NHL Rumor Mill – June 26, 2018
John Tavares begins meeting with other clubs, plus updates on Max Pacioretty, Artemi Panarin, Jeff Skinner and more in your NHL rumor mill.
NEWSDAY: Andrew Gross reports New York Islanders center John Tavares met with representatives from the Toronto Maple Leafs yesterday afternoon at his agent’s office in Los Angeles. “The San Jose Sharks have a meeting scheduled for Tuesday. By Wednesday, the Dallas Stars, Tampa Bay Lightning and Boston Bruins will also make their pitch. Other teams may still press to be scheduled,” said Gross, who notes the Islanders will also continue to negotiate with Tavares.
SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports the Nashville Predators and Vegas Golden Knights are among the clubs in a “holding pattern” waiting to see if Tavares will agree to meet with them. He speculates over the possibility of one of the teams currently in the mix asking Tavares if he’ll accept an “enormous short-term deal to see if he can win with a loaded roster before other players have to be rewarded.” Such a deal would allow him another opportunity for a major UFA payday.
THE ATHLETIC: If the Lightning are able to land Tavares, Pierre LeBrun believes they would have to trade out a significant player or two to clear sufficient cap space.
LeBrun’s colleague Arthur Staple reports the Isles are also attending to other contract business while their focus is on re-signing Tavares. They’re interested in re-signing UFA defenseman Calvin de Haan and are among 10 teams expressing interest in the blueliner. The Isles aren’t believed among the clubs looking at Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Jack Johnson.
They’ve also contacted the agent for St. Louis Blues goaltender Carter Hutton. Staple said they have little interest in trading for Detroit Red Wing goalie Jimmy Howard. Soon-to-be former Buffalo Sabres netminder Robin Lehner is too much of a wild card. Possible free-agent options could include Philadelphia’s Petr Mrazek or Colorado’s Jonathan Bernier.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Looks like the wooing of Tavares could last up to Wednesday at least, though I wouldn’t be surprised if it stretches to Thursday or Friday if he doesn’t receive enough tempting offers. The fact the Islanders are still discussing contract with his reps indicates they’re still very much in the game and could be willing to match or exceed the best offers. They also have the advantage of being able to offer up an eight-year deal, whereas the others can only offer seven. Tavares could surprise us by taking a one- or two-year deal for a league maximum of $15.9-million per season but I think he’s seeking long-term security.
As for the Isles possible goalie options, I think they’ll push hard for Hutton. Bernier would be a better option than the wildly inconsistent Mrazek.
HIGHLIGHTS FROM LATEST “31 THOUGHTS”.
SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports the Montreal Canadiens went to left wing Max Pacioretty with a trade offer from the Los Angeles Kings sometime before the start of the second round of the recent 2018 NHL Draft. The offer included a contract extension, but Pacioretty reject it and instead changed agents on Saturday. Friedman still thinks Pacioretty wouldn’t mind playing for the Kings but would like to make up some of the money he left on the table on his current contract, which the Kings can’t afford right now.
There was also talk Kings defenseman Jake Muzzin was part of the proposed offer for Pacioretty but that was denied. The Canadiens are also believed to have interest in Carolina Hurricanes center Victor Rask.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’m expecting Pacioretty will be traded soon. Perhaps it’ll be to the Kings, though that seems unlikely now. I can see the Sharks expressing interest if they lose out in the Tavares sweepstakes.
The St. Louis Blues are believed to have interest in Buffalo Sabres’ center Ryan O’Reilly. Friedman believes the Blues might want to include forward Vladimir Sobotka as part of the package. He also thinks the San Jose Sharks could come calling on O’Reilly if they lose out in the bidding for John Tavares. The Sabres could be interested in Blues pending UFA goalie Carter Hutton.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The O’Reilly trade chatter seems to have cooled since the draft weekend. The Sabres have likely set a high asking price for the center that interested parties seem unwilling to meet right now. Perhaps that changes once the Tavares watch has ended.
Carolina Hurricanes left wing Jeff Skinner, who has a full no-movement clause, has provided the club with a small list of preferred trade destinations.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: No word on those destinations. The Pittsburgh Penguins are rumored to be trying to acquire him.
The San Jose Sharks are believed close to contract extensions with center Logan Couture and winger Tomas Hertl.
If the Winnipeg Jets hope to re-sign Paul Stastny, Friedman feels they should try to move goaltender Steve Mason’s contract.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: As Friedman notes, they’ll have to include a draft pick or prospect as a sweetener if they hope to move that final year (at $4.1 million) of Mason’s contract.
The Calgary Flames, Edmonton Oilers and Vancouver Canucks could be looking at Minnesota Wild restricted free agent forward Jason Zucker.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: With the Wild under new management, Zucker could be dealt if the two sides are unable to reach agreement on a new contract.
UPDATES ON PANARIN, DUCLAIR, NASH, KHUDOBIN, THORNTON AND MORE.
THE ATHLETIC: Aaron Portzline reports the Columbus Blue Jackets have received plenty of offers for left wing Artemi Panarin, who last week indicated he wasn’t prepared to discuss a contract extension at this time. However, they intend to remain patient with him. There were rumblings Panarin preferred to play in a big market such as Los Angeles, New York or Florida but his agent said his client doesn’t have a list of destinations.
If the Jackets do trade Panarin, Portzline said they’ll want one or two established player who can impact the roster next season. “Likely, the only trade partners who would take part in a “today” trade are the franchises that believe they could sign him to a long-term deal. So far, none of the offers from those clubs could be deemed a “today” trade,” writes Portzline.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s also important to remember Panarin last week told the Jackets he’d be willing to open contract discussions in the fall. Unless they get an offer from him that blows their socks off, they’ll likely hang onto him and see what they can work out contract-wise in the fall.
TSN: Darren Dreger reports Boston Bruins pending UFA winger Rick Nash has drawn interest from five clubs.
MONTREAL GAZETTE: With the Chicago Blackhawks not offering a qualifying offer for winger (and Laval native) Anthony Duclair, Pat Hickey wonders if he could be “coming home” to join the Montreal Canadiens and play alongside good friend and former Coyotes teammate Max Domi.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hickey seems to be spit-balling here, as there’s no indication the Canadiens are interested. Still, one has to wonder if they’ll consider it. He’d be an affordable option on a one-year “show me” contract.
BOSTON HERALD: Steve Conroy reports Bruins backup goalie Anton Khudobin intends to test the UFA market. The two sides could circle back to each other.
THE ATHLETIC: Michael Russo report sources say Minnesota Wild GM Paul Fenton recently requested updated no-trade lists from center Eric Staal, defenseman Jared Spurgeon and goaltender Devan Dubnyk. It’s believed this was merely a formality on Fenton’s part.
The expectation is that Joe Thornton is staying put in San Jose. No hurry to get his deal done, what his contract looks like depends on who else the Sharks can add (hint, hint). To be clear, the Sharks absolutely have room to sign John Tavares and keep Thornton, too.
— Pierre LeBrun (@PierreVLeBrun) June 25, 2018