John Tavares has been one of the most discussed superstars in the NHL over the past few months because of his looming contract extension. It's widely expected that Tavares will be seeking a contract with a yearly salary over the coveted $10 million per season mark and it's almost assured he will receive that type of contract from somebody because he is an amazing talent. With the New York Islanders recently getting a new arena approved near Belmont, it is believed by many experts that Tavares will re-sign with his current squad. It also doesn't hurt that the Islanders are in playoff contention as I write this.
Just because the odds of Tavares being traded before the trade deadline this season don't appear to be high, doesn't mean that we can't talk about potential trades for him. The thought of blockbuster trades is the fun part anyways, right? This list takes a look at trades that each NHL team could potentially offer to the Islanders for Tavares. Some of these teams should absolutely not trade for Tavares, but we still offer some hypothetical possibilities of how they could acquire the superstar center. Could your team possibly make a major move for Tavares before the deadline? Find out below.
30 Anaheim Ducks
Package: Sam Steel, Josh Mahura & a 1st Rounder
While acquiring John Tavares is little more than a pipe dream for many of the teams on this list, it actually seems very realistic for the Anaheim Ducks to be able to pull of this type of move. Anaheim has done a great job over the past few years at building great organizational depth by stocking up on draft picks.
Well now those draft picks are starting to turn into exciting young players that are sure to entice many opposing general managers. The main get here for the Islanders would be Sam Steel, a very young center that tallied over 130 points in just 66 games for the Regina Pats. While the thought of Steel alone would get the Islanders ears ringing, the Ducks could offer Steel's Regina teammate, Josh Mahura, along with a 1st rounder, to close the deal. This would provide the Islanders with two potential franchise cornerstones and give the Ducks a realistic chance at hoisting the Stanley Cup Trophy this season.
29 Arizona Coyotes
Package: Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Max Domi, 1st Rounder
The Coyotes have been a mess of a franchise ever since making it to the Western Conference Finals all the way back in 2012. While it's unlikely that Tavares would be interested in joining a franchise that just dumped their longtime captain in order to commit to their rebuilding project, the Coyotes do have enough juice to have the Islanders answer their calls.
While Clayton Keller is certainly untouchable at this point, the Coyotes have a plethora of young prospects playing at, or near, the pro-level. One interesting trade combination could involve the Coyotes' best overall player, Oliver Ekman-Larsson, and one of their young prospects in exchange for Tavares. Giving up Ekman-Larsson and perhaps a guy like Max Domi could be enough to land Tavares, seeing how Ekman-Larsson is an elite defender and Domi shows flashes of brilliance. With the Coyotes bound to have a high first round pick, the Islanders would be demanding that too. This just won't happen though, because the Coyotes wouldn't go anywhere by unloading young stars for one player.
28 Boston Bruins
Package: Charlie McAvoy, 1st Rounder
If the Boston Bruins want to be considered as a realistic contender for the Stanley Cup Trophy this season, trading for Tavares could be the move that they need to make. It would not come cheap, however, as the Islanders would prefer to trade a talent like Tavares to a Western Conference team so that he doesn't have the chance to torch them as often as he'd probably like to.
The Bruins would have to part with one of their shiny young prospects, likely Anders Bjork or defensemen Charlie McAvoy, and a future first round draft pick. While this may seem like a heavy asking price, the Bruins would be receiving a top-flight center that could give them a significant advantage any other teams second line (assuming they push Bergeron to the second line). Boston has a nice blend of veterans and youngsters and adding a piece like Tavares could fit well into their roster structure this season.
27 Buffalo Sabres
Package: Sam Reinhart, 1st Rounder & 2nd Rounder
The Buffalo Sabres should not make a trade for Jon Tavares as it would do little to save them from the depths of the Eastern Conference pit that they are in. Besides that fact, the Sabres are already pretty loaded with strong center play from Jack Eichel (duh), Ryan O'Reilly, and Sam Reinhart. It's safe to assume that in a trade for Tavares, one of those three would have to go in order to make room and it damn sure isn't going to be Eichel.
