Latest on the Erik Karlsson trade watch plus updates on the Chicago Blackhawks and Detroit Red Wings in your Sunday NHL rumor roundup.
KARLSSON TRADE WATCH CONTINUES
SPORTSDAY: The trade status of Ottawa Senators defenseman Erik Karlsson is affecting the Dallas Stars’ offseason business. That includes discussing a contract extension with center Tyler Seguin, who (like Karlsson) is slated to become an unrestricted free agent next summer.
No end in sight for the Erik Karlsson trade watch (Photo via NHL.com)
If Stars general manager Jim Nill fails to acquire Karlsson but remains keen to make a trade, ESPN.com’s Matthew Coller believes Carolina Hurricanes left wing Jeff Skinner would help resolve their need for secondary scoring.
NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks reports the New York Rangers are indeed interested in acting as a third party to help facilitate a trade sending Karlsson from the Senators to the Lightning, provided they can get more than a late-round first-round pick in return. He notes the Senators have set a high asking price for Karlsson, plus the Rangers aren’t deviating from their rebuilding process.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Just like John Tavares’ free-agent situation in late-June, Karlsson’s status is affecting the NHL trade market in early-July. Until it’s sorted out or general managers grow tired of waiting, notable players still believed available in this summer’s trade market – Skinner and his teammate Justin Faulk, Montreal Canadiens’ left wing Max Pacioretty, Minnesota Wild forward Jason Zucker and perhaps Columbus Blue Jackets winger Artemi Panarin – probably won’t be going anywhere.
Earlier last week, the Stars appeared the front-runner for Karlsson but a deal appears stalled over their unwillingness to send top defense prospect Miro Heiskanen to Ottawa. Late last week, it seemed a trade shipping Karlsson to the Tampa Bay Lightning was close. However, salary-cap room for the Lightning and return for the Senators appear to be sticking points.
UPDATES ON THE BLACKHAWKS
THE ATHLETIC: Scott Powers believes the Chicago Blackhawks must find a taker for the contract of all-but-retired winger Marian Hossa. His $5.275-million annual salary-cap hit is preventing them from improving the roster.
Recent attempts to send that contract to a club in need of reaching the $58.8-million salary-cap minimum were hampered by the Hawks’ unwillingness to include another asset in the deal. A league source believes it’ll take the inclusion of a top prospect to get it done.
Powers thinks the Blackhawks will likely place Hossa on long-term injured reserve again to start the season, which would free up room to perhaps make a move near the Feb. 25 trade deadline to acquire a rental player if they’re in playoff contention. Such a move, however, will also mean giving up an asset.
Despite the addition of defenseman Brandon Manning, Powers believes the Blackhawks still must upgrade their blueline for 2018-19. “The Carolina Hurricanes are still expected to move Justin Faulk, who would be an upgrade for the Blackhawks as a right-handed defenseman. The cost may be too much though, as multiple reports have said the Hurricanes want Brandon Saad in exchange for Faulk.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: As Powers observes, the Blackhawks are in a difficult spot this summer. They need to bring in another experienced top-four defenseman, but lack the cap space to do so. They’re also unwilling to part with a significant asset. They can’t move Hossa’s contract without a sweetener, but if they put him on LTIR and attempt to bring in a rental player later in the season, it’ll cost them a prospect, young player or draft pick.
Friedman: “I had heard that Detroit had been in on Faulk, and I don’t think that’s gone away.” #RedWings#Canes 31 Thoughts: The Podcast
The 2018 NHL Draft begins tonight. Check out the latest trade rumors involving Erik Karlsson, John Tavares, Ryan O’Reilly, Jeff Skinner and more.
TSN: Darren Dreger reports there’s considerable interest in Ottawa Senators defenseman Erik Karlsson entering the draft weekend. The Vegas Golden Knights, who attempted to acquire the blueliner at the February trade deadline, are believed among the teams looking at Karlsson. The Senators are expected to set a huge asking price for Karlsson. Bob McKenzie noted the Senators wanted the Golden Knights to take winger Bobby Ryan and his $7.5 million salary-cap hit as part of the deal in February. While the Golden Knights have the cap space to do that now, McKenzie believes they’re not going to send as many players or draft picks back in return.
