LeBrun: How close the Devils got on Gaudreau and Tkachuk, inside Nill’s extension and more offseason nuggets

It’s not that the Devils weren’t busy this offseason. They signed clutch unrestricted free agent ahead Ondrej Palat, introduced in much-needed assist in objective in Vitek Vanecek and traded for the likes of John Marino and Erik Haula.

Oh, nevertheless it might have been greater than that.

It’s effectively documented the Devils tried on high UFA Johnny Gaudreau, and I’m advised Devils GM Tom Fitzgerald was on the telephone with each the participant and his spouse round 12:15 pm Eastern in the opening minutes of free company July 13 to specific the group’s curiosity. And, sure, the Devils made a proposal, though I do not assume it was the form of double-digit average-annual-value supply that might have closed the deal. The Devils have been nonetheless attempting on it after they got the information, like the remainder of us, that Gaudreau had chosen the Blue Jackets.

But I believe the most attention-grabbing nugget I got here throughout this week as I attempted to play catch up after some offseason time away, was that the Devils additionally tried fairly exhausting on buying and selling for Matthew Tkachuk.

The Devils had a lot of discussions with the Flames about it. But in the finish, as I reported in my Flames offseason piece this previous week, Calgary was given a particular listing of groups by Newport Sports to which Tkachuk would comply with a sign-and-trade.

I imagine these groups have been Colorado, Tampa Bay, Florida, Carolina, Vegas and St. Louis. So the Devils in the end could not get into that derby.

And that is OK. This Devils crew will flip a nook led by its younger core of Nico Hischier, Jack Hughes and Dawson Mercer. And getting more saves this season.

But I’d maintain a watch on the Devils once more for subsequent offseason. They’ve got as much as $25 million in doubtlessly expiring UFA contracts that would come off the books. They’ll need to re-sign a few of these gamers, however nonetheless, there’s big-time cap flexibility coming if that is what the Devils need.

Inside Nill’s extension

The Stars eliminated a possible distraction from their season by extending basic supervisor Jim Nill this previous week.

Nill was getting into the ultimate 12 months on his deal, and fact be advised, his contract standing was one thing new head coach Peter DeBoer introduced up with possession throughout his interview course of.

Every coach needs to know who he’ll work with.

But it sounds prefer it wasn’t actually one thing to fret about. Nill and Stars proprietor Tom Gaglardi meant on getting one thing carried out and got here to an settlement on a deal that retains the veteran GM beneath contract by the 2023-24 season.

Nill is 64 and getting into his tenth season with the Stars. Two more years beneath contract felt, to him, like the proper quantity at this stage of his profession.

“I need to make certain I go away the crew in an excellent place,” Nill advised me Friday morning. “Let’s see the place issues go. We have an amazing group of younger youngsters coming in, and I need to assist Tom get arrange for 10 years down the highway.

“I’m comfy with two years. It was a mutually agreed upon factor. Some individuals may take a look at it and say, ‘Oh, only one 12 months (on the extension).’ But I’m at that time in my profession the place I’m high quality and comfy with two years.”

And as Nill added, it doesn’t suggest he will not be GM for more years after that, however at this level, two years is sufficient to financial institution on. He would not want more safety than that.

“I’ve got nice individuals beneath me, and I need to make certain this franchise is about up for the subsequent 10 years,” Nill reiterated.

And, sure, throughout the interview course of with DeBoer, Nill’s future was a subject of dialog. The last item any veteran coach needs to stroll into is a crew with a lame-duck GM.

“That’s one thing Tom and I talked about and we talked about that with Pete as effectively,” Nill confirmed. “I mentioned, ‘Tom, that is going to come back up.’ So when Tom did the interviews with the coaches, he made it clear I used to be going to be round.”

In the meantime, there’s an essential file that continues to be high precedence for the Stars. Young star winger Jason Robertson stays unsigned as a restricted free agent getting into the weekend, however Nill sounded assured about the place issues have been headed.

“We’re having good discussions,” Nill mentioned of contract talks with CAA Sports, which represents Robertson. “There are various factors concerned. There’s completely different time period and completely different cash concerned with completely different time period. So that is what we’re working by.

“But we have got a really open dialogue. Pat Brisson is the consultant, and he is been excellent. We maintain speaking. The plan is to have it carried out earlier than coaching camp (subsequent week). I hope that occurs.

