NHL Rumor Mill – July 27, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – July 27, 2021

With the NHL free-agent market opening July 28, here’s the latest on the goalie market, Ryan Getzlaf’s status with the Ducks and updates on the Canadiens and Kraken in today’s NHL rumor mill.

LATEST ON THE OFFSEASON GOALIE MARKET

DAILY FACEOFF: Frank Seravalli reports talks between the Colorado Avalanche and goaltender Philipp Grubauer are expected to go down to the wire before the free-agent market opens at noon ET on July 28. The Avs are holding firm with an offer of five years and $5 million annually while the Grubauer camp seeks over $6 million per season.

Colorado Avalanche goaltender Philipp Grubauer (NHL Images).

The Avalanche and Toronto Maple Leafs view Arizona Coyotes goaltender Darcy Kuemper as a primary trade target but the asking price is high. The Chicago Blackhawks are among several teams with an interest in Vancouver Canucks netminder Braden Holtby. The Vegas Golden Knights have dangled Robin Lehner and Marc-Andre Fleury at varying points this season.

TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports have an interest in Kuemper and Carolina’s Petr Mrazek. They haven’t made a contract offer to former starter Frederik Andersen. He thinks Andersen could be on the Hurricanes’ shortlist.

VEGAS HOCKEY NOW: Dan Kingerski cited Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reporting a deal for one of the Golden Knights’ goaltenders fell through over the weekend. It was either Fleury going to the Blackhawks or Lehner heading to the New Jersey Devils.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: We can expect a fair bit of jockeying over the next couple of days as teams attempt to address their goalie needs via trades and/or free agency.

Grubauer’s situation will be interesting. The Avs wouldn’t have clinched this year’s Presidents’ Trophy without him but he was shaky in their second-round series against Vegas. Nevertheless, I don’t see a better option in the trade or free-agent markets.

Kuemper is the best of the bunch after Grubauer but he carries a $4.5 million cap hit for next season, has a recent injury history and is slated to become a UFA next summer. The Coyotes asking price is likely a high draft pick and/or a top prospect or young NHL-ready player.

The Lehner to New Jersey rumor caught my eye. The Devils seemed keen on young Mackenzie Blackwood as their starter. I assumed they’d want a reliable backup to mentor him. Lehner, however, is a full-fledged starter. If the Devils were trying to get him that suggests they have less confidence in Blackwood than originally thought.

It sounds like the Leafs are scouting the market for someone to share the goalie duties with Jack Campbell. If they don’t find anything that fits within their limited cap space perhaps they’ll circle back to Andersen, provided another club hasn’t snapped him up.

COULD GETZLAF HIT THE MARKET?

TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports the Anaheim Ducks and captain Ryan Getzlaf aren’t close to a new contract but he doesn’t rule out the possibility that they’ll get one done. Nevertheless, the 36-year-old center is readying himself to hear offers from clubs on Wednesday if he’s still unsigned by then.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Athletic’s Eric Stephens reports the Ducks want to bring back Getzlaf. He suggested the speculation about the captain leaving might be to put a bit of pressure on the Ducks. We’ll see what transpires. Despite his age and declining production, he will attract plenty of interest in the free-agent market.

WHO COULD THE CANADIENS TARGET IN FREE AGENCY?

TVA SPORTS: Rumors are circulating suggesting the Montreal Canadiens could sign Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman David Savard and Carolina Hurricanes forward Cedric Paquette when the UFA market opens on Wednesday.

SPORTSNET: Chris Johnston took to Twitter reporting Chris Wideman is a “good bet” to land with the Canadiens via free agency. The 31-year-old defenseman is coming off a productive season in the KHL.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canadiens are looking to fill the gap on defense with Shea Weber sidelined for next season (and possibly longer). They’ll also need some checking-line depth if they lose center Phillip Danault to free agency. One rumor claims Wideman already has a one-year deal in place with the Habs that will be announced tomorrow.

