Buffalo is open for business

Open

It is draft day eve, which has many of you as excited as an eight year old waiting for ol’ Saint Nick to arrive with a bag full of presents. There has been so much talk and anticipation waiting to see what Peter Chiarelli might do tomorrow or Saturday, and it is finally here.

Chiarelli isn’t the only GM open for business. Many other organizations are looking to make a big move.

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Some things to watch for in the next 48 hours.

  • One day after discussing the solid signing of Alex Goligoski, news broke late last night that the Florida Panthers had signed Keith Yandle to a seven year deal with a $6.35 million cap hit. Yandle turns 30 in September and he’ll be 36 when his deal expires.

    Here’s what he has going for him: He hasn’t missed a game since the 2008/2009 season. In fact he’s played two over the maximum 540 games. Last year he played 63 games with the Coyotes before being traded to the Rangers where he played 21 times. He is durable. In that span only Erik Karlsson (385) and Duncan Keith (330) have more points than Yandle’s 325. He’s ninth among defenders in points-per-game over the past seven seasons as well. He is an elite offensive D-man.

    The Panthers believe he will replace Brian Campbell, whose $7.14 million cap hit officially expires on June 30th. The major risk for the Panthers is assuming Yandle will continue to produce over the next seven seasons like he has the past seven. It is a risky bet, and an interesting one considering their new management team has a heavy analytics component. Yandle will help them, I was just surprised with the money and the term. I thought if they went longer he’d have a lower cap hit.

  • Kevin Shattenkirk’s camp must be loving the Yandle deal. Since entering the NHL in 2010/2011 Shattenkirk is 10th among Dmen in points, and 12th in points per game. He is three years younger than Yandle, and over the past six seasons his 0.59 points per game is very close to Yandle’s 0.62. Neither are considered great defensively, but they are elite puck movers and point producers. Shattenkirk has one year remaining on his deal, and the team who acquires him should expect Shattenkirk’s camp to use Yandle’s deal as a comparable.
  • Not surprisingly, within a span of 40 minutes Peter Chiarelli, Jim Benning and Brad Treliving all said they’ve listened to many offers for the fourth, fifth and sixth overall picks, but right now they are all leaning towards keeping them. Of the three, Chiarelli seemed the most open to dealing, but was clear he’s yet to receive an offer he’d consider.
  • “I’m getting more calls and making more calls than last year due to how our season ended,” said Chiarelli. “It is no secret we are in the market for a defenceman. The discussions have been both plentiful and productive. I’m still confident I will get a deal done for a defenceman. I’m leaning towards a right shot. I feel we need more of a lefty-righty combination in our group,” continued Chiarelli.
  • Ryan Rishaug asked Chiarelli if he feels he could address the defence without having to move one of his $6 million forwards. “There are some situations where I can provide a temporary fix that might bridge a gap a little bit, but I don’t think I want to go that route. It doesn’t mean we will fix it (defensive weaknesses) with one move, but I want to find some permanence as the first step to fixing it (defence),” Chiarelli said.
  • Tim Murray and the Buffalo Sabres are looking to move the #8 pick in a package for a proven NHL player. A source told me last night the Sabres will go very hard after Steven Stamkos and he is expecting them to offer $11 million+ per season for seven years. Owner Terry Pegula really wants Stamkos, which is interesting because Stamkos wants to play centre. The Sabres have Ryan O’Reilly and Jack Eichel down the middle and if they add Stamkos will Eichel move to the wing? I’ve been told by people in Stamkos’ camp he will be very clear to teams who sign him he wants to sign with a team that will play him down the middle.
  • Good news for Oilers fans. Oscar Klefbom was in Edmonton this week and he skated four days with the trainers and medical staff. The first day his foot didn’t feel great, but the next few days he felt fine and was very positive about how he felt. I asked Chiarelli about Klefbom’s progress and he confirmed he had been skating and everything looks great. I spoke to Klefbom in April and he outlined how frustrating and scary the staph infection situation had been for him. The past week was as much a mental exercise as physical. He needed to get on the ice and feel good and he did. A healthy Klefbom is a must if the Oilers hope to improve this season.
  • Treliving surprised many by acquiring Dougie Hamilton for the #16 pick and two second rounders last year on draft Friday, and he will be active trying to land a goalie this year. Ben Bishop is a target, but Treliving’s reaction when asked about moving the #6 pick for a goalie suggested he’d rather move other parts to land a goalie. That could change by tomorrow, when crunch time occurs and you either make the move or not, but based on his reaction today it would seem unlikely.

  • Chiarelli wants to add one significant long-term piece to his blueline, but don’t be surprised if he adds another stop-gap defender as well. Someone who could help next year, but a player the Oilers wouldn’t be too worried about if they lost in the expansion draft.
  • Chiarelli and Benning said they’ve yet to reach out to Lucic’s camp.
    They plan on doing it after the draft. Benning is very high on him, and
    many in Vancouver believe he will offer Lucic $6 million/year for six
    years.

  • No real surprises for me at the NHL awards last night. I didn’t see any winners who were undeserving. I’m sure some will argue over voting and who finished second, third or fourth, but for me none of the winners were a shock.

    This was my ballot.

    Hart trophy:
    1. Patrick Kane
    2. Sidney Crosby
    3. Jamie Benn
    4. Erik Karlsson
    5. Joe Thornton

    Norris:
    1. Drew Doughty
    2. Erik Karlsson
    3. Brent Burns
    4. Kris Letang
    5. Oliver Ekman-Larsson

    Calder:
    1. Artemi Panarin
    2. Connor McDavid
    3. Shayne Gostisbehere
    4. Jack Eichel
    5. Dylan Larkin

    Selke:
    1. Anze Kopitar
    2. Patrice Bergeron
    3. Filip Forsberg
    4. Sidney Crosby
    5. Jonathan Toews

    Lady Byng:
    1. Anze Kopitar
    2. Pavel Datsyuk
    3. Tyler Seguin
    4. Johnny Gaudreau
    5. Tyler Spurgeon

  • In the cab ride back from Amherst (where GMs media avails were) to Buffalo my cab driver almost started falling asleep at the wheel. Are you kidding me? It was one in the afternoon. Pat Garland (Oilers manager of Communications) was sitting in the back with me. The driver had been hitting the gas quickly off and on. I looked at Pat like WTF. Pat looks at me and says I think he’s falling asleep. He started doing the head bob and I had to yell at him to snap him out of it. Having the cabbie dose off on the freeway is not ideal. Needless to say Pat and I were wide awake the rest of the ride. Gotta love road trips.
  • I will have the entire Chiarelli, Treliving and Benning press conferences on my show today between 2-6 p.m. on TSN1260. You can listen here online as well.

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