NHL Rumor Mill – May 5, 2018
Latest on John Tavares, Ryan O’Reilly, Sam Reinhart, Dougie Hamilton, Sam Bennett and Ryan Ellis in your NHL rumor mill.
COULD TAVARES ENTERTAIN OFFERS?
FRS NETWORK HOCKEY: Chris Nichols cites NHL insider Elliotte Friedman’s Friday appearance on Calgary’s Sportsnet 960 discussing the future of New York Islanders pending free agent John Tavares. Friedman’s always been of the opinion that Tavares wanted to stay but now feels it’s reached the point where the center could listen to offers from rival clubs and then decide.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Tavares hasn’t tipped his hand as to this plans. Being willing to listen to offers doesn’t necessarily mean he’ll leave the Islanders. Once we get to late-June, that when we’re likely going to learn more about Tavares’ intentions leading up to his eligibility for unrestricted free agency on July 1.
COULD THE SABRES MOVE O’REILLY OR REINHART?
Nichols also cited Friedman’s Friday appearance on Toronto’s Sportsnet 590 discussing possible offseason moves by the Buffalo Sabres. He feels it’ll be interesting to see if center Ryan O’Reilly and forward Sam Reinhart return with the club next season. “O’Reilly had his comments at the end of the year. Everybody is going to have a chance to take a deep breath. But if he’s available, it’s hard to find centers and he’s a good player,” said Friedman.
Later in the day, Friedman further discussed O’Reilly’s status on Edmonton’s 630 CHED. On a scale of one to 10 regarding a possible O’Reilly trade, Friedman speculated it was “a 6 or a 7, maybe a 7,” adding there will be lots of interest in him and clubs could come up with some tempting offers. Still, he feels Sabres GM Jason Botterill might prefer keeping O’Reilly to take pressure off young centers Jack Eichel and Casey Mittelstadt.
If the Sabres draft Rasmus Dahlin, Friedman is doubtful they’ll put blueliner Rasmus Ristolainen on the trade block. “I would say a 2 or a 3 out of 10.”
Friedman thinks it’s possible Reinhart could be available (“a five or a six maybe”), noting he’d heard the forward’s name mentioned several times this season in the rumor mill. He doesn’t know what the Sabres plans are for Reinhart but he suggests teams could ask about him.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Botterill likely wants to shake things up but he’s not just going to toss away three of his best players for pennies on the dollar. If O’Reilly’s available, Botterill will want a significant return. Unlike Evander Kane, when only one team was interested in the pending UFA winger at the trade deadline, O’Reilly’s status as an elite two-way center will garner lots of interest.
If Botterill retains O’Reilly he could consider moving Reinhart instead. While the 22-year-old had a career-best 25-goal, 50-point performance this season, he tends to be a streaky scorer. Ristolainen, like O’Reilly, would garner lots of interest in the trade market but I don’t see Botterill moving him.
WILL THE FLAMES CONSIDER SHOPPING HAMILTON OR BENNETT
In the same segment with Edmonton’s 630 CHED, Friedman believes the Calgary Flames could make a significant move this summer, perhaps to move up into the first round of this year’s NHL Draft. He thinks defenseman Dougie Hamilton’s name will come up and expects there will be plenty of interest. He thinks the Flames asking price would be high but he thinks they’ll consider it. He also thinks they could pull the trigger on trading Sam Bennett if there’s an offer that’s good enough.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Of the two, I think Bennett is the more likely trade candidate. Hamilton would certainly fetch the best return but the Flames could be leery about moving him. Bennett, on the other hand, has encountered difficulties reaching his on-ice potential. Perhaps he simply needs a change of scenery. However, his struggles could adversely affect his trade value.
PREDATORS WON’T TRADE ELLIS
Friedman was also asked about the possibility of the Edmonton Oilers prying away defenseman Ryan Ellis from the Nashville Predators. Ellis will be eligible next summer for unrestricted free agent status and could prove expensive to re-sign, but Friedman doesn’t believe the Predators will shop him. He feels they’ll do everything they can to retain him.