FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- The Colorado Avalanche acquired the rights to pending unrestricted free-agent center Carl Soderberg on Thursday, and it makes you wonder, if they can sign him, is it a precursor to dealing away Ryan O'Reilly?
At least insurance, anyway.
"O’Reilly is in play, but they’ll want a boat load for him," said one rival NHL executive on Thursday evening.
Plus, you can’t imagine any team paying a boat load for O’Reilly unless they can sign him to a contract extension first. O’Reilly has one year left on his deal.
The Avs, meanwhile, didn’t waste any time trying to get Soderberg signed after acquiring his rights for a sixth-round pick from the Bruins, immediately commencing contract talks with agent J.P. Barry.
I doubt Soderberg is the last pending UFA to get dealt this weekend. Might as well get at least something for a player who's walking away next week.
The Anaheim Ducks no question are thinking about doing the same thing with pending UFA winger Matt Beleskey after their last contract offer was rejected last week. It’s believed the Ducks offered a four-year deal but the Beleskey camp wanted a longer-term contract.
In other rumblings:
The Vancouver Canucks are in trade discussions with other clubs on veteran blueliner Kevin Bieksa, who has one more year on his deal. Bieksa has a no-trade clause, so he’s got a say in where he ends up. The Canucks won’t ask him to waive his no-trade until they have a trade proposal to take to him.
Toronto Maple Leafs president Brendan Shanahan met the media Thursday and, when asked about a potential Phil Kessel trade, he responded that there was solid interest but no definite offers yet. He also stressed that the Leafs aren’t feeling pressured by any kind of deadline. If they don’t get the offer they want this week, they can wait it out. Internally, I believe the Leafs feel the first week of July is just as valuable a window to make a Kessel deal when teams who strike out on free-agent targets come circling back looking for a top-six winger. Having said that, the benefit of dealing Kessel now is getting another decent draft pick out of it.
Same deal with Patrick Sharp, whom the Chicago Blackhawks were once again talking to teams about on Thursday, but so far there's still no trade. Chicago would love to get a pick or two back this weekend out of that trade, but if the deal isn’t there, the Hawks also realize that teams that strike out July 1 might need to circle back to them on Sharp. So just like Toronto, there are two potential trade windows open for Chicago.
Speaking of top-six wingers, the Pittsburgh Penguins continue to be on the lookout for one -- easier said than done for the cap-strung team. The carrot at the end of the stick -- from what other teams are saying -- is center Brandon Sutter.
The Arizona Coyotes continued to listen on their third overall pick. A source told ESPN.com that as of Thursday afternoon the Coyotes had two firm offers for the pick outright plus several other trade offers that involved pick(s) and player(s). Said a rival scout about why perhaps the Coyotes were willing to move down for the right deal: "Because there isn’t that much of a drop-off between the quality of players at the No. 3 spot down to the 11th or 12th spot. You’re getting a real good prospect either way."
Pending UFA winger Michael Frolik appears headed to the market unless there’s a last-minute change of heart, as the gap in contract talks is too large right now between the Winnipeg Jets and his camp. Another pending UFA forward for the Jets is Drew Stafford. His agent, veteran Steve Bartlett, said he remains in "good faith negotiations" with the club to see if there’s a fit for Stafford to stay in Winnipeg.
Pending UFA blueliner Paul Martin garnered interest from half a dozen teams Thursday as the window opened for UFAs to talk to other clubs. His agent was slated to speak again with the Penguins on Friday, but I get the sense when it comes to the Pens that it’s more a situation in which of Martin circles back July 1 after he’s seen his other offers.