From the New York Post's Larry Brooks:
So, no, I don’t believe that there is the slightest correlation between [Steven] Stamkos’ looming availability this summer and Toronto’s excise of Dion Phaneuf’s $7 million cap hit that runs through 2020-21 via last week’s stunning trade with Ottawa.
The deal does indeed create oodles of projected space for the Leafs down the line, albeit with a skeleton roster, following the 2017-18 season. And who might become available as a 27-year-old free agent on July 1, 2018?
Why, none other than John Tavares.
It is more than two years down the line, and the steps that might take the Mississauga native — for whom Greater Toronto has lusted since ever before this other No. 91’s junior career commenced in Oshawa a decade ago — from here to there cannot be plotted at this early date.
But the Islanders have work to do here with not only Tavares, working on the fourth year of a club-friendly six-year deal worth $5.5 million per season, but with their entire team in making the transition from Long Island to Brooklyn.
Maybe it will change upon this summer’s transfer of ownership, but the franchise thus far has attempted to straddle the two locales, in essence refusing to acknowledge the reality of where the team plays and to whom it belongs.