The most likely trade scenario here is a combination of Sam Reinhart and future first and second round picks to the Islanders in exchange for Tavares and possibly a young goalie prospect, if possible. Reinhart is still very young, only 22 years old, and has shown glimpses of play that make him a valuable asset still. Although more is expected of him, he might be able to produce more if put on a top 2 line for the Islanders. Again, the Sabres do not need Tavares and should not compromise future assets (draft picks) in order to acquire him.
26 Calgary Flames
Package: Mark Jankowski & Dillon Dube
The Flames and Tavares would actually be a great fit as his skillset and position would immediately help Calgary improve their playoff positioning. For as good as Sean Monahan is right now, Tavares would still likely slide into the #1 center position for the Flames and allow Monahan to work with Matthew Tkachuk to create a scary second line combination.
Unfortunately for the Flames, they don't really have much to offer when it comes to draft picks. Their 2018 first round pick and possible second round pick already belong to the Islanders from the Travis Hamonic trade. The Islanders could try to rob the bank of Calgary again but this time ask for some young players in return. The likely candidates are Mark Jankowski or Dillon Dube (just for the fact that the Islanders could create a "Dilly Dilly" chant each time he scores). While this would be a nice fit for Tavares, it's not likely to be enough to steal Tavares.
25 Carolina Hurricanes
Package: Jake Bean, Josh Jooris, 2nd Round Pick
The Carolina Hurricanes could use Tavares as a possible loan this season to help them try and sneak into the playoffs in the weak Eastern Conference but they would have to sacrifice some of their bright future in exchange. The Islanders should look at the Hurricanes as a chance to restock their cabinet of defensemen because the Hurricanes are stacked in that department.
Obviously Noah Hanifin is off the table, but a young prospect like Jake Bean combined with a steady NHL player like Josh Jooris could do the trick. The Islanders could ask for a middle round draft pick as well and probably get it. Whether the Hurricanes would actually be able to convince Tavares to sign long term is another story, but ideally those talks would occur before any trade is actually made.
24 Chicago Blackhawks
Package: Jonathan Toews
Okay this section is guaranteed to rub some fans the wrong way and believe me, I get it. But hear me out when I say that trading Jonathan Toews to the Islanders in exchange for John Tavares is not as crazy as it sounds. Yes, Toews is the captain and has been so influential in Chicago's success over the past decade, but he's approaching 30 years old. Also, believe it or not but Tavares has better career stats than Toews does when comparing them per games played.
Toews obviously brings certain intangibles to the game that can't be measured statistically, but so does Tavares. This would be a risky move with the fan base, but it could be a potential game-changer for both franchises. The salary cap situation would be nearly identical as well. While this may not be "realistic," it was a fun enough possibility to throw out there. Chicago fans, you can breathe now.
23 Colorado Avalanche
Package: J.T. Compher, 1st Rounder
It wouldn't make much sense for the Colorado Avalanche to trade for a mid-20s top-line center after trading star Matt Duchene to the Ottawa Senators this season, but the thin air in Denver makes people do interesting things. While the Avalanche appear to be rebuilding, they could make a major move before the trade deadline if they desired because of the prospects and draft picks they've acquired recently.
The Islanders would likely be looking for a young centermen to help fill the void left by Tavares and one that could potentially become the face of the franchise as well. Looking at the Avalanche roster, a trade involving J.T. Compher (he was a center all through college) and the rights to the Ottawa Senators' first round pick that was acquired in the Duchene trade would be a nice land for both teams.
22 Columbus Blue Jackets
Package: Pierre Luc-Dubois
More than most teams on this list, the Blue Jackets could actually use a top flight center to help round out one of the more exciting and young rosters in the league right now. Pairing a center like Tavares with left-winger Artemi Panarin would strike some fear in the rest of the Metropolitan Division. But the Islanders aren't stupid (some would argue otherwise) and won't trade a talent like Tavares to a division foe without getting a big coup in return.
Because of this, the Blue Jackets would have to offer up some of their top prospects in order to get a deal done. Pierre Luc-Dubois is one of the most prized possessions of the Blue Jackets and would be a big loss in order to get Tavares. While Luc-Dubois is currently slotted as a winger, he has the talent and size to transition to center as he gets older (19 years old) and his body continues to develop. This is trading a guy with a very high-ceiling for a player with a very high floor. Would you make this trade if you were Columbus?
