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Not too early to think about who we might want to sign in this pool and even whether you feel we could use an offer sheet?

A couple of targets would be;

1) Lias Andersson - C currently an RFA with LA Kings. He's a recovery project drafted 7th overall - 2017 but put up 31g, 28a in 67 AHL games last year. He may have got his life back under control after some fallout with the Rangers who traded him to LA.  The Kings have too many centres ahead of him and he's not going to play behind Kopitar, Danault, Byfield, Lizotte. Even John Madden, Alex Turcotte and Francesco Pinelli are probably ahead of him. It's worth an offer sheet or a trade inquiry as the Kings don't have a ton of cap room. Could pick him up for close to league minimum to $1.5M

2) Monahan - obvious familiarity the question is term and how much AAV for the injury risk and / or bonus vs guaranteed money

Anyone see any gems on the RHD side? I personally rule out Dumba on term and AAV and he is coming off a rough year. One usually overpays for age. Justin Holl anybody? Oilers will be cap jammed to sign RFA Bouchard. Damon Severson from NJ will be 29 as a UFA. 

I would not be giving up a lot to accelerate a year with Dubois - discussion in other threads have debated this including his leadership and character concerns. I don't beleive the Rangers give up on Lafraniere just yet and the offer sheet price is probably matched. Not much in the UFA centre pool as J. T. Compher at 28 is looking probably for term and is only a marginal difference upgrade over Dvorak. RFA C - Ryan McLeod from cap challenged Edmonton has some appeal.  I would have considered Benoit-Olivier Groulx for similar reasons as a development challenge for Evans but he's with Anaheim, unlikely to play at the NHL level behind Zegras, MacTavish, Strome and Gaucher etc., but the Ducks have cap room. RHD Reilly Walsh of the Devils is an RFA, and intrigues me but NJ has enough cap room to keep him despite being loaded up at RHD with Hamilton, Marino and the emerging Nemec. 

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36 minutes ago, claremont said:

Not too early to think about who we might want to sign in this pool and even whether you feel we could use an offer sheet?

A couple of targets would be;

1) Lias Andersson - C currently an RFA with LA Kings. He's a recovery project drafted 7th overall - 2017 but put up 31g, 28a in 67 AHL games last year. He may have got his life back under control after some fallout with the Rangers who traded him to LA.  The Kings have too many centres ahead of him and he's not going to play behind Kopitar, Danault, Byfield, Lizotte. Even John Madden, Alex Turcotte and Francesco Pinelli are probably ahead of him. It's worth an offer sheet or a trade inquiry as the Kings don't have a ton of cap room. Could pick him up for close to league minimum to $1.5M

2) Monahan - obvious familiarity the question is term and how much AAV for the injury risk and / or bonus vs guaranteed money

Anyone see any gems on the RHD side? I personally rule out Dumba on term and AAV and he is coming off a rough year. One usually overpays for age. Justin Holl anybody? Oilers will be cap jammed to sign RFA Bouchard. Damon Severson from NJ will be 29 as a UFA. 

I would not be giving up a lot to accelerate a year with Dubois - discussion in other threads have debated this including his leadership and character concerns. I don't beleive the Rangers give up on Lafraniere just yet and the offer sheet price is probably matched. Not much in the UFA centre pool as J. T. Compher at 28 is looking probably for term and is only a marginal difference upgrade over Dvorak. RFA C - Ryan McLeod from cap challenged Edmonton has some appeal.  I would have considered Benoit-Olivier Groulx for similar reasons as a development challenge for Evans but he's with Anaheim, unlikely to play at the NHL level behind Zegras, MacTavish, Strome and Gaucher etc., but the Ducks have cap room. RHD Reilly Walsh of the Devils is an RFA, and intrigues me but NJ has enough cap room to keep him despite being loaded up at RHD with Hamilton, Marino and the emerging Nemec. 

I know you said you wouldn't but Dumba is actually the only RHD UFA that I would consider for the right price. I think about our right D, and we're likely going to feature Savard, Barron, Kovacevic, and maybe Wideman if we don't make any moves. Dumba would instantly become your best RHD on the team, and he's probably a guy who can still play for another 4 years. So while I would be hesitant to trade for a player like that, signing him without having to give up assets would be different. If you could sign him to a 4-5 year deal, then I think he's a guy who could still fit the window to be competitive in 2-3 years and falls into that same age bracket as Matheson. He's a good two-way D man who adds some physicality and can play the PP, so given how barebones our organization is at RHD, I think he's a player to look at.

Another guy I wonder if we'll look at is Michael Bunting. He's only 27 and he's been propped up by playing in a powerhouse Toronto top 6, but he's also a feistier player who can score some goals (along the Gallagher line) and he's represented by Hughes' old agency Quartexx. So I wonder if there's a tie there, and I'm not sure Toronto will be able to afford to keep him. Would he be my choice to bring in? Nope. But I can see the Habs' trying to turn over some of their wingers this summer, and I can see him being someone they look at bringing in. Along the same lines Andreas Athanasiou is another UFA winger who's 28, represented by the same firm, and a UFA. He might be a guy you can sign to a reasonable 2-year deal, for example.

