NHL Rumor Mill – June 9, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – June 9, 2022

Updates on Johnny Gaudreau, Claude Giroux and David Pastrnak plus the latest on the Oilers in today’s NHL rumor mill.

UPDATES ON GAUDREAU, GIROUX AND PASTRNAK

TSN: Pierre LeBrun believes Johnny Gaudreau’s sincerity over his public statements that he loves playing in Calgary. He thinks the 28-year-old left winger will give the Flames a chance to sign him. However, LeBrun wouldn’t be surprised if the Gaudreau camp decides to test the unrestricted free agent market on July 13.

Calgary Flames winger Johnny Gaudreau (NHL Images).

The New Jersey Devils have been mentioned as a potential suitor for Gaudreau given their salary-cap room. LeBrun also suggested the Seattle Kraken as a bit of a wild card but they also have the cap space and could be aggressive in the UFA market.

THE ATHLETIC: Hailey Salvian included the Devils among her list of potential destinations for Gaudreau. The Philadelphia Flyers, Pittsburgh Penguins, New York Islanders and Nashville Predators are other possibilities.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I think the Flames will do all they can to keep Gaudreau in the fold. Still, you can’t blame him if he wants to consider all his options.

The Devils are an up-and-coming team in need of an established first-line winger. Gaudreau was born and raised in South Jersey. It’s only natural to assume they’d be among his pursuers.

It’s easy to dismiss the Kraken because they’re a new team still building their roster. However, general manager Ron Francis raised eyebrows by signing Philipp Grubauer and Jaden Schwartz last summer. It’s a long shot but I wouldn’t rule out the possibility of Gaudreau landing in Seattle.

I don’t see the Flyers and Islanders signing Gaudreau unless they’re prepared to clear cap space for what could be a seven-year, $70 million contract. The Penguins would have the cap room if Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang depart via free agency The chance to play alongside Sidney Crosby could be tempting.

Predators GM David Poile could be in the market for a new left winger if he fails to get Filip Forsberg under contract. If he balks at signing Forsberg for $8.5 million annually, I don’t see him handing out up to $10 million annually for Gaudreau.

Turning to Claude Giroux, LeBrun said the 34-year-old center’s priority is re-signing with the Florida Panthers. It won’t be easy given their salary-cap limitations but they’ve informed him that they’re interested in signing him.

Failing that, he wants to find a team where he can chase the Stanley Cup but also a place for his young family.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Following Giroux’s trade to Florida, there was speculation he could sign with his hometown Ottawa Senators if he won a Cup this spring. That faded after the Panthers were eliminated in the second round. We’ll see if it gets resurrected if he goes to market in July.

BOSTON HERALD: Steve Conroy reports David Pastrnak’s agent refuted a recent report claiming his client had an issue with Bruins general manager Don Sweeney. The report cited a source close to Pastrnak saying he wouldn’t sign with the Bruins if Sweeney remain GM.

In an email to Conroy, JP Barry said he spoke with the winger and they have no idea where that story came from. “We both have a strong relationship with Don and the plan hasn’t changed one bit. We will sit down in July and begin extension negotiations.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Pastrnak is slated next summer to become a UFA. The recent firing of head coach Bruce Cassidy, uncertainty over captain Patrice Bergeron’s future and injuries sidelining Brad Marchand and Charlie McAvoy from the start of next season contributed to concerns over the club’s ability to sign the talented winger.

Barry’s remarks should alleviate some of the concern about Pastrnak’s future among Bruins fans. However, that speculation will return and grow the longer he goes unsigned over the course of this summer.

LATEST ON THE OILERS

EDMONTON JOURNAL: David Staples listed the highlights of Oilers’ general manager Ken Holland’s season wrap-up press conference on Wednesday.

Holland indicated he’s interested in bringing back Evander Kane. The 30-year-old winger meshed with Oilers captain Connor McDavid after coming to Edmonton in January as a free agent. He doesn’t know if Kane wants to return but intends to meet with him next week.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Oilers got Kane for a bargain at $2 million for this season. He’s going to want much more than that on his next contract. Finding the cap space to keep him will be challenging for Holland.

