It's officially the off-season and there's not much time for three major events to unfold, so we can expect the movement to start coming at us fast.
On July 21 is the Seattle expansion draft, which is a factor in any player movement over the next week and a half. Two days later, on July 23, the first round of the NHL Draft will be held and that's become an event where trades are anticipated. On July 28, free agency will open. We're looking at a 19-day period for NHL GMs to aggressively change over their rosters.
This could be the summer of the blockbuster.
"It really could be something," Elliotte Friedman noted on 31 Thoughts: The Podcast. "It has a chance to be really something."
The first big date, though, is July 17, when protected lists are due ahead of the expansion draft. Those are expected to be revealed to the public on July 18, so we'll get an idea of who will be available to Seattle and if there are any surprises at that point. The first buyout window is currently open and will run until July 27 so we could see some more UFAs added to the pool as well.
Next week, Sportsnet will unveil a broad list of off-season trade candidates and it's a long one. Some players have asked to be moved, some teams need a shake up, while the flat cap and Kraken loom as influencing factors.
It's going to be wild, folks, so strap in. Here's the latest in the rumour mill.
IS NATE SCHMIDT'S TIME WITH THE CANUCKS OVER?
Vancouver acquired Schmidt from Vegas last off-season in a trade that only cost a third-round pick and appeared to be a great fit. Now it seems like the relationship could be over after one season.
It's unclear if Schmidt asked to be moved, or if the two sides are in mutual agreement. Sportsnet's Iain MacIntyre writes that however it's come to this point, the team is indeed searching for potential trade partners.
Whether the Canucks could get a better return than Vegas remains to be seen. Schmidt played a smaller role in Vancouver and his numbers fell off, but it was also a year of challenges off the ice. Making just under $6 million per season for another four years, while Schmidt is still a good defenceman that's a big commitment in salary and term right now.
IS JACK EICHEL TO VEGAS REALLY A POSSIBILITY?
It's the kind of rumour you might joke around about.
"Eichel to Vegas, right?"
"Even though they have no cap space."
"But not really."
Vegas usually, somehow, finds a way and technically they could have the assets necessary to make a competitive offer to Buffalo. But is this all based on reputation, or is there some smoke here?
"I think Vegas is sniffing around Eichel," Elliotte Friedman said on 31 Thoughts: The Podcast. "I do think they're looking at this."
OK then. Stay tuned here...
VLADIMIR TARASENKO, BLUES HEADING TOWARDS INTERESTING TRADE
On Wednesday night, The Athletic's Jeremy Rutherford reported that Vladimir Tarasenko had requested a trade from the Blues. Rutherford wrote that Tarasenko had become upset with the team's handling of his shoulder injury, specifically two of the first three surgeries he's had on it, and feels trust has been broken.
Further, Andy Strickland indicated the break between he and the team is deeper, and that the disconnect extends to some of his teammates as well.
If healthy, Tarasenko is one of the game's most dangerous goal scorers. In a five-season period from 2014-15 to 2018-19, Tarasenko's 182 goals scored were third-most in the league and his 135 even strength goal total was second-highest. Then the shoulder injury happened and Tarasenko has played just 34 games the past two seasons.
With $7.5 million left on his contract for another two years and the injury uncertainty hanging, it'll be hard for the Blues to "win" a Tarasenko trade at this point unless, perhaps, they retain some salary or take an overloaded contract in return. He has a no-trade clause as well, so Tarasenko can control his next destination as much as he wants.
SETH JONES-TO-PHILADELPHIA RUMOURS SLOWING DOWN?
All indications are that GM Chuck Fletcher wants to do something to shake up the Flyers. They're linked to most big names available, and one of the more consistent ones tied to Philadelphia has been Seth Jones.
Jones, heading into the final year of his contract ($5.4 million) before hitting unrestricted free agency, informed Columbus weeks ago that he would not be re-signing and would test the market next summer. There has been no shortage of suitors for the big defenceman either.
However, while the Flyers look like a great fit, there's some concern Jones might not be ready to commit there either.
"I'm not so sure if Philly is going to be able to pull off a Seth Jones deal," Friedman said. "I think there's a couple of places he would consider signing long-term now, but I'm not sure Philly's one.
"I just heard that the big question would be would Jones sign in Philly, and I don't think Philly's that interested in doing this if they don't think he will, or if he won't commit to it now."
LEAFS INTERESTED IN BERTUZZI?
It'll be a critical season for the Leafs, and another disappointment could lead to bigger questions about the futures of even Brendan Shanahan or Kyle Dubas.
And there are a lot of moving parts this off-season, too, that will force change. Frederik Andersen and Zach Hyman are UFA eligible and might be priced out of a return to Toronto. The expansion draft seems likely to claim either Travis Dermott or Alex Kerfoot from the roster, barring some sort of side deal. And then there are trade rumours around Morgan Rielly, who has one season left on his contract.
In our last rumour roundup, Friedman noted he believes the Leafs will try and make a substantial effort to bring in a player or two who gives them the biggest upgrade in an area of need. That could be either a goalie to play with Jack Campbell, another top-four defenceman, or even a forward.
One name that's coming up now? Detroit's Tyler Bertuzzi.
"One of the guys I'm kinda wondering about is Bertuzzi from Detroit," Friedman said on Sportsnet 590 The Fan's Lead Off. "I think that's a guy they've had some interest in and he was hurt last year at the deadline. I'm wondering if he's one of the guys they're going to look at."
Nephew of former NHLer Todd, Tyler Bertuzzi had seven points in nine games this past season, which followed a 21-goal, 48-point campaign. He's 26 years old, an RFA, and along with that decent offensive upside he could possibly replace some of the sandpaper that will be lost if Hyman leaves.