The deadline to sign a max eight-year extension with the New York Islanders came and went early Sunday morning with no word out of the Tavares camp regarding a decision on where he will play next season, according to Chris Johnston of Sportsnet.
New York was the only team able to offer the max eight years leading up to the July 1 deadline, a distinct advantage over all other clubs vying for the superstar center's services. With no such deal reached, all suitors are on an even playing field and unable to offer a deal longer than seven years.
While Tavares could still sign a seven-year contract to remain with the Islanders after testing the market, the prevailing sentiment leading up to his free agency was that he'd take advantage of the eight-year option if he intended to re-sign.
Tavares' decision had fans and experts on the edge of their seats for most of Saturday, but with mum being the word surrounding the prized unrestricted free agent as of midnight, his highly-anticipated decision will have to wait until Sunday at the earliest.
It was reported Saturday that Tavares had yet to inform any teams that they were out of the running.
Van Riemsdyk is coming off a stellar season for Toronto in which he tallied a career-high 36 goals, including 11 on the man advantage. He also added 18 assists.
JVR had been drawing serious attention from a number of teams in search of forward help, including the Arizona Coyotes, but he returns to the team that drafted him second overall in the 2007 NHL Draft.
The Los Angeles Kings made the smart decision to lock down franchise blue-liner Drew Doughty to an eight-year contract extension Friday that's expected to pay him around $11 million per season. But what next?
If that contract figure ends up being accurate, the 28-year-old London, Ontario, product will become the highest-paid rearguard in the NHL. Let's not get it twisted: Doughty is most definitely the real deal, and there aren't many rearguards in the league that eat 25-plus minutes a night, perennially touch the 40- to 50-point mark, and regularly finish in the top 10 in Norris Trophy voting (eight out of his 10 seasons).
However, it cements the Kings' status as a win-now club with a rapidly-closing window for winning. Here's why:
The Kings made the right move in inking Doughty to a long-term deal, but the the star defenseman is now entrenched in a roster filled with key players arguably past their primes.
Los Angeles is set to employ one of the oldest rosters in the NHL over the next two or three seasons. As of the end of the 2017-18 campaign, L.A. iced the fourth-oldest lineup in the league, with an average of 29.1 years of age.
Take in the list of key Kings players that are already 29 years of age or older:
Ilya Kovalchuk (W)
Dustin Brown (W)
Jeff Carter (C)
Dion Phaneuf (D)
Jon Quick (G)
Anze Kopitar (C)
Alec Martinez (D)
Jake Muzzin (D)
L.A.'s roster is undoubtedly good enough to be in the mix for a playoff spot next season, but bubble teams rarely go on deep runs, and postseason qualification doesn't always translate into mantelpieces loaded with trophies.
The Kings' lack of speed and athleticism were exposed when they were swept out of the first round of the 2018 playoffs by a younger and quicker Vegas Golden Knights squad, meaning their aging core could stand in the way of immediate on-ice success.
Future cap crunch
Doughty's big pay raise, which won't kick in until summer 2019 when his current contract valued at $7 million per year expires, will also have implications for the Kings' financial situation and their ability to win now.
The league's salary cap will rise to an estimated $80 million next season, but L.A. already has a number of lucrative long-term contracts in place that will make things extremely tough to augment its roster going forward.
This will be especially difficult for the 2020-2021 campaign, when the Kings will have a significant chunk of change committed to eight players who will be 31 years of age or older:
Buyouts or trades of veteran salaries could alleviate some of this mess, but that doesn't hide the fact that Kings general manager Rob Blake is taking a gamble by betting on this group of veteran players to get the job done over the next two or three seasons.
No help from the farm
Some franchises, such as the Toronto Maple Leafs or Philadelphia Flyers, have the added benefit of boasting a farm system stacked with players ready to make an impact at the NHL level. But after years of trading away top picks, the Kings' prospect pool isn't exactly teeming with elite talent.
(Photo courtesy: Getty Images)
Gabe Vilardi, Kale Clague, and Jaret Anderson-Dolan deserve some love as three players in the Kings' system that could make the jump to the NHL in the near future. But Vilardi is another player lacking in speed, Anderson-Dolan is only 5-foot-11, and Clague is likely another season away from contributing on a nightly basis.
Furthermore, the Kings finished in the bottom half of the league in total goals scored last season with only 237 tallies. That scoring deficiency became glaring when they could only manage three goals during their first-round series against the Knights, hanging Jon Quick out to dry.
L.A. had a strong draft this time around in Dallas, but with no impact rookies seemingly ready to make the jump, the aforementioned core of older players has even more pressure to succeed now. Sprinkle in the pending cap crunch and the ever-tough competition of the Pacific Division, and the Kings' window for winning becomes even tighter.
Blake and Co. are clearly all-in. But given the franchise's current makeup, only time will tell whether that was the right decision. Regardless, the pressure is on for immediate results in SoCal.
The scrappy winger is coming off a regular season in which he registered four goals and six assists across 79 games split between Vegas and the Pittsburgh Penguins. Reaves also had a solid Stanley Cup Final for the Knights, as he registered the game-tying goal in Game 1 versus the Washington Capitals.
Reaves was dealt to Vegas in February from Pittsburgh along with a 2018 fourth-round pick for forward Tobias Lindberg. Reaves can officially sign his new deal on Sunday.