THE ATHLETIC: Pierre LeBrun wonders if Senators general manager Pierre Dorion believes now is the best time to trade Karlsson or wait until next season when his value might be higher. LeBrun feels the Senators need this resolved now, either by trading or re-signing him. As of Wednesday, Karlsson had not be asked to supply a list of preferred trade destinations.
OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch reports the Golden Knights aren’t the only club talking to the Senators about Karlsson, as the Carolina Hurricanes are believed to have spoken to them. He notes the Washington Capitals and Tampa Bay Lightning were interested back in February. Bobby Ryan, Zack Smith and Jean-Gabriel Pageau are also being mentioned, though Garrioch notes the Sens didn’t show any interest in moving Pageau in February and he now has a chance to play an expanded role.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Earlier this season there were reports the Senators requested trade lists from several players, including Karlsson. That’s probably the list they’re still operating on if they are fielding trade offers.
Could the hiring of Barry Trotz as head coach push John Tavares closer to re-signing with the New York Islanders? (Photo via NHL Images)
TSN: Darren Dreger reports new New York Islanders head coach Barry Trotz has had some communication with captain John Tavares. The hiring of Trotz could make a difference in the club’s contract talks with Tavares, though there are other factors (goaltending, roster stability) to consider.
Pierre LeBrun reports Islanders GM Lou Lamoriello has ruled out a “sign-and-trade” option for Tavares. “So either Tavares stays put or goes, but it will be a traditional transaction either way,” said LeBrun, who adds Lamoriello hopes Tavares stays.
Bob McKenzie reports the Islanders are among the clubs with interest in Washington Capitals goaltender Philipp Grubauer. The Carolina Hurricanes, Detroit Red Wings and Chicago Blackhawks are also believed in the mix. The Capitals are thought to be seeking at least a first-round pick for Grubauer.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Keep an eye on the Islanders entering this weekend. I expect they’ll be making a move or two to bolster their goaltending and their blueline. There’s growing chatter that they’re also getting closer to a deal with Tavares but we might not hear anything new on that until after this weekend.
TSN: Bob McKenzie reports the Montreal Canadiens have had some interest in Buffalo Sabres center Ryan O’Reilly. The Sabres covet the Canadiens’ first-round pick (third overall) in this year’s draft but McKenzie believes they’re unwilling to part with that selection and are trying to find another way to land O’Reilly. He adds the Sabres aren’t committed to trading O’Reilly and won’t move him unless they get the right pieces coming back.
SPORTSNET: Eric Engels said multiple reports have surfaced claiming Canadiens GM Marc Bergervin has spoken with Sabres GM Jason Botterill discussion the possibility of swapping left wing Max Pacioretty for O’Reilly. Bergevin also said the chances he’ll trade his first-round pick are very, very slim. Friedman suggests the possibility of the Canadiens taking back a bad contract, such as Matt Moulson’s, as part of the return for O’Reilly.
Pacioretty has one year remaining on his contract and could seek a long-term extension worth over $7 million. The Canadiens could be reluctant to pay that much for a winger who’ll turn 31 in 2019. The Los Angeles Kings and Carolina Hurricanes have been linked to Pacioretty, and Engels also suggests the New York Islanders could also be a possibility.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canadiens really need improvement at center so it’s no surprise they’re interesting in O’Reilly. Based on the latest reports, it seems increasingly unlikely Bergevin will part with the third-overall pick to address that issue. I think he’s looking more at moving Pacioretty with a package of other picks (he has four in their second round) and a prospect to get it done.
LATEST ON THE HURRICANES
TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports the Los Angeles Kings are among the teams talking to the Carolina Hurricanes about left wing Jeff Skinner. The Kings are also talking to free-agent left wing Ilya Kovalchuk and if they sign him it could take them out of the bidding for Skinner. The Pittsburgh Penguins and St. Louis Blues have also shown interest in the Hurricanes’ forward.
LeBrun also reports the Hurricanes are willing to pay restricted free agent center Elias Lindholm just north of $4 million annually but the Lindholm camp seeks over $5 million. The center’s representatives are slated to meet with Hurricanes GM Don Waddell today. LeBrun believes they could shop Lindholm if a deal cannot be hashed out, saying the Calgary Flames are among the clubs who’ve expressed interest.
