TSN Hockey Insiders Chris Johnston, Pierre LeBrun and Darren Dreger join host Kate Beirness to discuss some major topics of interest as the NHL Entry Draft and start of the free agency period are just around the corner.
We are one week away from the NHL draft where Montreal will play host and they own the top pick. Any sense of who we like for that No. 1 pick?
LeBrun: What I was told on this day is that the Habs’ braintrust remains undecided in terms of being 100 per cent on the No. 1 pick, which is not shocking. [General manager] Kent Hughes has said that they would use all the time they had leading up to next Thursday's first round to settle on that No. 1 pick. But what it could do in the meantime is perhaps add some intrigue in the hours leading up to next Thursday's first round in that everyone knows the New Jersey Devils are picking at No. 2. There are some who believe that Montreal is waiting to see if the Devils make a move closer to the first round in terms of picking up the phone and asking Montreal what it would take to flip the No.1 and No. 2 picks so that the Devils can make sure they can get their hands on winger Juraj Slafkovsky. But the Devils are telling people 'if a centre is the best player available in our eyes, we have no problem with taking another centre,' even though the Devils have Jack Hughes and Nico Hischier. Something to keep an eye on because I think the Habs would be willing to entertain that conversation.
It appears the Leafs are moving on from [unrestricted free agent] Ilya Mikheyev as they have informed teams they are willing to trade his rights, correct?
Johnston: That's right. What's interesting here is obviously before sending out that note, there was nothing worked out with any teams when it comes to Ilya Mikheyev, but the fact it has gone out is indicative of the interest that I believe will be here for this player. There are some that believe that as many as half the teams in the league will show some interest in him as a free agent. It's not to say the Leafs will necessarily be able to make a trade for his rights because I think Mikheyev himself is curious to see what's out there for him on the open market. This is going to be someone of high interest as we get closer to July 13th. He's looking for a contract somewhere in the $4-million range or even above.
What's the latest with Mike Smith, who has one year left on his contract with the Oilers?
Dreger: Edmonton Oilers general manager Ken Holland and his veteran goaltender Mike Smith are discussing his future this week. Now we know that the 40 year old has dealt with a string of injuries and it's highly likely that Smith will go on long-term injury reserve for the remainder of his contract, which only has one more year on it at $2.2 million. Holland will then dive deep into the free agent pool with interest in pending unrestricted free agent goaltender Jack Campbell, Ville Husso of the St. Louis Blues and maybe others if he needs to go further into that scenario.
On Puljujarvi's future with the Oilers
Johnston: There are discussions as well in Edmonton on Jesse Puljujarvi's future and it sounds right now as though the trade winds are blowing increasingly stronger. There are a couple of teams that have engaged with the Oilers in trade talks on Puljujarvi. One of them is believed to be the Ottawa Senators. This is a player that needs a new contract. He's a restricted free agent. If Edmonton is not going to give him that contract, don't be surprised if he's moved here at some point.
Johnny Gaudreau is coming off a career year with 115 points and is at the top of the UFA free agent list. Calgary made him an offer. Is there any news there?
LeBrun: Well, the news is that there is no news, which is not good news if you're Calgary, if you follow along here. It is status quo in that I'm told [as of now], Johnny Gaudreau remains undecided about the offer from the Calgary Flames. His camp has not communicated to the Flames one way or another where this is headed at this point. We're a week away from the draft. We've said before that the Calgary Flames would be nervous letting this drag out all the way to the opening a free agency in the sense that probably they have to start pivoting here soon if they don't think they're going to be able to re-sign Johnny Gaudreau. Ultimately, I think what it sounds like to me is that Johnny Gaudreau wants to keep Calgary in the fold, that he's still interested in that offer, but may want to take a peek and see what's out there and that's not ideal if you're Calgary.