KRAKEN EXPECTED TO BE BUSY IN UFA MARKET

TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports the expansion Seattle Kraken are expected to be active in the upcoming free-agent market. They have lots of cap space to invest. LeBrun believes they’ll circle back on St. Louis Blues’ left winger Jaden Schwartz and make him a concrete offer.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Kraken have over $30 million in projected cap space. They have sufficient room to re-sign their four restricted free agents (including Vince Dunn) and make a splash or two in the UFA pool for someone like Schwartz.

 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 23, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 23, 2021

The 2021 NHL Draft begins tonight, the league releases its 2021-22 schedule, Shea Weber’s career is likely over due to injuries, the Flyers send Shayne Gostisbehere to the Coyotes, the Hurricanes trade Alex Nedeljkovic to the Red Wings, plus much more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.com: The first round of the 2021 NHL Draft gets underway at 8 pm ET tonight. Rounds two through seven will be held on Saturday. Like last year, it will be a virtual draft.

The 2021 NHL Draft begins on Friday, July 23. (NHL.com).

The Buffalo Sabres hold the first-overall pick. University of Michigan defenseman Owen Power is ranked this year’s top prospect but there’s no guarantee he’ll be selected by the Sabres. Power intends to return to university this fall but Sabres general manager Kevyn Adams said that won’t affect his club’s decision. The Seattle Kraken holds the second-overall selection with the Anaheim Ducks holds the third.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Check out my 2021 NHL mock draft of the first round for Bleacher Report. I predict Power will be selected by the Sabres.

The NHL also unveiled its 82-game schedule for 2021-22. The season will begin Tuesday, Oct. 12 with the Pittsburgh Penguins visiting the defending Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning while the expansion Seattle Kraken plays their first-ever NHL game as they visit the Vegas Golden Knights. The Kraken’s first home game is Oct. 23 as they host the Vancouver Canucks

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin said he doesn’t expect team captain Shea Weber to play next season, adding the defenseman’s career is probably over because of injuries he tried to play through in recent years.

Bergevin confirmed goaltender Carey Price is in New York having his knee and hip examined with the possibility his knee could require surgery with a possible recovery period of 6-8 weeks. He also said he expects winger Jonathan Drouin will return to the team for training camp in September. Drouin took a season-ending leave of absence in March to deal with a personal matter.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bergevin anticipates the league will allow him to place Weber ($7.8 million cap hit) on long-term injury reserve for 2021-22. That would provide the Canadiens GM the flexibility to exceed the $81.5 million salary cap by the equivalent of Weber’s cap hit if necessary.

ARIZONA SPORTS: The Coyotes acquired defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere plus a 2022 second-round pick and a 2022 seventh-round pick from the Philadelphia Flyers without sending anything back in return.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This was purely a cost-cutting move by the Flyers to shed Gostisbehere’s $4.5 million annual cap hit. “Ghost Bear” struggled over the past two years and could benefit from a change of scenery.

This is the second deal involving the Coyotes where they acquired a player and draft picks without sending anything the other way. They recently swung a deal with the New York Islanders for Andrew Ladd and three picks. As with the Gostisbehere deal, it was done by the Isles to clear some cap room.

The Flyers and Islanders paid a price to get those contracts off their books by giving up those draft picks to the Coyotes. Gostisbehere remains a decent NHL player and is expected to be part of the Coyotes roster next season. Ladd’s spent most of the past two seasons in the minors and could do so again in 2021-22.

THE DETROIT NEWS: The Red Wings acquired goaltender Alex Nedeljkovic from the Carolina Hurricanes in exchange for goalie Jonathan Bernier and a third-round pick in this year’s draft. Nedeljkovic signed a two-year contract with the Wings worth an annual average value of $3 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This move baffled most observers. Nedeljkovic is a promising young netminder and a Calder Trophy finalist this season. However, it appears the Hurricanes front office wasn’t that enamored with his overall performance. Rather than face a possible salary arbitration battle, they opted to trade him to the Wings.