THE NEWS & OBSERVER: Luke DeCock reports the Hurricanes are among five or six clubs with interest in Washington Capitals goaltender Philipp Grubauer. The Hurricanes have a second-round pick to offer up but the Islanders (with two first-round picks) are considered the front-runners. They’ve also inquired about Minnesota Wild forward Jason Zucker. DeCock also said the Hurricanes are only seriously considering moving a player or two, starting with those with impending contract issues such as Jeff Skinner. Elias Lindholm and Noah Hanifin could also fall into the category depending upon how their current contract negotiations go.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Hurricanes are coming up a lot in recent trade chatter. I expect Skinner is the most likely to be dealt. Lindholm could be next but I wouldn’t be surprised if Waddell and the center’s agent find an agreeable midpoint in the annual salary. I still feel they’ll move Justin Faulk before Hanifin, who still has plenty of upside.
TSN: Darren Dreger reports the Los Angeles Kings are believed to have made a contract offer to free-agent winger Ilya Kovalchuk. The San Jose Sharks, Vegas Golden Knights and Boston Bruins are thought to have interest in the 35-year-old Kovalchuk.
NBC SPORTS BOSTON: Joe Haggerty reports Bruins GM Don Sweeney have held discussions with the Kovalchuk camp. Sweeney said there’s no face-to-face meetings set up yet with the winger but his interest remains high. Kovalchuk is rumored seeking a two-year deal worth $6 million per season.
THE ATHLETIC: Pierre LeBrun reports the Chicago Blackhawks are talking to teams in hopes of finding one that’ll take the contract of all-but-retired winger Marian Hossa off their hands. Hossa’s cap hit is $5.275 million though in actual salary he’ll get $1 million for 2018-19. It’s believed they’ve spoken with the Arizona Coyotes, Carolina Hurricanes and Ottawa Senators but LeBrun doubts they have any interest in acquiring Hossa’s contract.
CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: Mark Lazerus reports a league source claims the Blackhawks have been talking with several teams about ways to upgrade their defense, “particularly Carolina and Justin Faulk.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Coyotes used to be willing dumping ground for teams to offload bad contracts. With a roster of budding young talent, however, it’s understandable why they’re reluctant to do so now. They’ll need cap space going forward to re-sign those youngsters. Remember, they’re not a cap-ceiling team.
THE ATHLETIC: Michael Russo reports sources say Minnesota Wild forwards Jason Zucker, Charlie Coyle and Nino Niederreiter remain in the mix of persistent trade chatter. The trio failed to tally a point in the Wild’s five-game opening-round playoff elimination against the Winnipeg Jets. New GM Paul Fenton is considering shaking up his core. Before the Arizona Coyotes dealt Max Domi to Montreal, it’s believed Fenton spoke to them about a possible swap of Niederreiter and Zucker for Domi and another forward believed to be Christian Dvorak.
SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports it’s believed the Wild have asked teams with interest in Coyle, Niederreiter or Zucker to take forward Tyler Ennis as part of a package.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ennis has one year remaining on his contract at an annual cap hit of $4.6 million, though his actual salary is $3.65 million for 2018-19. Still, that could prove a tough sell for clubs more interested in Coyle, Niederreiter or Zucker.
BLUES BEING ASKED ABOUT PARAYKO
SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports there’s word a number of teams are calling the St. Louis Blues to ask if they might consider trading defenseman Colton Parayko. The Edmonton Oilers, who hold the 10th overall pick in this year’s draft, could be among them. He thinks the asking price would be “enormous”.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’ll be shocked if the Blues trade Parayko. Yes, they need to bolster their scoring but it shouldn’t come at the expense of one of their best defensemen.
Latest speculation on the Pittsburgh Penguins, Chicago Blackhawks and Philadelphia Flyers in your NHL rumor mill.
Approaching the NHL Draft weekend, trade speculation continues to dog Pittsburgh Penguins winger Phil Kessel (Photo via NHL Images)
TRIBLIVE.COM: Jonathan Bombulie reports Pittsburgh Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford intends to bring “more depth and more balance at forward and defense” to his roster this summer.
Bombulie believes Rutherford could add “a low-cost right-handed defenseman or fourth-line right winger” with few changes to his roster. Going after bigger fish, however, would mean shedding significant salary.
