NHL Rumours: Latest on Tavares, Matthews, Vesey contracts

Dan Murphy reports from Vernon, B.C. where Shea Weber is excited to begin a new chapter with the Montreal Canadiens.

Garth Snow talks about John Tavares‘ inevitable payday, Brendan Shanahan comments on the Maple Leafs’ unsigned first-overall pick, and a solid UFA is considering a move to Europe in today’s NHL rumour roundup.

Snow to open talks with Tavares next summer

New York Islanders general manager Garth Snow hopped on NHL Network radio Thursday afternoon and said he will reach out to his captain next summer regarding a long-term contract extension. Listen in full here.

Superstar John Tavares still has two seasons left on his current contract, which carries a $5.5 million cap hit, but is targeted for a massive raise when that deal expires in the summer of 2018.

“We envision him wearing a New York Islanders jersey his entire career. He’s got two years left on his contract. We’ll reach out to him next summer and try to get an extension done,” Snow said. “The conversations I have with John, obviously those will remain private.”

Tavares put up 70 points last season and led his team with 11 points in 11 games in the playoffs.

Snow is free to open talks with Tavares on July 1, 2017, and would be best served to lock up the centre as soon as possible in order to avoid the scrutiny that hung over Steven Stamkos and the Tampa Bay Lightning throughout 2015-16.

“We know we have a franchise player, a special player that loves playing for the Islanders. He loves playing in Long Island and being in the metropolitan area.”

Tavares no longer stands alone as the highest-paid Islanders forward. Snow gave free agent Andrew Ladd $5.5 million per year over five years on July 1. Defencemen Johnny Boychuk ($6 million AAV) and Nick Leddy ($5.5 million) also make Tavares-like money.

Shanahan backs Lamoriello in Matthews contract talks

At the unveiling of the Toronto Maple Leafs centennial plans Thursday, president Brendan Shanahan addressed No. 1 pick Auston Matthews‘ contract situation.

Though fellow top picks Patrik Laine, Matthew Tkachuk and Pierre-Luc Dubois have all inked bonus-laden entry-level deals, Matthews remains unsigned.

Leafs GM Lou Lamoriello’s history suggests he’s not keen on giving out bonuses to rookies.

“Mitch Marner got bonuses, and Lou did his contract,” Shanahan told reporters. “Without going into details, that’s a question for our general manager and it’s not for me to overstep my bound and do his job for him.

“Lou will get the job done, whatever is best for the team.”


Sabres go to Boston to convince Vesey

College star Jimmy Vesey’s agent has maintained that his client will explore free agency on Aug. 15, but that didn’t stop the Buffalo Sabres from acquiring his rights from Nashville as part of their aggressive rebuild plan.

General manager Tim Murray, head coach Dan Bylsma and assistant coach Jerry Forton spent more than two hours meeting with Vesey in Boston Thursday, according to The Providence Journal.

Forton and Vesey have a connection. Before joining the Sabres, the coach spent two years at Harvard, where he was on the bench for Vesey’s freshman season.

Free agent Versteeg close to Switzerland deal?

According to a report from La Regione, EHC Biel of Switzerland’s top pro circuit, National League A, is close to inking a deal with unrestricted free agent Kris Versteeg.

The 30-year-old Alberta native finished out 2015-16 with the Los Angeles Kings, potting five goals and two assists in 19 games.

The right winger won two Stanley Cups as a member of the Chicago Blackhawks.

When submitting content, please abide by our submission guidelines, and avoid posting profanity, personal attacks or harassment. Should you violate our submissions guidelines, we reserve the right to remove your comments and block your account. Sportsnet reserves the right to close a story’s comment section at any time.