Many people around hockey say that the NHL offseason officially begins at the draft. That’s when the wheeling and dealing really gets started, and even though day one of the draft was uneventful, day two brought plenty of excitment.
For Jeff Gorton and the Rangers, they’ve been in overdrive this offseason and got started way back on April 30th when they acquired top defense prospect, Adam Fox. And while everyone remained stalled at the starting line, they landed the biggest prize on defense, Jacob Trouba last week.
Obviously on draft weekend the NJ Devils made the biggest noise when they traded for superstar defenseman P.K. Subban and gave Nashville the cap relief they desperately needed. Same for Toronto when they were able to talk Patrick Marleau into waiving his no move clause to Carolina who also ate all his salary.
The offseason will now kick into high gear for everyone else since the window to interview UFA’s opened today and in three days you can speak to RFA’s as well. As far as the RFA’s are concerned, for all the hype and buzz out there. I don’t expect a single offer sheet.
When the Lightning were able to move J.T. Miller’s entire salary to Vancouver, that put the kibosh on any Brayden Point offer sheet. Same for the Jets and Laine when they traded Trouba. If there may be one susceptible team it could be Toronto, simply because they have so many RFA’s to sign and Marner wants max money.
On the UFA front, the big fish is Artemi Panarin and he will set the free agent market. Then the next domino to fall will be Matt Duchene and everyone else should fall into place. That includes Mats Zuccarello whom I still feel will circle back with Dallas and re-up there.
What we know is that Panarin and his agent, Paul Theofanous have a meeting scheduled this week with the Panthers and just breaking today, a call with Colorado.
The obvious question today from the Rangerverse is “when are the Rangers meeting with Panarin?” I reached out to the team and they would not comment, and normally it’s the player’s side that the insiders connect with so it isn’t surprising.
Thus far I haven’t had any success on either front, but I am sure someone will. Still speculation dating back to last season had both sides interested in one another and names like Darren Dreger, Bob McKenzie, and Elliotte Friedman all reported that. So whether either sides responds or not, I fully expect them to meet in NYC this week.
Then there are signs to look for that would indicate the meeting was positive. If the Rangers try to clear cap space via trades and a Brendan Smith buyout, you know that come July 1st they are in the Panarin sweepstakes. Till then, we are all just waiting for some news to break.
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