21 Dallas Stars
Package: Julius Honka, 1st Rounder, 2nd Rounder
The Dallas Stars already have a loaded first line with Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn, but sometimes the rich get richer. This would certainly be the case if the Stars were somehow able to acquire Tavares from the Islanders. The Stars have a few young defensemen coming through their ranks right now that should be intriguing to the Islanders, but a highly skilled prospect defensemen won't cut it alone.
The Stars should trade one of their top defensive prospects, Julius Honka, along with several draft picks to the Islanders in exchange for Tavares. This allows the start to keep their most talented prospect in Miro Hieskanen. It would also possibly allow the Stars to throw in Martin Hanzal as part of the trade because clearly the Hanzal experiment is failing so far. Hopefully for the sake of the Western Conference, the Stars don't even have their radar on Tavares.
20 Detroit Red Wings
Package: Gustav Nyquist, Filip Hronek, 2nd Rounder
The Red Wings are in a bit of an awkward spot given their current roster makeup and standings for such historic powerhouse franchise. Their fans are used to winning and general manager Ken Holland, now in his 17th season as Red Wings GM, is well aware of the expectations of the fan base. It could be very beneficial to bring in a new face of the franchise in Tavares to help generate a buzz amongst the team that has seemed lost all season long.
In order to acquire a talent like Tavares, the Red Wings might have to part ways with one of their exciting younger players, as well as an established veteran. A combination of Gustav Nyquist, defensive prospect Filip Hronek, and a future second round pick could be enough for the Islanders to pull the trigger. Tavares would become an even bigger superstar in Detroit.
19 Edmonton Oilers
Package: 1st Rounder, 2nd Rouner, Dylan Strome, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins
It would be nearly impossible to have Tavares join the same team as Connor McDavid simply because of the salary cap headaches that would bound to create. McDavid just recently signed an 8-year extension for a reported $12.5 million per season. It's been speculated that Tavares is also looking for a deal above the $10 million per season barrier, which would leave the Oilers with two of the highest paid players in the entire league.
While stacking teams with high paid superstars is a strategy that can work in the NBA, it is a recipe for disaster in the NHL. As good as McDavid and Tavares are, they still need quality talent surrounding them in order to win games. The Oilers could do it by trading their first and second round pick to the Islanders and then shedding as much salary as they can from their veterans. The Isles would need a center after losing Tavares and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins would be the piece to ask for. Maybe the Islanders would want Strome back too?
18 Florida Panthers
Package: Connor Brickley, Jared McCann, 1st Rounder, 2nd Rounder
The Florida Panthers have proven to be a pretty disappointing franchise of late, but one thing they do have is a stockpile of interesting centers. If the Islanders are willing to let go of their franchise center in Tavares, you can bet that they will be seeking a young center prospect in just about any deal they listen to. The Panthers can create some combination of either Connor Brickley or Jared McCann, along with a slew of future draft picks.
While McCann has been underwhelming so far in his short career given all the hype that came along with him during the draft process, he still possess the potential to turn into a elite forward in the NHL. Maybe that occurs when he moves to a higher line? Who knows, but the Islanders may be willing to take a chance on either of those two youngsters instead of letting Tavares possibly walk away with nothing in return at the end of the season.
17 Los Angeles Kings
Package: Adrian Kempe, Johnny Brodzinski & Darcy Kuemper
The Los Angeles Kings are on a roll this season and don't really need much help at this time, but acquiring a talent like Tavares is always hard to pass up for a big market team such as the Kings. If the Islanders were smart, they would ask for Adrian Kempe and Jonny Brodzinski in return for their franchise face. While these two are still very much prospects, they are both at an age where it's time for them to start gaining more consistent play.
Kempe has shown that thus far this year with his 11 goals and plus/minus of +10. He is a very talented winger with the capability of scoring 30 plus goals a year later on his career. Brodzinski is not a flashy center, but he has size and the ability to get to tougher areas of the ice and could turn into a solid faceoff foe. The Islanders could go after goalie Darcy Kuemper but good luck prying him from LA with his outstanding play so far this season.
