In Part II of the NHL Draft Rumors series, let’s look at the biggest storylines heading into the NHL Entry Draft that wasn’t covered in Part 1.
I’ll take a look at the Pittsburgh Penguins situation, news regarding the Winnipeg Jets, and there’s buzz the Montreal Canadiens might try to make a splash. Finally, what teams are rumored to be ready to make deals on the draft floor?
What Happens With Malkin and Letang?
Two more pending UFAs are Kris Letang and Evgeni Malkin of the Pittsburgh Penguins. Both would like to stay in Pittsburgh, but the Penguins seem only willing to go so far on extensions. Letang wants five years on a new deal, while the Penguins want three. Meanwhile, Malkin and the Pens haven’t talked in some time and there’s real thought he might test his luck in free agency. What does that mean for the draft? Perhaps nothing, but it seems logical the Penguins would try to acquire an asset or two if neither player is coming back.
Josh Yohe of The Athletic writes:
“It’s impossible to say, but here’s what I know: Hextall is willing to sign him at a certain price. However, sources said the two sides haven’t been speaking regularly after initial talks when the Penguins’ season ended on May 15. Hockey people who speak with Hextall on a regular basis are very much under the impression that Malkin’s return to the Penguins is no sure thing.”source – ‘What I’m hearing about the Penguins: Malkin, Letang, Hextall, Trocheck and J.T. Miller’ – Josh Yohe – The Athletic – 06/28/2022
According to Rick Dhaliwal, Malkin’s agent, JP Barry says, “They have a lot of players to sign and are up against the cap. Right now it is 50-50.”
Will the Jets Consider Trading Pierre-Luc Dubois?
There’s no rush for the Jets to move Pierre-Luc Dubois, but if they know he’s unlikely to stay and be part of the solution in Winnipeg, perhaps GM Kevin Cheveldayoff explores the idea of a trade during the draft. Dubois is a restricted free agent and there have been rumblings of interest from the New York Rangers.
The question teams will have to ask is what Dubois is worth in trade, especially if he’s not prone to signing a long-term extension. If his intent is to explore free agency no matter what team has his rights, that adds an extra element of risk that might not encourage teams to pay a heavy price to acquire him.
Darren Dreger of TSN also asks if there’s a bit of a reputation developing around the NHL with this player. Dreger noted he didn’t want to stay in Columbus either. “Do you run out of runway as player, even a player of this significance, when you continually do that with your contracts?” Both Dreger and Ray Ferraro seemed to think Dubois might be trying to work his way to the Montreal Canadiens.
Will the Canadiens Make a Splash?
When asked by Dreger if he would consider trading the first-overall pick to acquire Dubois, Ferraro said no. At the same time, he did believe the Canadiens would need to find a way to move a higher first-round pick to make that trade. As it stands, the Habs don’t have another first-round pick until the No. 26 spot which would mean piecing together second and third-round picks to get up into the higher part of the first round.
There is speculation that the Canadiens are open to doing so as they like the depth in their prospect pool. Will they be able to make the moves necessary to get the picks the Jets might like? Or, would they simply wait for Dubois to hit free agency in 2024 and potentially sign him then?
There is some belief that the Canadiens still don’t know who they’ll with the first overall pick and are hoping New Jersey offers something enticing to go from No. 2 to No.1.
Teams Trying to Move Up in the Draft?
NHL insider Elliotte Friedman says on After The Whistle podcast that he thinks a couple of teams will try to wheel and deal at the draft. The two teams he mentioned were the Arizona Coyotes and Columbus Blue Jackets. He figures the Coyotes might try and get another high pick via trade and he believes Columbus would like to try and move up in the draft.
Will this bring chatter about defenseman Jakob Chychrun back into the mix?
Jim Parsons is a senior THW freelance writer, part-time journalist and audio/video host who lives, eats, sleeps and breathes NHL news and rumors, while also writing features on the Edmonton Oilers. He’s been a trusted source for five-plus years at The Hockey Writers, but more than that, he’s on a mission to keep readers up to date with the latest NHL rumors and trade talk. Jim is a daily must for readers who want to be “in the know.”