Latest on the Coyotes and Capitals, plus another list of potential destinations for Alexander Radulov.
Could the Coyotes pursue the first overall pick?
THE GLOBE AND MAIL: Eric Duhatschek wonders if John Chayka, the Arizona Coyotes new general manager, might make a pitch to the Toronto Maple Leafs for the first-overall pick in the 2016 draft in order to select local boy and top prospect Auston Matthews. It “would probably start with their exceptional defenceman, Oliver Ekman-Larsson. A package might also have to include Max Domi, their excellent rookie, or Dylan Strome.”
SPORTSNET 590 (via TODAY’S SLAPSHOT): Chayka played coy when asked about the subject. “Auston is a special player, and for us he’d be a great player. But right now, we’re picking seventh, and I don’t expect him to be there at seven,” he said, declining to say if he’ll make an offer.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: A month ago, Coyotes CEO and president Anthony LeBlanc stated his club was not offering up Ekman-Larsson for the first overall pick, so we can eliminate that notion. I doubt very much that’s changed simply because Chayka is now the GM. I agree a package offer would have to include Domi or Strome, but that’s assuming the Leafs are willing to part with that pick. I wouldn’t be surprised if Chayka contacts the Leafs to gauge their asking price, but it will take a significant offer to pry that pick away. It’s also worth noting the last time the first-overall pick was traded was back in 2003. NHL GMs tend to hang onto the top pick nowadays.
SPORTSNET 590 (via TODAY’S SLAPSHOT): Elliotte Friedman reports he spoke with Washington Capitals GM Brian MacLellan following this season’s NHL trade deadline. MacLellan said his club has another season with its current group before salary-cap issues could forces changes, as forward Evgeny Kuznetsov and defenseman Karl Alzner will need new contracts. Should the Caps suffer another early playoff exit, Friedman speculates management will give it one more season with their current group.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: That’ll also depend upon ownership. After years of frustration, Capitals owner Ted Leonsis could order MacLellan to shake things up. Coming up short again in the playoffs could test his patience.
ESPN.COM: Matthew Coller recently listed the Detroit Red Wings, Florida Panthers, New York Rangers, Colorado Avalanche, New Jersey Devils, Anaheim Ducks and Montreal Canadiens as possible destinations for free-agent winger Alexander Radulov, who intends to return to the NHL after four seasons in the KHL.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I recently weighed in with my thoughts on possible destinations for Radulov, who will likely be a second-tier talent in this summer’s UFA market. He could end up having to wait until after the first wave of signings are done before he gets a deal. If so, he could find decent offers hard to come by.