Canes quietly re-up Waddell

Speaking of GM contracts, it definitely went beneath the radar as a result of, like some groups do, it went with out an announcement, however veteran Carolina Hurricanes president and GM Don Waddell signed a brand new contract this summer season, I’m advised.

His previous deal expired June 30, identical to his GM colleague Don Sweeney in Boston. Sweeney’s new deal was introduced by the Bruins in June, however the Canes went more low-key, which some groups are actually choosing.

Not that I believe it was ever doubtful. Waddell has a robust relationship with Canes proprietor Tom Dundon, and I think neither one in every of them was significantly burdened about the GM’s deal expiring. The new contract got carried out with none fanfare.

Why a Canadiens-Allen extension is smart

It was attention-grabbing studying our friends’ Habs protection this week about talks on an extension for Jake Allen.

I’m certain some persons are questioning why the Habs would trouble extending a 32-year-old goalie after they’re clearly nonetheless in roster reconstruction mode (OK, I discovered a manner to not use the phrase “rebuild”), however I believe what it tells you is the Canadiens mind belief, led by Jeff Gorton and Kent Hughes, needs to guard the crew tradition throughout this roster remake.

Which is to say, the Habs really feel it is essential to have some high quality veterans round the younger items — to not point out attempting to get some regular goaltending in order that the more durable moments do not deflate the confidence of these younger gamers.

And given the near-impossible process of changing Carey Price for a 12 months, if not longer, holding the veteran Allen round previous when his present contract expires after this season in all probability is smart.

Allen’s agent, Allain Roy, started preliminary contract discussions with the Habs in mid-August, and each side hope to get again at it quickly.

“We’re open to it for certain,” Roy mentioned Thursday, relating to an extension for Allen. “Jake likes a few of the strikes they’ve made and the place the crew goes culture-wise. I believe Kent has been stressing that message, that he actually needs to have an excellent tradition in that locker room and good management. And I believe Jake is a part of that management.

“Yeah, we’re very prepared to debate issues with them. It’s only a matter of not doing all the particulars but, so it is exhausting to inform when it’ll get carried out or not.”

Chara check-in

Future Hockey Hall of Fame blueliner Zdeno Chara nonetheless hasn’t made a name on his taking part in future.

“Undecided at this level,” his agent Matt Keator mentioned through textual content message Thursday night time. “To date there was no rush.

“Will be assembly him over the weekend.”

The 45-year-old performed 72 video games final season for the Islanders.

Stralman lingering

There are nonetheless a number of notable names left on the UFA market as camps get set to open, and one in every of them is veteran defenseman Anton Stralman.

The 35-year-old averaged 21:20 per sport final season in Arizona, which is well tops amongst the UFAs left on the market.

Obviously his greatest hockey is behind him, however I’m shocked he is nonetheless left standing given his pedigree. Surely he may also help a crew on a 3rd pairing.

“Anton has loads of sport left and with out query can be an amazing addition to a crew’s blue line,” his agent, Marc Levine, mentioned Thursday.

What usually occurs presently of 12 months is that NHL golf equipment need to first check out their younger defensemen and see if a few of them are able to take that subsequent step. Some groups will notice their younger defensemen want more AHL seasoning. I think Stralman will discover a suitor earlier than the puck drops in October.

NHL crucial dates

The NHL nonetheless hasn’t formally introduced all of its crucial dates for this season. That ought to come in brief order, I believe, over the subsequent week or so.

But listed here are some dates to recollect:

• March 3: The NHL commerce deadline. That’s a Friday, by the manner.

• June 28-29: The NHL Draft in Nashville, which the NHL introduced final month. That’s a Wednesday and Thursday. Remember that the NHL went to a Thursday-Friday draft this previous July in Montreal, getting away from its regular Friday first spherical and Saturday end-of-draft set-up.

• July 1: Opening of free company. So lastly again to regular July 1 Free Agent Frenzy day, for the first time since pre-pandemic. Free Agent Frenzy was Oct. 9 in 2020, July 28 in 2021 and July 13 this previous 12 months.

It’s going to be a fast turnaround between the draft and the begin of free company this season, which ought to result in more fireworks than regular on draft week, with some groups having to make selections on pending free brokers in brief order. Fun.

(Top picture of Johnny Gaudreau and Matthew Tkachuk: Sergei Belski / USA Today)


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