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Insider Trading: Nylander, Scheifele still awaiting new deals as training camp approaches

William Nylander Toronto Maple Leafs William Nylander - The Canadian Press

William Nylander, Mark Scheifele and Connor Hellebuyck are among three stars set to enter the upcoming season on the last year of their contracts.

TSN Hockey Insiders Chris Johnston, Pierre LeBrun and Darren Dreger join GHino Reda to discuss the latest on where things stand with those players, trade interest in Shane Pinto, the fallout from the Mike Babcock situation in Columbus, and more.

Reda: When Brad Treliving took over as general manager of the Toronto Maple Leafs, he said priority No. 1 was to extend Auston Matthews – he got that done – and then immediately said priority No. 2 was to get something done with William Nylander who's only got a year left on his deal. Any news there, Chris?

Johnston: Well not yet, where we are right now on the eve of training camp is that this is going to be something that's going to generate a lot of discussion, a lot of noise as the Leafs return to the ice but behind the scenes, there hasn't been a whole lot of talk. I don't get the sense, at least where I'm sitting, that they've made progress towards an extension for Nylander. Now I don't know that there's anything bad to be read into there – it seems like both sides are approaching this with a bit of caution. No plans at this point that I can glean for them to pick up those talks, but there is some hope with Nylander coming back to North America, being here physically, face-to-face conversations might propel things forwards.

Reda: Winnipeg Jets have a couple of guys going into the final year of their contracts: Connor Hellebuyck, former Vezina Trophy winner, and of course Mark Scheifele, coming off of a career year. What's going on with Scheifele?

Dreger: Well, very similar: there have been contract discussions on both players, but right now going into the training camp process for all of these clubs it's on the backburner for the Jets and for the players involved here. Despite what the critics say, the Jets believe they have a good team, and they're in win now mode. You've got that Vezina Trophy winner in Hellebuyck and he can get the job done. Scheifele is looking at the potential for a big year. Some things that need to be clarified: Scheifele has never asked for a trade, nor has he said he doesn't want to extend in Winnipeg but they're going to park it for now and just get the season going.

Reda: Everybody we've talked about so far is still under contract. However, there are a number of restricted free agents – three of them really prominent names... where are we at with their situation because they need new deals before they can play.

LeBrun: They wish they had a deal a month ago, let alone the fact that they don't have a deal with camps opening this week. Let's start with Trevor Zegras – two of them are in Anaheim, Zegras and Jamie Drysdale – Zegras is the face of the franchise, an offensive star, and what I can tell you is there's still a tangible gap in talks between the Anaheim Ducks and his representative Pat Brisson. My understanding is they've agreed on term, they're both willing to do a three-year deal, but they're far apart on the average annual value, so let's see where that goes. There was another conversation on Tuesday between the two sides which is a positive. Drysdale – his agent Dave Gagner is in Anaheim trying to hammer out a deal but still not close as of Tuesday morning – we'll see where that goes as that's another important signing for the Ducks. Shane Pinto, Ottawa Senators: he's not going to sign his qualifying offer, which is $875,000, his representative Lewis Gross has made that clear to the Senators. The problem is general manager Pierre Dorion – they don't have a lot of money in the cap to give him more than that so that's at a stand still right now but very positive talks, that thing can get done at any time as long as the Senators can find a bit more money to pay Pinto.

Dreger: Because Pinto is a key piece right, when you look at the Senators’ top nine, the expectation is that he's going to centre that third line. D.J. Smith, the coaching staff, management wants and needs Pinto to be part of the package out of the gate because new ownership is coming in so there's a lot of heat on the GM, a lot of heat on the head coach but teams have inquired about Pinto: Philadelphia Flyers, other clubs were told they're not trading him, he's too important.

Reda: Mike Babcock... I don't think anyone is really surprised that era is over before it even began in Columbus, maybe somewhat surprised it didn't affect upper management more, for now?

LeBrun: It's definitely a question that people had on their mind: would Jarmo Kekäläinen, the GM, and John Davidson, the president, pay the price of their own job for what ended up being a fiasco here? And the answer was no, ownership came out and put out a statement saying they didn't want to do that but if you read between the lines it is rare for this ownership group to say anything to begin with in Columbus, and it certainly gives you the sense in talking to some people that it's put the GM and president on notice here entering the season. Here's the thing: even before the whole Babcock thing, this was a big year for the Blue Jackets, Kekäläinen's in his 10th year, the team has to take a real important step this year, that was the sense anyway. He's got two years left on his current deal, it's something to revisit at the end of the season.

Reda: Last week Bob McKenzie, in his pre-season rankings special, named Macklin Celebrini as the pre-season favourite to go first overall in the [2024] NHL Draft – Chris, do we know when and where that draft will take place?

Johnston: Not just yet, which is unusual, this is a major piece of NHL business, and when the critical dates calendar went around to teams recently it said 'to be decided' for the draft but we know the league's been working hard behind the scenes on this. Las Vegas is likely to be where the draft is, right near the end of June next year but that's not quite wrapped up yet. Until it is, we wait and see for that news to be announced.