NHL Rumors: Latest on John Tavares, Trade Buzz on Erik Karlsson, Phil Kessel

Steve Silverman@@profootballboyFeatured ColumnistJune 26, 2018

John Tavares is scheduled to talk with five teams in addition to the Islanders.
John Tavares is scheduled to talk with five teams in addition to the Islanders.Julio Cortez/Associated Press

John Tavares has been on the free-agent track since the start of the 2016-17 season. While there have been discussions between New York Islanders and their star player, those talks have not resulted in a new contract.

As a result, the 27-year-old is scheduled to become a free agent July 1, and he is preparing for that by meeting with the Islanders, Dallas Stars, Boston Bruins, San Jose Sharks, Toronto Maple Leafs and the Tampa Bay Lightning, according to Darren Dreger and Pierre LeBrun of TSN Hockey Insiders. 

In many ways, the situation is similar to the one Steven Stamkos went through two years ago, and the high-scoring center ended up remaining with the Lightning, his original team.

Tavares is coming off a 37-goal, 84-point season, but the Islanders have only been to the playoffs in three of his nine years. He may be drawn to a team he perceives as having a better chance of advancing deep into the playoffs.

The Islanders hired Lou Lamoriello as its president of operations and general manager, and his track record of success with the New Jersey Devils was good. The 75-year-old is also coming off a much shorter run with the Maple Leafs.

Lamoriello hired Stanley Cup-winning head coach Barry Trotz last week after the former Nashville Predators and Washington coach opted out of his deal with the Capitals. 

The addition of of Lamoriello and Trotz have to help the Islanders' cause of re-signing Tavares, but he still has to decide what he is going to do, and it looks like that won't happen until at least five teams make their pitches. 


Senators must make key decision on Karlsson

Ottawa defenseman Erik Karlsson is in a position of some flux during the offseason. He has one year left on his contract, and it seems the troubled Senators may have a difficult time keeping him in the fold before his deal expires.

If the Senators conclude they are not likely to get Karlsson to put his signature on another contract with them, they would potentially trade him before the start of the upcoming season. 

Any contending team would be better off having an excellent offensive defenseman such as Karlsson for a full season instead of a portion of the year if they acquired him prior to the in-season trade deadline.

An offseason trade would also be better for the Senators in terms of a potential return. The Vegas Golden Knights, Carolina Hurricanes, Lightning, Capitals and Sharks are among the teams interested in Karlsson's services, according to Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun.

Ottawa general manager Pierre Dorion has told Senators season-ticket holders he plans on sitting down with Karlsson July 1 to discuss a contract extension.


Kessel willing to leave Penguins

Phil Kessel has been a part of two Stanley Cup-winning teams with the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Even though he scored 34 goals and a career-high 92 points last season, Kessel is not opposed to a trade away from Pittsburgh, according to Josh Yohe of The Athletic. 

The 30-year-old has a strong relationship with Arizona head coach Rick Tocchet, but Yohe reported the Coyotes have told the Penguins that a trade is not likely due to the financial ramifications.

Arizona has been struggling financially for several seasons, and taking on Kessel's $6.8 million salary is not the way the Coyotes can consider going, even with the Toronto Maple Leafs taking on $1.2 million of the contract.

Kessel scored just one goal in the postseason, and he reportedly was unhappy that Pittsburgh head coach Mike Sullivan did not play him with Evgeni Malkin as often as he would have liked.


Canucks have interest in Bozak

Tyler Bozak has a been a solid contributor to the Maple Leafs for years, and he is going to have a chance to capitalize on that success by heading to free agency July 1.

While the Canadian does not command the interest of Tavares, he should be a functional player in 2018-19 and the future after scoring 43 points last year.

The 32-year-old has drawn the interest of the Vancouver Canucks, according to Rick Dhaliwal of Sportsnet. 

If Bozak signs with the Canucks, he could fill the role of a No. 3 center.