The Penguins GM said he’s not going to be able to move anyone that free up considerable cap room, adding he’d only consider it if it would result in improving the team right away.
THE ATHLETIC: Josh Yohe feels Rutherford pulling the trigger on a trade seems inevitable, pointng the Penguins GM has a long history of making deals around the time of the NHL Draft. He noted the Penguins were interested in Max Domi before he was dealt by the Arizona Coyotes last Friday to the Montreal Canadiens. Though Rutherford said he doesn’t have to do anything, Yohe feels if a move comes it’ll involve a Penguins forward.
TVA SPORTS: Renaud Lavoie speculates Penguins winger Phil Kessel could be moved as early as this week, pointing out Kessel’s unhappiness over not skating regularly on Evgeni Malkin’s line and his seemingly acrimonious relationship with head coach Mike Sullivan.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Since the start of this month, Rutherford twice dismissed speculation claiming Kessel was being shopped or that he was getting offers for the winger. But as we enter the busiest time in the offseason for player movement, Kessel could remain in the rumor mill.
If Rutherford intends to chase a big-name talent, he’ll definitely have to move a high-salaried guy like Kessel to make it happen. The Penguins interest in Domi gives some indication of the type of low-cost player Rutherford could have in mind.
THE ATHLETIC: Scott Powers examines some possible cost-cutting moves for the Chicago Blackhawks.
One could be shopping the rights of all-but-retired winger Marian Hossa ($5.275-million cap hit). With Nick Schmaltz emerging as their second-line center, Artem Anisimov ($4.55 million) could be a trade candidate. To add a right-handed defenseman, Powers feels the Blackhawks must move either Brent Seabrook ($6.875 million), Connor Murphy ($3.85 million) or Jan Rutta ($2.3 million). Seabrook’s big contract and right-handed shot makes him unlikely to be dealt.
If they’re able to shed a significant salary, they could have sufficient room to pursue a second-line winger such as Toronto’s James van Riemsdyk or a top-four right-shooting defenseman like Carolina’s Justin Faulk.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Powers also notes the Blackhawks could use a backup goaltender (such as Carter Hutton) and a fourth-line winger (like Tommy Wingels). Freeing up cap room to address those needs shouldn’t be too difficult. To land a scoring winger or top-four blueliner will require more.
Moving Hossa’s cap hit is possible if they include a sweetener, such as a draft pick or prospect. If they feel comfortable with Schmaltz centering the second line they could find takers for Anisimov from teams in need of depth at center, such as the Carolina Hurricanes or Montreal Canadiens.
COURIER POST: Dave Isaac reports Philadelphia Flyers GM Ron Hextall has the salary-cap room to potentially make a splash via this summer’s free-agent market. After years of being strapped for cap payroll space, the Flyers could have between $18 million to $22 million available for 2018-19 Their biggest needs are a right-handed defenseman to play alongside Ivan Provorov on the top defense pairing and a third-line center.
Hextall said he’s “not going to reach out on a seven-year deal on a good player, I can assure you that,” which takes the Flyers out of the market for Washington’s John Carlson. Finding a suitable defense option could be easier to find in the trade market. Affordable center options could include Toronto’s Tyler Bozak or Boston’s Riley Nash.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I wouldn’t rule out the possibility of Hextall going shopping for a defenseman via trade. He has depth in promising young players to use as trade bait, as well as an additional pick in this year’s draft (from St. Louis) to use as bait. I agree with Isaac that Hextall could find it easier addressing his third-line center needs via free agency. Bozak could be a good, affordable short-term option.
Latest on Erik Karlsson, John Carlson, Milan Lucic, Jeff Skinner and many more in your NHL rumor mill.
HIGHLIGHTS FROM FRIEDMAN’S LATEST “31 THOUGHTS”.
SPORTSNET: In his latest “31 Thoughts”, Elliotte Friedman wondered if the Vegas Golden Knights might revisit their interest in Ottawa Senators defenseman Erik Karlsson. “They’ve got a ton of cap room, a boatload of flexibility and players from all over the league asking their agents about going there. It’s a destination.” The Golden Knights attempted to acquire Karlsson at the February trade deadline. One of the hang-ups was Vegas didn’t want to include promising Cody Glass. Friedman also suggests they could look at Washington’s John Carlson if he becomes an unrestricted free agent.
