Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup (Part Two) – June 24, 2018
Latest on John Tavares, John Carlson, Jeff Skinner, Rick Nash and more in part two of your post-draft NHL Sunday rumor roundup.
TSN: In his listing of this summer’s top-60 NHL unrestricted free agents, Frank Seravalli mused over the possibility of the Toronto Maple Leafs offering New York Islanders center John Tavares a one-year contract at the league maximum salary ($15.9 million) for 2018-19. Such a move would help the Leafs avoid the salary-cap conundrum of finding sufficient cap space next summer to re-sign young stars Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner.
A one-year deal would give Tavares a chance to skate with a potential Stanley Cup hopeful next season, as well as using that year to see what it would be like playing for his hometown team. However, Seravalli considers it a long shot that Tavares would give up long-term contract security. He believes the center will re-sign with the Islanders.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’ve seen a lot of recent speculation about Tavares putting off going for a long-term deal this year by doing the one-year thing with the Leafs. Such contracts, however, are rare among NHL stars. The last notable example occurred a decade ago, when Marian Hossa signed a one-year deal with Detroit. Regardless of where Tavares signs (and I also think he’ll stay with the Isles), I believe it’ll be for a lucrative long-term agreement.
CARLSON TO MEET WITH OTHER TEAMS
WASHINGTON POST: Isabelle Khurshudyan reports the Capitals are still talking contract with pending UFA defenseman John Carlson, but he will meet with other teams during the free-agent interview period this week. “Earlier this month, Arizona Coyotes defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson reportedly agreed to an eight-year deal worth $8.25 million per season, and Carlson’s agent is likely pushing for similar terms,” write Khurshudyan.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Don’t panic, Capitals fans. Like Tavares, Carlson is simply exploring all his available options to get the best deal possible. With over $58 million invested in 15 players, the Capitals have the cap space to re-sign Carlson to a big raise. Given his value as their top defenseman, they simply cannot afford to let him depart via free agency. I anticipate he’ll stay in Washington.
**UPDATE: Carlson has agreed to an eight-year deal with the Capitals worth an annual average value of $8 million. **
LATEST ON SKINNER, NASH AND BOZAK
TSN: cites a reports by FoxSports’ Andy Strickland claiming Carolina Hurricanes left wing Jeff Skinner has already used his no-movement clause to nix a few trades this offseason.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I believe Skinner will be traded soon, perhaps as early as this week, but he definitely controls the situation.
BOSTON GLOBE: With the Boston Bruins losing out to the Los Angeles Kings in the Ilya Kovalchuk free-agent sweepstakes, Kevin Paul Dupont wonders if GM Don Sweeney will attempt to re-sign pending free-agent winger Rick Nash.
Dupont writes, “Nash, according to Sweeney, continues to say through agent Joe Resnick that he isn’t sure if he wants to continue his career. He has had a few concussions over 1,149 career games (including playoffs) and now, amid the nearly daily stories of ex-NHLers dealing with addled brains, has to be pondering what his quality of life will be at 34 and beyond.” Sweeney said he’d be open to contract discussion with Nash, who’s indicated that he would consider staying with the Bruins.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Given Nash’s age and apparent health concerns, perhaps the Bruins would be better off exploring the trade market or kicking tires on other UFA options on July 1.
TSN: Darren Dreger reports there’s strong interest in Toronto Maple Leafs pending UFA Tyler Bozak, saying the agency representing the center has fielded several calls for him.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It wouldn’t surprise me if the Montreal Canadiens are among the suitors, especially if they’re unable to bolster their depth at center via trade in the days leading up to the start of the UFA market next Sunday.
UPDATE ON THE BLACKHAWKS
CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: Mark Lazerus reports the Blackhawks, who have around $10 million in salary-cap space for next season, have interest in Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Justin Faulk. They could also consider pursuing Toronto Maple Leafs left wing James van Riemsdyk or St. Louis Blues backup goaltender Carter Hutton via free agency on July 1 or perhaps acquiring either Scott Darling or Cam Ward from the Hurricanes as a contingency plan in case sidelined goalie Corey Crawford is unable to start next season.
Lazerus also notes the no-movement clause in center Artem Anisimov’s contract ($4.55 million annually through 2020-21) becomes a partial no-trade on July 1. Management could ask for his 10-team list of preferred trade destinations.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Shedding Anisimov’s salary would give the Blackhawks additional wiggle room for other moves. It’s believed they’d also like to trade the rights of all-but-retired winger Marian Hossa ($5.275 million AAV) but so far there doesn’t appear to be any takers there. GM Stan Bowman’s frequently displayed a willingness to make bold moves. He could find a way to move Anisimov (Montreal, perhaps?) and use the savings to bolster his defense or left wing via trade and/or free agency.