It’s believed the Hurricanes will seek a suitable replacement via trade or free agency. Nevertheless, this could backfire on them if Nedeljkovic goes on to a solid NHL career with the Wings.

NEW YORK POST: The Rangers signed forward Barclay Goodrow to a six-year contract worth an annual average value of $3.642 million. The deal also includes signing bonuses and a 15-team no-trade list. Goodrow was recently acquired from the Tampa Bay Lightning.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The cap hit is reasonable but the term seems long for a player of Goodrow’s caliber. The 28-year-old is a solid third-line forward but comparable players usually get three or four-year deals at most. Cap Friendly indicates he’ll receive $5 million in actual salary in 2023-24 and $5.1 million in 2024-25.

TSN: A former Chicago Blackhawks player described his alleged sexual assault by the club’s former video coach Bradley Aldrich in a recent court filing.

CHICAGO TRIBUNE: The attorney handling two negligence lawsuits against the Blackhawks said one of her clients was bullied by several Blackhawks teammates after he accused Aldrich of sexually assaulting him.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman yesterday said he would cooperate with the internal investigation conducted by the legal team hired by the club. The Tribune reports he declined to comment on the specifics of the review or the events in 2010 citing the pending lawsuits.

CALGARY SUN: The Flames acquired forward Tyler Pitlick from the Seattle Kraken in exchange for a fourth-round pick in 2022.

THE MERCURY NEWS: The San Jose Sharks re-signed Rudolfs Balcers to a two-year, $3.1 million contract.

CAP FRIENDLY: The Tampa Bay Lightning re-signed center Gemel Smith to a two-year, $1.5 million contract. The first year is a two-way deal with Smith earning $750K at the NHL level.

NHL.COM: The Colorado Avalanche re-signed forward Kiefer Sherwood to a one-year deal.

NHLPA: Matt Calvert announced his retirement from the NHL after 10 seasons due to a career-ending injury. He played 566 games with the Columbus Blue Jackets and Colorado Avalanche, tallying 203 career points.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best wishes to Calvert in his future endeavors.










NHL Rumor Mill – July 22, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – July 22, 2021

With the expansion draft over, here’s the latest on the Kraken, Oilers, Islanders, Canadiens, Capitals, Senators, Kings and Sharks in today’s NHL rumor mill.

TIME TO GET KRAKEN IN THE TRADE AND UFA MARKETS?

RDS.CA: Francois Gagnon reports the Seattle Kraken’s inaugural roster is thin on scoring punch. However, that could change once the expansion draft roster freeze lifts at 1 pm ET Thursday.

Francis has approximately $29 million in salary-cap space to put toward adding players to help his club over the short and long term. The Kraken GM could target cap-strapped clubs looking to shed salary. He could also try his luck in the free-agent market when it opens on July 28.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Trades involving the Kraken could be announced as early as today following the lifting of the roster freeze. It will be interesting to see how Francis navigates the trade and free-agent markets this summer. I’ll be surprised if he doesn’t land one or two quality players before the puck drops in October.

LATEST OILERS RUMORS

TORONTO STAR: Kevin McGran reports Zach Hyman was in Edmonton yesterday discussing a possible long-term contract that could be announced as early as Thursday. The 29-year-old winger’s preference is to remain with the Leafs but his asking price of eight years at $5 million annually could be too much for the cap-strapped Leafs.

Toronto Maple Leafs winger Zach Hyman (NHL Images).

If Hyman agrees to terms with the Oilers, his rights could be traded to Edmonton before the free-agent market opens on July 28. It’s believed the Leafs would want draft picks in return. The winger has drawn interest around the league, with one offer (not from the Oilers) said to be as high as $7 million annually. Hyman is only interested in playing for a contender.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The reason for the sign-and-trade is for the Oilers to get an extra year on the contract. Teams can re-sign players to a maximum of eight years. Unrestricted free agents from other teams can be signed for no more than seven years.

