Rumor Rundown: Draisaitl Bridge, Kessel Responds and Tavares to Tampa?

It sort of feels like a hockey ghost town. After weeks of insanely busy action, with trades and signings coming from every angle, the pace has slowed considerably and there’s not a whole lot of news outside of some internal housekeeping for NHL clubs. That said, every once a while, something floats around behind the scenes and catches the attention of a few mainstream media sources.

Draisaitl Bridge Deal

Some folks (and by some, I mean a whole lot) in Edmonton are starting to wonder what the delay is in getting Leon Draisaitl signed to his extension. Connor McDavid got a hefty raise, but took a slight discount over eight years to make room for a surrounding cast and key to that was getting Draisaitl some good money. At the same time, McDavid was perhaps setting the tone for keeping a good team in tact.

Estimated numbers for Draisaitl’s deal are all over the place. Some have wondered if $10 million is out of the ballpark while others think $6.5-$7.5 is somewhere in the range of reasonable. The likelihood is, Draisaitl is closer to $10 million than $6.5 million, but this is one of those times that everyone’s guess is just that — a guess.

2018 Olympics
Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers

Recently, Jim Matheson tweeted that a bridge deal might make the most sense for the Edmonton Oilers. He’s not the only one to consider this option. Speculation is that perhaps the Oilers could get Draisaitl on a two-year deal somewhere closer to that $6-$6.5 million, keeping him an RFA, but then extending him long term after he’s repeatedly proved his worth. There are two sides of the coin here.

First, is that in making such a move, Draisaitl continues to improve. Should he do so, when it comes time to extend him long term, he’ll be asking for at least $10 million per season in a year where the salary cap has likely increased. The Oilers will have two of their best offensive weapons tied up long term, but at a hefty price. The flip side is, if Draisaitl is asking for this kind of money now, make him prove it. Signing a two-year bridge deal extends the time before the Oilers are forced to hand over the huge money.

Kessel Responds to Trade Rumors

I noted in an earlier Rumor Rundown that Ron Cook of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette got everyone’s attention with a column that discussed the likelihood Phil Kessel may be a trade asset for the Penguins now that Rick Tocchet is gone. The report took some heat due to the apparent lack of credibility Cook may have in the Pittsburgh area. Despite that, his report made noise. So much noise, in fact, Kessel responded when approached about the subject.

“You know what, it happens all the time, right?” the Penguins winger told TSN on Friday. “I’ve been traded before, and if I get traded again, it is what it is. It’s a business, and if I’m somewhere else, I’ll play hard for them.

Phil Kessel
(Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports)

When Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford was asked, he told a Pittsburgh radio station on Thursday that he doesn’t expect to trade Kessel, who has helped the team win back-to-back Stanley Cup titles. Rutherford added, “He’s an important part. I don’t want to sit here and say that a certain player’s not going to get traded at some point in his career. I mean, Phil already did. But that’s not something that I foresee happening right now.”

Insiders like Elliotte Friedman believed that there may be some fire where there’s smoke in Pittsburgh, but for now, everyone is suggesting that moving Kessel is not in the immediate plans. Which is exactly what they should be saying.

More From Friedman

Elliotte Friedman also posted a couple news worthy notes on Tuesday. First, some details on the Colton Paryko arbitration. STL has asked for a two-year deal on Parayko at $3.4M and $3.6M. He is asking for one year at $4.85. There is still time to find a middle ground.

Second, that the Detroit Red Wings and Tomas Tatar are still very far apart in their negotiations. This after Tatar turned down a long-term extension to stay with the team.

Tavares and Tampa Bay

Larry Brooks wrote a column wondering if the Tampa Bay Lightning and John Tavares would be a good fit. With the Islanders and Tavares not coming to an extension and it looking more and more like both sides may play out the season and see where that takes them, there will be widespread speculation that Tavares is on the move — until he isn’t.

jimmy Vesey
John Tavares and the Islanders will bounce back from Tuesday’s game. (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Brooks adds, “If Tavares does go through the season unsigned and does reach free agency, there is a keen sense Tampa Bay will be among his most aggressive suitors, with their no-state-tax location a significant benefit to the cause.”