NHL Rumor Mill – June 30, 2018
Updates on John Tavares, James van Riemsdyk, Ryan O’Reilly and many more in your NHL rumor mill.
NEWSDAY: With the NHL’s 2018 free-agent market opening on Sunday, Andrew Gross writes there’s still no indication what New York Islanders center John Tavares will do. Tavares met with the Islanders and five other clubs (“Maple Leafs, Sharks, Bruins, Stars and Lightning”) this week listening to proposals during the free-agent interview period. Should Tavares depart the Islanders via free agency, Gross speculates they could target possible replacements such as Winnipeg’s Paul Stastny in the UFA market or pursue Buffalo’s Ryan O’Reilly in the trade market.
NEW YORK POST: Brett Cyrgalis suggests Tavares could be leaving the Islanders if he hasn’t reached a decision by midnight tonight. The Islanders are the only club who can offer him an eight-year contract, provided he signs it before July 1. After that, they can only offer a seven-year deal.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The free-agent market officially opens at noon ET on Sunday. We’ll likely learn Tavares fate by no later than tomorrow afternoon.
VAN RIEMSDYK’S FATE TIED TO TAVARES’ DECISION?
TSN: Frank Seravalli reports several of the six teams with interest in John Tavares are also ready to make bids to Toronto Maple Leafs’ pending UFA winger James van Riemsdyk. The Leafs, however, aren’t among those teams.
THE ATHLETIC: Scott Powers reports multiple sources the Chicago Blackhawks inquired about van Riemsdyk but likely cannot match what other clubs can offer him.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Tavares watch is affecting the free agent and trade markets. Teams that lose out in the bidding for the superstar center are expected to seek other options, including UFAs such as van Riemsdyk. Once Tavares makes his decision, we should see an increase in player movement, especially via trades.
LATEST ON THE BLACKHAWKS, BLUES AND BRUINS
THE ATHLETIC: Scott Powers reports the Chicago Blackhawks are still trying to move the contract ($5.275-million annual cap hit) of all-but-retired winger Marian Hossa. They’ve also reportedly devoted $2.5-million to a one-year contract for former Carolina Hurricanes goaltender Cam Ward and remain interested in Hurricanes defenseman Justin Faulk. There’s speculation they could move center Artem Anisimov, who submits a 10-team trade list on Sunday, but a source said the Blackhawks will only consider moving him if the deal makes sense.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Blackhawks could be forced to package a promising young player or a decent draft pick with Hossa’s contract if they hope to tempt a club into taking it off their hands. Failing that, they could be forced to consider moving Anisimov’s $4.45-million cap hit to free up room to acquire a defenseman or a winger.
STLTODAY.COM: Jim Thomas wonders if there’s a deal on the horizon that would send Buffalo Sabres center Ryan O’Reilly to the St. Louis Blues. He noted rumors have tied the Blues, as well as the Montreal Canadiens, to O’Reilly. Given that the center is due a $7.5-million signing bonus on July 1, Thomas doubts the Blues would make a deal for O’Reilly before then.
The Blues have over $16 million in cap space but they were passed over by UFA forwards John Tavares and Ilya Kovalchuk. The pickings at center via free agency are slim, though they could find better options on the wing. They’ve shown interest in St. Louis native Patrick Maroon.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: There was talk the Canadiens were willing to acquire O’Reilly before July 1 but so there’s no indication they’re close to a deal. If O’Reilly’s still with the Sabres by midnight tonight, that edge the Canadiens had will be gone and could lean toward other clubs such as the Blues.
BOSTON HERALD/NBC SPORTS BOSTON: Steve Conroy reports Boston Bruins backup goaltender Anton Khudobin appears headed to the free-agent market on Sunday. If their bid for John Tavares proves unsuccessful, they could pursue a winger such as Michael Grabner or James van Riemsdyk. Meanwhile, Joe Haggerty reports a source said the Bruins have shown trade interest in Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Slater Koekkoek.
UPDATES ON THE COYOTES, GOLDEN KNIGHTS AND OILERS
TSN: cites a report by Arizona Sports’ Craig Morgan indicating the Arizona Coyotes are looking to add a winger on July 1 and have had discussions with pending UFAs such as David Perron, James van Riemsdyk and Michael Grabner
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly indicates the Coyotes have over $19 million in salary-cap space with no restricted free agents left to sign. They’re not a cap-ceiling club so they won’t be investing most of that cap space, but it appears they’re also not going to hover too close to the $58.8-million cap minimum. Whether they can sign one of those noteworthy free agents remains to be seen.
LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL: David Schoen reports multiple sources claim winger Ryan Reaves is expected to re-sign with the Vegas Golden Knights on Sunday. Defenseman Luca Sbisa, however, will not return.
EDMONTON JOURNAL: David Staples cites Sportsnet’s Mark Spector saying there’s a good chance UFA center Kyle Brodziak signs with the Oilers on Sunday.