Johnny Gaudreau will not be an Islander.
I mean, there was probably never a chance he would be an Islander, as Dom wrote yesterday. But the rumor mill has been churning that the Islanders surely would be interested if Gaudreau would listen to them. Why wouldn’t they be, right?
I don’t have any of my own information, but I have gotten pretty good at reading tea leaves, and these tea leaves are not particularly difficult to read.
For context, last night, Gaudreau called the Calgary Flames to let them know that he was moving on. That information became public, and both the Flames and Gaudreau’s representation spoke to the media about it; both sides called it a “family decision.”
CAL GM Brad Treliving: It’s a disappointing day, to say the very least…Wishes Gaudreau the best, thanks him for 8 great years. “We did everything possible to keep him here. It’s a family decision and we respect that fully.”
— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) July 13, 2022
Gaudreau agent Lewis Gross: “The Flames did everything they could. This came down to a family decision.”
— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) July 13, 2022
So it’s a family decision. And as has been well-documented throughout his career, Gaudreau is from South Jersey, 45 minutes outside of Philadelphia. I saw something on Twitter, though I have no way of verifying, that his wife works as a nurse at a Philly-area hospital.
But the Philadelphia Flyers don’t have the space for him. They won’t pay the price needed to clear out the last year of James van Riemsdyk’s deal (as of now, at least one first-round pick) to make that space.
Which leaves the New Jersey Devils and the New York Islanders. Neither locations are all that close to Philadelphia, but both are substantially closer than Calgary was. Sounds logical. But going to Long Island would mean he would have to pass through the city every time he wanted to go see his family of him, and we know city traffic; I know this all sounds ridiculous, but if it was a family decision, you can bet his commute has come up.
The other issue is that while the Islanders theoretically have cap space right now, a lot of that will be eaten up with extensions for current players. Lou operates in the shadows—for all we know, he has numbers agreed upon with the RFAs that depend on what Lou does with UFAs—but the fact is he would have to clear some space at some point this summer to make room for Gaudreau. Meanwhile, the Devils have like $25 million in cap space. They have money to throw around even after they sign some guys.
- And then there’s this: Late last night, Elliotte Friedman posted a blog with some quick information. With Gaudreau, he said it’s basically New Jersey or Philadelphia, and Philly is probably out for the reasons I explained above. Thus, New Jersey has been the talk. “I’d be surprised if it was the Islanders.” So don’t get your hopes up, folks. [Sportsnet]
- Which is unfortunate, because this core could use an offensive talent like Johnny Gaudreau, and it’s time that they put their revamped arena, front office, and ownership to work. They don’t have the excuses they used to anymore. [amNY]
- Except that they’re [derisively] the Islanders to generations of hockey players because of the long-time dysfunction. It will always be an uphill battle trying to shake that reputation, on top of, in this case, the factors of cap space/money and the Philly ties. [NY Post]
- There are other options out there for the Islanders to find some offense. None as dynamic as Gaudreau, but the Islanders could use one of these other 20-goal scorers. [amNY]
- Isles fifth-round pick Matthew Maggio went on Ottawa radio and referred to being drafted by the Islanders as the best day of his life to that point. Pretty cool to hear, and hopefully he’s got some chops. Maggio is a good Long Island hockey name. [TSN]
Free Agency and Two Trades
- It would have been fun if Evgeni Malkin went to market, but we knew that it was never happening. I have signed a four-year deal to remain in Pittsburgh. [NHL]
- After Wild GM Bill Guerin said he didn’t “have shit to do” with respect to trading Cam Talbot, he traded Cam Talbot. He’s in Ottawa now. [NHL]
- Ottawa needed a goalie because it hilariously traded Matt Murray to the Maple Leafs. I think we linked that yesterday, but it’s worth revisiting. [NHL | PPP | SSS]
- Murray will be motivated, as he says he has “a lot to prove.” [The Athletic] For the team, it’s a massive risk. [The Athletic]
- One thing the Flyers have done to create a room is buy out Oskar Lindblom, the guy who came back from cancer to play for them. They’ll do that but not pay the price to offload JVR. Objectively, the Flyers are a mess. So if Gaudreau ends up there, I wish him luck because he’ll need it. [NHL]
- Nic Deslauriers will probably go to market. Lou, stay away. [Hockey Wilderness]
- As we know, the speaking window no longer exists in free agency. Technically, teams and players can’t agree to anything until noon today. But the media folks have not been shy about noting the tampering going on. To wit, here are some of the rumored “front-runners” as McKenzie lawyers (another one not listed is Nazem Kadri or Vincent Trocheck to the Rangers):
Usual proviso on this day (and Deadline Day) — but especially this day since pen can’t be put to paper until after 12 noon ET — until it’s a done deal it’s not done at all. So those teams tied to players, they are this morning only “front runners.”
— Bobby Margarita (@TSNBobMcKenzie) July 13, 2022
- Duncan Keith officially retired from the NHL at a press conference in Edmonton. [NHL]
- The PHF is expanding to seven teams this season with a new team in Montréal. [Ice Garden]
- Something I hadn’t considered in the Chicago Blackhawks’ tanking endeavor (and the Canadiens’, Red Wings’, Rangers’, and Maple Leafs’: It’s a lot easier for an Original Six team to do it—five of them have done it in the last decade—because they will still remain relevant, both in their market and their national markets, and make money hand over fist.Small-market teams become an afterthought when they’re bad. [The Athletic]
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism