The New Jersey Devils, Philadelphia Flyers and Dallas Stars own the first three picks at this year’s entry draft.
All three got there with some fortuitous lottery results. All three are also eager to get back into the playoffs, and not really in rebuild mode.
Which makes the following unsurprising:
• In an interview with TSN’s Pierre LeBrun, Devils GM Ray Shero acknowledged he’s received calls about the No. 1 overall selection.
“I’ve had some inquiries,” Shero said. “We’re more focused on the player we’re going to pick but, again, we’ll see what happens over the next few weeks.”
• While at the NHL’s scouting combine in Buffalo, Flyers GM Ron Hextall admitted he too has taken calls about the second pick.
“I’ve had some talks. I’ll just leave it at that,” Hextall said, per Philly.com. “We’re going to listen because if people want to talk, I’d be doing a disservice not to listen.”
• It’s been widely reported that Stars GM Jim Nill is shopping the No. 3 selection.
Mostly because Nill came out and said as much.
“I have talked to other teams already about possibly moving that pick, getting an established player back,” he told SiriusXM’s NHL Network Radio last month, per NHL.com. “It gives us lot of options. I think this will heat up more as we go.”
On Thursday, TSN’s Pierre LeBrun reported that Dallas and Vancouver have had discussions about the third pick. That’s interesting, given the Canucks already hold the No. 5.
There’s no surprise about jockeying atop the draft board. As mentioned, the Devils and Flyers and Stars all want back in the postseason, and there’s uncertainty about the depth of this draft and the overall talent level available.
The assumption is that picks one and two are locked in, with a pair of centers — Nolan Patrick and Nico Hischier — occupying the spots. After that, it’s something of a crapshoot. Two more centers, Gabe Villardi and Casey Middlestadt, are thought to be in the top five, while Finnish d-man Miro Heiskanen has shot up various boards in recent months.
The problem, especially for New Jersey and Philly and Dallas, is that the players mentioned might not be impact players right away. There’s certainly no Auston Matthews or Patrik Laine or Connor McDavid or Jack Eichel in the group.
Which could make for some fireworks in Chicago at the end of June.