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NHL Rumours: Latest on Tatar, Kessel, Tavares, Tortorella

We may have reached the dog days of summer when it comes to hockey news, but there are still contracts unsigned, trades that might reach fruition, and uncertainty surrounding a few clubs’ rosters.

Here we gather the latest rumours on Phil Kessel’s trade speculation, the future of John Tavares, John Tortorella’s next contract, and a Tomas Tatar negotiation that could switch from tricky to ugly.

Lightning a potential landing spot for Tavares?
Larry Brooks of The New York Post joins Friedman in wondering if the Tampa Bay Lightning (with an assist from Florida’s attractive tax laws) could lure New York Islanders star John Tavares in a trade or via free agency next summer.

The Islanders appear ready to play 2017-18 without having Tavares under contract for the following season, not unlike Steve Yzerman’s Bolts did with Stamkos a couple years prior.

On Yzerman: The GM has done a fabulous job solving all three of his big-name RFAs this summer.

He turned Jonathan Drouin into blue-chip defence prospect Mikhail Sergachev, then locked up both Tyler Johnson (seven years times $5 million) and Ondrej Palat (five years times $5.3 million) for reasonable rates.

The Lightning have a full squad in place with $3.25 million to spare and won’t have to face another big negotiation until Nikita Kucherov and Anton Stralman are due in the summer of 2019.

Tavares’ friend and former teammate, Matt Martin, spoke to Newsday about the situation in New York.

“Johnny is a pretty loyal guy,” said Martin, who left to join the Maple Leafs when he hit free agency in 2016.

“It’s a tough decision. Obviously, this next contract is probably going to be where he essentially plays for the rest of his career and it’s something he’s got to think over and consider. I don’t think that [just because] he didn’t sign [a contract extension] on July 1 is any indication that he’s not signing with the Islanders.”

Martin cast his vote for Tavares to follow him to Toronto.

“He’s got to think it over and do what’s best for him and his family. As a friend of mine, would it be great to have him? Absolutely. But I want him to do whatever will make him happy and wherever he feels he can win and be successful. [That’s] what you hope for at the end of the day, and that’s all that matters to me.”

Tatar rejects Red Wings’ long-term offer
Tomas Tatar has drawn the first case of arbitration season, and the Detroit Red Wings have reportedly tried to reach a long-term agreement with the explosive forward ahead of Thursday’s hearing in Toronto.

Tatar rejected a five-year, $25-million offer from Detroit, according to MLive.com, because he’s seeking a six- or seven-year pact closer to $6 million on average annually.

The winger is coming off his third straight 20-goal season. He was paid $2.75 million in each of those years.

Red Wings GM Ken Holland does not comment in the article.

Tatar’s agent, Rich Winter, said, “I do not comment on the private affairs of players without them instructing me to do so.”

This is a tricky negotiation for Holland, especially in light of Tatar saying that a one-year deal forced via arbitration could signal the end of the 26-year-old’s stay in Motown.

“Detroit offered me a contract, and even with a few options — for a year, or four or five. We’re still talking about the length, and of course, the financial amount of the contract,” Tatar has told CSA.sk, per the Detroit News. “However, we aren’t going anywhere, and there’s been time enough.

“Arbitration is the last option, I have to sign off, it’s just a mandatory contract. Unless I agree with Detroit, I’ll go to the court [salary arbitration], where they’ll give me a year’s contract. That would probably be my last season in Detroit. We’ll see in a few days or weeks before it all comes together.”