MONTREAL — I was chatting with a GM on Wednesday morning when he made this general observation as the first round of the NHL Draft approached.
“There are so many big names being floated out there right now,” the GM said.
Well, we certainly love hearing that.
And it’s not to say all those players he was referring to will move his week or at all, but the fact so many of them are being discussed by teams certainly provides some possibilities.
Teams continue to call Vancouver on JT Miller, for example. The Rangers are once again among those suitors, according to sources. No surprise there, especially if the Rangers aren’t able to re-sign Andrew Copp. But there’s lots of interest in Miller. The Canucks could wait until next year’s deadline trade to move him but I suspect it could get done this week if a team steps up with the package the Canucks are asking for.
Teams are delicately approaching the Flames on Matthew Tkachuk, whose camp led by Newport Sports, I think, is sitting back and waiting to see how the Johnny Gaudreau UFA situation plays out before formalizing a game plan for their RFA client. make sense. You would want to see how the dust clears, and how much of a container the Flames remain before making any commitments.
In the meantime, other clubs are calling to feel the Flames out on Tkachuk. It goes without saying the Flames’ lone intention right now is to sign Tkachuk long-term and keep him in the fold. But if he prefers to do a one-year deal and bring himself to UFA in a year, it puts Calgary in a brutal spot.
Sources also shared Wednesday that teams were starting to put their best trade offers forward to the Blackhawks on Alex DeBrincat, a potential trade that would most likely require a Thursday first-round pick included in it. So there’s a pressure point developing there on that front.
Then there’s the whole goalie carousel mostly influenced by four pending UFA goalies in Marc-Andre Fleury, Darcy Kuemper, Ville Husso and Jack Campbell.
Agent Ben Hankinson slated to meet today with Avs GM Joe Sakic regarding pending UFA goalie Darcy Kuemper…
— Pierre LeBrun (@PierreVLeBrun) July 6, 2022
Kuemper’s agent, Ben Hankinson, was slated to meet with Avalanche GM Joe Sakic here in Montreal on Wednesday. The Stanley Cup champs have expressed a desire to bring Kuemper back. And the feeling is mutual. But does that translate into an extension both sides can live with?
If not, and Kuemper hits the market, the domino effect is going to be real. So many people around the league view Colorado as the perfect landing spot for Fleury if Kuemper is gone.
The Wild, by the way, remained interested in bringing back Fleury as of Wednesday, so that remains on the table. And as discussed before, the Maple Leafs could be another option for Fleury.
Meanwhile, the sense is Edmonton and New Jersey are the leading suitors for Campbell once/if he hits the market next week. It wouldn’t surprise me if Washington also inquired on Campbell.
Finally, Husso’s agent, Todd Diamond, was expected to meet with Blues GM Doug Armstrong sometime this week. Hard to think that the Blues could afford to bring back Husso with Jordan Binnington signed long-term; that would be a lot of dough in net. The Leafs and Oilers could be among the options for Husso depending on how some of the other dominoes fall.
So, the whole goalie thing is fun as always at this time of year.
• The expectation is that Flames GM Brad Treliving will meet with Johnny Gaudreau’s agent, Lewis Gross, over the next few days. Calgary needs clarity, one way or the other. That doesn’t mean the Flames will get said clarity. The team’s eight-year offer has been sitting in front of Gaudreau for a month now. But if they find out this week, for example, that he’s not going to sign it, the Flames can at least try to make other moves on the trade front here around the draft to bolster the offense. Although I’m not sure there’s any move out there that replaces Gaudreau’s impact.
• Add Carolina to the potential suitors for Claude Giroux, along with Edmonton and Ottawa. The Hurricanes have prioritized adding some offense if possible this offseason and are likely losing Vincent Trochek and Nino Niederreiter to free agency. So I hear they’ve discussed the possibility of going after Giroux. Meanwhile, Florida continues to try and find a way to bring Giroux back. But the Panthers’ cap situation is not helping things on that front.
• There were four other finalists for the GM job in San Jose apart from Mike Grier, who got the nod Tuesday. Sources say Scott Nichol, Scott Mellanby, Ray Whitney and another mystery candidate were part of the final group. That mystery candidate expressed to the Sharks that his name not get out so that’s why we have n’t heard it. I think Mellanby will soon find a gig with another NHL front office, from what I hear. The Sharks’ GM search process was fascinating and exhaustive, beginning with 50 or so names, then 13 candidates interviewed before it got down to those final five. It’s telling of Grier’s reputation how many people I heard from, from around the NHL, who were thrilled with his appointment. He’s really well-liked. Yes, the obvious knock is his lack of experience but I was reminded that years and years ago the Sharks handed the GM job to Doug Wilson who did n’t have much front office experience either at the time. That turned out pretty well.
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