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What 31 NHL teams are thinking heading into the draft

October 2, 2020, 5:31 PM ET [6 Comments]
Kevin Allen
Blogger •HHOF Writer's column on the NHL • RSSArchiveCONTACT
With the NHL draft set for Tuesday and Wednesday and the free agent signing period starting Friday, here is a capsule look at the 31 NHL teams.

Anaheim Ducks:
Pondering whether to move down in the draft. Teams have called, asking about the Ducks' No. 6 spot in the draft. It's unknown what teams are offering to move into that spot.

Arizona Coyotes: Looking to significantly cut payroll, new general manager Bill Armstrong may trade defenseman Oliver-Ekman Larsson. He has a no-trade clause, but will waive it for certain teams.

Boston Bruins: We know Torey Krug is leaving through free agency, but the word is the Bruins are talking to the Coyotes about Ekman-Larsson.

Buffalo Sabres: The Sabres will be among the 15 NHL teams trying to improve their goaltending situation. They might talk trade with the Penguins for Matt Murray or the Maple Leafs about Frederik Andersen.

Calgary Flames: Their first priority is landing a goalie, but they also have to secure a proven defenseman.

Carolina Hurricanes: The Hurricanes are going to add a scorer and a new goalie. Craig Smith and Henrik Lundqvist?

Chicago Blackhawks: Even though negotiations with Corey Crawford have been tough sledding, they will likely get done. The Blackhawks showed in the postseason they have potential. They need another proven defenseman.

Colorado Avalanche: As one of the few teams with cap space, the Avalanche could be the winner in the Taylor Hall Sweepstakes. But the real intrigue with Colorado is whether they will add a goalie, maybe Henrik Lundqvist. Oddsmakers say the Avalanche are the favorite to win the Cup next season.

Columbus Blue Jackets:
The word is that the Blue Jackets are willing to trade either Joonas Korpisalo or Elvis Merzlikins. Would expect the Blue Jackets to be active in the free agent marketplace, looking for a No. 2 center and a scoring winger. Evgeni Dadonov might be a possibility.

Dallas Stars: Even after paying Roope Hintz, Anton Khudobin, Radek Faksa and Denis Gurianov, the Stars might have enough to bid on a modest free agent scorer. Buying out Andrew Cogliano would seem to make sense

Detroit Red Wings: With Alexis Lafreniere, Quinton Byfield and Tim Stutzle projected to be the top three draft picks, the focus is on who Steve Yzerman will take at No. 4. Yzerman, per his tradition, is playing his cards close to the vest. The leading candidates are forwards Marco Rossi, Lucas Raymond, Cole Perfetti and Alexander Holtz, or defenseman Jamie Drysdale. If Stutzle slides to No 4, the Red Wings presumably would grab him. The Red Wings need a young goalie, but No. 4 seems too high for Yaroslav Askarov. But Yzerman can be bold in his managerial decisions.

Florida Panthers: New general manager Bill Zito is expected to make a splash, perhaps pursuing free agent Alex Pietrangelo.

Edmonton Oilers: GM Ken Holland is looking to add a goalie, and he will look at free agents Braden Holtby and Lundqvist or consider a trade for Murray or Petr Mrazek.

Los Angeles Kings: The Kings reportedly are still wrestling about whether to take Quinton Byfield or Tim Stutzle at No. 2. Some scouts have compared Byfield to Evgeni Malkin.

Minnesota Wild: The Wild are willing to move defenseman Matt Dumba in the right deal. They are looking at all of their goalie options.

Montreal Canadiens: The Canadiens are willing to part with Max Domi, their first-round pick and prospects. That is enough to buy into several of the big trade scenarios.

Nashville Predators: The Predators would like to move one of their big ticket contracts (Ryan Johansen, Matt Duchene or Kyle Turris), but that will be difficult to accomplish. They could move Nick Bonino.

New York Islanders: The Islanders have about $9 million in cap space, and they will need more probably to get Mathew Barzal, Devon Toews and Ryan Poluck re-signed. They will likely have to say goodbye to Matt Martin and Derick Brassard. The Islanders need to give a team assets to take Andrew Ladd’s contract.

New York Rangers:
The Rangers have enough cap space to re-sign defenseman Anthony DeAngelo, but will they do that, or will they use DeAngelo as the centerpiece of a package to land a No. 2 center.

New Jersey Devils: The Devils are said to be interested in Russian goalie Jaroslav Askarov and might consider taking him at No. 7. If he is still there. They are also considering moving their two other first rounders (No. 18 and 20) for immediate scoring help.

Ottawa Senators: The Hockey News projects the Senators will draft Askarov with the No. 5 pick in the draft. That would be a mic drop selection.

Philadelphia Flyers:
GM Chuck Fletcher hopes to move Shayne Gostisbehere, but it will be challenging because he’s making $4.5 million per season for the next three seasons.

Pittsburgh Penguins:
Jim Rutherford, one of the NHL’s most aggressive traders, will trade goalie Matt Murray and perhaps a couple of other players.

St. Louis Blues:
Although they are losing a premium defenseman if Pietrangelo signs elsewhere, the best bet is they will pursue scoring help, maybe Mike Hoffman or Tyler Toffoli.

San Jose Sharks
: Have been talking to Minnesota Wild about Ryan Donato (14 goals) and goalie Devan Dubnyk.

Tampa Bay Lightning:
After winning the Stanley Cup, the Lightning have serious salary cap issues to address. Tyler Johnson, Alex Killorn and maybe a couple of others could be dealt. The Lightning have just over $5 million in cap space, and their restricted free agents are Eric Cernak, Mikhail Sergachev, Anthony Cirelli, Carter Verhaeghe and Mitchell Stephens. The Lightning are vulnerable to a free agent offer sheet, particularly to Sergachev and Cirelli.

Toronto Maple Leafs:
Before becoming a prime contender in the Pietrangelo Sweepstakes, they may trade Frederik Andersen.

Vancouver Canucks
: If the Canucks can re-sign Jacob Markstrom, they might be able to land Ekman-Larsson. Reportedly. Ekman-Larsson and Markstrom are friends and that’s why he would be willing to accept a trade to Vancouver. Imagine the Canucks with the those exceptional young players, adding Ekman-Larsson’s puck-moving ability.

Vegas Golden Knights: Expected to make a strong pitch to sign defenseman Alex Pietrangelo if he doesn’t re-sign in St. Louis. The Golden Knight will have to have to figure out what will happen with Marc-Andre Fleury and the possible signing of Robin Lehner before they know they have the budget room to sign Pietrangelo.

Washington Capitals: The Capitals are trying to clear cap space to keep Brendan Dillon. If he doesn’t re-sign, the Capitals will add a defenseman through free agency or trade.

Winnipeg Jets: They are willing to trade Patrik Laine, and they want a center to play in their top six and multiple draft picks. They also need help on the blue line.

Vegas Golden Knights:
Expected to make a strong pitch to sign defenseman Alex Pietrangelo if he doesn’t re-sign in St. Louis. The Golden Knights will have to figure out what to do with Marc-Andre Fleury and sign Robin Lehner before they know they have the budget room to sign Pietrangelo.
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