Whoever the general manager is that’s offering Hyman $7 million should be fired at once. The winger’s a good player but he’s not worth $7 million per season. With some GMs apparently succumbing to auction fever already, Hyman’s going to make a lot of money on his next contract.

SPORTSNET: Mark Spector reports the Oilers are trying to figure out how to replace Adam Larsson following his signing with the Seattle Kraken yesterday. General manager Ken Holland will look at bringing back Tyson Barrie but they still need a shutdown defenseman on the right side. If Barrie is signed, Ethan Bear could become a trade candidate.

Should Holland pass on Barrie, his options in the free-agent market include Tampa Bay’s David Savard or Vancouver’s Travis Hamonic.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Reports yesterday indicated the Oilers were circling back to Barrie. He seeks a long-term deal that could prove more expensive than the four-year, $16 million contract Larsson signed with the Kraken. Savard could cost less than Barrie but perhaps a little more than Larsson.

WHAT NEXT FOR THE ISLANDERS?

THE ATHLETIC: With Jordan Eberle gone, Arthur Staple wondered what the New York Islanders will do with the cap space they’ve freed up. Eberle’s selection by the Kraken in the expansion draft plus the recent trades of Nick Leddy to Detroit and Andrew Ladd to Arizona give the Isles over $17.6 million in cap room.

Restricted free agents Anthony Beauvillier, Adam Pelech and Ilya Sorokin need new contracts. Pending UFA Casey Cizikas could also return. It’s believed former Minnesota Wild winger Zach Parise is on the Isles radar plus they must find a left-side defenseman to replace Leddy.

The Islanders have also been linked to St. Louis Blues winger Vladimir Tarasenko and Colorado Avalanche winger Gabriel Landeskog. Adding one or the other could involve making a cost-cutting move.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Staple also noted the Islanders can put the permanently sidelined Johnny Boychuk ($6 million annual cap hit) on long-term injury reserve if necessary to free up additional cap room. They could go that route depending on what it takes to re-sign those RFAs and Cizikas. Landeskog will cost a fortune as a free agent so I don’t see a fit there. Tarasenko is a possibility in the trade market but making the dollars work will be difficult.

CANADIENS LINKED TO BEAUVILLIER, DVORAK

TVA SPORTS: reports the Montreal Canadiens were linked to New York Islanders winger Anthony Beauvillier and Arizona Coyotes center Christian Dvorak. The Calgary Flames, Ottawa Senators, Vegas Golden Knights and Pittsburgh Penguins are also said to be interested in Dvorak. The 25-year-old forward carries a $4.45 million annual cap hit through 2024-25.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canadiens’ rumored pursuit of both players could depend on what the future holds for Shea Weber and Jonathan Drouin. They have over $14 million in cap space but could get more wiggle room if necessary should Weber ($7.85 million) and/or Drouin ($5.5 million) end up on long-term injury reserve.

The Canadiens’ supposed interest in Beauvillier is tied to the small number of Quebec-born players on their roster. Drouin and Phillip Danault were the only two in the lineup this season and Danault is expected to depart via free agency next week. I think Beauvillier will be staying on Long Island. The Coyotes, meanwhile, are rebuilding their roster and believed to be listening to offers for Dvorak.

CAPITALS MUST SHED SALARY

NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON: J.J. Regan reports the Seattle Kraken’s selection of goaltender Vitek Vanecek leaves the Capitals facing a salary-cap crunch. They have just $8.9 million in cap space with captain Alex Ovechkin and goalie Ilya Samsonov to re-sign. They also have to find a replacement for Vanecek.

