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Off-Season Watch: Oilers among teams interested in Hurricanes D Pesce

Brett Pesce Carolina Hurricanes Adam Lowry Winnipeg Jets Brett Pesce Adam Lowry - The Canadian Press

Ahead of the NHL Draft on June 28-29 and the opening of free agency on July 1, keeps you up to date with all the latest rumours and speculation from around the NHL beat.

Oilers Eyeing Pesce?

Carolina Hurricanes defenceman Brett Pesce was listed at No. 6 on the first TSN Trade Bait Board of the off-season on Thursday, and a market appears to be forming for the blueliner.

TSN Hockey Insider Pierre LeBrun reports the Hurricanes would prefer to sign Pesce to an extension as he enters the final year of his contract, but will consider a trade if they can't get a deal done.

"Listen, if the Hurricanes have their way, they're not trading Brett Pesce, they're signing him to an extension," LeBrun said on Insider Trading. "And those talks continue with his camp, but I think the Hurricanes are also pretty resolute that if they can't extend Brett Pesce, they will move him this summer to get max value on the asset with a year left on his contract.

"Among the teams, I'm told that have already reached out on Brett Pesce: the Buffalo Sabres, who have made a priority as [TSN Hockey Insider Darren Dreger] has reported before of going out and getting a top-four D. They have interest in Pesce."

Dreger reports that the Edmonton Oilers, who swung a major trade to acquire defenceman Mattias Ekholm at the trade deadline, are also interested.

"Yeah, I think the Edmonton Oilers have interest in Pesce as well," Dreger added. "We know that the Edmonton Oilers are one of those teams in the market also looking to add another top-four defenceman, but in Edmonton it's about loosening up the money strings and creating cap space, so this isn't going to be easy for Kenny Holland.

"He would like to also add a competitive forward, a bargain forward like Connor Brown. So, maybe you're looking at Cody Ceci getting moved, Warren Foegele being on the move, Kailer Yamamoto and maybe others. So the Oilers could do more than just tweak."

As Dreger noted, finding cap space could prove difficult for Edmonton, who have a projected $5 million in cap space with 18 players currently under contract for next season, according to CapFriendly. The Oilers still need to sign restricted free agents Evan Bouchard, Klim Kostin and Ryan McLeod this summer as well.

While some have suggested buyouts as a way for the Oilers to create cap space, Holland told Daniel Nugent-Bowman of The Athletic this week he'd prefer not face cap charges in future years.

"It’s a possibility. I hope to avoid it because then I’ve got money on the cap going forward," Holland said.

Pesce, 28, will carry a cap hit of $4.025 million in the final year of his contract next season. He posted five goals and 30 points in 82 games this season, adding two goals and six points in 15 playoff games. 

He has spent his entire career with the Hurricanes since being drafted by the team in the third round of the 2013 NHL Draft.

Jets Lead Trade Bait Board

All eyes are on the Winnipeg Jets this off-season as three players on their roster occupy top-four slots on the first summer TSN Trade Bait Board.

Pierre-Luc Dubois leads the list as he looks for a trade this summer as a restricted free agent. Star goaltender Connor Hellebuyck is second after reportedly informing the Jets he will not sign an extension with the team ahead of his contract expiring next summer.

Forward Mark Scheifele checks in at No. 4 behind Alex DeBrincat of the Ottawa Senators as his future in Winnipeg is once again in doubt this off-season. Scheifele also has one year remaining on his contract at a cap hit of $6.125 million.

Hellebuyck is one of two goaltenders on the opening 10-player Trade Bait Board, along with Anaheim Ducks netminder John Gibson. 

As TSN Hockey Insider Darren Dreger reported on Insider Trading, though, there are no shortage of proven goaltenders available this off-season.

"There are layers of goaltenders, lots of options available," Dreger said Thursday. "Now, it's all salary-cap related for those teams that have interest. There are a number of teams that need at least a goaltender upgrade. So are you big name hunting via a trade and looking at Connor Hellebuyck or John Gibson with the Jets and Anaheim Ducks? Are you willing to test the unrestricted free-agent market assuming Adin Hill gets there? You've got Tristan Jarry, you've got Joonas Korpisalo, you've got an experienced goalie in Cam Talbot. You want a bold move? How about offer sheet Jeremy Swayman of the Boston Bruins, although I'm fairly certain the Bruins would match that, so there are different layers and options when it comes to goaltending."

Hellebuyck, who's signed through next year at a cap hit of $6.167 million, is the only goaltender on that list with a Vezina Trophy, having won the award in 2020.

The opening TSN Trade Bait Board is as follows:

1. Pierre-Luc Dubois, Jets
2. Connor Hellebuyck, Jets
3. Alex DeBrincat, Senators
4. Mark Scheifele, Jets
5. Erik Karlsson, Sharks
6. Brett Pesce, Hurricanes
7. Noah Hanifin, Flames
8. Travis Konecny, Flyers
9. John Gibson, Ducks 
10. Scott Laughton, Flyers

What To Do With DeBrincat?

The Ottawa Senators filed for club-elected salary arbitration with Alex DeBrincat on Thursday, with the restricted free-agent reportedly unwilling to ink a long-term deal with the club.

DeBrincat, who is listed at No. 3 on the Trade Bait Board, could reach unrestricted free agency as soon as next summer with a one-year deal. 

TSN Director of Scouting Craig Button joined SC with Jay Onrait on Thursday to break down the Senators options with the winger this off-season:

ContentId(1.1973953): What do the Senators do with DeBrincat?