16 Minnesota Wild
Package: Eric Staal, 1st Rounder, 2nd Rounder
The Wild had a solid run the past several seasons but their age is beginning to creep up on them. It would be nice for the Wild to make a major trade for a player like Tavares and inject some energy into the franchise, which they could certainly use given their position at the bottom of the playoff picture.
It's unlikely that the Wild would want to compromise much of their youthful prospects given their already aging roster, so a swap for an expiring contract and a draft pick would be their best option. The Wild could offer Eric Staal, and 2018 first round and second round selections. If that is not enough, the Wild could be willing to throw in prospect Gustav Olofsson to seal the deal.
15 Montreal Canadiens
Package: Carey Price
The Montreal Canadiens will only go as far as Carey Price will take them. When Price is dominant, the Canadiens can win. When Price is average, their team will struggle. Because of this reason, it could be a perfect time for the Canadiens to cut ties with their franchise face in exchange for a Tavares and a different direction for their team.
A trade of Carey Price to the Islanders makes a lot of sense. The Islanders could use a true net presence that could immediately change the status of their franchise if he is able to go on one of his classic dominant runs. The Canadiens have top goalie prospect Charlie Lindgren at the NHL level now and he has shown glimpses that he could be the next franchise net-minder. This would be a massive trade if it were to happen and could lead to a wild trade deadline.
14 Nashville Predators
Package: Ryan Johansen, Dante Fabbro, 1st Rounder
The Nashville Predators are already a loaded team upfront but any true Stanley Cup contender could use a talent like John Tavares to help take them over the top. The Predators could try to upgrade their center position by trading the promising Ryan Johansen and defensive prospect Dante Fabbro, along with a first round pick to the Islanders for Tavares.
This would be a good return for the Islanders and may seem like a lot to give up for a major contract headache like Tavares, but it's not often that a franchise like Nashville has a chance to win the Stanley Cup. They should go all in and do whatever it takes to get Tavares, even if it's just for a loan this season. He's a game-changer and can help Nashville win the championship.
13 New Jersey Devils
Package: Steven Santini, Michael McCleod, 1st Rounder, 2nd Rounder
The New Jersey Devils are one of the best teams in the NHL and already have a hot, young franchise center in Nico Hischier who appears ready for the NHL game at only 18 years old. He is already the Devils highest scoring center. So the need for a guy like Tavares is not that high for the Devils, but it could be beneficial for a youngster like Hischier to learn from a superstar like Tavares.
The Devils could use a plethora of draft picks and youngsters Steven Santini and Michael McLeod to get the Islanders to consider them as a true option. This move could be ideal for Tavares because he would get to stay in the greater New York area and play for a team that has a proven track record for contending for the playoffs. For as unlikely as it is, this would be a good move for the Devils so long as it doesn't stifle Hischier's development at all.
12 New York Rangers
Package: J.T. Miller, Anthony DeAngelo and Future Picks
The New York Rangers and New York Islanders are currently battling each other for playoff positioning at the moment, so it wouldn't make much sense for the Islanders to trade their best player to their inner division and inner city rival unless they get a massive haul for him. The Rangers don't exactly have the most stacked prospect group right now, but there are always draft picks.
In order to get Tavares, the Rangers could give up their top young center, J.T. Miller and a combination of defenseman Anthony DeAngelo and future draft picks. Miller is a strong young center who has shown that he can be a 20+ goal scorer each season. This move, however, would signal that the Rangers don't see Miller as having a much higher ceiling than what he has shown. It helps that the Rangers own the rights to the Ottawa Senators second round pick in 2018 to use as a throw in.
11 Ottawa Senators
Package: Logan Brown, Thomas Chabot, Bobby Ryan, 1st Rounder
Out of all teams on this list, the Ottawa Senators are probably the least likely to make a trade for Tavares. This is not because they wouldn't love to have a great player like Tavares, it's more so because they don't have the assets to pull off a trade of this magnitude after their blockbuster deal for centermen Matt Duchene earlier this season.