With eight defensemen under contract, the Capitals could end up moving one of Dmitry Orlov ($5.1 million cap hit), Brenden Dillon ($3.9 million), Justin Schultz ($4 million) or Nick Jensen ($2.5 million). Depending on the cost of re-signing Ovechkin and Samsonov, that still might not be enough. A bolder move could be trying to trade center Evgeny Kuznetsov and his $7.8 million cap hit.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A salary dump or two is in the cards for the Capitals this summer. Kuznetsov’s been a fixture in the rumor mill for weeks but his cap hit and personal baggage could be difficult to move without tossing in a sweetener like a draft pick or prospect.

UPDATES ON THE SENATORS, KINGS AND SHARKS

OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch reports Chris Tierney may have played his final game with the Senators. He and forward Evgenii Dadonov and defenseman Josh Brown were exposed in the expansion draft.

Garrioch also reports the Los Angeles Kings are willing to move their first-round pick (eighth overall) in this year’s draft.

THE ATHLETIC’s Kevin Kurz reports the San Jose Sharks are seeking a veteran goaltender to pair with recently acquired Adin Hill. That means Martin Jones has played his final game with the Sharks.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 22, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 22, 2021

The Kraken unveil their roster, the Bruins close to re-signing Taylor Hall, the Oilers reportedly ink Mike Smith, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: The Seattle Kraken finally have a full roster as they made their 30-player selections in their expansion draft yesterday. Mark Giordano, Jordan Eberle and Yanni Gourde were among the notable players chosen by the Kraken.

The Seattle Kraken officially announced their roster on July 21. (NHL.com).

Gourde will have to wait for a little way to make his debut with the Kraken after undergoing shoulder surgery this week. His recovery period is estimated to be four months.

Adam Larsson, Chris Driedger and Jamie Oleksiak were considered draft selections from the Edmonton Oilers, Florida Panthers and Dallas Stars respectively after signing new contracts with the Kraken. The trio was slated to become unrestricted free agents on July 28 but the Kraken had a three-day window to exclusively negotiate with free agents exposed in the draft.

Larsson signed a four-year, $16 million contract. Driedger’s new deal is for three years and is worth an annual average value of $3.5 million while Oleksiak’s is for five years with a $4.6 million AAV.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The unofficial Kraken roster I posted yesterday based on media links throughout the day turned out to be the official list. You can read my take on the expansion draft on Bleacher Report.

The Kraken’s home opener is slated for Oct. 23 against the Vancouver Canucks. The NHL’s full 2021-22 schedule will be released on Thursday.

No side deals emerged during the draft despite weeks of hype. General manager Ron Francis was asked if he has any trades in hand that could be unveiled when the expansion draft roster freeze is lifted at 1 pm ET today. “Probably a lot less than you guys think there might be,” he said.

In other news…

TSN: The Boston Bruins are reportedly closing in on a new deal for left wing Taylor Hall. Darren Dreger expects it’ll be a four-year contract worth close to $24 million in total.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Not a surprise. Most of the speculation about Hall’s negotiations with the Bruins suggested a three-to-four year contract worth around $6 million annually.

SPORTSNET: Mike Smith is reportedly returning to the Edmonton Oilers. The 39-year-old goaltender is expected to ink a two-year deal worth around $2 million annually.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Not a bad cap hit but it’s still a bit of a gamble to invest more than one year into a goalie who turns 40 in March. It remains to be seen who will share the netminding duties with Smith. The Oilers are reportedly shopping Mikko Koskinen. He has a year left on his deal worth $4.5 million but they can’t find any takers. There are no immediate plans to buy him out.

Speaking of the Oilers, they’ve engaged in preliminary contract talks with Tyson Barrie after losing defenseman Adam Larsson to the Kraken in the expansion draft.

THE BUFFALO NEWS: The Sabres have started contract discussions with Rasmus Dahlin. The 21-year-old defenseman is a restricted free agent after coming off his three-year entry-level contract.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: The Canadiens hired Trevor Letowski as an assistant coach. He spent the past 10 years coaching in the Ontario Hockey League, the last three as head coach of the Windsor Spitfires.










