NHL Talking Points: Free agency and John Tavares, James van Riemsdyk sagas

NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 30: James van Riemsdyk #25 of the Toronto Maple Leafs and John Tavares #91 of the New York Islanders battle for the puck during their game at the Barclays Center on October 30, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 30: James van Riemsdyk #25 of the Toronto Maple Leafs and John Tavares #91 of the New York Islanders battle for the puck during their game at the Barclays Center on October 30, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images) /

NHL Talking Points is a weekly column highlighting 10 stories that have been circulating around the league. This week, we take a look at speculation surrounding the John Tavares sweepstakes, James van Riemsdyk’s future, trades, contracts and more.

The past week in the NHL has seen countless stories come and go, as the talk circuit of the hockey world was flooded with information. Future stars were drafted, trades were made and speculative assertions loomed larger than ever.

Let’s explore 10 stories that have been circulating around the National Hockey League.

1. Barry Trotz has been announced as the next coach of the New York Islanders.

The former recipient of the Jack Adams Award (2016) and the pilot of the NHL’s most recent Stanley Cup victory (2018), Trotz is an established winner who shall aim to maintain success heading into Long Island. His new contract is reportedly worth approximately $4 million on an annual basis and he’s set to hold the position for five years.

Naturally, the move is heavily speculated to have been a major stepping stone in the ongoing John Tavares saga. Trotz had the opportunity to speak with the Islanders’ captain about the future of the franchise, remarking, “John has been a big piece for a long time, right? He wants to be a part of that as well.”

2. Artemi Panarin’s future in Columbus is becoming a tricky topic.

The 26-year-old, who led the Blue Jackets in scoring in 2017-18, is apparently reluctant to sign a long-term extension at the moment. Nonetheless, the team’s administrators remain confident in their ability to extend the Russian winger.

Said GM Jarmo Kekäläinen:

"Artemi has done everything right for us, is a great player. We love him. We want to have him for eight years, have made it clear to him that we want him to be a big part of our future, we want build our team around him. That doesn’t change.We will keep trying until it’s too late, if it is too late. Hopefully not."

3. Could Craig Anderson be on his way out of Ottawa?

These are certainly crazy times to be a member of the Ottawa Senators, aren’t they?

According to a report from the Ottawa Sun, the story surrounding the future of the Senators’ netminder is complicated. Bruce Garrioch writes:

"[Anderson’s agent, Justin] Duberman wouldn’t confirm Anderson, who has been with the Senators for eight seasons, had asked for a trade, but the goalie has been around long enough to know the club is in a difficult position to fulfill such a request.There was a report that Duberman had been asked by general manager Pierre Dorion to help facilitate a trade, but Duberman indicated that wasn’t so and he hasn’t had any discussions with any teams regarding Anderson.“Ottawa has never asked me for help,” Duberman said. “They’re going to do whatever they can to improve their team. If that means they’ll trade Craig Anderson, they’ll trade Craig Anderson.”"

4. Tyler Bozak is a subject of interest heading into free agency.

According to TSN’s Darren Dreger, a wide range of calls have already been made about the possibility of signing the veteran forward, with the Toronto Maple Leafs remaining in the running to extend the fan favorite.

5. Philipp Grubauer has a new home in Colorado.

The Washington Capitals traded their backup goaltender, along with veteran defender Brooks Orpik, to the Colorado Avalanche in exchange for a second-round pick in the 2018 NHL Draft. Grubauer has since signed a contract extension, worth $10 million over a period of three seasons.

The move is surely a bit of a gamble, but nevertheless serves as a sign that Joe Sakic’s men have faith in the 26-year-old, who amassed 15 wins, three shutouts, a 2.35 goals against average and a .923 save percentage in 35 contests this past season.

6. Ilya Kovalchuk is officially set to return to the NHL.

And he’ll do so as a member of the Los Angeles Kings.

The 35-year-old and the Kings’ administration have agreed to a three-year deal — reportedly with a cap hit of $6.25 million.

What does this mean for both the forward and the organization?

On the one hand, Kovalchuk sees himself as a player who warrants Patrick Marleau-esque money. On the other, the Kings regard themselves as legitimate contenders for Lord Stanley’s trophy. They’ve shown that they’re willing to bite, so expect Kovalchuk & Co. to put up a heck of a fight in the 2018-19 campaign.

7. The Calgary Flames and the Carolina Hurricanes made a trade for the books.

It’s tough to predict at the present moment, but the aforementioned deal may wind up being the trade of the summer. Even more difficult to ruminate on is the question of who shall end up winning the exchange.

What will the fallout of the trade look like? Is this a sure sign that Justin Faulk is on the move? By extension, which of the Flames’ up and coming talents shall be required to step up on the blue line?

8. John Carlson has agreed to a deal with the Washington Capitals.

The talented defender finally got what he was looking for, locking up an eight-year deal that shall allow him to stay with the Stanley Cup winners. Throughout this period, the 28-year-old will make $64 million — fitting, as he outperformed his last contract, which paid him slightly below $4 million.

9. Where will James van Riemsdyk end up?

For a player who is rated so highly on various “best of” UFA boards, the future of van Riemsdyk, known for being one of the league’s finest net-front threats, has certainly been a relatively quiet subject over the course of the summer. But some pundits have recently claimed that the Boston Bruins are interested in the 29-year-old winger, whose penchant for goal scoring has been central to the Toronto Maple Leafs’ recent success.

Maple Leafs’ GM Kyle Dubas has already stated that he is not opposed to entertaining an offer for the veteran forward. Whether van Riemsdyk has priced himself out of Toronto, however, is another matter altogether.

Look for his name to gain traction as we get closer to July 1.

10. The John Tavares sweepstakes are about to get interesting.

Far and away, the most discussed player of the 2018 free agency period is the Islanders’ 27-year-old captain. The veteran center is the face of his franchise — a special talent whose two-way gifts promise to bring his future club straight to the edges of legitimate contention.

Now, we finally have an answer regarding the way in which the Tavares proceedings shall work.

According to Islanders reporter Arthur Staple, Tavares shall meet with five to six teams as of Monday. The Toronto Maple Leafs, Boston Bruins, Dallas Stars, San Jose Sharks and New York Islanders are believed to be among his shortlist. The Tampa Bay Lightning and/or Nashville Predators may enter into the ranks of competition, too.

Next: One free agent every NHL team should sign this offseason

Whatever the case, Tavares’ eventual destination promises to be one of the most important stories of the summer. Expect to learn more in the days to come.