The Vancouver Canucks were among a number of teams trying to hopefully move up in Friday’s first round of the draft (7 p.m. ET), GM Dave Nonis inquiring about the top few picks.
“Yeah, Dave asked me: ‘Would you guys consider moving down?’ And I said, ‘Yes we would,”‘ Philadelphia Flyers GM Paul Holmgren, with the No. 2 overall pick, said Thursday. “But I’ve had five or six calls like that.”
The Canucks hold the No. 25 spot.
“I wouldn’t be doing my job if I wasn’t inquiring what it would take to move up not just to No. 2, but No. 1, No. 3 and No. 4 as well,” Nonis said, while adding that nothing serious was in the works.
Holmgren, much like his Chicago Blackhawks counterpart Dale Tallon with the No. 1 pick, was getting a lot of attention on the eve of the draft.
“People are fishing around to see if it’s a possibility,” said Holmgren. “I like where we’re at, if we end up using it I think we’ll get a real good player, a good prospect. So obviously it would have to be something pretty substantial to move that pick.”
Tallon had his cellphone glued to his right ear as he patrolled the lobby in the NHL’s main hotel.
“I think guys want to see whether I’d be willing to trade the pick or not,” said Tallon. “I told them we’d listen to any offer but right now we’re committed to taking the pick unless it’s a blockbuster kind of deal that helps our future, our long term. We’re not in this for a short-term deal.”
The thought of picking first overall has Tallon and his Original Six organization excited.
“It’s an historic moment,” he said. “It just seems that since we won the (draft) lottery it’s changed things from a negative to a positive for our whole organization. So I think we’re leaning towards taking the pick.”
There were some moves Thursday, headlined by a pair of US$24-million contract extensions – star goalie J.S. Giguere for four years to stay with the Stanley Cup champion Anaheim Ducks and forward Nathan Horton over six years as he re-upped with the Florida Panthers.
Giguere, who will earn $6 million a year after making $3.99 million this past season, was slated for unrestricted free agency July 1 but both sides wanted to get a deal done.
“They showed us right away (after the Cup final) that they were serious about bringing J.S. back,” said Giguere’s agent Bob Sauve.
In other moves:
-The Toronto Maple Leafs re-signed defenceman Carlo Coloaiacovo to a $3.85-million, three-year deal;
-The Tampa Bay Lightning re-signed defenceman Shane O’Brien to a $2 million, two-year deal.
Giguere’s counterpart in the Cup final, Ottawa goalie Ray Emery, had a less exciting day Thursday, undergoing wrist surgery down the road from here in Cleveland.
“We expect 8-to-12 weeks for a full recovery,” said Emery’s agent J.P. Barry. “He played through the injury since last November.”
Emery is a restricted free agent looking for a big raise on the $925,000 he made this year. Newly appointed Senators GM Bryan Murray was hoping to touch base with Barry sometime next week.
In the meantime, Murray fended off the latest bout of Wade Redden trade rumours Thursday. The defenceman has one year left on a deal that pays him $6.5 million.
“He has a no-trade clause and I haven’t talked to him or his agent,” Murray said. “I’ve had a couple of teams inquire, but that’s where it ended at this point.”
The most likely scenario is that either Murray will try to sign Redden to an extension past next season or move him – only if Redden waives the no-trade clause. What the Senators don’t want is Redden to walk away next summer without any compensation.
“He’s a very good player, obviously if there’s money involved going forward, I have to figure out where he fits at the salary he makes,” said Murray. “That’s the only issue at the moment.”
Another defenceman whose name won’t leave the trade rumour mill is Philadelphia’s Joni Pitkanen, a restricted free agent.
“We’re not actively trying to trade Joni, but I’ll be honest, teams call about him,” said Holmgren. “At the end of the day, I don’t think there’s anybody on our roster that absolutely can’t be moved.”
Edmonton Oilers GM Kevin Lowe wants to seriously upgrade his blue-line and it wouldn’t be surprising if he’s made calls to both Ottawa and Philadelphia.
Brad Richards, meanwhile, is not on the trading block. One report Thursday suggested the star Tampa centre was suddenly available but Lightning GM Jay Feaster steadfastly denied that.
“Not true,” Feaster said Thursday. “Brad Richards will be in a Lightning sweater in September.”
Richards, who earns $7.8 million a year, has a no-trade clause that kicks in July 1.
Not to say, however, that Feaster isn’t trying to make a move this weekend. He’s looking for a fifth or sixth defenceman and a first-or second-line winger that can play with Richards.
“We have things that we’re working on and talking about. We’ve had some conversations, but nothing that’s imminent,” said Feaster.
Leafs GM John Ferguson was also busy working the phones.
“Fairly consistent discussion,” he said Thursday evening. “Everything from picks to players. Time will tell.”
Notes: Matt Keator, the agent for centre Michal Handzus, continues to hold talks with Hawks GM Dale Tallon about the pending unrestricted free agent but the two sides remain far apart … Alexei Yashin’s agent Mark Gandler is busy shopping his client around. The much-maligned centre is an unrestricted free agent after being bought out by the New York Islanders. “We’ve spoken to a number of teams already but most of them want to wait and talk in the first week of July,” Gandler said … Ottawa’s coaching search continues here at the draft. “I’ve talked to a couple of guys over the phone, but over the next day or two I hope I can sit down with one or two and discuss the job,” said Murray, who hopes to have a man in place within the next three weeks.