NHL Rumors: Latest on John Tavares, Potential Ryan O'Reilly Trade and More

Steve Silverman@@profootballboyFeatured ColumnistJune 25, 2018

John Tavares will be eligible for free agency July 1.
John Tavares will be eligible for free agency July 1.Paul Sancya/Associated Press

The New York Islanders have made some bold moves since their season ended.

After missing the playoffs the last two years, the Islanders hired Lou Lamoriello as president of team operations and general manager. The 75-year-old has proved his worth during a long run with the New Jersey Devils and more recently with the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Lamoriello hired Barry Trotz last week as the Islanders' new head coach, and he drafted Oliver Wahlstrom and Noah Dobson with his two first-round draft picks.

While those moves have drawn rave reviews and kudos from NHL observers, his primary task is coming up shortly. The key to the offseason for the Islanders is re-signing center John Tavares, who is days away from becoming a free agent.

The 27-year-old is scheduled to become a free agent July 1 and is allowed to start talking with other teams.

According to Arthur Staple of Newsday, Tavares will be talking to the Toronto Maple Leafs, San Jose Sharks and Dallas Stars. The report pointed out that the Boston Bruins may also be in the picture.

The Los Angeles Kings, who appeared to be prime contenders for Tavares' services, may no longer be in the picture after signing Ilya Kovalchuk to a three-year, $18.75 million contract Saturday.

The signing of Trotz may make the Islanders a more attractive team to return to for Tavares, but he has waited for the opportunity to become a free agent. He will likely listen to other suitors and then come to a conclusion in the hours or days after the start of free agency.


Key date coming up for O'Reilly

Ryan O'Reilly has been the subject of trade rumors since the trade deadline in the middle of the season. However, the Buffalo Sabres' center remains with the franchise even though the Sabres received a number of calls during the draft about his services. 

Ryan O'Reilly has been the subject of several trade inquiries.
Ryan O'Reilly has been the subject of several trade inquiries.Wilfredo Lee/Associated Press

According to NHL insider Bob McKenzie of TSN, the Montreal Canadiens and the Blues were among those making serious inquiries about his services.

O'Reilly, 27, has a signing bonus that is payable July 1, and if he is not traded before that date, it seems far more likely he will remain with the Sabres. 


Gorton has a decision to make about Hayes

The New York Rangers have several decisions and moves to make as they go about the business of their rebuilding process.

General manager Jeff Gorton faces a potential decision on forward Kevin Hayes, who is on track to become a free agent after the 2019-20 season. The 26-year-old is coming off a 25-goal season, and that's the most goals he has scored during his four years with the Rangers.

New York Post columnist Larry Brooks reported Hayes is looking for a five-year deal that is in the $25 million-$27.5 million range ($5.5 million per year) during the length of the contract.

If Gorton does not think Hayes is a part of the Rangers' long-term future, he may consider trading him prior to the start of the season.

If he is thinking about passing on Hayes, he would be better off trading him before the season to get the maximum value for his services.

If Gorton is unsure and decides to move Hayes before the trade deadline, he would not get as much in return for him as he would before the start of the season.