The 2015 NHL draft begins at 5 p.m. tonight, and the Connor McDavid “suspense” should end at 5:10 p.m. when Peter Chiarelli leans into the microphone and announces the first overall pick. The Buffalo Sabres will walk up next and announce Jack Eichel, and then the intrigue will begin.
The Arizona Coyotes are listening to offers said GM Don Maloney, “There’s one team really aggressively trying to get number three, and we’d
trade down a bit. I’ve had two offers outright for that pick.”
Which teams have made offers?
Based on what Maloney said when asked where he thinks there will be a drop off in draft talent, it is obvious a teams in the top-12 are asking. “Who is to say: Three or four years from now it could be the player
that’s picked at Nos. 10 or 12 that turns out to be the best of the
I’ve spoke with many scouts from Hockey Prospects, McKeens, Redline Report and other draft ranking outlets and they feel the dip occurs after 12.
Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen isn’t afraid to make trades. The Jackets own the #8 pick and have a lot of depth at forward. Would the Coyotes take #8 and Marko Dano and a second round pick? The Jackets have three second rounders and they will be aggressive trying to move up.
- It is an exciting time to be a hockey fan. Trade winds and rumours are hotter than the weather in Florida right now. I was having breakfast this morning when a prominent agent walked by. We spoke for five minutes about a few of his prospects who will be drafted and then I inquired about some of his NHL players. “Many teams are interested in UFAs, (he has one D-man and one forward). I’ve had nine teams interested in one client and six in another so far. I expect some interesting trades in the coming days,” he said.
- He mentioned that teams would rather sign shorter deals with a big higher of a cap, but most players prefer longer deals for security. He admitted teams are leery of giving longer deals to players in their 30s. That might be the case, but I won’t believe that until I see more teams sign shorter deals to older players.
Most likely you’ve read about the names available. Patrick Sharp, Bryan Bickell, Craig Anderson, Robin Lehner, Cam Talbot, Eddie Lack, Kevin Bieksa and Ryan O’Reilly.
- O’Reilly will be traded now that the Avalanche signed Carl Soderberg to a five-year deal worth $4.75 AAV. With Duchene, MacKinnon, O’Reilly and Soderberg they have a lot of money tied up in centres. They need help on the blueline and O’Reilly is an attractive asset. He is decent two-way player who can score 55+ points.
- Soderberg was a pending UFA, and I wonder what Matt Belesky will receive. Reports are he already turned down a four-year, $4mill/year deal. I said it when the Ducks got knocked out of the playoffs. Belesky will be the winner of “most overpaid” free agent. Yes, he scored 22 goals last year, but he only had 32 points and he is a winger. Name the last gritty, free agent winger who lived up to his hefty contract?
- Bieksa has a NMC, but he is willing to move it to the right team. Darren Dreger says the Sharks are interested. The Canucks want a second or third round pick. They only have one pick (23rd) in the first 113 selections. Bieksa struggled last season and two Vancouver scribes told me he is a third pairing defender at this point. His puck moving was below average last year.
- The Rangers wanted a first rounder for Talbot, but don’t expect that to happen. Sather doesn’t have to move Talbot this weekend, but I sense he will. I can see him landing a second rounder and a mid-range prospect or late pick for Talbot. Teams aren’t “supposed” to talk contract with him until January 1st, but I was told that is rarely adhered to. The contact can’t be announced, but talks do occur before that time.
- The Sabres traded the 21st pick to Ottawa for Robin Lehner and David Legwand. The Sabres must really believe in Lehner to give up that much and take on Legwand’s contract. Or did Tim Murray do his uncle Bryan a favour and take on Legwand’s contract because he knows the Sabres are a few years from contending? Either way, solid trade for Ottawa and T. Murray is betting that Lehner becomes a bonafide starter. Buffalo took a risk, which you have to do, but giving up the 21st pick is a rather hefty risk.
- Lehner garnered the widest range of opinion from people I’ve spoke with the past few days. Hockey management is concerned with his conditioning. “He is pudgy,” one told me. That word is underused. The concern with Lehner is that he hasn’t improved the past few seasons. He still has potential and from the scouts and GMs I spoke with they still believe he could become the goalie many expected him to be a few seasons ago. His development has stalled, but some believe it is due to playing time, or lack thereof. He only played 25 games last season, 500 fewer minutes than in 2013/2014. They feel he’ll play better when he plays more frequently. Some scouts really like him, while others have cooled considerably. The Sabres obviously like him a lot.
- The good news is the Lehner trade means the Oilers won’t acquire Craig Anderson. I didn’t think he’d be the answer. I’d rather they focus on Talbot or Lack, but Talbot is top of my list; however, regardless of which goalie they acquire, Peter Chiarelli needs to upgrade his defence.
- He made that clear at his presser this morning. “The whole back end concept is what we’re trying to improve,” said Chiarelli regarding defence and goaltending. We haven’t heard much about the blueline, which means he has done a great job of keeping who he is interested in under wraps. I love trade rumours, but I’ve always felt the good teams keep trade interest quiet. Chiarelli is upfront about specific things. “We’re not trading that pick (16th overall) for a goalie, I can tell you that,” he said this morning. Smart man.
- Chiarelli said he will keep trying to acquire a goalie in the next few days, and also said the Oilers would draft one. If they can’t trade the #33 for Talbot, I wonder if they use that pick on a goalie or wait until #57. Ilya Samsonov, Daniel Vladar, MacKenzie Blackwood, Veini Vehvilainen and Matej Tomek are some of the top-ranked goalies. I know the Oilers have interviewed Blackwood a few times.
- No surprise on the Oilers coaching staff. We knew Jay Woodcroft was coming with Todd McLellan and Brownlee mentioned Johnson the day after McLellan was hired. The Oilers did have conversations with Paul Maclean, but nothing came of it. They would have had to surrender another draft pick to hire Maclean and I believe that was a factor.
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