Could the Vegas Golden Knights pursue Washington Capitals defenseman John Carlson via free agency? (Photo via NHL Images)
Friedman also speculates the Golden Knights could prefer re-signing pending UFAs James Neal and David Perron to salaries within the range of Jonathan Marchessault and Reilly Smith ($5-million annual cap hit) and Tomas Tatar’s $5.3 million. Same for restricted free agent William Karlsson. He thinks Perron could be kept on a short-term deal.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: TSN’s Bob McKenzie recently speculated the Golden Knights could be aggressive in the trade and free-agent markets, with Karlsson and Carlson as possible targets. He also notes it’s too soon to say the Capitals could lose Carlson to free agency, though he will be expensive to re-sign, suggesting the Arizona Coyotes’ offer to Oliver Ekman-Larsson (believed to be eight years at $8.25-million annually) as a comparable. I think the Capitals will re-sign him, as his departure would leave a huge hole on their blueline.
As for Karlsson and Tavares, if they’re available, the Golden Knights could pursue them. No guarantee they’ll get either guy but I think they could be serious suitors.
The Golden Knights could probably get Perron re-signed on a short-term contract for around $5 million. There were reports earlier this season that Neal sought over $6 million per season. That could prove too expensive for a soon-to-be 31-year-old winger whose best seasons are in the past.
Rumors claiming Edmonton Oilers left wing Milan Lucic requested a trade aren’t true, but Friedman believes Lucic and the club are working together to gauge interest around the league. Moving his big contract won’t be easy but the Oilers seem confident they can find a fit.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Edmonton Journal’s David Staples weighed in on this, pointing out if the Oilers move Lucic before July 1 they won’t have to pay his $3.5-million bonus for 2018-19. He also suggests perhaps Lucic would drop his no-movement protection with his new team. While the Montreal Canadiens attempted to sign Lucic two years ago, Staples speculates he might prefer playing in a bigger, warmer market.
Regardless of where Lucic could end up, the decline in his stats this season is cause for concern. I think the Oilers could end up either retaining part of his annual cap hit or taking back a toxic contract to make this work. Failing that, they’ll have to include a heck of a sweetener to convince another club to take on Lucic’s full contract.
The Los Angeles Kings and Florida Panthers could have interest in Carolina Hurricanes winger Jeff Skinner. Friedman also thinks a swap of Hurricanes goalie Scott Darling back to Chicago for Marian Hossa’s rights, with the Hurricanes retaining part of Darling’s salary, makes sense only to him.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Skinner has a no-movement clause but perhaps he’ll waive it to go to a player contender. The Panthers just missed the cut last season. The addition of Skinner could put them over the hump.
Darling for Hossa is a creative scenario but I don’t think the Hurricanes will go that route unless they’ve got a suitable replacement lined up for Darling. And no, re-signing Cam Ward isn’t the appropriate option here.
I wouldn’t be surprised if the Blackhawks try to trade the all-but-retired Hossa’s rights to free up cap room. They’ll likely have to include a young player or draft pick in the deal.
Friedman believes “Montreal is a stealth destination for unrestricted free-agent-to-be Jack Johnson.” He also muses over the possibility of a “sign-and-trade” scenario for Canadiens winger Max Pacioretty.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: At this point in Johnson’s career, he should be considered a stopgap measure. The Canadiens should try to find more suitable options via trade or free agency. If they are interested in Johnson, he should only get a one-year contract for under $3 million.
Friedman said Ottawa Senators winger Mike Hoffman is “very much in play”. He speculates the Senators could try to recoup some draft picks.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: If the Senators trade Hoffman, that might push center Matt Duchene toward free agency next year. He and Hoffman established good chemistry as linemates this season.
The Pittsburgh Penguins have shown “legit interest” in Arizona Coyotes winger Max Domi.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: But do the Coyotes have legit interest in trading Domi? For the right offer, probably, but is that offer coming from the Penguins? Time will tell.
The trade market for Washington Capitals backup Philipp Grubauer begins with the Carolina Hurricanes and New York Islanders.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: With Braden Holtby firmly entrenched as the Capitals’ starting goalie, promising Ilya Samsonov waiting in the wings and with a big chunk of their cap space likely to be taken up re-signing John Carlson, the Capitals could trade Grubauer, a restricted free agent with arbitration rights.
