Earlier this summer, New York Islanders center John Tavares shot down the suggestion he might sign with the Toronto Maple Leafs as an unrestricted free agent in 2018. On his recent return to Toronto to prepare for the World Cup of Hockey, the Mississauga-born Tavares once again had to address the issue.
During an appearance on Toronto's TSN 1050, Tavares was asked if that speculation could reach a point where he finally says not to ask about him joining the Leafs in the future. He replied that he's already expressed how much he enjoys playing for the Islanders and his desire to remain in their long-term plans.
Tavares' status with the Islanders could change between now and 2018. They could go into a significant decline and fall out of playoff contention. Their new ownership could prove unwilling to invest in building up the roster, or balk at paying Tavares top dollar to keep him off the free-agent market.
However, those fans and pundits in Toronto dreaming of Tavares in a Leafs jersey seem to be setting themselves up for disappointment. They should've learned their lesson from their earlier unfulfilled pining for another superstar local boy to return home.
Throughout last season, there was widespread musing Tampa Bay Lightning center Steven Stamkos could join the Maple Leafs as an unrestricted free agent on July 1. Stamkos ultimately crushed those dreams on June 29, re-signing a long-term deal with the Lightning.
The rebuilding Leafs have several promising young players who could blossom into big stars. The club's future rests with Auston Matthews, Alexander Nylander, Morgan Rielly and possibly Nikita Zaitsev, Mitch Marner and Nikita Soshnikov -- not in pursuing expensive, cap-busting hometown veterans through free agency.
TROUBA, JETS AT A STANDSTILL
Contact negotiations between the Winnipeg Jets and restricted free agent defenseman Jacob Trouba appear to be at a standstill. With Trouba skating for Team North America in the World Cup of Hockey, it's unlikely he'll talk contract while the tournament is underway.
Trouba's contract status made him a fixture in in this summer's rumor mill, giving rise to unsubstantiated speculation claiming he doesn't like Winnipeg or playing for the Jets. TSN's Darren Dreger, however, reports that talk is unfounded.
Dreger also points out both sides have agreed not to allow contract talks to play out in the media. It appears Jets management and the Trouba camp will take negotiations up to training camp and possibly even into the training camp/pre-season period before a deal is hammered out. With Trouba coming off an entry-level contract, he has little leverage at his disposal.
Should Trouba remain unsigned by the end of September, there could be an increase in trade or offer-sheet rumors. However, Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff appears intent on keeping the 23-year-old blueliner. Earlier this summer, he said he would match any offer sheet for Trouba.
Rumor Roundup appears regularly only on thehockeynews.com. Lyle Richardson has been an NHL commentator since 1998 on his website, spectorshockey.net, and is a contributing writer for Eishockey News and The Guardian (P.E.I.).
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