MONTREAL — Will the conversation turn into action?
That’s the biggest question around round 1 of the NHL draft with the trade talk swirling for Montreal Canadiens general manager Kent Hughes steps to the microphone Thursday night at the Bell Center to make the #1 overall selection.
While Hughes listens to offers from his top pick, it’s doubtful he’ll make a move when it comes down to it. The GMs Most Outspoken About Moving Their Top Picks Are New Jersey’s Tom Fitzgerald at No. 2 and Ottawa’s Pierre Dorion at no. 7.
The Canadiens want a second top 10 selection and the ideal spot would be No. 2 from New Jersey. The Devils want an impact player in return, just like the Senators, if they go into a deal.
Both have been listening intently to offers for the past month, but it’s anyone’s guess whether the draft order will change when Commissioner Gary Bettman calls on the group for the first time since 2019 to order with a personal get-together.
“Many teams kick tires, but that’s about it,” a competition leader told this newspaper on Tuesday afternoon.
Here’s the latest from the lobbies:
TRADE WINDS REMAIN
Looking for a deal? Telephone call Kyle Davidson from the Chicago Blackhawks for being willing to discuss any name on his roster.
The Hawks have decided they want to tear it all down and start over, meaning the newly hired GM is ready to make as many deals as possible.
That might not happen in the next three days, but rest assured that if it doesn’t, Davidson will try to lay the groundwork for post-design deals. The Hawks are open for business and the biggest name they’ve brought to the market is winger Alex de Brincat.
He scored 41 goals and finished last season with 78 points in 78 games.
Scheduled to make $6.4 million in 2022-23, DeBrincat, 24, is just two years away from unlimited free agency. You would think that any team interested would want to do a sign and trade if they are going to give up a lot of assets, but nobody knows for sure if that will happen.
He’s an attractive option for any team looking to score, including the Senators, but the asking price isn’t cheap. The Hawks want at least three pieces in return, and a league manager told this newspaper: “DeBrincat is the last man they should trade.”
Another name to keep an eye on his defender Seth Jones.
His eight-year, $76 million contract extension begins at the start of the 2022-23 campaign and he will hit a $9.5 million cap hit. The Hawks just want to get the money off the books because the direction the organization is taking has completely changed.
The only way this will happen is if the Hawks eat some money, and given the remaining life of the deal, that will be difficult for them.
Chicago is also trying to get ahead Dylan Strome but there is talk that he won’t even receive a qualifying offer.
MURRAY AN OPTION
While the Senators have held talks about moving their top squad, there has also been a lot of buzz about the future of goalkeeper Matt Murray with the club.
Several teams are seeking help in the net and Murray, a two-time Stanley Cup champion with the Pittsburgh Penguins, may be an option. The Blackhawks, Arizona Coyotes, Edmonton Oilers, Toronto Maple Leafs and the Devils are among those teams looking for change.
Murray, 28, has two years to go with a $6.25 million cap hit on his contract and we all know he hasn’t performed as expected in Ottawa. If it is shared, it will be with the expectation that it can go somewhere and be successful.
Injuries and inconsistency have plagued Murray’s stay with the Senators, but that doesn’t mean he can’t go elsewhere to be successful. It will be interesting to see if Dorion gets any bites.
THIS ‘N’ THAT
Another goalkeeper to keep an eye on is John Gibson of the Anaheim ducks. He still has five years to go with a $6.5 million cap hit and the club believes the club wants to get his deal off the books. That’s a long term and with a no-move clause that would be hard for anyone to swallow… You have to ignore the noise around the Arizona Coyotes forward Clayton Keller. Just don’t see it happening, because the Coyotes see him as one of the building blocks for the organization. He is one of the coach André Tourigny’s favorite players and you can’t trade everyone if you do a rebuild properly. Would think GM Bill Armstrong has the same mentality… Newly appointed San Jose GM Mike Grier indicated that he will immediately start looking for a head coach. Former coach of the New York Rangers David Quinn will be on his list, but a call to Boston Bruins assistant Joe Sacco may also be okay. He interviewed for the job in Beantown before the club decided to go with the former Dallas coach Jim Montgomery. Sacco had success with the Colorado Avalanche and has ties to Boston University.
THE LAST WORDS
The Vancouver Canucks want to move forward J.T. Miller.
He has a year to go for $6.4 million and there won’t be a lack of interest, but he wants a long-term deal starting at $7.5 million per season.
Have a nice Wednesday. Stay tuned for our draft coverage.