The Oilers GM appears uncertain about Jesse Puljuarvi’s future. He intends to meet with his agent, admitting he has to sort out where the 24-year-old restricted free agent winger fits into the club’s plans.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: There’s already speculation that Puljujarvi could get traded instead of re-signed this summer.

Staples’ colleague Jim Matheson wondered if the winger could be shipped to the Chicago Blackhawks for Dylan Strome, who was Connor McDavid’s former junior teammate. However, he cautions the Oilers should be careful not to give up too soon on Puljujarvi.

Montreal Hockey Now’s Jimmy Murphy suggested Puljujarvi could be a fit with the rebuilding Canadiens. Sammi Silber of Washington Hockey Now thinks the Capitals should keep an eye on the Oilers winger.

Holland indicated that salary-cap constraints will make it difficult to keep his current roster intact.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: In other words, some players who are unrestricted free agents won’t be back. There could also be one or two cost-cutting trades to free up cap room for other additions.










NHL Rumor Mill – June 3, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – June 3, 2022

The Hurricanes hope to retain some key free agents, the possibility of some RFAs not receiving qualifying offers, plus updates on Jack Campbell and David Perron in today’s NHL rumor mill.

HURRICANES HOPE TO RETAIN TROCHECK, NIEDERREITER & DEANGELO

NHL.COM: Kurt Dusterberg reports Carolina Hurricanes general manager Don Waddell hopes to re-sign pending unrestricted free agent forwards Vincent Trocheck and Nino Niederreiter. Meanwhile, head coach Rod Brind’Amour hopes restricted free agent defenseman Tony DeAngelo also returns.

Hurricanes captain Jordan Staal indicated he’s not thinking about a contract extension this summer, preferring to play out the final season of his contract before determining his future. Waddell indicated they want Staal to play as long as he feels like doing so.

THE NEWS & OBSERVER: Chip Alexander reports DeAngelo would love to stay with the Hurricanes. He said he believes everyone in the organization knows that and believes they want him back, expressing appreciation for the trust they put in him following his troubled final season with the New York Rangers.

Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Tony DeAngelo (NHL Images).

DeAngelo, 26, has arbitration rights and is a year away from becoming eligible for unrestricted free agent status. Waddell indicated there’s interest in signing him to a multi-year contract.

Alexander’s colleague Luck DeCock believes the Hurricanes need an upgrade in pure scoring skill. He suggested parting ways with forward Martin Necas, who regressed during this season and bringing in a scoring winger to replace him via trade or free agency.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Waddell called signing Trocheck a priority. That increases the likelihood he won’t become available in this summer’s UFA market. It will depend on whether the two sides can reach an agreement before free agency begins on July 13.

Trocheck tends to be a streaky scorer but he would draw plenty of interest if he tests the market. Vancouver Hockey Now’s Rob Simpson daydreamed about Vancouver signing him but there’s no indication that’s the direction Canucks management intends to take.

DeAngelo made the most of his opportunity with the Hurricanes. While both sides are pleased with how this season turned out, arriving at a suitable deal could be a challenge.

Cap Friendly indicates the Hurricanes have $19.4 million in cap space with 14 players under contract next season. Parting ways with Necas won’t free up additional cap space as he’s a restricted free agent coming off his entry-level contract.

Trocheck earned an annual average value of $4.725 million while Niederreiter’s was $5.25 million. It could cost a combined $12 million to retain them. DeAngelo, meanwhile, could seek a return to the $4.8 million annually he was earning with the Rangers before agreeing to a one-year, $1 million contract with the Hurricanes for this season. Re-signing that trio won’t leave much room to add a scoring forward.

TIDBITS FROM FRIEDMAN’S LATEST “32 THOUGHTS”

SPORTSNET: In his latest “32 Thoughts” column, Elliotte Friedman suggested limited salary-cap space among NHL teams could lead to some of them not bothering to qualify the rights of some arbitration-eligible RFAs.

