The free agent frenzy is at a halt, and things are relatively quiet in the hockey world right now. The most recent notable news revolved around former Montreal Canadiens defenceman Andrei Markov, who announced on that he will be joining the KHL’s AK Bars.
At this time next year, we will find ourselves in the same quiet scenario, however, a plethora of NHL stars could potentially be on a new team. Below we note three players who could end up playing for their hometown squad if given the choice next summer.
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Tavares’ name has been linked to the Toronto Maple Leafs for quite some time now, and it’s been for good reason. Other than the fact that the Islanders’ Barclays Centre has endured its share of issues, the Toronto native could be enticed to sign with a growing team that includes rookies Auston Matthews, William Nylander and Mitch Marner. Through eight seasons in New York, the Islanders have reached the second round of the postseason just once. It’s not like the Leafs’ track record has been much better, but they did show significant strides last season. If given the option, JT might jump on the opportunity to try and win a championship in his home town under legendary head coach Mike Babcock.
James Van Riemsdyk
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While one player might be heading to Toronto, another could be departing.
JVR has had a more than respectable career, scoring at least 27 goals in three of his past four seasons on an at-times, brutal Leafs roster. As Toronto prepares for its future, they will have to decide whether the former 2007 second overall pick will be part of its blue print or not. The 28-year-old could return to his native New Jersey, considering the Devils are a team in dire need of goal scoring. Since their cup run in 2012, New Jersey has finished in the bottom three in goal-scoring in each of the last four seasons since. Van Riemsdyk could prove to be a nice compliment to 2017 first overall pick Nico Hischier and all-star winger Taylor Hall.
Kane has had an up-and-down career, showing flashes of brilliance but also displaying troubling character issues. Can you recall when his former Winnipeg Jets teammate Dustin Byfuglien tossed his track suit in the shower?
When it comes down to it, the 25-year-old possesses rare skill that any general manager would be interested in. The left winger tallied at least 20 goals in back-to-back seasons with the Sabres, and totaled a career high 43 points in his 2016-2017 campaign. Perhaps a permanent stay in Vancouver would help Kane keep a level-head and maximize his rare combination of size and skill.
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It will be very interesting to see how the next year unfolds, but it’s fair to believe that at least one of these players could end up playing for their hometown team.
Who do you think it will be?