NHL Rumor Mill – April 6, 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.
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:
LATEST ON THE CANUCKS.
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.