New York Islanders John Tavares to Pittsburgh Ruins Parity

TAMPA, FL - JANUARY 27: John Tavares #91 of the New York Islanders poses for a portrait during the 2018 NHL All-Star at Amalie Arena on January 27, 2018 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
TAMPA, FL - JANUARY 27: John Tavares #91 of the New York Islanders poses for a portrait during the 2018 NHL All-Star at Amalie Arena on January 27, 2018 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images) /

If New York Islanders captain John Tavares somehow found his way to the Pittsburgh Penguins, it would call into question the only thing this league has; hope and parity.

In his latest 31 thoughts, Elliotte Friedman mused at the possibility of Pittsburgh Penguins GM Jim Rutherford staying up late at night, trying to figure out a way to land New York Islanders pending free agent John Tavares.

We’ve all watch the NBA if not from a distance then from up close. The one thing the NHL has over the NBA is parity. Unlike the NBA we don’t know in October what teams will be in the Finals.

With the parity of the NHL comes hope. It’s not to say that every team has a shot. But every team that eventually makes the postseason certainly has hope. And half the league makes the postseason. Look at the Kings in 2012. They won the cup from the eighth seed in the West.

But if the Pittsburgh Penguins were somehow able to land Tavares, the idea of parity would immediately go out the window. Because with a spine of Crosby, Malkin, Tavares, there’s no point. That’s a super team if we’ve ever seen one.

Can It Even Work?

By that, I mean, can the Pittsburgh Penguins even fit John Tavares under the cap?

Let’s assume two things. (1)Tavares gets an AAV of market value. I’m putting that at $11 million. Then (2) we have to assume that the cap ceiling is going up by $5 million next season.

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The Penguins have $272,000 in cap space at the moment, and somewhere around $4.6 million coming off the cap from a number of RFA’s and a single UFA in Carter Rowney. Add the annual cap increase and that space is somewhere around $9.6 million.

That’s not enough room to get Tavares. Unless Rutherford, as Freidman says, spends countless nights trying to offload players.

Maybe Edmonton would take back Justin Schultz and his $5.5 million cap hit and a prospect for that tenth overall pick their seemingly shopping around.

Or maybe Jim finds a place for Patric Hornqvist before his no-trade clause kicks in and his AAV jumps to $5.3 million next season. That might be mighty hard to do. Who wants a 50 point 31-year-old winger signed till he turns 36-years-old at $5.3 million on the cap? Maybe Peter Chiarelli.

Adding Schultz’s $5.5 million or Hornqvist’s $4.25 million AAV this season gives the Penguins some $15 million to $13.85 million to sign Tavares and all the RFA’s the Penguins have. That’s enough.

If That’s What Tavares Wants, or the League Doesn’t Step In

It’s entirely possible that the Pittsburgh Penguins move hell and high-water to get John Tavares to join. But there are still two other issues to consider.

First, and foremost, would Tavares even want to go? If he ends up in Pittsburgh he has to consider the amount of ice time he might get with Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin already on the team. And even if he gets the minutes will he be playing center? I doubt it.

We’ve heard rumors of Tavares to Toronto being poo-pooed thinking Tavares wouldn’t want to play second fiddle to Auston Matthews. Playing third fiddle to Crosby and Malkin has to be unappealing.

And then how does the league feel about this type of move? They certainly can’t go out there any actually nix the deal? Can they? Getting Tavares would immediately make the Penguins a super team the likes of which the NHL hasn’t seen in a long time.

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Next: Who Do You Cut From The Isles Roster?

We likely never have to live in a world where John Tavares puts on a Pittsburgh Penguins sweater. Cause even just thinking about it is revolting.