There is no real need for Ottawa either because they have Matt Duchene as a first line center now, but hypothetically speaking the Senators could give up top prospects Logan Brown, Thomas Chabot, and veteran Bobby Ryan. It's likely the Islanders would still demand a 2019 first round pick as well. Realistically, however, there is no way the Senators trade for Tavares.
10 Philadelphia Flyers
Package: Two First Rounders, Claude Giroux
Sitting in last place in the Metro Division, the Philadelphia Flyers are currently in a strange place for a historically pretty strong franchise. Their roster is still chalked full of big name talent with players like Claude Giroux, Wayne Simmonds, and Jakub Voracek, but they could absolutely use a guy like Tavares to get things turned around quickly.
The Flyers have several young prospects playing with their NHL team right now and could embrace their tanking and begin selling off some of their older players for more draft picks. Or they could make a major trade for Tavares and try to extend their contending window for a few more seasons. To get a player like Tavares, the Flyers could give up their own 2018 first round pick and their rights to the St. Louis Blues' 2018 first round pick (which could turn into a 2019 first round pick depending on how the Blues finish this season). Tavares would be a nice fit for a talented group in Philly. They could also unload Claude Giroux, who would be a downgrade for the Isles, but at least give them a respectable center.
9 Pittsburgh Penguins
Package: Tristan Jarry, Two 1st Rounders
The Pittsburgh Penguins expect to be Stanley Cup contenders each season with the talented roster they have assembled. It's been a disappointing season so far for the Penguins but any team with Sydney Crosby, Phil Kessel, and Evgeni Malkin is capable of making a run at any given moment. Do the Penguins need another superstar center? No. But do they want another superstar center? Of course.
But what could they offer the Islanders in order to get a player of Tavares level? The Islanders would certainly be interested in the Penguins' future first round draft picks, but it's more likely that they could trade their exciting young goalie Tristan Jarry. Jarry could bring a new franchise face for the Islanders at the goalie position and would create a very interesting trade for both sides. The Penguins have Matt Murray already so they could be willing to part with Jarry.
8 San Jose Sharks
Package: Joshua Norris, Joakim Ryan, 1st Rounder, Joe Thornton
The San Jose Sharks have sustained great success for being a rather small market team, but getting a player like Tavares would shift their team into the spotlight of the NHL for the rest of the 2017-18 season. The Sharks have talented centers in Logan Couture, Joe Pavelski, and Joe Thornton, so it's likely that one of them would have to be included in a trade for logistical purposes.
The Sharks could entice the Islanders by offering their 2017 first round pick, Joshua Norris, who is currently at the University of Michigan. Norris could be a top line scorer at the forward position within the next five years. Include another prospect in Joakim Ryan, a future draft pick, and the expiring contract of 38 year old Joe Thornton and the Islanders would be receiving a nice haul for their pricey center.
7 St. Louis Blues
Package: Colton Parayko, Ivan Barbashev, 2nd Rounder, 3rd Rounder
The St Louis Blues are off to a pretty good start this season and should be players when the NHL trade deadline approaches. The Blues are a strong team but lack the superstar swagger that a player like Tavares could bring, but it won't come cheap. The Blues have some solid young prospects coming down their pipeline, but would it be enough?
The Blues are currently in tight spot with their future draft picks as they could lose their 2018 first round pick if they finish in the top 10. So the Blues would have to get creative with their trade package. Any trade would be sure to include top prospects Ivan Barbashev and second year player Colton Parayko. The Blues would also have to throw in several future draft picks (2nd and 3rd rounders) to seal the deal.
6 Tampa Bay Lightning
Package: Brayden Point
The Tampa Bay Lightning are dominating the league so far this season and don't appear to need to make any major changes at this point, but that would be pretty boring for purposes of this article. If Tampa Bay wants to make a serious splash and raise their chances this season, they could offer the Islanders their star youngster Brayden Point for John Tavares straight up.
This would be a no brainer for the Lightning as Brayden Point has shown potential to be a future superstar in his short time in the NHL thus far. Trading a high priced all-star in Tavares for a 21-year-old scorer like Point would be a significant upgrade for the future of the Islanders. But as both teams are currently in playoff position, neither would seem willing to make any major changes at this point. Crazier things have happened at the NHL trade deadline though.
