have surprises of who is a contender and who isn’t, there is the constants (Pitts) and there is the one and done (OTT).

    • Att : Ron Hextall.

      The all seeing all knowing Striker has spoken.

    • Tavares and Casey Mittelstadt are both huge improvements. Add in Dahlin and those are huge additions to a team that is a couple of trades away from being elite. If you have centre depth of Tavares/ Eichel/ O’Reily that’s as good as any teams it’s even close to Pitts who will be the deepest team at centre next year.

    • @Striker. Coots was solid in the #1 slot, have to think JT signing still leaves Coots as a solid #2, Patrick at #3. The new thing seems to be three top end C’s, only concern would be slowing down Patrick’s development.

  11. Lets assume JT will come to Toronto, how to make it work?

    Call LA and offer Nylander, Brown, Zaitsev and our 1st for Drew Doughty.

    Then use Kadri plus and look around the league for a defensive dman that may be available.

    Marner, Mathews, Hyman
    Kapanen, JT, Johnsson
    Marleau, Lindholm, Grundstrom
    Marchment/Leivo, Aaltonen, Timashov/Bracco

    Gardiner-trade for defensive dman

    • We’ll give Doughty but you have to take Dustin Brown along with him in exchange for Marner, a first round pick and second round pick.

  12. Either O’Reilly or Tavares will be playing for NJD next season

    • No but NJD will sign JVR. 6/36 M

      • If NJ signs old man JVR to a 6 year deal the GM should be fired. Never sign a guy(forward)who will be 30 soon to a long deal, plus JVR was a nobody in playoffs, no heart

  13. Yes, Stastny has been good while Brassard was hurt and not so good, but…

    It is interesting that Vegas was willing to make that deal in order to keep Brassard away from the Jets and then Vegas ended up facing the Jets in the third round.

    Has anyone in sports management history ever had a better calendar year than George McPhee’s most recent one?

  14. Bruins trade David Krejci a prospect and Krug to Arizona for Jacob Chychrun and next years first round pick. Boston signs Tavares and joins Bergeron as the best 1-2 combination in the NHL. Chychrun is a bigger left handed D- man that Don has been looking for. Arizona keeps their top 5 pick this year and God knows they need to start winning soon. Krejci and Krug bring experience and skill to help groom their young core.

    • Arizona doesn’t trade chickryn for krecji krug and a prospect straight up. Next.

      • What makes you the arm chair GM of the world maybe that’s why Arizona is last every year time to do something to start winning.

      • By taking on an overpriced mediocre second line center and a one dimensional top 4 d man for a guy who has top pairing potential? That is certainly the type of move to get Arizona winning.

        Oh and I’m what world would Bergeron and Tavares be the best combo in the league? There are several unarguably better and even more arguably better.

      • Chrisms, I agree Arizona doesn’t make that trade. Chychrun has a lot of upside and is already playing 20 minutes per game in only his second season.

  15. I find it hard to believe that Eichel will allow JT to sign in Buffalo. He insists on being the centre of Buffalo’s attention. Look at the rift he’s created in the dressing room getting a couple of players on his side against RoR…, he’d lose it if JT signed there…. creating more dressing room rifts … more over-all dysfunction in the ranks …, a team then NOT winning it all with that formula… I don’t think JT is looking at Buffalo. I’m not a Devils fan … but the fit (if he doesn’t sign back with NYI) is greatest with NJ… up and coming team… doesn’t have to move… finances all fit. If he’s going to move …. IMO … Vegas first choice; SJ second choice …. I don’t see him signing in our country…. unless ….. Carolina or FLA move to QC or Vaughn …. so… Nyet

    • He’s not commuting to NJ. 1 playoff win in 7 years? Might as well stay in LI. Half the team is 30 and over, but keep pushing narrative of great future! Lucked into lottery pick last year.

  16. Tavares is not leavin NY. He either signs with Isles or Rangers.

    • Or devils?

      • Not leaving the Metro Division… Or Flyers!

      • Not likely. Just don’t see it… Based on Rangers need and managements comments, I think if he hits market, they’re going hard. With Lundquist in net, a good core, and a commitment to win without giving up youth… they have a good chance

  17. The Leafs could sign JT and JVR and not make all those trades then they could use their #1 pick 2018, #2 pick 2018, Johnsson and Bracco to get Hamilton and a #3 2018. JVR would be a front loaded deal at about 6.5 million per year with no trade protection for two years. After two years they would move him because after Matthews and Marner are signed others would be open the next year. By then Hainsey, and Marleau would be off the books. Then Liljegrin, Engvall, and Grunstrom would be on entry level agreements on the roster.

    I personally would sooner see the Leafs use money and assets to bring in one good defenceman like Ristolenin, Manson, Hamilton, Dumba or even Colin Miller. They need more physicality and a good hard point shot.

    In two years the roster would have experience and talent to compete for the cup not just get into the playoffs.

    No slight to JT but a center line up of Matthews, Kadri, Nylander and Gauthier, Aaltonen or Lindholm would be good enough to challenge anyone. a defense of:
    -Borgman/Oligharzy (??spelling) or one of the many right defense giants.
    looks pretty good.

    I am a dreamer I know.