NHL

Off-Season Watch: Saturday's latest from around the NHL

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TSN.ca Staff
6/21/2014 10:25:02 AM
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With the NHL Draft coming up on June 27 and free agency opening on July 1, discussions between NHL general managers are heating up towards a busy off-season.

Each day, TSN.ca provides the latest rumours, reports and speculation from around the NHL beat.

Going D-eep

Ordinarily, one would assume the Edmonton Oilers were once again in prime position to improve their future, holding the third overall pick in Friday's NHL Draft.

Trading down, however, might be the best course of action for the Oil - according to The Hockey News' Matt Larkin.

Larkin suggests that with the Florida Panthers likely to make Aaron Ekblad the first-overall pick on Friday, Edmonton would be better served to trade down from the No. 3 to acquire "an established asset" and scoop the Draft's consensus second-best blueliner, Red Deer's Haydn Fleury.

The Oilers have long needed to bolster their blue line and started that process by taking Darnell Nurse seventh overall last June.

Larkin floats the hypothetical idea of the Oilers looking to deal with the Toronto Maple Leafs, possibly getting a young defender like Jake Gardiner along with the eighth overall selection in exchange for the third overall pick. The scenario would offer the Leafs a crack at a top-end forward like one of Sam Reinhart, Sam Bennett or Leon Draisaitl while allowing the Oilers to have a realistic shot at Fleury.

Wait and C?

From the sounds of it, the Montreal Canadiens may not be searching for a new captain come July 1?

ESPN The Magazine's Craig Custance tweeted Saturday morning that Habs captain Brian Gionta will be meeting with his agent to discuss his future options.

According to Gionta's agent Steve Bartlett, Gionta has "no strong inclination to leave" Montreal.

A pending unrestricted free agent, Gionta is coming off a five year deal that paid him $5 million per season. The 35-year-old American scored 18 goals and 22 assists in 81 games last season.

Foreign Markets

Teams may look beyond North American shores on July 1 to scoop up additions for the 2014-15 season.

In another tweet, Custance mentioned a couple intriguing options could be returning to the NHL, namely Kontinental Hockey League forward Leo Komarov and former first-round pick Peter Mueller.

Custance mentioned that Komarov is still talking to his former team, the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Leafs hold Komarov's NHL rights until July 1 since he opted to return to the KHL for 2013-14 while still eligible for restricted free agency in the NHL. The Finn has spent parts of each of the last five seasons with Moscow Dynamo, including a brief stint during the lockout-shortened 2012-13 season.

Komarov was a popular grinder and depth forward for the 2012-13 Leafs team that became the first to make the playoffs since 2003-04.

Mueller, meanwhile, led the Swiss League in goals in 2013-14. He scored 24 in 49 games with Kloten. The eighth overall selection by the Phoenix Coyotes in 2006, Mueller's NHL career-high was 22 goals in his 2007-08 rookie season.

Jake Gardiner (Photo: Brian Babineau/Getty Images)

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(Photo: Brian Babineau/Getty Images)
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