Could the New York Islanders attempt to re-sign John Tavares by the trade deadline.
The latest on John Tavares, Jaromir Jagr, James Neal, Max Pacioretty and more in your Sunday NHL rumor roundup.
TAVARES, SENATORS, SHARKS, JAGR, CANUCKS AND PACIORETTY
OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch reports there’s talk the New York Islanders are getting more nervous about the future of captain John Tavares, who’s eligible for unrestricted free agent status in July. It’s believes the Tavares camp isn’t interested in having contract talks during the season, “which doesn’t help if the Isles are listening to trade offers.” As long as the Islanders remain in playoff contention, Garrioch doubts Tavares is going anywhere.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I agree with that assessment, but some believe otherwise, as you see further down in this compilation.
San Jose Sharks general manager Doug Wilson is shopping around for a forward.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s believed the Sharks could be in the market for a scoring winger. However, the play of young forwards Timo Meier and Kevin Labanc could affect those plans.
Garrioch reports there’s plenty of interest in Ottawa Senators forwards Mike Hoffman, Zack Smith and Jean-Gabriel Pageau while a few teams have expressed interest in defenseman Cody Ceci. However, he claims center Derick Brassard won’t be moved. The St. Louis Blues reportedly have interest in Hoffman and had a scout watching the Sens’ game against San Jose on Friday. Veteran blueliner Johnny Oduya could also be moved to a playoff contender by the Feb. 26 trade deadline.
The Calgary Flames could release winger Jaromir Jagr, who’s been hampered by injuries and seeing a limited role with the club. There’s talks he could join the Czech National Team for the upcoming Pyeongchang Winter Olympics “but everybody is being tight-lipped.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman (see below) has more info on Jagr’s status.
Vancouver Canucks defenseman Erik Gudbranson is popping up in trade rumors. He’s eligible for unrestricted free agent status in July and could interest playoff contenders seeking blueline depth. “The Leafs, looking for a defenceman, got a first-hand look at Gudbranson on Saturday night, when the Canucks visited Air Canada Centre.” Garrioch also said the Canucks are listening to offers for blueliner Ben Hutton.
Garrioch said it’s believed the Montreal Canadiens seek “a top forward and a No. 1 pick” for left wing Max Pacioretty. The Habs captain has only nine goals and 13 assists thus far this season, making it unlikely anyone will meet that asking price.
JAGR, OILERS AND NEAL
SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports the Calgary Flames and Jaromir Jagr are working out a way for the two sides to part company. Jagr, 4, signed a one-year, bonus-laden deal with the Flames but he’s been hampered by injuries and seeing reduced playing time. Jagr’s agent has been given permission to speak other clubs about a trade but so far there’s nothing in the works. Chris Johnston said sources said Jagr wants to maintain his NHL career and isn’t looking to join the Czech national team for the upcoming Pyeongchang Winter Olympics.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Jagr’s done a good job holding off Father Time, but it appears he’s finally caught up with the future Hall of Famer. I’ll be surprised if another club pursues him. Looks like his NHL playing career is winding down.
Nick Kypreos reports there’s a buzz around the struggling Edmonton Oilers that there’s a feeling changes could be coming where it could cost somebody their job, though nothing’s imminent thus far. Kypreos said many people in the organization feel the shoe could drop between now and next Saturday. The Oilers suffered their seventh fourth-goal loss of the season by falling to the Dallas Stars 5-1 on Saturday.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: If a change is made it could be a significant trade but I don’t think that’s going to happen. It’ll likely be a management shakeup or a coaching change. Whatever it is, I don’t believe it’ll be enough to save their playoff hopes for this season.
Kypreos also reports contract talks between the Vegas Golden Knights and winger James Neal could start soon. Neal, who turns 31 in September, is slated to become an unrestricted free agent in July. Kypreos doubts Golden Knights general manager George McPhee wants to sign Neal to a seven- or eight-year deal but feels a four- or five-year deal might be possible, though the annual average value would be $6.5 million. Neal’s current cap hit is $5 million.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Neal’s leadership and veteran skills have factored the Golden Knights’ impressive NHL debut season. While a four- or five-year term is reasonable, $6.5 million annually for a player who might not have many more 20-goal seasons ahead of him would be a big gamble on McPhee’s part.
MORE ON TAVARES, NO DEADLINE FOR GRABNER
NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks suggests the myriad of on-ice issues plaguing the now-struggling New York Islanders “places a high alert on the John Tavares matter.” If the club doesn’t already have a deal in place with their pending UFA captain that they’re waiting to announce at a later date, Brooks believes they should set the Feb. 26 trade deadline as also the deadline for getting Tavares under contract. “This is a player who simply cannot be permitted to walk for free when a bounty could be expected in return for his rental rights.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: About a month ago, I was dismissive of the notion of the Islanders moving Tavares at the trade deadline. As long as they remain in the playoff chase, I don’t believe they’ll move him. But their recent decline, due largely to woeful goaltending and a porous defense, is very troubling and threatens their postseason hopes. It could also jeopardize their efforts to re-sign their captain. The more the Isles struggle in the coming weeks, the more Tavares will surface in the trade rumor mill.
Brooks also reports the New York Rangers will not use the trade deadline as a deadline for getting pending UFA winger Michael Grabner under contract. Rangers management has spoken with Grabner’s agent Jerry Buckley but there’s been no contract negotiations. Buckley points out there’s time between the end of the playoffs and the July 1 start of free agency to discuss a new deal. Brooks speculates it could take a four-year, $14-million offer by the Rangers to keep Grabner in New York.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Grabner’s currently early $1.65 million per season on his current contract. A pay raise to $3.5 million annually for four years would be quite a pay bump, but not unreasonable for a 30-year-old winger set to exceed 20 goals for the second straight season.