NHL Draft Rumors: Devils, Canucks, Flames, Blackhawks

In today’s NHL rumor roundup, there are many big rumors heading into Friday’s NHL Entry Draft. The teams that insiders are most actively watching include the New Jersey Devils, Vancouver Canucks, Calgary Flames and Chicago Blackhawks. These are the biggest storylines that insiders are watching.

*This is Part I of these preliminary rumor updates. Part II is coming tomorrow.

Will Devils Trade be #2 overall pick?

Will the New Jersey Devils trade for the #2 pick overall in this year’s NHL Entry Draft? That’s the question NHL.com’s Dan Rosen and others have been asking, based on the fact that Devils GM Tom Fitzgerald said the choice could be in the game. What is possibly the biggest factor is who gets carried over from the first overall pick.

Tom Fitzgerald, general manager of the New Jersey Devils
Tom Fitzgerald, general manager of the New Jersey Devils (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

The Devils could move the pick, but they could wait at the top until the first pick was made. Rosen thinks the Devils like winger Juraj Slafkovsky, who could be the perfect winger for Jack Hughes, but Bob McKenzie’s draft rankings now have Slafkovsky at the top of the rankings. If the Montreal Canadiens pick him in place of Shane Wright, the Devils could delay the election. If not, they could take Slafkovsky in 2nd place.

This would mean the Devils could line up a number of potential trades ahead of the draft and be ready to pull the trigger on a pre-arranged deal when it comes to it. Could there be an insane mess of calls during the first round of the draft? That could depend on who Montreal picks.

Will Canuck’s JT Miller trade?

Everyone is watching closely what is happening with JT Miller in Vancouver. There are a large number of insiders who believe he has already played his last game as a member of the Canucks, and some, like Canucks reporter Jeff Paterson, believe Jim Rutherford is getting restless and looking to make his mark on his team.

Miller isn’t the only player the Canucks can move, and one of Rutherford’s and GM Patrick Alvin’s goals is to clear cap space. The NHL Entry Draft will be a great place to try this, and that could mean trading any number of players. Names could include Brock Boeser (talks weren’t going too well), Conor Garland, Tanner Pearson, and Tyler Myers, among others. Now that Andrei Kuzmenko has signed an entry-level contract, the Canucks may be more willing to push the top-six forward.

Miller is the big-ticket player rumored to have multiple teams involved and will likely require a first-round pick to close the deal.

What happens if Gaudreau decides not to re-sign in Calgary?

There’s no guarantee that Johnny Gaudreau will be drafted by the NHL if he decides to test the free hand or sign in Calgary, but if he waits after July 13, it seems extremely unlikely that he’ll be a member the Flames stays. If GM Brad Treliving gets the impression Gaudreau is making, perhaps the best thing for the Flames is to reclaim everything they can.

Related: Flames could be forced to handle both Gaudreau and Tkachuk

There are a few teams that will be eager to meet Gaudreau in free agency, and the Philadelphia Flyers and New Jersey Devils could be looking to send an advantage to Calgary and hold their ground ahead of free agency negotiations. Would it be worth having an extra week to talk to Gaudreau and offer this eighth year?

The latest on Alex DeBrincat

According to The Fourth Period, the Blackhawks are soliciting bids for Alex DeBrincat because the organization knows his prime may not line up with their planned rebuild. Paying for his massive qualifying offer makes no sense for their organization unless they intend to be terribly competitive, and the Blackhawks are reportedly “looking for a royal ransom for DeBrincat, given that every package the player is involved in is likely to have a first.” Round pick, top prospect and a good young NHL player.”

The best place to get that kind of return might be in the blueprint. If teams are interested in DeBrincat and willing to defer a first-round pick to get him, do they want to do so now or defer a 2023 pick?

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