Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – July 1, 2018
It’s the opening day of the NHL UFA market. Here’s the latest on John Tavares, Erik Karlsson, Paul Stastny and more in your Sunday rumor mill.
**Follow this link to check out the listing of today’s notables UFA signings**
NEWSDAY: Andrew Gross reports the ongoing wait for John Tavares to reach a decision on his future doesn’t bode well for his possible return to the New York Islanders, though they still have a chance to sign him. As he’s now an unrestricted free agent, they cannot offer him an eight-year deal and can instead only ink him to the seven-year maximum for UFAs. The Boston Bruins, Dallas Stars, San Jose Sharks, Tampa Bay Lightning and Toronto Maple Leafs are among the other suitors. Tavares’ new deal could exceed $12 million annually.
NEW YORK POST: Whether Tavares re-signs with the Isles or elsewhere, Brett Cyrgalis points out they’ll still have some glaring roster holes to address. They’re in need of a starting goaltender, blueline depth and one more scoring forward.
THE ATHLETIC/TORONTO SUN: If the Leafs miss out on Tavares, James Mirtle reports they’ll target former Carolina Hurricanes center Derek Ryan. Lance Hornby also reports they could pursue Ryan but doesn’t rule out the Leafs bringing back Tyler Bozak.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The longer it takes Tavares to reach a decision, the more it appears he could be leaving Long Island. Still, some pundits were speculating the cone of silence on his decision could be the doing of Isles GM Lou Lamoriello, suggesting they’re still very much in the mix. So far, there’s no hint as to which club he favors. Hopefully, we’ll find out by this afternoon. As for Ryan and the Leafs, TSN’s Frank Seravalli reports he’s expected to ink a three-year deal with the Calgary Flames.
LATEST ON THE SENATORS AND JETS
OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch reports the waiting game between the Senators and captain Erik Karlsson continues. The Sens can officially open contract extension talks with Karlsson today but there’s a feeling he could be traded in the coming days. Ottawa is the only team that can offer him an eight-year contract and Garrioch doesn’t rule out a “sign-and-trade” scenario.
The Vegas Golden Knights are among a group of teams with interest in the Senators’ superstar and they could also be willing to take on winger Bobby Ryan in the deal. Garrioch notes the Tampa Bay Lightning and Washington Capitals had interest in Karlsson leading up to last season’s trade deadline and may have re-entered the picture.
Garrioch also expects the Senators will be active in the free-agent market. They’re believed among a group of teams that “kicked tires” on former Winnipeg Jets center Paul Stastny. There’s talk they had interest in former New York Islanders defenseman Calvin de Haan, though he might return with the Isles. They may have contacted former Vegas winger David Perron.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Given all that’s gone done with the Senators since last fall, it’ll be very surprising if Karlsson opts to stay in Ottawa. They’ll have to pony up something at least comparable to LA Kings’ blueliner Drew Doughty’s new contract (eight years, $88 million) to have a realistic shot of tempting him to re-sign.
The Senators will set a high asking price for Karlsson if they trade him but there will be teams willing to meet it. I don’t think the Capitals are among them, as they seem intent on keeping their Cup champion roster intact. As for the Lightning, a decision on Karlsson could depend upon whether they win the Tavares sweepstakes.
WINNIPEG SUN: Ken Wiebe reports the door remains open for Paul Stastny to return with the Winnipeg Jets, who shed $4.1 million in cap space by shipping goaltender Steve Mason and restricted free agent forward Joel Armia yesterday to Montreal. However, they’ll need to invest between $1.25 million to $2 million of those savings in a backup goaltender. Possible backup options could include Chad Johnson, Kari Lehtonen, Petr Mrazek and Calvin Pickard.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I believe shedding Mason’s contract was done with re-signing Stastny in mind. Cap Friendly indicates they now have over $28 million in cap space for 2018-19, but they must re-sign RFAs such as Connor Hellebuyck, Jacob Trouba and Josh Morrissey and they’re in line for significant raises. They must also ensure sufficient cap space beyond this season when Blake Wheeler, Patrik Laine, Kyle Connor and Tyler Myers will need new contracts.
LATEST ON RYAN O’REILLY
THE BUFFALO NEWS: Mike Harrington reports the Buffalo Sabres paid center Ryan O’Reilly his $7.5 million signing bonus for 2018-19. He wonders what effect that could have upon his value in the trade market, as clubs interested in his services were unwilling to pay out that bonus.
It could mean the Sabres keep O’Reilly or perhaps this will push up their asking price for the 27-year-old center. The Montreal Canadiens and St. Louis Blues are believed among the suitors. Where John Tavares signs could also effect O’Reilly’s trade value.
THE ATHLETIC: Jeremy Rutherford reports the Blues are unwilling to part with promising Robert Thomas as part of the return for O’Reilly.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Teams that lose out on Tavares could set their sights on O’Reilly. It’s possible he could be dealt later this week, but the Sabres aren’t under pressure to trade him. With O’Reilly under contract through 2022-23, they can take their time and wait for the right offer.
LATEST ON THE CANADIENS, HURRICANES, BLUE JACKETS AND RANGERS.
LA PRESSE: Richard Labbe reports the Montreal Canadiens are among a dozen teams with interest in former Chicago Blackhawks winger Anthony Duclair.
THE NEWS & OBSERVER: Chip Alexander reports the Carolina Hurricanes are believed to have contacted free-agent goaltenders Robin Lehner and Petr Mrazek. They’re also still listening to offers for left wing Jeff Skinner, though they haven’t yet received anything to their liking.
SPORTSNET: The New York Rangers and Columbus Blue Jackets have interest in former Toronto Maple Leafs forward Leo Komarov.