Sunday NHL Post-Draft Rumor Roundup – June 24, 2018
Check out the latest on John Tavares, Max Pacioretty, Jeff Skinner, Erik Karlsson and more in your post-draft Sunday NHL rumor roundup.
THE ATHLETIC: Arthur Staple reports New York Islanders center and pending free agent John Tavares will be meeting with representatives from at least five teams at agent Pat Brisson’s Los Angeles’ office during the unrestricted free agent interview period beginning on June 25. It’s believed the Toronto Maple Leafs and San Jose Sharks could be among the suitors, along with perhaps the Dallas Stars and Tampa Bay Lightning, though it remains to be seen if the latter has sufficient salary-cap room to make it work.
Staple also reports the Islanders are believed still very much in the mix for Tavares. Reports emerged the club offered him an eight-year, $88 million contract, which is $8 million more than they reportedly offered him in February. Isles GM Lou Lamoriello said he wasn’t discouraged or disappointing, noting Tavares has earned the right to make whatever choice he wishes. Lamoriello remains hopeful that decision is to stay with the Islanders.
NEW YORK POST: Brett Cyrgalis reports it’s assumed the Leafs, Sharks and St. Louis Blues are three of the teams that could meet with Tavares, along with perhaps the Stars, Lightning and Vegas Golden Knights joining that list. Tavares’ asking price could be between $10 million – $12 million. The Islanders are the only club that can offer him an eight-year contract, as the rest can only offer a maximum of seven years.
NATIONAL POST: Michael Traikos believes we shouldn’t bet against Tavares re-signing with the Islanders. While the Leafs could be among the suitors, Traikos doubts they’re willing to invest $11-$12 million in another forward, especially with William Nylander needing a new contract, Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner in line for new deals next summer and the Leafs’ glaring need for a substantial upgrade on defense. “Then again, maybe they offer him a lucrative one-year “win now” deal. Anything is possible with a player whose presence can instantly turn a team into a legitimate contender.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Expect Tavares to dominate the rumor mill between now and July 1. Yes, the Leafs could sign Tavares to a one-year, league-maximum $15.9 million contract, but if they don’t do anything to significantly improve their defense corps, he won’t help them win the Cup next season.
If Tavares seeks a lucrative long-term deal with a club that seems poised to be a contender for years, the Golden Knights might be the best bet. Then again, looking at the moves Lamoriello’s made since taking over a GM – including the recent hiring of Barry Trotz as head coach – Tavares could decide the Isles are finally heading in the right direction and opt to stay put.
NO MOVEMENT YET ON PACIORETTY TRADE FRONT
MONTREAL GAZETTE: Pat Hickey reports a rumor reported by NHL Network during its coverage of the 2018 NHL Draft yesterday had Montreal Canadiens left wing Max Pacioretty possibly being traded to the San Jose Sharks. While that false rumor made the rounds, Pacioretty parted ways with agent Pat Brisson and hired Allan Walsh to represent him. Hickey also said there’s been talk of a contract extension for Pacioretty.
THE MERCURY NEWS: Paul Gackle reports Sharks GM Doug Wilson declined to comment on the Pacioretty rumor. The notion of the Sharks pursuing Pacioretty isn’t absurd, as they cleared cap space to pursue “a difference maker” this summer. With Ilya Kovalchuk joining the Kings and John Tavares a possible long-shot to join the Sharks, Gackle suggests Pacioretty’s name is rising on the list of potentially available players. Another option is Carolina Hurricanes left wing Jeff Skinner.
TSN: Bob McKenzie tweeted yesterday afternoon the Canadiens had “nothing going on Max Pacioretty trade front. At this point, the plan is to keep him in the lineup. That could change but for now…c’est tout.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The contract extension speculation for Pacioretty emerged earlier this month and prompted speculation of a “sign-and-trade” scenario. If the Canadiens move Pacioretty they have to get a scoring center in return. Failing that, they could keep and see how things play out over the course of 2018-19. Re-signing him could cost up to $7 million on a long-term deal, which the Canadiens could be reluctant to do for a winger who turns 30 in November. I think the Habs intend to field offers this week.
WHAT NEXT FOR THE HURRICANES?
THE ATHLETIC: Josh Yohe reports multiple sources confirm Carolina Hurricanes left wing Jeff Skinner is on Pittsburgh Penguins GM Jim Rutherford’s wish list. Rutherford drafted Skinner in 2010 while he was GM of the Hurricanes. The Penguins want to add depth to the left side. Possible Penguins trade chips could include wingers Carl Hagelin, Conor Sheary and Bryan Rust, as well as center Derick Brassard. The Hurricanes could also be interested in acquiring future assets such as draft picks and prospects. The St. Louis Blues could also be interested in Skinner.
Pierre LeBrun believes the Hurricanes intend to trade Skinner. Their addition yesterday of right-shot defenseman Dougie Hamilton suggests blueliner Justin Faulk could be available for the right price. The Hurricanes also had trade talks involving center Viktor Rask with the Montreal Canadiens on Friday through Saturday but the Habs weren’t willing to part with two second-round picks, including the 35th overall.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Hurricanes aren’t done dealing. Skinner and perhaps Faulk could be next on their way out of Carolina. With the draft now over, perhaps they’re less likely to weigh offers for Rask. Regardless, there appears sufficient interest in Skinner and Faulk to attract quality offers from interested clubs. The Penguins, Blues and Sharks could be after Skinner, while Faulk might be enticing to the Leafs, Chicago Blackhawks or Edmonton Oilers.
LATEST ON O’REILLY AND KARLSSON
TSN: Bob McKenzie reports the Buffalo Sabres had considerable trade talk about center Ryan O’Reilly during the 2018 NHL Draft but couldn’t find a suitable deal. The Montreal Canadiens and St. Louis Blues were believed interested in O’Reilly.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: O’Reilly’s $7.5 million signing bonus on July 1 is likely the sticking point for interested clubs, who’d prefer acquiring him after July 1 to avoid that payment. It’s possible O’Reilly could be dealt next week, though the trade market could be affected by then by other deals and free-agent signings.
OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch reports Senators GM Pierre Dorion was fielding calls for defenseman Erik Karlsson leading up to when he made his first-round selection (fourth overall) in this year’s NHL draft. It’s believed the Vegas Golden Knights were among the interested parties, which sources indicate included “Carolina Hurricanes, Tampa Bay Lightning, Washington Capitals and San Jose Sharks” showing “varying degrees of interest.” The clubs were also apparently willing to also take on winger Bobby Ryan and the remaining four years (and $7.25 million annually) of his contract.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: If Dorion was feeling any pressure to trade Karlsson he obviously wasn’t letting it cloud his judgement. He still has Karlsson under contract for one more season. For now, time remains on his side to find a suitable return for the superstar defenseman. If the Washington Capitals re-sign defenseman John Carlson, clubs that intended to pursue him via free agency could consider making a play for Karlsson.