Some worth watching include Carolina’s Ethan Bear, Dallas’ Denis Gurianov, Pittsburgh’s Kasperi Kapanen, Chicago’s Dylan Strome and New Jersey’s Miles Wood and Pavel Zacha. He also noted there was speculation that Ondrej Kase could depart Toronto but believes talks are underway between the winger and the Maple Leafs.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Those players could bolster the depth of talent in this summer’s unrestricted free agent market. There’s no certainty, of course, that most or all of them will hit the open market. Still, it could be worthwhile as Friedman suggested to keep an eye on their respective contract negotiations.

Speaking of RFAs, Friedman believes the Leafs will qualify defenseman Rasmus Sandin’s rights. However, they have a logjam on the left side of their blueline. He pointed out that their cap situation doesn’t afford Sandin contract room.

Meanwhile, there haven’t been any contract talks between the Leafs and goaltender Jack Campbell for months and anything previously discussed is no longer relevant. His agent said there’s been no material contract conversation since the end of the season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I expect the Leafs will get something done with Campbell because there aren’t many suitable replacement options in this summer’s trade and UFA markets. The best free-agent options are Colorado’s Darcy Kuemper and Minnesota’s Marc-Andre Fleury and there’s no certainty either guy can be wooed to Toronto.

As for Sandin, he’ll obviously be more affordable to sign than Campbell. Given the priority given to the latter, however, they could end up shopping Sandin if they can’t free up sufficient cap dollars to re-sign him. However, I think Leafs management will try to free up cap room by trying to move out veterans like Petr Mrazek and Wayne Simmonds, though peddling either guy won’t be easy.

Friedman believes the New Jersey Devils and Ottawa Senators will be worth watching as they have their first-round picks in play for talent with a lot of team control.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: In other words, a player with more than a year remaining on their contract.

He also doesn’t expect St. Louis Blues winger David Perron will hit the open market on July 13.










Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – May 22, 2022

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – May 22, 2022

In the Sunday NHL rumor roundup, a collection of the latest Canucks speculation, the latest coaching rumors plus updates on the Stars and Devils.

LATEST ON THE CANUCKS

THE ATHLETIC: Thomas Drance and Rick Dhaliwal recently reported the Vancouver Canucks were thought to be ready to restart contract talks this past week with Brock Boeser’s representatives. They have sufficient salary-cap flexibility to tender a $7.5 million qualifying offer to Boeser by the July 11 deadline to retain his rights.

They feel the Canucks are unlikely to take Boeser to arbitration and could qualify him if a compromise isn’t reached beforehand. It’s believed that’s something the winger’s camp prefers as well. It could be a short-term extension, perhaps for three years and below the $7.5 million qualifier.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Boeser’s annual cap hit on his current deal is $5.875 million. He’s going to seek a significant raise, especially after seeing what teammates Elias Pettersson and Quinn Hughes got last season. Granted, their raises came from the previous management but Boeser’s within his rights to seek a big pay bump. It probably won’t reach $7.5 million but it could be close to $7 million.

Team sources also doused reports suggesting Oliver Ekman-Larsson could be shopped in a cost-cutting move this summer. While the club may have done some due diligence on his trade value, they remain impressed with Ekman-Larsson as a player and a person.

Vancouver Canucks winger Brock Boeser (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ekman-Larsson’s big cap hit ($7.26 million) through 2026-27 plus his full no-movement clause would’ve made him difficult to move during an offseason when the salary cap is rising by just $1 million.

THE PROVINCE: Ben Kuzma believes J.T. Miller will draw plenty of trade interest if the Canucks cannot free up sufficient cap space to sign the 29-year-old center to a contract extension. He drew plenty of interest in this season’s trade market from the New York Rangers but Kuzma believes his career-best 99-point performance this season will draw a number of suitors attracted to his versatility.

