NHL Rumor Mill – June 6, 2018
Latest on Ryan O’Reilly, John Tavares and Ilya Kovalchuk in your NHL rumor mill.
COULD THE CANUCKS PURSUE RYAN O’REILLY?
FRS HOCKEY: Chris Nichols cites Elliotte Friedman telling Vancouver’s Sportsnet 650 he doesn’t know if it’s a “fait accompli” that the Buffalo Sabres trade Ryan O’Reilly this summer. If general manager Jason Botterill decides to put the center on the block, he’ll set a high asking price.
O’Reilly has five years left on his contract with a $7.5-million annual salary-cap hit. He also lacks no-trade protection. Friedman said he hasn’t heard any names specifically linked to the Vancouver Canucks, though he knows “the O’Reilly stuff is really starting to get out there too.”
Nichols also cites Darren Dreger telling Vancouver’s TSN 1040 Botterill could seek “likely a young NHL player or a prospect, a high draft pick, and maybe something else on top of that,” if he were to shop O’Reilly before the draft.
THE PROVINCE: Patrick Johnson wonders if trading for O’Reilly is something the rebuilding Canucks need to be doing right now. While acknowledging O’Reilly’s obvious talent and how well suited he’d be to the Canucks lineup, such a move would mean parting with their first-round pick (seventh overall) in this year’s draft as part of the return, which Johnson considers “a firm no.”
Johnson also points out the Canucks currently lack a lot of movable players. He notes there’s long been an argument they should trade defenseman Chris Tanev but he doesn’t see the Sabres moving O’Reilly and his big contract for a defensive blueliner. He also believes adding young players “is too important to the Canucks” right now.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Botterill’s critics will point to his failed efforts to get a high return before the trade deadline for Evander Kane, but this situation is different. Kane was a pending unrestricted free agent whereas O’Reilly is under contract for five more years. If Botterill decides to trade O’Reilly, he can afford to wait for the right offer.
Maybe Canucks management looked into O’Reilly availability but I don’t see them dealing away their first rounder and one of their good young roster players as part of the deal. I concur with Johnson that the Canucks must focus on rebuilding with youth. Acquiring O’Reilly would be fine if they were still a playoff contender but they’re not in that position right now.
UPDATE ON TAVARES
NEWSDAY: Mark Herrmann weighed in on the New York Islanders firing general manager Garth Snow and head coach Doug Weight and the potential effect upon the club’s efforts to re-sign pending UFA John Tavares.
While the Islanders captain was close to Snow and Weight, Herrmann believes their firings show Tavares the club finally has a sense of direction. With Lou Lamoriello taking over the management duties, the Islanders finally have “the leadership of a proven championship executive who exudes confidence that he will make things happen, with or without Tavares.” Lamoriello also said his recent moves didn’t factor into Tavares’ status.
Herrmann noted Tavares played just as hard for former Isles head coach Jack Capuano as he did for Weight. If he were really so committed to Snow and Weight, Herrmann believes he would’ve re-signed with the Isles long ago.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: In the wake of yesterday’s moves some folks assumed Tavares would walk, but I think Herrmann makes some good points here. I believe Lamoriello intends on making some significant moves over the next three weeks aimed at not just improving the Islanders but also convincing Tavares to stay.
Tavares has been very loyal to the Islanders and their fans. The ownership is very keen to re-sign him. These recent moves will certainly factor into his decision. We’ll find out by the end of this month if he stays or goes.
NO DEVILS REUNION WITH KOVALCHUK.
NHL.COM: New Jersey Devils GM Ray Shero recently said there’s been no communication between his organization and the representatives for former Devils winger Ilya Kovalchuk. After spending the past five seasons in the KHL, Kovalchuk intends to return to the NHL as a free agent.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Shero has no intention of bringing back Kovalchuk. That was obvious a year ago. He played no role in bringing Kovalchuk to New Jersey so he obviously doesn’t have any real attachment to the winger. Shero will follow his own plan and it doesn’t include Kovalchuk.