Unofficial Seattle Kraken Roster

Unofficial Seattle Kraken Roster

If you were looking for suspense and chaos in the NHL 2021 Expansion Draft, better stop reading now.

Most of the Seattle Kraken’s selections were leaked to the press after the club sent its choices to NHL headquarters this morning. Here’s what’s been revealed thus far via various media sources:

Goaltenders: Chris Driedger (Florida), Vitek Vanecek (Washington), Joey Daccord (Ottawa).

Defense: Mark Giordano (Calgary), Adam Larsson (Edmonton), Vince Dunn (St. Louis), Jamie Oleksiak (Dallas), Hadyn Fleury (Anaheim), Cale Fleury (Montreal), Carson Soucy (Minnesota), Jeremy Lauzon (Boston) Kurtis MacDermid (Los Angeles), Dennis Cholowski (Detroit), Will Borgen (Buffalo), Gavin Bayreuther (Columbus)

Forwards: Jordan Eberle (NY Islanders), Yanni Gourde (Tampa Bay), Joonas Donskoi (Colorado), Calle Jarnkrok (Nashville), Brandon Tanev (Pittsburgh), Jared McCann (Toronto), Mason Appleton (Winnipeg), Morgan Geekie (Carolina), Colin Blackwell (NY Rangers), Tyler Pitlick (Arizona), Nathan Bastian (New Jersey), Kole Lind (Vancouver), Alexander True (San Jose), Carson Twarynski (Philadelphia).

Bear in mind that the names on this list have not been officially announced by the Kraken or the NHL. Those will be made at tonight’s expansion draft. Any trades made by the Kraken will also be announced tonight.










NHL Rumor Mill – July 21, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – July 21, 2021

The NHL expansion draft begins at 8 pm ET tonight. Check out the latest on Carey Price, Vladimir Tarasenko, Gabriel Landeskog, Jack Eichel and more in today’s NHL rumor mill.

LATEST EXPANSION DRAFT SPECULATION

TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports there’s an expectation the Seattle Kraken could make an 11th-hour pitch to the Montreal Canadiens to ask their price to not select Carey Price. LeBrun doubts Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin will pay it since he and Price agreed the latter would be exposed in the draft.

Will the Seattle Kraken select Carey Price in the expansion draft? (NHL Images)

Price, meanwhile, is slated to be examined in New York on Thursday regarding hip and knee ailments. Kraken GM Ron Francis has had a few conversations with Price’s agent.

DAILY FACEOFF: Frank Seravalli reports Francis has received the green light from Kraken ownership to select Price if they see fit despite the goalie’s health issues and expensive contract.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Stu Cowan examined Bergevin’s options to replace Price if he’s selected by the Kraken. Free-agent options could include Detroit’s Jonathan Bernier, Toronto’s Frederik Andersen and Boston’s Jaroslav Halak, who began his NHL career in Montreal.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: We’ll learn officially after 8 pm ET tonight if the Kraken snap-up Price. Doing so would free up $10.5 million in cap space for Bergevin to seek a short-term replacement. Possible trade targets could include Arizona’s Darcy Kuemper and Columbus’ Elvis Merzlikins or Joonas Korpisalo.

PHILLY.COM: Sam Carchidi reports of rumors the Kraken could select St. Louis Blues winger Vladimir Tarasenko and flip him to the Philadelphia Flyers for winger Jakub Voracek and a draft pick. Other reports they could target the  Washington Capitals for center Evgeny Kuznetsov. The New York Rangers have also been mentioned because of Tarasenko’s friendship with Rangers left wing Artemi Panarin.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It would be very interesting to see if the Kraken would go that route with Tarasenko. They’ll have to get something worthwhile in the return to consider it.

Maybe they’d accept Voracek if they select James van Riemsdyk from the Flyers in the expansion draft. Despite Kuznetsov’s personal baggage, the Kraken could take the chance if they fail to land a quality center in the draft. Perhaps they could pry Pavel Kuchnevich and a draft pick or prospect from the Rangers.

