How trades could dominate NHL Draft day

Mike Johnson, Damien Cox and Sam Cosentino join Daren Millard to discuss all the trade rumours from around the 2015 NHL Entry Draft.

SUNRISE, Fla.—It appears the 2015 NHL draft Friday will be the first one where the first overall pick will almost be a footnote.

We’ve known since last fall, after all, that Connor McDavid will be the first player taken, and we’ve known since the draft lottery in February that the Edmonton Oilers are going to draft him with the No. 1 pick.

Similarly, there’s no drama at No. 2, where Buffalo will surely select Jack Eichel, the Boston University centre who blew away the field in the recent testing at the NHL combine.

NHL Draft Coverage: | Broadcast Schedule
NHL Draft Tracker | Profiles on Top Prospects
New Sportsnet app: iTunes | Google Play

So not only does this draft really begin with the No. 3 selection, currently held by Arizona, there is the very real possibility the draft could be overtaken by events, specifically trades, with the rumour mill overheating as tonight’s first round approaches.

Layered on top of that is the news from earlier this week that the NHL has kick-started the expansion process, which will mean the 30 existing teams will soon also have to turn their attention to the best possible way to protect their assets when one or more new teams join.

For now, it’s about making moves for the 2015-16 season. Ottawa started yesterday by re-signing Mark Stone and Mika Zibanejad to give themselves some cap flexibility, and then Colorado made things interesting by acquiring the rights to UFA centre Carl Soderberg from Boston for a sixth round pick amidst rumours that they may feel forced to move centre Ryan O’Reilly this weekend because of his contract demands.

O’Reilly joins Phil Kessel of the Leafs as the most marketable forwards on the block. Kessel, president Brendan Shanahan admitted, is drawing more interest than any other Leaf, and interestingly the Leafs have long been linked via the trade rumour mill to O’Reilly.

A fit? You never know.

Russian goalie Ilya Samsonov, absent from the combine by choice, has been here talking to teams, as has Winnipeg free agent forward Michael Frolik, doing a little one-stop shopping to talk to any team that wants to talk to him.

Meanwhile, rumours swirl around the Arizona Coyotes, who are listening to offers for the No. 3 pick, which include an offer from Columbus likely to involving the No. 8 pick, prospect Kerby Rychel and possibly centre Artem Anisimov, athough the Coyotes may be asking for youngster Boone Jenner.

The feeling seems to be the Desert Dogs are looking to get up to the draft floor and find ways to be much more competitive next season, rather than get in the hunt early for Scottsdale phenom Auston Matthews.

There’s also lots of talk surrounding possible goalie movement. Cam Talbot of the Rangers, Eddie Lack or Jacob Markstrom from the Canucks and L.A.’s Martin Jones top that list, and Ottawa dealt Robin Lehner to the Buffalo Sabres early Friday.

As well, Vancouver veteran D-man Kevin Bieksa is drawing interest, although GM Jim Benning says he has yet to ask Bieksa to waive his no-trade yet.

The draft will likely turn at No. 3, depending on what Arizona decides. But the No. 9 and No. 10 picks may be in play as teams zero in on the kind of prospects they want. As well, both Edmonton and Calgary have multiple second round picks to move if they choose, picks that are very valuable in this deep draft.

Forgotten in all of this, then, are McDavid and Eichel, the two best available prospects on the planet. They’ll play next year, but the focus remains on other teams and what they plan to do to counter-act the impact of these super rookies.

We may start to find out those answers today, with many expecting a lot of action.

When submitting content, please abide by our submission guidelines, and avoid posting profanity, personal attacks or harassment. Should you violate our submissions guidelines, we reserve the right to remove your comments and block your account. Sportsnet reserves the right to close a story’s comment section at any time.