The Toronto Sun’s Steve Simmons believes the Islanders could make a pitch for Grubauer. However, the New York Post’s Larry Brooks thinks they could instead go after Detroit Red Wings goaltender Jimmy Howard, rather than part with a first-round pick for Grubauer.
While Howard is a year away from UFA status, the Wings don’t have anyone in their system ready yet to take over as their starting goalie. Unless they find a suitable replacement for Howard via trade or free agency, I doubt they’ll send him to the Isles or anyone else.
After being scratched from Game 5 of the Winnipeg Jets second-round series against Nashville, defenseman Toby Enstrom informed Jets management he won’t be returning. Enstrom will become a UFA on July 1.
The Toronto Maple Leafs seek a third-line center, while the Tampa Bay Lightning need a right-shot defenseman.
Friedman’s also curious about what the New York Rangers will do with Vladislav Namestnikov, who’s a restricted free agent with arbitration rights.
Chicago Blackhawks forwards Anthony Duclair and Tomas Jurco could be available, as well as Minnesota Wild forward Tyler Ennis.
The Buffalo Sabres won’t be trading the first-overall pick and the Carolina Hurricanes are likely to hang onto the second overall. Meanwhile, Montreal Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin is keeping everyone guessing over what he’ll do with the third overall pick. The Habs need centers and defensemen, and Bergevin could trade down to get what he wants if he wishes.
Friedman isn’t sure about the Ottawa Senators and Arizona Coyotes moving their first-round picks (fourth and fifth overall) and doesn’t think the Detroit Red Wings will move the sixth overall selection. Teams that could be willing to move include ” Vancouver (at seven), Edmonton (at 10) and possibly the Islanders (11 and/or 12).
Lightning push Capitals to brink of elimination, the end of Marian Hossa’s playing career and more in your NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: After dropping the first two games of the Eastern Conference Final, the Tampa Bay Lightning have rallied to push the Washington Capitals to brink of elimination. Ryan Callahan scored and set up another as the Lightning jumped to a three-goal lead and held on for a 3-2 victory in Game 5 to take a 3-2 lead in the series. Evgeny Kuznetsov and Alex Ovechkin scored for the Capitals, who face a must-win situation in Game 6 on Monday in Washington.
Tampa Bay Lightning winger Ryan Callahan had a two-point night in a 3-2 Game 5 victory over the Washington Capitals in the 2018 Eastern Conference Final (Photo via NHL Images)
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Capitals gave up goals within the opening minute of the first two periods, forcing them to play catch-up throughout the game. They managed to make it interesting but Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy made 28 saves to ensure the victory, especially when the Capitals pushed in the third period.
It wasn’t a good night for Washington’s defense pairing of Dmitry Orlov and Matt Niskanen, as they were on the ice for all three Lightning goals. The only bright spot for the Capitals was they prevented the Lightning from scoring a power-play goal.
CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: Chicago Blackhawks winger Marian Hossa told a Slovakian newspaper that his playing career is over. Hossa, 39, sat out last season because of a skin condition related to wearing hockey equipment and the medication needed to control the allergy.
Hossa cannot officially retire as the Blackhawks will be slapped with salary-cap recapture penalties, so the team will place him on long-term injured reserve for each of the remaining three seasons on his contract. They could also attempt to trade his rights to a club in need of reaching the salary-cap minimum.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Some hockey fans consider the notion of the Blackhawks (or another club if his rights are dealt to another club), placing Hossa on LTIR as salary-cap circumvention. However, there’s nothing in the collective bargaining agreement that prevents either scenario. Perhaps we’ll see some tweaking of the LTIR rules in the next round of CBA negotiations to address this issue.
If Hossa’s playing career is truly over, he leaves as a three-time Stanley Cup champion who morphed from an offensive star earlier in his career to a solid two-way performer. In 1,309 career game, he tallied 525 goals and 609 assists for 1,134 points.
LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL: The performance of Golden Knights goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury is a big reason why his club holds a 3-1 series lead over the Winnipeg Jets in the Western Conference Final.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: If the Jets fail to generate more traffic and in-close scoring opportunities in front of Fleury in Game 5 today in Winnipeg, there won’t be a Game 6.