If the Rangers still want Miller, Kuzma speculates the Canucks would want 2020 first-overall pick Alexis Lafreniere as part of the return. His former agent is Canucks assistant general manager Emilie Castonguay.

Re-signing Miller will be expensive. Kuzma cited the Rangers’ Mika Zibanejad and the San Jose Sharks’ Tomas Hertl as comparables. Both were making similar to Miller’s current cap hit ($5.5 million) before signing lucrative long-term deals. Zibanejad’s is for eight years and $68 million while Hertl’s is also for eight years and is worth $65.1 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Either decision comes with risk for the Canucks. Trade Miller and the return might not pan out as hoped for their long-term plans. Sign him for over $8 million annually on an eight-year deal and it could become a drain on their cap space that grows burdensome as his skill decline in the final years of the deal.

The Rangers could revisit their interest in Miller but that will depend on whether they get pending UFAs Ryan Strome and Andrew Copp signed before July 13. They could also consider more affordable options on long-term deals in the trade market, such as the Winnipeg Jets’ Mark Scheifele if he becomes available.

TIDBITS FROM THE LATEST “32 THOUGHTS” SATURDAY SEGMENT

SPORTSNET: Jeff Marek and Elliotte Friedman provided an update on Barry Trotz as the former New York Islanders head coach is drawing interest from teams seeking a new bench boss. He will meet with the Philadelphia Flyers this week. Marek believes the Flyers want to be thorough in assessing their coaching candidates. The Winnipeg Jets also met with Trotz while the Vegas Golden Knights and Detroit Red Wings could also be among his suitors.

The Dallas Stars could circle back to Rick Tocchet as a coaching candidate to replace Rick Bowness, who stepped down earlier this week. They had spoken with Tocchet earlier this season but couldn’t reach an agreement. They could also have an interest in the OHL’s Windsor Spitfires’ Marc Savard.

Speaking of the Stars, Marek believes they’d like to sign center Roope Hintz to a contract extension this summer. That could mean moving out a body. There could also be some clarity soon regarding the future of pending UFA defenseman John Klingberg.

Friedman reports the New Jersey Devils are considering all their options for the offseason. That could include shopping their first-round pick (second overall) in this year’s draft. He believes they should soon have a list of players that they would be interested in acquiring in exchange for that pick.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Earlier this month, Devils GM Tom Fitzgerald stated he’d like to bring in an established player to complement his core of young forwards. He’s likely seeking a top-six winger to skate alongside Jack Hughes or Nico Hischier. Fitzgerald could also seek a starting goaltender given Mackenzie Blackwood’s ongoing injury and consistency problems.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 20, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 20, 2022

The Lightning takes a 2-0 series lead over the Panthers, the Blues tie their series with the Avalanche, the Jack Adams Award finalists are announced, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: The Tampa Bay Lightning took a 2-0 lead in their best-of-seven second-round series over the Florida Panthers with a 2-1 victory in Game 2. Ross Colton snapped a 1-1 tie with 3.8 seconds remaining in the third period on a terrific behind-the-back pass by Nikita Kucherov from behind the Panthers’ net. Corey Perry opened the scoring for the Lightning in the first period but Eetu Luostarinen tied the game in the second. Andrei Vasilevskiy made 35 saves for the win while Sergei Bobrovsky stopped 26 shots for the Panthers. The series shifts to Tampa Bay for Game 3 on Sunday.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Lightning have done an outstanding job neutralizing the Panthers’ vaunted offense, limiting the league’s high-scoring team in the regular season to just two goals thus far. They’re doing it with solid physical defensive play and strong goaltending from Vasilevskiy.

Like it or not, the Lightning are a great team, and great teams find a way to win. The Maple Leafs learned that lesson in the first round. Now, it’s the Panthers’ turn, and if they don’t address this issue soon, they’ll be joining the Leafs on the golf course next week.

St. Louis Blues winger David Perron (NHL Images).

