Last year, the expansion draft ruled all of the offseason talk and honestly, there weren’t as many moves as most had expected or hoped for.
This year, with names like Tavares and Carlson poised to hit the UFA market and players like Ryan O’Reilly, Phil Kessel, and Erik Karlsson on the trading block, things could get wild.
You have organizations like Edmonton and Calgary who are desperate to get better and have GM’s whose jobs depend on a playoff berth in 2019. Then there’s the New York Rangers who appear committed to a rebuild… errrr… “retool”. They should be active as well. So should the Minnesota Wild, who have a new GM at the helm. The Buffalo Sabres are clearly fed up with being basement dwellers and want to change their culture, that usually means a big move.
There should be no shortage of movement, but I’ve put together my list of the three teams who I believe could make the biggest splash at tomorrows draft:
NEW YORK ISLANDERS
The Isles and their new GM Lou Lamoriello will do everything they can to try to keep John Tavares on Long Island. This weekend I expect them to push hard for Washington Capitals goalie Philipp Grubauer and potentially go after a scoring winger to show Tavares they’re serious about contending.
They have a ton of cap space, almost $30 million, and own both the 11th and 12th overall picks. They have the assets to make a move and I suspect Lamoriello will be very aggressive.
Owner Tom Dundon is an absolute wild card and it’s pretty well known that Don Waddell is testing the market on pretty much every player they have.
I don’t believe they’ll move the #2 pick, but after that, they don’t pick again until #42. I wonder if they’ll deal off a forward like Jeff Skinner or Elias Lindholm as part of a package that includes another pick in this year’s first round.
With five NHL defensemen under team control and prospects like Jake Bean and Haydn Fleury getting closer to the NHL, the Canes could move a piece form their backend for an impact forward.
Lots of cap space, a plethora of assets, and an Owner who wants to see change. The Canes could make a big splash this weekend in Dallas.
They already went out and acquired Max Domi from the Arizona Coyotes, but it’s clear that Marc Bergevin is still on the hunt for a legitimate top-six centre.
They’ve been connected to Ryan O’Reilly a lot over the past week, that seems like the type of move that could get made on the draft floor
I could also see Bergevin unloading a contract in order to put himself in a better position come free agency. Assuming the cap goes up to $80 million, he’ll have close to $20 million to play with.
They’re also the first wild card in the top five of the draft. Will they take who I think is the most skilled player in Filip Zadina? They’ve also been linked to Brady Tkachuk. I’ve also heard some talk that they’ll take Finnish center Jesperi Kotkaniemi.
They have a real impact on the first round, and could make a real impact on the trade market.
PHILADELPHIA: Wayne Simmonds name is once again being thrown around, will this be the summer he finally gets dealt? I could also see them making a move for a starting goalie.
DALLAS: The host organization is never shy to make a big move for the home crowd. Could Dallas stun everyone and move into the top ten? They also have just four d-men under contract for next season.
CHICAGO: After missing the playoffs for the first time in what seems like forever, I could see Chicago do something big to either improve immediately or to shed cap space ahead of free agency.