The TSN Hockey Insiders discuss the Canadiens' approach as they wait to see whether Seattle selects Carey Price in the expansion draft, the Jets and Habs being among several teams inquiring about Rasmus Ristolainen, the Coyotes’ continued interest in trading Oliver Ekman-Larsson and much more.
As the expansion draft looms, one of the biggest questions marks [is], are the Kraken going to take Carey Price? Do you get the sense this could turn into a high-stakes game of poker between the Kraken and the Habs?
Pierre LeBrun: I think there is a chance of that from the point of view of this, I think there is an expectation that Seattle may come at the 11th hour and ask Montreal about a price in order to not take Carey Price, no pun intended. If that’s the case, how does GM Marc Bergevin react? To me, Marc Bergevin is pot committed, if we stay with the poker theme here. He’s exposed Carey Price, Price is in on this, I don’t think you pay a price. I think you call Seattle’s bluff and say, either take him or don’t. In the meantime, Carey Price is scheduled for a doctor’s visit in New York City on Thursday, he’s supposed to fly out there on Wednesday to check on his knee and also his hip, could have knee surgery. All of this is information that Seattle is aware of, they have access to the Carey Price medical file. In the meantime, Kraken GM Ron Francis has had a few conversations with Price’s agent. It’s all happening, it’s intriguing, let’s see what happens Wednesday.
Darren Dreger: Ron Francis is also trying to take advantage of free agent exclusivity, he’s had a number of conversations with J.P. Berry, who is the agent for both Adam Larsson and Dougie Hamilton. Keep in mind that Ron Francis and the Kraken have until 10am ET on Wednesday to make that deal with those pending unrestricted free agents, they ultimately can continue on, but that’s the window of exclusivity. I would say they are preliminary talks, you might call it tire kicking, but it’s certainly something to watch as it further develops.
LeBrun: Speaking of defencemen, Rasmus Ristolainen, who is one year away from UFA status, the Buffalo Sabres [are] entertaining trade offers on him, there has been some pretty solid interest of late. Among the several teams that have kicked the tires, Winnipeg Jets and Montreal Canadiens. Now Winnipeg, it’s pretty obvious entering this off-season, [are] looking to upgrade their blueline, he’s just one of many names I think the Jets have looked at and same for Montreal. I think there are a few names ahead in the pecking order than Ristolainen for the Habs, but the one thing Ristolainen would bring to Montreal is the size that they will miss from Shea Weber being out.
Over the last couple of years Conor Garland has made his way, elevating his way up the lineup for the Arizona Coyotes to the point where he was their second leading scorer among forwards last year. But now the RFA 25-year-old needs a new contract, any update on those talks at all?
Dreger: They haven’t been positive I can say that, there has been delay after delay after delay. Bill Armstrong, the GM for the Coyotes, keeps pushing the talks back to the point that he wants to get through the expansion process. It is contract-related here, obviously. The Arizona Coyotes, as we well know, are trying to unload payroll and there is a good chance that Conor Garland is going to be an expensive ticket, he’s got arb rights for the next two years, so something to keep an eye on. More than a dozen teams [are] interested in Conor Garland, any team that needs a forward will be calling Bill Armstrong and probably has. Meanwhile, maybe Oliver Ekman-Larsson, the veteran defenceman for the Arizona Coyotes, is a trade option as well. There is no doubt that Armstrong and the Coyotes want to unload his salary, he’s got $8.25 million owing in cap hit through 2026-27. So, could he be an option if a team loses a real good defenceman in the expansion draft? Feels like a stretch, but it’s possible.
Elsewhere, Kirill Kaprizov was a landslide winner for the Rookie of the Year honours, he took 99 of 100 first-place votes. Now he’s due for a huge pay raise. Any word on the talks and how they’re going with the Wild?
LeBrun: The lines of communication remain open, but to be honest there hasn’t been a lot of movement I’m told between the two sides in a bit here. In the meantime, there is a legit offer, I’m told by sources, on the table in the KHL from CSKA Moscow and it’s a pretty big offer Listen, Minnesota Wild GM Bill Guerin is aware of this, it’s not like the Wild think this is a smokescreen by Kaprizov’s camp. They know there is a big offer over there, but they believe they will find a way to bridge the gap here. The Wild have offered an eight-year deal, Kaprizov’s camp have countered by wanting a shorter, three-year deal. At the end of the day, a lot of people believe this process could end by having a five-year deal later in the off-season, but in the meantime, that’s a real offer there in the KHL.
Dreger: Ongoing negotiations between the Boston Bruins and veteran forward Taylor Hall. Look, Taylor Hall wants to stay with the Bruins, he feels like he’s a real good fit there, he wants to give them a chance to get a deal done until July 28 when the free agent window opens entirely. So work to be done there, but there is at least some optimism between the two sides.
LeBrun: In the meantime, Gabriel Landeskog, the Colorado Avalanche captain who was left unprotected for the expansion draft process, his camp has had a conversation with the Seattle Kraken, but that was early in the window on Sunday. I’m told there really hasn’t been much of a conversation since, so unless things change and they have to decide soon, I don’t think Landeskog gets a contract offer from Seattle. I think he remains a UFA going to market or re-signing eventually in Colorado.
And a reminder that the Seattle Kraken have exclusive signing rights with UFAs and available RFAs right up until 10am ET on Wednesday morning.