GM buzz at NHL Draft: John Klingberg set to hit the UFA market

Senators GM Pierre Dorion says they've had a lot of discussions about trading their 7th overall pick and other draft picks, looking to add experience into their lineup, says multiple teams have called, but they're also okay with keeping the pick.

It's the day before the NHL Draft and the rumour mill has kicked into high gear. The order of this year's draft is completely up in the air, right from the top, where the Montreal Canadiens still are deciding between Shane Wright, Juraj Slafkovsky and Logan Cooley.

This figures to be the most unpredictable draft in years.

Various GMs from around the league spoke from the host city in Montreal on Wednesday, and we're gathering some of what came out of those discussion here.

This page will be updated as more GMs speak Wednesday afternoon.

Dallas' John Klingberg set to test the open market

With Miro Heiskanen and Esa Lindell extended, and Ryan Suter added as a free agent last year, the time has run out on John Klingberg in Dallas.

With over $17 million committed to those three defenceman, there wasn't enough space left over for Klingberg, who scored 47 points this season and expressed a frustration over lack of progress in contract extension talks earlier this season.

According to Frank Seravalli, the talks between the two sides were cordial this off-season, but that the 29-year-old would hit the market next week.

Nashville Predators' No. 1 priority is to re-sign Filip Forsberg

Days after acquiring Ryan McDonagh in a trade to bolster their top-four defence unit, the Predators' most important piece of business is still not finished.

Filip Forsberg, a 27-year-old, 42-goal scoring winger, is now just seven days away from hitting the open market as a free agent. With $18.1 million in cap space, and after electing to keep Forsberg instead of trading him at the deadline, many have wondered what has taken so long to get a deal across the line.

The Predators have offered Forsberg an eight-year deal, but he's not expected to pull in more than Roman Josi's team-high $9.059 million cap hit.

On Wednesday, Poile remained hopeful a deal would get done on Forsberg and that there was momentum towards a happy conclusion.

Penguins would be 'surprised' if Letang not re-signed, jury still out on Malkin

The momentum has been favourable for Kris Letang to re-sign in Pittsburgh. Last week Penguins president Brian Burke said the team had made a "determined" effort to keep the defenceman.

Penguins GM Ron Hextall confirmed as much in Montreal on Wednesday, saying he'd "be surprised if we don’t get (Kris Letang) done.”

The asking price on Letang was reportedly for around a three-year deal worth over $8 million per season.

But Burke sounded a little less optimistic on Malkin last week and Hextall again echoed that on Wednesday.

Washington Capitals looking for veteran goalie, believe Backstrom will return next season

Between Ilya Samsonov and Vitek Vanecek, the Capitals had the NHL's No. 23-ranked team save percentage this past season at .898, the worst mark of any playoff team. Both of those goalies are now restricted free agents this summer and still relatively young — 25 and 26 years old, respectively.

Qualifying offers are due by Monday, July 11 and any player who doesn't receive one will become an unrestricted free agent on July 13. With many teams pinched to the cap and seeking ways to create space to make moves, Monday figures to be a big day that could add a couple more intriguing free agents to the pile.

There was some question if the Capitals would leave either goalie unqualified, but GM Brian MacLellan said Wednesday that both would receive one. However, he made it clear that the Capitals would still be looking to acquire a veteran netminder this summer.

The Russian question remains a large one and figures to impact the draft order on Thursday and Friday, where certain players from that country could fall in order. That Flyers prospect goalie Ivan Fedotov was picked up by Russian law enforcement before he left for the USA this week, and sent to a remote military base, is alarming and a concern for others who return to that country.

As GM of the team with the most Russian players on the roster, MacLellan admitted there was "a little uncertainty" about players returning to the USA from Russia for next season, but that in speaking with his players, "everybody is pretty comfortable that they are coming back and they are playing next year."

The GM also gave an update on the injured Nicklas Backstrom, whom he expects to return at some point next season. That may remove the Capitals from any Nazem Kadri speculation, as they're likely to replace Backstrom from within until he's able to return.

Columbus' No. 6 or 12 pick could be available for 'good young player' under team control

There was a little trade buzz Tuesday night when Columbus Dispatch Blue Jackets reporter Brian Hedger said Jarmo Kekalainen had been talking with the Arizona Coyotes and that, potentially, a deal involving Jakob Chychrun could line up.

On Wednesday, Kekalainen said it was unlikely (though not impossible) that he'd trade both of his first-round picks, and then outlined what it would take for him to part with even one of them.

"We're going to look at our needs and then see what we can do from the other means that we have, which is free agency and trades," the GM said. "That's why we're doing what we're doing right now with evaluating what may be available for the sixth pick, or the 12th pick. If it's for a 20-, 21-, maybe 22-year-old player that's already played in the NHL and we know that we can control for many, many years, but can give us, also, that immediate help, it could make all kinds of sense for us. It's not going to happen for a 26-year-old good NHL player that has one year left before he's a UFA. It doesn't make any sense for us."

Can Boston bring the band back together?

Important updates from the Bruins today on Patrice Bergeron, whose contract has expired and is surrounded by retirement speculation; David Pastrnak, a year away from UFA status adding a pressure point to trade speculation this off-season; and David Krejci, the important second-line centre who returned to play in Czechia this past season.

First on Bergeron. This year's Selke Trophy winner at 36 years old is still at the peak of his powers and scored 65 points in 73 games this past season. Bergeron himself has shut down any talk that he could sign elsewhere as a free agent this summer. His commitment, if he returns to the NHL, is to the Bruins. GM Don Sweeney called the ongoing talks with Bergeron's camp as "promising" but that the picture wasn't much clearer yet.

"My conversations with Patrice have gone well. His recovery has gone well," Sweeney said. "We’re excited that he’s considering playing and moving forward with what we think is a positive mindset."

With Pastrnak the situation is a bit more sticky and, perhaps, could depend on what Bergeron or Krejci decide. Pastrnak scored 40 goals this season, is right in his prime at 26 years old, and has one year left on a contract paying $6.66 million against the cap.

Meantime, the Bruins' contending window faces a questionable future with Bergeron still undecided and there's some question if Pastrnak would want to lock in with the organization for the long-term, if some form of a rebuild will be forced upon them.

Neely said he would meet with Pastrnak's agent, J.P. Barry, in Montreal over the next two days.

And, surprisingly, Sweeney didn't immediately shoot down the notion that Krejci could return to the team in 2022-23. The 36-year-old scored 46 points in 51 Czech League games this season, but the Bruins GM confirmed he is talking with the centre.

And, finally, some definite good news for the Bruins: 25-year-old Jake DeBrusk rescinded his trade request after a 25-goal season in which he earned some play on the top line.

'Multiple' teams have called the Senators about the seventh overall pick

As outlined by Wayne Scanlan in his draft preview, the Senators no longer see themselves as a bottoming-out, rebuilding team through the draft, but as one ready to move into the next phase of development, where they'll want to add key complementary pieces around their young core. This is why the team has been connected to Claude Giroux in free-agent rumours.

That means that Ottawa's seventh-overall pick could be in play, if GM Pierre Dorion can use it to acquire an impact NHL player.

"There's been a lot of discussions about not just pick seven, but other picks that could be in play," he said Wednesday. "It's no secret we're trying to improve our team and bring players that have some kind of pedigree or experience into our lineup and we've talked about pick seven as a possibility of being moved."

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