WINNIPEG SUN: By the numbers, the Jets should be in better shape in this series.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Jets have largely out-played the Golden Knights in the last two games. However, their propensity for defensive turnovers ending up in the back of their net are the biggest reason why they’re on the brink of elimination.
NHL.COM: The Buffalo Sabres and Columbus Blue Jackets will play the 2018 Kraft Hockeyville USA game in Clinton, NY on September 25, 2018.
Another week, another series of speculation over the future of John Tavares. Check out the latest on the Islanders captain, along with updates on the Canucks, in your NHL rumor mill.
As the regular season winds down, New York Islanders captain John Tavares remains a hot topic in the free-agent rumor mill. (Photo via NHL Images)
LATEST TAVARES SPECULATION
FANRAG SPORTS NETWORK: Chris Nichols cited Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman discussing the contract situation of New York Islanders captain John Tavares during his recent “31 Thoughts” podcast. Regarding the possibility of the Islanders re-signing Tavares, he thinks it’s going to be more about how the organization works than how much his next contract might be. “You get into a dicey area because it’s always tough. Do you ask your player, ‘Okay, are you happy with the organization? If you’re not happy with the organization, what changes would you like to make?’ That’s a tough spot for a player to be,” said Friedman.
Asked if the Montreal Canadiens could land Tavares via free agency, Friedman believes the friendship between Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin and Tavares’ agent Pat Brisson could get them a seat at the table. If teams in states with no state tax (Vegas Golden Knights, Florida Panthers, Tampa Bay Lightning and Dallas Stars) get into the bidding, the Canadiens will have to make a huge offer to counter that.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: If Tavares decides to play the market, I don’t doubt the Canadiens will be interested. Cap Friendly indicates they have over $62 million invested in 21 players for 2018-19 and all their core players under contract. With the cap ceiling projected to rise to $80 million (or possibly higher), the Habs will have plenty of room to make a big offer for Tavares.
The Golden Knights have even more cap room, with only $47.4 committed to 18 players. Given the reports claiming they were close to acquiring Erik Karlsson and Bobby Ryan from the Ottawa Senators before the Feb. 26 trade deadline, GM George McPhee seems willing to make bold moves to improve his club. I wouldn’t be surprising if they pursue Tavares on the open market.
The Panthers, Lightning and Stars have the “no state tax” advantage, but I don’t see them getting into the bidding for Tavares. The Panthers have Aleksander Barkov and Vincent Trocheck centering their top-two lines and the Lightning have Steven Stamkos, Brayden Point and Tyler Johnson. The Stars, meanwhile, face re-signing first-line center Tyler Seguin to a big raise (perhaps over $10 million annually) before his eligibility next year for UFA status.
NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks plays, “What if John Tavares signs with the Rangers?”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: We go now to Islanders fans everywhere:
SPORTSNET: In his latest “31 Thoughts” column, Elliotte Friedman speculates the Vancouver Canucks could be aggressive in this summer’s free-agent market. With the Sedins retiring, the Canucks will have around $20 million in cap space for 2018-19. Friedman points out the Canucks were reportedly very interested in center Mikael Backlund before he re-signed with the Calgary Flames.
With the Canucks rebuilding, he suggests they could offer up short-term, bigger-money contracts to some of this summer’s available UFAs. He also wonders if they might contact the Chicago Blackhawks or Ottawa Senators offering to take on some or all of Marian Hossa’s or Bobby Ryan’s cap hit if they agree to make it worth their while.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’ll be interesting to see what the Canucks intend to do with that extra cap room. They don’t have any expensive free agents to re-sign. Their notable restricted free agents include Sven Baertschi, Jake Virtanen, Troy Stecher and Derick Pouliot. Assuming it costs $10 million to keep all of them in the fold, they’ll still have plenty of room to bring in a couple of good veteran players via trade or free agency.
I don’t see them going after big-ticket UFAs such as John Tavares, Washington’s John Carlson, San Jose’s Evander Kane or Toronto’s James van Riemsdyk. Perhaps they’ll look at veterans such as Vegas’ James Neal and David Perron or Winnipeg’s Paul Stastny, or maybe they try to bring back Thomas Vanek, who had terrific chemistry with rookie Brock Boeser before he was shipped to Columbus before the trade deadline.