NHL rumblings: Chatter picking up with July 1 on the horizon

Hockey Night in Canada's Chris Johnston joins Evanka Osmak talk about the ongoing John Tavares saga.

Some rumblings as we approach July 1:

• The John Tavares meetings are over, and he was debriefing Wednesday night with agent Pat Brisson. It is in his hands now.

• Meanwhile, a current teammate is one of the more intriguing free-agent cases.

The blue line market took a hit when John Carlson returned to Washington. Multiple reports indicate Jack Johnson is going to Pittsburgh. Kevin Connauton, who scored 11 goals in 2017-18, remained in Arizona. The Coyotes are also keeping two of next summer’s biggest prizes: Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Niklas Hjalmarsson. The expectation is Drew Doughty will commit to Los Angeles. Tampa Bay GM Steve Yzerman said he wants to extend Ryan McDonagh, and when Yzerman tips his hand like that, there’s a good chance it happens. It is believed talks are underway.

All eyes are on Ottawa and Erik Karlsson. But, if you’re not in that race, there aren’t too many full-time, under-30 options.

Washington is making a serious run at keeping Michal Kempny. There’s Ian Cole, overtime hero John Moore, Greg Pateryn — and Calvin de Haan.

De Haan did not play after Dec. 16, 2017, needing shoulder surgery that ended his season. That occurred in January, and “after two weeks of sitting around doing nothing,” as he joked Tuesday, de Haan began the rehab process.

He resumed skating a couple of months ago, and, as one GM said this week, “there’s a lot of interest.”

“We had the time to make sure things were done right,” de Haan said. “You never want to get hurt. It sucks. I wouldn’t wish it on anyone. But we had nine months to make sure it healed. I feel better than before.”

Was there fear about having surgery on an expiring contract?

“It does cross your mind,” he answered. “I like to think I’m an easygoing guy. It’s kind of how we approached things. We had the best shoulder doctor on the planet. He was very positive.”

That’s Dr. Tony Miniaci. De Haan’s agent, Andy Scott, made the doctor’s notes available to interested clubs. “Anyone who asks for them gets them,” he said. “(Dr. Miniaci) was adamant we get it done.”

Two years ago, Steven Stamkos said the free-agency meeting period goes much faster than you can prepare for.

“He’s right about that,” de Haan said. “It feels like a whirlwind. But it’s nice to be wanted.”

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He wouldn’t discuss specific teams that reached out, but has been in contact with the Islanders.

“It’s all I’ve ever known. I know people talk about the arena situation. It is what it is. The ice surface is 200 feet regardless. Great people. The worst part about being injured was watching my teammates, my buddies, not succeed. When you score as many goals as we do, you should make the playoffs. You want to be out there.”

He’ll be back. We’re just waiting to find out where.

• Another defender with some serious interest: Pateryn. Don’t be surprised if he ends up somewhere in the $2-million range. Believe Minnesota is one interested party.

• It sounds like Chicago continues to monitor the possibility of a Justin Faulk deal.

• With reports that Cam Ward is going to Chicago and Robin Lehner visited Detroit, there is even more belief that Buffalo is aggressively pursuing Carter Hutton. If the Sabres are willing to go three years, they probably get him.

• Toronto has fielded calls on the AHL championship tandem of Garret Sparks and Calvin Pickard.

• A few readers/tweeters wanted more information on something from the 31 Thoughts blog last week: I mentioned Los Angeles, New York and Florida are rumoured to appeal to Artemi Panarin. You asked if that meant one New York team or both. I’m under the impression it is both. You also asked if that meant both Florida teams or just the Panthers. I’m less clear on that one, but I think it is both.

Agent Dan Milstein wouldn’t comment on potential destinations, but did say reports that Panarin wanted to go somewhere his girlfriend would have more opportunities to further her own career are not true.

That’s all for now…

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