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Off-Season Watch: Jets among suitors for Necas


While the Stanley Cup Final continues, the NHL's off-season is rapidly approaching with the NHL Draft starting on June 28 and Free Agent Frenzy on July 1. keeps you up to date with all the latest rumours and speculation from around the NHL beat.

Plenty of suitors for Necas

With Martin Necas' time with the Carolina Hurricanes seemingly coming to an end as he reaches restricted free agency this summer, TSN Hockey Insider Pierre LeBrun reports there's no shortage of interest in the 25-year-old forward. 

"Well, they’ve heard from basically every team in the league, and what they’ve tried to do is narrow down the realistic possibilities for a potential trade," LeBrun said Wednesday on Insider Trading. "I’m told five to seven teams invite intriguing possibilities for the Hurricanes, but no one’s gone up to the price that they’d like to see. Winnipeg, Chicago, Boston, and Montreal among the teams that have inquired."

TSN Hockey Insider Darren Dreger added that Necas is "in play" in the trade market, noting the Winnipeg Jets could potentially discuss a blockbuster swap with Nikolaj Ehlers potentially on the move on the other side.

"A lot of speculation around one of their veteran forwards, and that’s Nikolaj Ehlers," Dreger said. "He is going into the final year of his contract, and I know that general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff is at least open to having conversations with interested general managers. I think of the Carolina Hurricanes, potentially the connection there with Marty Necas also in play. But this is more of a financial issue for the Winnipeg Jets. Yeah, they’d like to keep Nikolaj Ehlers and extend him, but they have Kyle Connor who has two years left on his deal, and he is going to be a big-money ticket."

Dreger reported earlier this week that Ehlers' name has been "out there" in trade talks for the Jets, but he added that moving the forward is not a front-burner topic for Jets management. Ehlers, 28, is signed through next season at a cap hit of $6 million ahead of reaching unrestricted free agency. He posted 25 goals and 61 points in 82 games this season, topping the 20-goal mark for the seventh time in the past eight seasons. 

Necas is reportedly seeking a move from Carolina, but after posting 24 goals and 53 points in 77 games this season, he is also seeking a significant raise from his current $3 million cap hit. Selected 12th overall in the 2017 NHL Draft, he has topped the 20-goal mark in each of the past two seasons and recorded a career-high 71 points in 82 games last season.

Senators weighing options ahead of draft

The Ottawa Senators are keeping all their options open ahead on this month's NHL Draft and Postmedia's Bruce Garrioch reports team president and general manager Steve Staios is listening on the No. 7 pick.

Senators senior vice president Dave Poulin confirmed Wednesday that the Senators are receiving interest in the pick, but an uncertain draft order is complicating matters.

“We had interest in the (No. 7) pick. Teams will call you and say, ‘Are you interested in moving the pick?’ and you don’t know what that’s going to look like because you don’t know what’s going to be available there. You have to stay very flexible” Poulin said at a season-ticket holders event, per Garrioch. “There are so many questions about this early group. It’s very hard to nail down. Very often you know who is going to go No. 1, No. 2 and No. 3. This group is all over the board.

"By all accounts, Macklin Celebrini will go No. 1 and after that it’s wide open."

The Senators are also reportedly weighing a move at goaltender after Joonas Korpisalo and Anton Forsberg both struggled last season. Poulin noted that the team must improve at the position, but didn't commit to making a trade.

“We’re not happy with the goaltending tandem, but I don’t think the goaltending tandem was happy with the goaltending tandem,” Poulin said. “If you talk to both guys, and we have, they weren’t pleased with their season. They weren’t pleased with it numerically, statistically or from an analytics standpoint.

“We take it a step further, where the goals are scored, breakdowns on the ice, cross-ice passes, where the shots are coming from and the quality of chances. We didn’t help our goalies very much. We’ve studied from every detail possible. We have to improve our goaltending situation. Can that come from the two goaltenders we have? It can, but that’s still to be determined.

“We’ve chatted with people around the league who are in different situations. One thing with Joonas Korpisalo, you have to look at some off-ice factors as well. It was his first-long term contract, he came in, he had a new baby and, quite frankly, the defence in front of him wasn’t as good as it was in L.A. He played so well for them down the stretch. There’s a lot of different factors and we’re still working hard on it.”

Garrioch reported earlier this week that the Senators have been “one of the most aggressive teams” in the pursuit of Calgary Flames goaltender Jacob Markstrom. He also noted that Staios has held talks with the Boston Bruins on netminder Linus Ullmark.

Bringing a new goaltender will likely also mean moving one out for the Senators, which could prove difficult with Korpisalo signed at a $4 million cap hit through 2027-28, and Forsberg entering the last year of his deal at a $2.75 million cap hit.

Latest on the Maple Leafs

Speculation continues to surround Mitch Marner's future with the Toronto Maple Leafs, though a trade continues to appear unlikely.

The 27-year-old winger has a full no-move clause as he enters the final year of his contract at a cap hit of $10.9 million. 

"The whirlwind that continues to swirl around Mitch Marner seems endless, but really nothing has changed on that file. Marner has another year remaining on his contract with the Toronto Maple Leafs, and he intends to play it out, so maybe we’re having this conversation heading into July 1, 2025?" Dreger said on Insider Trading. "...But that doesn’t mean that Brad Treliving and the Toronto Maple Leafs can’t have conversations and explore possibilities.

"But as we have this conversation, the focus for Marner is training in the off-season and getting ready to come back to camp in Toronto."

Marner and Maple Leafs captain John Tavares are both entering the final year of their contracts, with both owning full no-move clauses. Marner had 26 goals and 85 points in 69 games last season, topping the point-per-game mark for the sixth straight season. Tavares, signed at a cap hit of $11 million, had 29 goals and 65 points in 80 games. Tavares had one goal and one assist in seven playoff games, while Marner was held to one goal and three points in seven games by the Boston Bruins. 

On the restricted free agent front, Joshua Kloke of The Athletic reports it appears negotiations with defenceman Timothy Liljegren could drag out into the summer. Liljegren is arbitration-eligible as he comes off of a two-year, $2.8 million contract signed with the Maple Leafs in 2022.

"It sounds like there hasn’t been much dialogue between the Leafs and Liljegren’s camp over his next contract," Kloke wrote. "The Leafs are likely waiting to see how free agency unfolds. Once they know what kind of pieces they can add, they’ll be able to decide where Liljegren fits in their lineup."

The 25-year-old had three goals and 23 points in 55 games this season, adding one assist in six playoff games. 

CapFriendly projects the Maple Leafs to have $18.83 million in cap space this summer with 16 players under contract. Nick Robertson, Noah Gregor and Connor Dewar are also slated for restricted free agency.