Each day leading up to free agency on July 1, TSN.ca breaks down the latest news and rumours around the NHL.
Help for Hellebuyck
Winnipeg Jets goalie Connor Hellebuyck could be paired with a new goalie once free agency opens July 1.
Jason Bell of the Winnipeg Free Press reported the Jets will likely look at adding to their crease either via free agency or a trade.
Hellebuyck needs a new creasemate, and logic dictates he’ll likely get one within a week’s time.
General manager Kevin Cheveldayoff took care of a bunch of important business last week.
Now, Cheveldayoff must turn all his time and attention to solving the dilemma in net, by way of trade or free agency. Sunday was the day pending free agents and their representatives could start talking with teams around the league, although no contracts can be signed until this Saturday, July 1.
"We’re going to a take a look at whatever is available to us and if there’s a good opportunity there that can help us, we’ll jump at it," Cheveldayoff said Saturday at the draft. "We’ve got a list of names lined up to reach out to their representatives and see if we’re a fit for them and as far as they want to consider us."
Bell reported Jets coach Paul Maurice still have confidence Hellebuyck can be a Number 1 in the NHL, but he’s in no rush to thrust him into that role right away.
"I’ve got lots of faith that Connor can do it. I’m also not in a hurry to have him have to do that next year.
Last week Chevaldayoff told TSN Senior Hockey Reporter Frank Seravalli the team will take a good look at options in net leading up to free agency.
Names Bell lists as possibilities include Brian Elliott, Steve Mason, Jonathan Bernier, Ryan Miller, and Cam Ward.
Hellebuyck finished last year with a 26-19-4 record and 2.89 goals against average and .907 save percentage.
Plenty of Interest
The Montreal Canadiens are just one of the many teams interested in free agent defenceman Karl Alzner, according to TSN Hockey Insider Pierre LeBrun.
The 28-year-old scored three goals and 10 assists over 82 games with the Washington Capitals in 2016-17.
LeBrun adds there is plenty of interest in pending San Jose Sharks UFAs Patrick Marleau and Joe Thornton as well. The 37-year-old Marleau has spent his entire career in San Jose.
Staying A Flame?
The Calgary Flames are interested in retaining the services of veteran forward Kris Versteeg, according to TSN Hockey Insider Darren Dreger.
The 31-year-old scored 15 goals and added 22 assists over 69 games with the Flames in 2016-17.
Defence options in Ottawa
The Ottawa Senators could be looking at Dmitry Kulikov as an option on defence come free agency. TSN Hockey Insider Pierre LeBrun reported he wouldn't be surprised if the Senators reached out to the pending free agent.
Kulikov played for Senators head coach Guy Boucher in Drummondville in the QMJHL.
In 47 games with the Sabres last season, the 26-year-old finished with two goals and three assists. The 14th overall pick in the 2009 Draft, Kulikov has 507 career games, mostly spent with the Florida Panthers.
Kevin Shattenkirk figures to be one of the most sought after free agents on the market come July 1, and you can add the Tampa Bay Lightning to the mix of teams lining up trying to sign him.
Joe Smith of the Tampa Bay Times reported the Lightning appear to be kicking the tires on the 28-year-old blue liner.
Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman said he planned to explore free agency for potential needs, which include bolstering his blue line and adding a wing or two.
And it sounds like Tampa Bay is kicking the tires on the biggest fish in the free agent market, veteran defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk.
But, as Smith reported, the Lightning could be hesitant to give up their newly-gained salary cap flexibility, which came at a cost for Tampa Bay earlier this off-season.
"We've done a lot here to give ourselves a little bit of flexibility," Yzerman told Smith. "We don't want to put ourselves right back in the same position if we're not confident that it's really going to make a difference."
Shattenkirk, who is ranked No. 1 on TSN Hockey’s Top UFA List, finished with 13 goals and 43 assists in 80 games split between the St. Louis Blues and Washington Capitals.
Decision Day Approaching
Highly coveted NCAA prospect Spencer Foo will make his signing decision mid-week, according to TSN's Ryan Rishaug.
Foo will meet with his agent, Michael Kaye, in Edmonton over the next couple days and has his choices narrowed down to the Edmonton Oilers, Calgary Flames, Detroit Red Wings and Vegas Golden Knights, according to Rishaug.
Foo scored 26 goals and added 36 assists over 38 games with Union College in 2016-17, his third campaign with the club. He will forgo his senior season to turn pro.
The 23-year-old is a native of Edmonton.
While Shattenkirk figures to test the free agent market, Capitals forward Justin Williams is expected to chat with the team to see if there is a fit for him to stick around.
The 35-year-old finished with 24 goals and 24 assists in 80 games with the Capitals last season, his second with the club. Williams has 273 goals and 209 assists in 1,080 career games.
Looking to cash in
After a productive return to the NHL with the Montreal Canadiens, forward Alexander Radulov is looking to cash in, reportedly asking for a seven-year contract this off-season. That could end up being too much for the Habs to pay.
Pat Hickey of the Montreal Gazette reported Radulov’s term could be a sticking point for Habs GM Marc Bergevin.
“Term will be the sticking point in these talks with the 31-year-old Radulov looking at a seven-year deal.
“While Radulov can’t sign with another team before July 1, teams were allowed to talk to UFAs as of Sunday. As offers come in, Bergevin will have a better idea of Radulov’s market value.”
TSN Hockey Insider Bob McKenzie opined that the Vegas Golden Knights could possibly be a fit for Radulov.
You wonder about Vegas. They have the cap space. They have the veteran Russian that they just signed in free agency – Vadim Shipachyov,” McKenzie said on TSN 690 in Montreal. “Would that be a team that wouldn’t be as concerned about the money? I don’t have any specific knowledge that they would. And I don’t know if Radulov would want to just chase the dollars to go play for an expansion team.”