A two-goal performance by David Perron led the St. Louis Blues to a 4-1 win over the Colorado Avalanche in Game 2 to tie their second-round series at a game apiece. Pavel Buchnevich collected two assists while Jordan Binnington kicked out 30 shots for the win. Gabriel Landeskog tallied the Avs’ lone goal. The series heads to St. Louis for Game 3 on Saturday.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Game 1 was all about the Avalanche’s dominance. It was a different story in Game 2, thanks again to Binnington’s goaltending but also head coach Craig Berube shuffling his lines. Buchnevich was moved to the first line with Perron and Ryan O’Reilly, Robert Thomas centered the second line with Jordan Kyrou and Brandon Saad, while Vladimir Tarasenko was moved to the third line alongside Brayden Schenn and Ivan Barbashev.

HEADLINES

NHL.COM: The Florida Panthers’ Andrew Brunette, the New York Rangers’ Gerard Gallant, and the Calgary Flames’ Darryl Sutter are the finalist for the Jack Adams Award as the NHL’s top coach in 2021-22.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Gallant won the award as coach of the Vegas Golden Knights in 2017-18 and was a finalist with the Florida Panthers in 2015-16. It’s the second time Sutter has been named a finalist and the first time for Brunette.

Sutter shrugged off the nomination. He said he’d rather see it go to younger coaches or to Gallant, who he felt got a raw deal with the Golden Knights and Panthers over the way he was let go by those clubs.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON: Bruins president Cam Neely told reporters on Thursday that the club intends to extend the contract of general manager Don Sweeney. However, he was vague over the future of head coach Bruce Cassidy, suggesting the club needs some changes.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Maybe a coaching change will improve the Bruins next season. On the other hand, replacing Cassidy would make him appear the scapegoat for the front office’s inability to address the roster’s weaknesses, especially at the second-line center position.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Sweeney indicated he intends to open contract extension talks with David Pastrnak as soon as possible. The 25-year-old winger is eligible next summer for unrestricted free agent status.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: There’s no indication that Pastrnak would entertain hitting the open market next summer. I expect the Bruins will try to get him signed to an eight-year extension worth between $8 million and $9 million annually.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: Mike Smith will return in goal for the Oilers in Game 2 tonight against the Calgary Flames. He got the hook early in the first period of Game 1 after giving up three goals on 10 shots.

WASHINGTON HOCKEY NOW: Capitals winger T.J. Oshie faces some decisions over his recovery and healing from different ailments suffered over the course of this season. The 35-year-old winger was limited to 44 games this season by multiple injuries.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Aging bodies don’t bounce back as quickly from injuries. Oshie might also have to change the way he conducts his offseason training.

DETROIT HOCKEY NOW: Anaheim Ducks forward Dominik Simon confirmed an altercation with Detroit Red Wings defenseman (and Czechia teammate) Filip Hronek during the ongoing World Championships led to his recent decision to leave the Czechia team and return home. Simon took responsibility for the incident, citing emotions from a recent game and from his personal life that led to his attempt to provoke a fight with Hronek.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Stu Cowan laments the deluge of sports betting ads on Hockey Night in Canada during the Stanley Cup playoffs.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I understand why the NHL and HNiC are pushing gambling given the league’s recent tapping into the lucrative sports betting market. However, they’re going overboard with the neverending ads during commercial breaks and the constant huckstering by the HNiC staff. I also share Cowan’s unease over the effect it could have on compulsive gamblers and their families.

NORTH JERSEY.COM: New Jersey Devils play-by-play announcer Steve Cangialosi is stepping down after 11 seasons.

VEGAS HOCKEY NOW: The Savannah Ghost Pirates will be the ECHL affiliate of the Vegas Golden Knights.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Love the name of the franchise and the logo. I’ll have to look into buying a Ghost Pirates hat or a jersey at some point.










Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – May 8, 2022

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – May 8, 2022

Could the Sharks shop Erik Karlsson or Brent Burns this summer? Has Mark Scheifele requested a trade from the Jets?

