NHL Draft Rumors: Devils, Canucks, Flames, Blackhawks

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

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*This is Part I of these draft rumors updates. Part II will come tomorrow.

Will Devils Trade No. 2 Overall Pick?

Will the New Jersey Devils trade the No. 2 overall in this year’s NHL Entry Draft? That’s the question Dan Rosen of NHL.com and others have asked based on the fact Devils GM Tom Fitzgerald said the pick could be in play. What might be the biggest factor is who gets taken with the first-overall selection.

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 might move the selection, but they could wait all the way up until after the first selection is made. Rosen believes 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 board. If the Montreal Canadiens take him instead of Shane Wright, the Devils might move the pick. If not, they might take Slafkovsky at No.2.

This would mean the Devils may line up a number of potential trades prior to the draft and be ready to pull the trigger on a prearranged deal if it comes to that. Could there be a mad scramble of calls during the first round of the draft? That could depend on who Montreal selects.

Will Canucks Trade J.T. Miller?

Everyone is closely watching what happens with J.T Miller in Vancouver. There is a huge contingent of insiders who believe he’s already played his last game as a member of the Canucks and some, like Canucks reporter Jeff Paterson believe Jim Rutherford is getting antsy and wants to put his stamp on his team.

Miller isn’t the only player the Canucks can move and one of the aims of Rutherford and GM Patrick Alvin is to clear cap space. The NHL Entry Draft is going to be a great place to try and do so and that could mean trading any number of players. The names could include Brock Boeser (Update: just signed three-year extension), Conor Garland, Tanner Pearson, and Tyler Myers, among others. With Andrei Kuzmenko now signed to an entry-level deal, the Canucks might be more willing to move a top-six forward.

Miller is the big-ticket player that multiple teams have been rumored to be in on and it will likely take a first-round pick to get the deal done.

What Happens If Gaudreau Elects Not to Re-Sign in Calgary?

It’s not a guarantee that Johnny Gaudreau would be traded by the NHL Draft if he elects to test free agency versus sign in Calgary, but if he waits past the 13th of July, it seems extremely unlikely he stays a member of the Flames. If GM Brad Treliving gets the impression Gaudreau is leaving, it might be best for the Flames to recoup whatever asset they can.

Related: Flames May Be Forced to Deal Both Gaudreau & Tkachuk

There are a few teams that will be eager to have a shot at Gaudreau in free agency and the Philadelphia Flyers and New Jersey Devils might try to send an asset to Calgary and get the leg up ahead of free agency negotiations. Would it be worth it to have one extra week to talk to Gaudreau and offer that eighth year?

As it stands now, Gaudreau is still mulling over an offer from the Flames. The belief is that it might be in the area of 8x$9.5 million.

The Latest on Alex DeBrincat

According to The Fourth Period, the Blackhawks are fielding offers for Alex DeBrincat as the organization knows his best years might not line up with their planned rebuild. Paying his massive qualifying offer doesn’t make sense for their organization if they don’t intend to be terribly competitive and reports are the Blackhawks are “searching for a king’s ransom for DeBrincat, as any package involving the player will likely include a first-round pick, top prospect and a good, young NHL player.”

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