With Sunday being the last full day until the free-agency floodgates open, here’s a few things to keep an eye on:
TRADE TALK HAS PICKED UP
Ottawa and Toronto are working on a Cody Ceci/Nikita Zaitsev trade. (There could be more involved, I’m not sure.) It will happen after the Maple Leafs pay Zaitsev’s $3-million July 1 bonus. He will have to waive his no-trade clause to do so, but is happy to play for D.J. Smith. That’s going to get worked out.
In general, talk has picked up. With all the complaining about the week-long courting period, one exec said there’s a major benefit of the extra time. A team honestly knows if it has a chance at a free-agent target, so you recognize what roster shuffling is necessary. There are teams trying to make trades to open space.
With the cap at $81.5 million, shy of the original $83-million estimate, this is critical.
I’m sure there’s a lot I’m not aware of.
WHAT ARE MONTREAL’S MATT DUCHENE ODDS?
It’s so hard to separate fact from fiction, but there’s a belief the Canadiens have a shot. We’ve been expecting Destination Nashville, but more than one source indicated that’s not locked in. Not going to handicap it, but wanted to mention just in case.
Whatever the case, I’d expect the Predators to do something big (Anders Lee?), either in free agency or trade.
Over the last 24 hours, there were plenty of rumours Tampa Bay was seeing what it needed to do to move space for Joe Pavelski. But, word late Saturday afternoon was Pavelski initiated talks with Dallas to be his second NHL home.
The Stars were determined to add scoring, and it looks like they have. Curious to see if San Jose tries someone like Jason Spezza on a one-year deal to help fill the spot.
WILL FLORIDA PULL IT OFF?
The Panthers took one more run at moving James Reimer on Saturday. A buyout is possible if that doesn’t work. That led to increased speculation Florida will land Sergei Bobrovsky, and we wait to see if that package is opened and out falls Artemi Panarin, too.
Unless the New York teams (Islanders/Rangers) outbid the Panthers for the winger, the state tax advantage is huge for Florida.
There’s been lots of talk with the restricted free agents, but that might be about teams trying to understand their contract wishes as opposed to offer sheets. We’ll see. The whole topic is exhausting; can’t wait to see if we get one or not.
Word is good AHL veterans have done very well this week. Those players are in high demand. Surrounding prospects with the right people is important.
Toronto’s been looking for good bets at a low price. One possibility: Nick Shore. He spent last season at KHL Magnitogorsk. That’s the kind of bet they’d make.
See you Monday.