WILL THE SHARKS TRADE KARLSSON OR BURNS THIS SUMMER?

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports it appears there were some “very preliminary” trade talks this year involving San Jose Sharks defenseman Erik Karlsson and a couple of teams. He doesn’t believe those discussions got far but it seems the Sharks may recognize that having two elite, right-shot former Norris Trophy winners on their blueline hasn’t meshed as well as they’d hoped. That other defenseman, of course, is Brent Burns.

San Jose Sharks defenseman Erik Karlsson (NHL Images).

The Sharks are currently searching for a new general manager after long-time GM Doug Wilson stepped down for health reasons earlier this year. They still wish to contend but carrying Karlsson and Burns may be a luxury they cannot continue to afford in a salary-cap world.

Friedman pointed out Burns has less term on his contract than Karlsson. He feels the Sharks will listen if a rival club makes an offer they like for one of them.

NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: Sheng Peng last week also weighed in on the Sharks blueline with his takeaways of acting GM Joe Will’s remarks during his end-of-season press conference. He noted Will saying that players have choices, thoughts and prerogatives on where they are in their careers.

Peng noted that there were rumblings last summer suggesting Burns could be open to being traded to a contender. He also pointed out the long-time Sharks rearguard did little to quell that speculation during his exit interview.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Sharks are pressed for cap space next season with Cap Friendly showing them carrying over $73 million invested in 19 active players for 2022-23. That’s not counting any penalty they might receive if an arbitrator rules against them in Evander Kane’s grievance hearing over his contract termination in January.

Karlsson is signed through 2026-27 with an annual average value of $11.5 million and a full no-movement clause. Burns’ deal goes through 2024-25 with an $8 million annual cap hit and has a list of just three acceptable trade destinations.

Moving either guy this summer could prove difficult. The Sharks might be forced to retain some salary or take back a toxic contract to make it happen.

Karlsson and Burns aren’t the only defensemen the Sharks could part ways with during the offseason. There’s talk of buying out Marc-Edouard Vlasic and the remaining four years of his contract. Meanwhile, Radim Simek claims he got the runaround from management and the coaching staff when he questioned the decline in his playing time over the second half of the season.

WILL THE DEVILS TARGET FIALA IN THE OFFSEASON?

Jeff Marek reported the New Jersey Devils could target Kevin Fiala as GM Tom Fitzgerald looks to add an impact player in the offseason and is willing to shop his 2022 first-round pick. The 25-year-old Minnesota Wild winger netted 85 points this season and Marek believes the Devils see him skating alongside fellow Swiss forward Nico Hischier.

The Wild face a salary-cap crunch after this season with over $12 million in dead cap space from last summer’s buyouts of Zach Parise and Ryan Suter. That will make it challenging to sign Fiala as the 25-year-old winger is a restricted free agent with arbitration rights.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Offering up that first-rounder could be enticing to Wild GM Bill Guerin if he knows he can’t afford to re-sign Fiala. The winger is completing a one-year, $5.1 million contract and is in line for a lucrative new deal.

If Fitzgerald can’t swing a trade, perhaps he’ll attempt to go the offer sheet route. Such moves are scarce and rarely successful but the Devils have the cap space to make it work provided Fiala is interested.

NO TRADE REQUEST FROM SCHEIFELE

Elliotte Friedman reports Mark Scheifele did not ask for a trade during his exit interview last week with Winnipeg Jets management. The 29-year-old center raises eyebrows earlier in the week with comments regarding his future. Friedman said we’ll see where everything goes in the offseason as the Jets have a lot of choices to make.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Winnipeg pundits believe Scheifele could be on his way out while some Jets fans on social media have called for general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff to trade him. There’s a belief of a lack of accountability within the Jets’ dressing room over their disappointing performance this season.

Scheifele has two years remaining on his contract with an annual average value of $6.125 million plus a 10-team no-trade list. While his defensive game draws criticism, his scoring will ensure he attracts plenty of interest if Cheveldayoff shops him this summer.










