It’s quiet. A bit too quiet.
Expansion draft day has arrived, and Seattle’s picks are officially due at 10:00 a.m. ET. Ten hours later the reveal begins and we’ll get a better idea of how the Kraken will shape up. It will also bring some intriguing storylines to a conclusion. How many big-money players will Seattle take and how close to the cap will they go? Will Carey Price be among them?
We will also get a better idea of any side deals the Kraken made to influence their choices and then, when the roster freeze ends on Thursday, the rest of the league can engage in transactions again and things could get wild, fast.
Here’s some of the talk floating around the league…
COULD LANDESKOG STILL END UP BACK WITH THE AVALANCHE?
Left unprotected for the Seattle Kraken, Gabriel Landeskog could discuss a new contract with them and become the pick out of Colorado for the expansion draft. If he’s not signed and chosen by Seattle Landeskog would then be a week away from unrestricted free agency.
While the St. Louis Blues, among others, have been linked to Landeskog, hope Colorado will retain their captain has been waning over the past while. The Avs have $26.1 million in projected salary cap space, but that’s with just eight forwards, three defencemen and no goalies signed. Cale Makar is an RFA who will cost a lot to re-sign. And of course, you have to be mindful of Nathan MacKinnon’s contract that will expire two years from now.
Landeskog would undoubtedly attract a lot of interest in free agency, but is there still a chance he signs with the Avalanche before getting that far?
“Sakic out-waited everyone on the Duchene deal,” Elliotte Friedman said on the 31 Thoughts Podcast, recalling a trade Sakic made that ended up working out very well for Colorado. “He out-waited everyone to make a great deal for the team. That’s where we are right now. I think he’s just saying ‘OK I have a plan and I really believe that this is the move I’m going to make and I’m going to go to a certain point and I’m not going further than that because I don’t think it’s right for my team.’
“I think they’re going to take one more shot at this. The one thing I’ve heard is that if the ask from Landeskog is, for argument’s sake, $60 million I don’t think it’s going to get done there. But I think if there’s some creativity on both sides they’re going to try. Barring him signing in Seattle I think everyone’s going to take a deep breath over this span and take another run at it.”
BUCHNEVICH ON THE BLOCK
After a 20-goal, 48-point season in 54 games, all career-best per game averages, 26-year-old Pavel Buchnevich is available for trade. While a strong offensive contributor, Buchnevich is an arbitration-eligible RFA this summer and just a year away from unrestricted free agency. Meantime the Rangers have other costly contracts to consider a year from now, and could still be a player for Jack Eichel.
“Teams that I’ve heard that have liked him at times, St. Louis, Nashville, I’m sure there’s more,” Friedman said.
There was one rumour this week about the Canucks showing interest in Buchnevich, but it was for an eyebrow-raising return.
“I know there was a rumour out there about a (Bo) Horvat for Buchenvich deal,” Friedman continued. “I don’t understand how that makes any sense for the Canucks.”
IS THE JACK EICHEL MARKET NARROWING?
Cautioning that not every source is entirely forthcoming around draft time, Friedman also touched on the latest around this off-season’s biggest trade piece, Jack Eichel.
“It sounds like Anaheim’s out, it sounds like L.A.’s out, it sounds like Calgary’s out. It can always change with one phone call. I think Minnesota’s in there, but I think Minnesota has to work with Buffalo or someone else to get a contract out. And I still wonder about the Rangers. I believe Chris Drury is a stealthy guy.”
Both Minnesota and the Rangers were on our list of seven potential suitors for Eichel earlier this month. What’s changed is that the Wild have since bought out both Ryan Suter and Zach Parise, which gives them considerable cap relief for now, but penalizes them with over $14.5 million in dead cap space in 2023-24 and 2024-25.
That pinch might make it harder to build an emerging team out, especially with Kirill Kaprizov due a big payday this summer as well. Would Eichel view the Wild as any less desirable in light of these future complications that could impact an attempt to contend?
“He wants a new start,” Friedman said. “Wherever he goes, he’s not going to be a problem.”
P.K. SUBBAN AVAILABLE?
Defenceman P.K. Subban struggled to four goals in 44 games this season and isn’t contending for the Norris anymore, but he still logged big and important minutes for the Devils. He might fit better into a lesser role right now.
With one year left on his contract, Subban makes $9 million against the cap so the Devils would need to retain salary to make any trade realistic. The more they retain, the better the return. Subban is owed $2 million in actual salary this season, plus a $6 million signing bonus.