5 Toronto Maple Leafs
Package: Mitch Marner & 3rd Rounder
Mitch Marner and a 2018 third round pick for John Tavares. Would you take it? It's something the Islanders would seriously have to consider if the Maple Leafs were willing to trade one of their key building blocks for a great center in Tavares. While Marner is still so young at only 20 years old, the Maple Leafs would be nearly unable to make a trade for Tavares without moving him, because we know they won't be moving Auston Matthews anytime soon.
Bringing in a center like Tavares would push Marner to the third line, which could seriously stunt his development. Marner isn't a great goal scoring center at this point in his career, but he is already a master facilitator which is evident given his early career assist total. This may seem like a shocking trade, but to land a player like Tavares you have to be willing to part with highly skilled players. While this trade is highly unlikely (possibly even because the Leafs would fear financial ramifications of having Tavares and Matthews contracts on the books in a few years) it would immediately shift the tone for the Leafs.
4 Vancouver Canucks
Package: Elias Petterson, 2nd Rounder
When your team is near last place in your division and your offense is led by the aging Sedin brothers, you know a major shakeup is bound to happen. That is exactly the position that the Vancouver Canucks find themselves in currently. The Canucks would love to add a player of Tavares caliber to help with the development of potential high scoring winger Brock Boeser.
Boeser looks like the real deal as he has already accumulated 20 goals and 14 assists this season at the age of 20. While it would be wise to rebuild around their youth, it would take a trade of prospect Elias Petterson and a second round pick to gain the interest of the Islanders front office. While I personally would rather sell of the old timer Sedins and restart the franchise around the prospects, that would just make to much sense for a championship starved franchise like Vancouver.
3 Vegas Golden Knights (No Chance)
Because they have only been in existence for less than a year, the Golden Knights don't really have the prospect pipeline needed to attract the attention of the Islanders as possible trade suitors for John Tavares, but that shouldn't stop them. The Knights are off to a better start than anyone could have imagined and it's because they play well as a team.
It would be worth risking that chemistry for a franchise face in Tavares. He would immediately be the biggest star in sin city and would be a building block for years to come. Possibly even more motivation behind a move for Tavares would be for the Golden Knights to gain more popularity among Vegas residents before the big bad NFL joins the competition in town. Unfortunately, all the Golden Knights really have to offer at this point are future draft picks.
2 Washington Capitals
Package: Alex Ovechkin
Sometimes a change of scenery is good for a player and a franchise. For that reason, the Washington Capitals should offer Alex Ovechkin for John Tavares straight up. We all know how great Ovechkin is but as a winger, he is unable to fully lead his team in the playoffs and get them past second round hurdle. Tavares could help in that sense.
Okay, I'll admit now that I'm partly joking. A player like Ovechkin should be nearly untouchable for his entire career, but it would make for an extremely enticing trade. Ovechkin would be an even bigger star in the New York market and would make Islanders fans forget who Tavares even is. A more realistic trade, however, would be young talent Jakub Vrana and a mixture of future draft picks for Tavares. Combining Tavares and Ovechkin could be what the Capitals need to finally make it to the Stanley Cup Finals after years of playoff torture.
1 Winnipeg Jets
Package: Mark Scheifele, Brendan Lemieux
The Winnipeg Jets are kind of Canada's forgotten team sometimes. I mean the fact that the original franchise decided to leave the small, cold city for the warm desert of Arizona back in the day is telling of just how small of a market Winnipeg really is. But the Jets are also loved for that same reason and it's why it would be great to see them acquire a huge name like Tavares.
The Jets are playing good hockey this year and would have to put some risk of losing the chemistry into their trade for Tavares, but a mixture of Mark Scheifele, future draft picks, and youngster Brendan Lemieux would do the trick. Obvously Scheifele is an established scorer in the league and future draft picks are great, but Lemieux would help close the deal because he is the type of player that every great team needs. His grit, combined with his explosiveness is ideal for a franchise like the Islanders. He could become a fan favorite in New York nearly instantly.