Off-Season Watch: Devils chasing Hellebuyck?
Ahead of the NHL Draft on June 28-29 and the opening of free agency on July 1, TSN.ca keeps you up to date with all the latest rumours and speculation from around the NHL beat.
Devils Chasing Hellebuyck?
Connor Hellebuyck continues to sit at No. 2 on the TSN Trade Bait board after informing the Winnipeg Jets he does not intend to re-sign with the team next summer.
TSN Hockey Insider Pierre LeBrun reports the New Jersey Devils have interest in the star netminder, but would need him to drop his price on an extension to complete a deal.
"The New Jersey Devils are one of the teams that we understand that Connor Hellebuyck would be interested in signing an extension with in a sign-and trade," LeBrun said on Insider Trading. "Now, they’re not the only team of course. And listen, New Jersey has investigated it. They’ve had a conversation with Winnipeg. But I think what probably gives New Jersey pause and some other teams is the kind of money that Hellebuyck would want in an extension.
"We believe that to be in the Andrei Vasilevskiy range, around $9.5 million per year. And, you know, we get why he’s asking for it perhaps, he’s a Vezina Trophy finalist, but, I think for the Devils, does that work in their cap? I think that price would have to come down for New Jersey to get more involved in this."
Hellebuyck, 30, led the NHL with 64 starts in net this past season – he held a 37-25-2 record, a 2.49 goals-against average and a .920 save percentage.
Hellebuyck won the Vezina Trophy in the 2019-20 season, when he held a .922 save percentage with a 2.57 GAA and six shutouts on the year. He is a finalist again this year.
The Commerce, Mich., native is entering the final year of a six-year, $37 million deal, which carries a cap hit of $6.167 million.
Hellebuyck continues to sit behind teammate Pierre-Luc Dubois on the TSN Trade Bait Board, with the restricted free agent looking for a trade this summer.
While Dubois has been linked his hometown Montreal Canadiens and the Los Angeles Kings, TSN Hockey Insider Darren Dreger reports other teams are also involved in trade talks.
"As for Pierre-Luc Dubois, it’s not just a two-horse race, it’s not just the Montreal Canadiens and the Los Angeles Kings, there are other teams who are involved," Dreger added on Insider Trading.
"We know the LA Kings have cap issues, the Canadiens hade made it clear that this isn’t going to be extortion via trade, they can wait if necessary for when Pierre-Luc Dubois becomes an unrestricted free agent in a year."
Jets centre Mark Scheifele slipped out of the top five on the TSN Trade Bait board Tuesday, with Erik Karlsson moving into the No. 4 slot and Noah Hanifin rising to No. 5.
No Buyout for Brodie?
Terry Koshan of the Toronto Sun reported via a source Tuesday that there is "no truth" to the rumours of the Maple Leafs buying out defenceman TJ Brodie.
Brodie, 33, is entering the final season of a four-year, $20 million contract signed with the Maple Leafs in 2020.
His buyout would clear his entire $5 million cap hit from the books for next season, while leaving a cap charge of $2.5 million in 2024-25.
Brodie had two goals and 14 points in 58 games this season, his third with the Maple Leafs. He added three assists in 11 playoff games.
A fourth-round pick of the Calgary Flames in the 2008 draft, Brodie has 55 goals and 322 points in 830 career NHL games.
TSN Hockey Analyst Mike Johnson argued on OverDrive Tuesday that "it makes zero sense" for the Maple Leafs to buy out Brodie. Instead, he suggested other ways the team could improve their blueline.
While it appears buying out Brodie may not be on new general manager Brad Treliving's to-do list, bringing back Ryan O'Reilly could be.
TSN Hockey Insider Pierre LeBrun reports Treliving has spoken to O'Reilly, expressing the team's interest in bringing him back. He adds, however, that the veteran centre is likely to be in high-demand come July 1.
"Well, to be fair, Ryan O’Reilly himself made it sound like it was a rental experience when he met the media at the end of the season probably looking at the Leafs’ salary cap situation and not thinking he could be an option," LeBrun said on Insider Trading. "But, in fact, what’s happening is new Maple Leafs GM Brad Treliving has communicated to O’Reilly’s camp that they have interest in bringing him back.
"O’Reilly has not closed the door on Toronto, but I would say in general is O’Reilly has really left all the options on the table as he approaches the unrestricted free agency market. So yes, the Leafs are an option, but he would also be arguably the No. 1 centre on an otherwise weak UFA centre market."
O’Reilly finished this season with the Maple Leafs after being acquired, along with forward Noel Acciari, from the St. Louis Blues for forward Mikhail Abramov, Adam Gaudette, and three draft picks on Feb. 17.
The 32-year-old recorded 16 goals and 30 points in 53 games last season split between the Blues and Maple Leafs. He added three goals and nine points in 11 playoff games before the Maple Leafs were eliminated by the Florida Panthers in five games during the second round.
Coyotes on the Hunt?
The Arizona Coyotes are flush with both cap space and roster spots after buying out Zack Kassian and Patrik Nemeth on Tuesday.
The buyouts brought the Coyotes up to $32 million in space, per CapFriendly, with 11 players under contract for the upcoming season. Arizona has four pending restricted free agents in Christian Fischer, Jack McBain, Matias Maccelli and Connor Ingram.
TSN Hockey Insider Chris Johnston reports the Coyotes are hopeful to be active in the trade market ahead of next week's draft and looking to leverage their cap space to take on players who can no longer be fit in on the current teams. The Coyotes have previously pursued deals to acquire assets in exchange for taking on contracts, such as their deals to acquire Kassian and Nemeth last summer.
"They have a lot of room on their roster sheet to add players and they’re uniquely positioned to make trades," Johnston said on Insider Trading. "That’s because they’ve got a ton of draft capital. As they go to Nashville next week, they’re likely to pick at No. 6 and No. 12. But beyond that, they have second-round picks – nine of them – in the next three drafts. Third-round picks, also nine of them in the next three drafts, and they’d like to deal from that capital in order to add some players. And what they’re targeting right now are players they consider to be good players that might be expendable in their current homes because those teams have some cap issues and are looking to dump salary.
"This is a change in thinking for the Coyotes, who are looking to move into a more competitive window and try to bridge a gap here until their top prospects are ready to be NHL players."
The Coyotes have missed the playoffs in 10 of the past 11 seasons, reaching the first round in the 2020 playoffs before being eliminated. The team finished this season with a 28-40-14 record in their second year under Andre Tourigny.
Arizona has few long-term commitments on their current roster, with only Clayton Keller ($7.14 million AAV), Nick Schmaltz ($5.85M) and Lawson Crouse ($4.3M) signed through at least 2025-26.