Pierre Lebrun of ESPN reports that John Tavares might leave the Islanders once he hits free agency in 2012. He states their first priority is to make sure Tavares does not lose enthusiasm to play for the Islanders. He also states that the Sharks will go after a top four defenceman.
The Tavares rumours are getting out of hand. First Eric Francis and now Lebrun? Come on! An RFA has little negotiating power, especially if he has not achieved anything spectacular. As for the Sharks, it does not surprise me because there have been rumours about Beauchemin for a while, but more importantly, everyone knows they have not replaced Rob Blake yet.
Darren Dreger of TSN reports that Oilers GM Steve Tambellini will not alter the rebuild plan, and thus not be making any blockbuster moves. He is getting calls about Ales Hemsky. Tambellini is looking to add some grit, a centre and a defenceman. They also don't want to deal top prospects for draft picks.
I like that he will not alter the rebuild plan, but then it begs the question if he will deal veteran players for prospects and draft picks. Obviously he will not deal top prospects for picks as it defeats the purpose, but it makes perfect sense to trade away veterans. Hemsky is probably gone by the trade deadline, and as unlikely as it is that they make a blockbuster trade, I would not say it's impossible.
Mike Zeisberger of the Toronto Sun reported that Luca Caputi was returned to the Toronto Marlies. Furthermore, Dion Phaneuf, JS Giguere, and Colby Armstrong skated at the Leafs practice a few days ago. Coach Ron Wilson said that Giguere will return sometime in the coming week, Armstrong will be back by next weekend, and Phaneuf will be back by around mid-December.
This is interesting. First Caputi goes to the Marlies, which is a clear sign that someone (probably Armstrong) is about to come back from injury. For Giguere all the Leafs have to do is send down Jussi Rynnas. The thing that worries me is Phaneuf coming back in mid-December, as the Leafs will not be able to trade a defenceman until the roster freeze is gone again because they will be too thin at defence.
There have been rumours about Brad Richards being traded to Toronto or the New York Rangers. Lots of people said the rumours are bogus and if he is traded, it will be closer to the deadline.
Then Brad Richards did something quite unusual (for him). He added to the discussion by saying that his focus is being in Dallas, and that he wants to get an extension done. He even stated that he has so much respect for Joe Nieuwendyk that its not fair for him to talk about other teams. However, he said that if the time comes "Toronto is always a No. 1 option."
This is interesting. He has stated that he wants to be in Dallas, but then again every player says that regardless of whether or not it's true. The thing to note is he called Toronto a number one option, not second behind Dallas. In other words, if he hits free agency Brian Burke better make an offer, as he would love to play in Toronto.