NHL Rumor Mill – May 7, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – May 7, 2022

The Devils are open to trading their 2022 first-round pick plus a look at the Sabres’ roster needs in the NHL rumor mill.

DEVILS COULD PEDDLE THEIR 2022 FIRST ROUNDER

THE SCORE: Kayla Douglas cited New Jersey Devils general manager Tom Fitzgerald indicating his willingness to put his 2022 first-round pick into play in this summer’s trade market. The Devils currently hold the fifth-best odds (8.5%) of winning the 2022 NHL Draft Lottery on Tuesday.

Fitzgerald said he’d be open to using that pick to acquire a player “that we know and feel will help impact the results that we are looking for.” The Devils GM believes it is time for his young team to start contending for the playoffs.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Fitzgerald’s comments have already prompted some observers to muse over what type of player the Devils would want in exchange for that pick. Vancouver Hockey Now’s Rob Simpson recently examined the pros and cons of the Canucks’ offering up J.T. Miller if they’re unable to sign him to a contract extension.

Simpson is merely spitballing here as there’s no indication Miller is on the trade block. Nevertheless, you get the idea of the type of player it could take to pry that first-rounder away from the Devils, especially if they win the draft lottery. Fitzgerald would probably prefer someone with more than a year of term remaining on their contract.

New Jersey Devils forward Pavel Zacha (NHL Images)

Speaking of the Devils, THE ATHLETIC’s Shayna Goldman believes Pavel Zacha is the most likely of their current roster to be traded in the offseason. The 25-year-old spent most of this season on the wing but prefers playing center. He’s a restricted free agent with arbitration rights who isn’t worth much more than his current $2.25 million annual average value.

Goldman also believes the Devils face a big decision regarding Mackenzie Blackwood. Injuries have hampered his development as a starting goaltender over the past two seasons. They must determine if there’s still room for improvement or if he’d be better off with a fresh start elsewhere. She suggested it could depend if a UFA goaltender like St. Louis’ Ville Husso or Colorado’s Darcy Kuemper is willing to sign with them.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Zacha’s name popped up around midseason linking him to the Canucks. Its’ believed they’ll be seeking affordable talent in the early-to-mid twenties. We’ll find out at some point this summer if there’s a potential fit for him in Vancouver.

Goaltending was the Devils’ undoing this season. Blackwood cannot be faulted for his injury history and his struggles attempting to regain his form upon his return to action. Nevertheless, this franchise needs an upgrade between the pipes to have a fighting chance of becoming a playoff contention next season. It’s up to Fitzgerald to address that issue, be it shipping out Blackwood or putting him in a backup role to an established starter.

WHAT ARE THE SABRES’ OFFSEASON NEEDS?

THE ATHLETIC: John Vogl recently examined what roster issues the Buffalo Sabres should address during the offseason.

Goaltending is their most pressing need. Craig Anderson, 40, will take a month or two to decide if he wants to return or retire. Sabres GM Kevyn Adams will look at all his options. Vogl speculated they could sign a second-tier unrestricted free agent such as Braden Holtby, Casey DeSmith or Martin Jones.

They could also acquire a goalie with a year left on his contract to serve as a bridge to young netminders such as Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen, Devon Levi and Erik Portillo. Options could include the New York Islanders’ Semyon Varlamov, the Carolina Hurricanes’ Antti Raanta, Minnesota Wild’s Cam Talbot or Los Angeles Kings’ Jonathan Quick.

Adams must also improve his defense corps. Vogl believes they should add a right-handed shot to their heavy left-shot blueline but Adams stressed the importance of finding the right fit.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Adams might have better luck signing one of those second-tier UFA goalies. The Sabres could be part of Varlamov’s 16-team no-trade list, Raanta has a long injury history, the Wild could stick with Talbot ($3.666 million) if they’re unable to re-sign Marc-Andre Fleury and the Kings’ could allow the 36-year-old Quick to finish his career in Los Angeles.