Tarasenko isn’t the only player the Kraken could attempt to flip to another club soon after the draft. NBC Sports Adam Gretz also listed Calgary’s Mark Giordano, New Jersey’s P.K. Subban, Nashville’s Calle Jarnkrok, Anaheim’s Adam Henrique and Philadelphia’s Shayne Gostisbehere as possible trade candidates if selected by the Kraken.

Pierre LeBrun also reported Gabriel Landeskog’s camp had a conversation with the Kraken on Sunday but there’s been nothing further since. Unless things change, he doubts the Kraken will sign the Colorado Avalanche. Landeskog is due to become an unrestricted free agent on July 28.

Darren Dreger reports Francis has had a number of conversations with agent J.P. Barry, who represents pending UFAs Dougie Hamilton and Adam Larsson. They could be preliminary discussions. Francis’ window of exclusivity to negotiate with unprotected free agents expires at 10 am ET today.

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports the Kraken are locked-in on Florida Panthers goalie Chris Driedger. He wondered if they’ll also attempt to add Frank Vatrano or if Driedger becomes their pick from the Panthers. They’re also interested in St. Louis Blues winger Jaden Schwartz. Do they add him now or select Vince Dunn and add the winger later?

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If the Kraken don’t sign Landeskog, Driedger, Schwartz, Hamilton or Larsson today they can continue contract discussions with them. It just means they’ll be jockeying with other clubs interested in their services as the start of free agency (July 28) draws nearer.

DAILY FACEOFF: Cam Lewis cited a recent report claiming the New Jersey Devils appear interested in moving P.K. Subban. They exposed him in the expansion draft but were also trying to find a taker for the former Norris Trophy winner. Lewis wondered if they can convince the Kraken to take on the final season of Subban’s contract. He carries a $9 million cap hit for 2021-22.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Perhaps that will become one of those side deals we heard so much about leading up to today’s draft. It could take a significant sweetener to convince the Kraken to do that.

IN OTHER RUMORS…

THE ATHLETIC: Michael Russo reported the Minnesota Wild continues to have discussions with the Buffalo Sabres regarding Jack Eichel. However, the asking price for the 24-year-old center remains very high.

It’s believed Sabres GM Kevin Adams sought all futures from the Wild. That would mean top prospects Marco Rossi and Matt Boldy plus two first-round picks. Given Eichel’s $10 million annual average value, the Sabres would have to take back a significant salary from the Wild or find another club to act as a third-party broker.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Russo doesn’t see a clear path for the Wild to acquire Eichel unless the Sabres lower their prices. He’s previously reported GM Bill Guerin is reluctant to burn through his cap space or deplete his prospect pipeline.

Speaking of Eichel, The Buffalo News’ Lance Lysowski cited Elliotte Friedman saying the Anaheim Ducks, Los Angeles Kings and Calgary Flames are out of the bidding, at least for now. The Wild and Rangers are listed as possibilities.

TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports Minnesota Wild winger Kirill Kaprizov received a significant offer from KHL club CSKA Moscow. Guerin is aware of it but he believes they can bridge the cap in contract talks with the 2021 Calder Trophy winner.

LeBrun also reports the Winnipeg Jets and Montreal Canadiens are among the teams believed interested in Buffalo Sabres defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Jets could lose defenseman Dylan DeMelo in the expansion draft. Canadiens captain Shea Weber could miss all of next season (and perhaps more) due to multiple lingering injuries.

Darren Dreger reports the Arizona Coyotes continue shopping Oliver Ekman-Larsson but his $8.25 million annual cap hit is a tough sell. Perhaps interest will pick up if a team loses a good defenseman in the expansion draft.

Meanwhile, there’s no progress in contract talks between the Coyotes and winger Conor Garland. Several clubs are keeping an eye on the restricted free agent’s situation.