John Tavares gave the Toronto Maple Leafs his word. General manager Kyle Dubas still had his doubts.
After all the recruiting, all the speculation, all the contract discussions, Dubas couldn’t fully believe that the Maple Leafs had landed Tavares, the grand prize in the 2018 NHL free agent class.
Until he saw the 27-year-old center walk into Scotiabank Arena on Sunday. “That’s the exact moment I was finally was convinced it was really happening,” Dubas said. Dubas couldn’t wipe the smile off his face, and with good reason.
It was, after all, a long and difficult process. It was a journey that started four months earlier with an idea, escalated this past week with a recruiting battle against five other teams, and culminated with Tavares finally making his decision in Toronto’s favor Saturday. “You put your best foot forward and hope it’s good enough,” the 32-year-old GM said. “We’re happy it was.” By Mike Zeisberger
James Neal signed a five-year, $28.75 million contract with the Calgary Flames on Monday. It has an average annual value of $5.75 million.
The 31-year-old forward had 44 points (25 goals, 19 assists) in 71 games with the Vegas Golden Knights last season. He scored the first goal in Golden Knights history and the winning goal in each of their first three games. By NHL.com
Joe Thornton signed a one-year contract with the San Jose Sharks on Monday. Financial terms were not released.
“Nobody loves the game of hockey more than Joe Thornton and his leadership on and off the ice have been instrumental in this franchise’s success,” Sharks general manager Doug Wilson said. “We’re excited that he has continued his commitment to this organization and the fans in San Jose.”
The veteran center, who turned 39 Monday, had 36 points (13 goals, 23 assists) in 47 games with the Sharks last season. He missed the final 35 games of the regular season and all 10 games in Stanley Cup Playoffs with a knee injury. By NHL.com
A complete list of which restricted free agents were and were not given qualifying offers by Monday’s deadline. The deadline for NHL teams to submit qualifying offers to restricted free agents came and went early evening Monday, and with it went one of the notable early deadlines of the off-season.
Already, we were aware of a few players who were set to be skipped over by the Monday deadline, including notables such as goaltenders Robin Lehner and Petr Mrazek, but there were a few other players lumped into that group of note. Below is a breakdown of the qualifying offers that were issued — and those that weren’t — for the teams who have made the information public. By Jared Clinton
NHL Trade Rumors By Mark Easson
On the San Jose Sharks …
Paul Gackle: The Sharks continue to have contract talks with free agent Dylan DeMelo. GM Doug Wilson did say that they are comfortable going forward with Tim Heed, Joakim Ryan and Radim Simek if need be.
On the Toronto Maple Leafs …
On the Washington Capitals …
Isabelle Khurshudyan: Believe the Capitals could use a veteran defenseman for their third pairing next season. Brooks Orpik could be a fit, and they may be open to the idea, but think that they would want to sign him to a deal for more than one season.
The Washington Capitals named Todd Reirden as their next head coach, promoting the team’s top assistant after Barry Trotz’s sudden resignation last week. In what will be his first NHL head-coaching job, the 47-year-old Reirden will inherit a Stanley Cup-winning roster that has two seasons left with superstars Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom under contract together. The Capitals don’t reveal contract terms for coaches per team policy. By Isabelle Khurshudyan
And, from the sounds of it, his departure was mostly a business decision.
“Yeah, obviously, I love the D.C. area,” he told reporters on a conference call. “But when it came to the business aspect, from my standpoint, I felt that it wasn’t really sincere [given] what we did together. So I decided that it was better to just move on.”
“I thank the fans,” he added. “I’m glad we could get it done. I said we could get it done in four years, and we did.”
Although the value of his contract with the Islanders has not been publicly disclosed, Hockey Night in Canada’s Elliotte Friedman reported that Trotz is set to earn “at least $4 million” per year—or more than twice what he was earning in Washington.
A source told NBC Sports Washington earlier this week that Trotz, who directed the Caps to their first Stanley Cup two weeks ago, sought $5 million per season for five seasons. The five-year term, that source said, was a non-starter as far as the Caps were concerned, given the relatively short shelf life of NHL coaches and the fact that Trotz had already been in Washington for four seasons.
When it became clear that the sides weren’t going to close the considerable gap between their positions, Trotz offered to step down and the resignation was accepted, making the 55-year-old a free agent.
When “I got the [counteroffer], I guess I knew it was time to go in a different direction,” he said.
In New York, Trotz replaces Doug Weight, who was fired earlier this month along with GM Garth Snow. Lou Lamoriello, a longtime NHL executive, took over for Snow and immediately started a search for a new head coach.
Once Trotz became available, it didn’t take Lamoriello to zero in on the NHL’s fifth all-time winningest coach. The two met, exchanged ideas and quickly realized that they had found a good fit in one another. Trotz said he’s already reached out to the Islanders’ star captain, John Tavares, who could become the biggest prize on the free agent market on July 1.
And, like that, Trotz now is the coach of a Metropolitan Division foe. The Caps and Isles will face off four times next season, beginning with a Nov. 26meeting in New York.
It’ll be weird, for sure. But professional sports is a business. And all sides involved in the Trotz saga were served a painful reminder of that this week.
Asked if he felt wanted in Washington, Trotz said: “Well, I’ll leave that up to the Caps to answer that. I think, absolutely. We just won a cup together and so I don’t think that was an issue. I think it was more principle.”
In the end, Trotz wanted to be compensated like one of the top coaches in the game. And now he will, settling in behind big market coaches such as Toronto’s Mike Babcock ($6.25 million per year), Chicago’s Joel Quenneville ($6 million) and Montreal’s Claude Julien ($5 million).
“It’s good to be wanted,” he said. “It happened really quickly because you go from one emotion of winning the cup to the next emotion of leaving the team that you just won the Cup with, and you have to make some quick decisions. I know the timing of it—end of the season, the draft coming up, free agency [and] all that—there was some urgency on that. Both parties knew that, so we went to work at it and got it done.