Each day through the opening of NHL free agency on July 1, TSN.ca breaks down the latest news and rumours around the NHL.
Talk it Out
The window for NHL teams to talk to restricted free agents officially opened at 12:01 a.m. ET on Wednesday and with a loaded a class of RFAs, some have speculated the return of an offer sheet on July 1.
Columbus Blue Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen did not rule out the idea of an offer sheet being signed when asked about it by TSN Hockey Insider Pierre LeBrun.
“I think every team is always considering all the options allowed in the rules of the CBA,’’ Kekalainen told The Athletic.
TSN Hockey Insider Darren Dreger said Tuesday he expects Toronto Maple Leafs winger Mitch Marner's camp to speak with at least three teams during this time and pointed to the New York Islanders as a team that could be interested. Dreger added Wednesday that multiple teams have reached out to Marner, though daily discussions between his agent, Darren Ferris, and Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas continue.
Dubas said last week he would not necessarily match an offer sheet, if one materialized this summer. LeBrun believes the Carolina Hurricanes could be a target for an offer sheet on forward Sebastian Aho since the team might struggle to pay a lucrative signing bonus on a deal. Hurricanes general manager Don Waddell called the subject of offer sheets "overblown by the media" on Tuesday, but added the team would not lose Aho to one this summer.
“We can and we would match any offer made to us and we’ve made that real clear,” Waddell said.
LeBrun adds the Maple Leafs are not the only team struggling to sign their prized restricted free agent, noting the Colorado Avalanche do not appear close to a deal with Mikko Rantanen and the Tampa Bay Lightning are not yet on the same page with Brayden Point on term.
Pending unrestricted free agent Brett Connolly had been linked to the Edmonton Oilers this summer and his agent Gerry Johannson confirmed the team's interest Tuesday.
“We’ve talked to Ken (Holland), and Brett had a really good conversation," Johansson told 630 CHED Edmonton. "We’ve got quite a few calls for sure on (Connolly). The (contract) number probably is going to be fairly reasonable, I think, to where a lot of teams can look at Brett as a fit."
Connolly, 27, posted a career-high 22 goals and 46 points in 81 games with the Washington Capitals this season. Johannson pointed to the opportunity of playing on Connor McDavid's wing as a draw for Connolly to potentially join the Oilers.
“There’s not a much better opportunity in the NHL than the right side in Edmonton," he said. "That’s a pretty big opportunity for someone like Brett. And obviously he’s a (Prince George, British Columbia) guy, so he’s a Western Canadian. We've got a lot of calls to make, still, and we've got to go through a process and obviously it's up to Brett, but ... Edmonton would be a great spot.”
Johannson added that six to eight teams had expressed 'real interest' in Connolly, who is coming off a two-year, $3 million contract with the Washington Capitals.
Continuing to Add
The New Jersey Devils are coming off a big weekend of adding P.K. Subban to their blueline and drafting centre Jack Hughes first overall, but Steven Ellis of The Hockey News believes more moves will follow from general manager Ray Shero.
Ellis expects the Devils to target scoring wingers in free agency and points to San Jose Sharks forward Gustav Nyquist or Brandon Pirri of the Vegas Golden Knights. He also wonders if the Devils could also consider signing Jake Gardiner to further boost their defence, though he may also be too expensive.
The Devils are in need of an upgrade in goal, Ellis writes, but are unlikely to be able to make a change with Cory Schneider signed for three more years at a $6 million cap hit.
According to CapFriendly, the Devils have just over $25 million in cap space this summer with Pavel Zacha, Mirco Mueller, Will Butcher and Connor Carrick all in need of new contracts as restricted free agents.