Ryan O'Reilly's a guy who is unlikely to want to come here, and I wouldn't be surprised if he actually goes back to St. Louis or Colorado, but he's got to be a player HuGo would see as a good fit on a short-term deal. We know we were better with Monahan in the line-up, so if Monahan isn't back, ROR could fill that same role as a minute-eating 2C who takes some burden off Suzuki. Would being able to guarantee him top 6 minutes be enough to get him to listen? Don't know.

As for RFAs, I've detailed the chances of going after Evan Bouchard before. Alex Newhook is another Quartexx client who could be of interest, and Maxime Comtois has been on the outs in Anaheim for a while. Yet another Quartexx client is RHD Jalen Chatfield, who is signed with Carolina for one more year and is then a UFA. But he's a depth RHD that might be a possible trade target for Hughes.

Lastly, a guy whose name I threw out last year... Thatcher Demko. He's been rumored to be available from Vancouver, and his underlying numbers have been reasonable despite being on a questionable team. He's 27 and signed for 3 more years for 5M AAV. Looking at a trade for him makes a fair bit of sense to me.

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22 hours ago, BigTed3 said:

I know you said you wouldn't but Dumba is actually the only RHD UFA that I would consider for the right price. I think about our right D, and we're likely going to feature Savard, Barron, Kovacevic, and maybe Wideman if we don't make any moves. Dumba would instantly become your best RHD on the team, and he's probably a guy who can still play for another 4 years. So while I would be hesitant to trade for a player like that, signing him without having to give up assets would be different. If you could sign him to a 4-5 year deal, then I think he's a guy who could still fit the window to be competitive in 2-3 years and falls into that same age bracket as Matheson. He's a good two-way D man who adds some physicality and can play the PP, so given how barebones our organization is at RHD, I think he's a player to look at.

Another guy I wonder if we'll look at is Michael Bunting. He's only 27 and he's been propped up by playing in a powerhouse Toronto top 6, but he's also a feistier player who can score some goals (along the Gallagher line) and he's represented by Hughes' old agency Quartexx. So I wonder if there's a tie there, and I'm not sure Toronto will be able to afford to keep him. Would he be my choice to bring in? Nope. But I can see the Habs' trying to turn over some of their wingers this summer, and I can see him being someone they look at bringing in. Along the same lines Andreas Athanasiou is another UFA winger who's 28, represented by the same firm, and a UFA. He might be a guy you can sign to a reasonable 2-year deal, for example.

Ryan O'Reilly's a guy who is unlikely to want to come here, and I wouldn't be surprised if he actually goes back to St. Louis or Colorado, but he's got to be a player HuGo would see as a good fit on a short-term deal. We know we were better with Monahan in the line-up, so if Monahan isn't back, ROR could fill that same role as a minute-eating 2C who takes some burden off Suzuki. Would being able to guarantee him top 6 minutes be enough to get him to listen? Don't know.

As for RFAs, I've detailed the chances of going after Evan Bouchard before. Alex Newhook is another Quartexx client who could be of interest, and Maxime Comtois has been on the outs in Anaheim for a while. Yet another Quartexx client is RHD Jalen Chatfield, who is signed with Carolina for one more year and is then a UFA. But he's a depth RHD that might be a possible trade target for Hughes.

Lastly, a guy whose name I threw out last year... Thatcher Demko. He's been rumored to be available from Vancouver, and his underlying numbers have been reasonable despite being on a questionable team. He's 27 and signed for 3 more years for 5M AAV. Looking at a trade for him makes a fair bit of sense to me.

Good insights - I’d actually trade Joel Edmundson to LA kings for Lias Andersson and a 3rd round pick even with salary retention 

Back to Dumba - was this season an outlier or is he on a potential decline as he should have been motivated in a contract year? Term and AAV are the issue and maybe he makes Savard trade deadline more tradeable next year. 
Bunting - he’s a s**t disturber that never drops the gloves so he just irritates me - at least Domi would drop them but we do need more physicality up front as I don’t want Josh throwing required punches

LW Athanasiou has always been a puzzle to me. If he stays healthy like he did last year, he’s a huge upgrade over RW Armia and Hoffman. He’s only played full seasons the last 2 out of 5 years so term would be a concern but I like your thinking 

Good research on the Quartexx clients 

I’m not there on any goalie signings / trades yet - I know we are down a bit on Jake Allen and Monty’s upside - would like to see how that plays out next year before the trade deadline before concluding Jake is on the downside 

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I think it's unlikely we make a push for any big-name free-agents. The MB deals are finally starting to cycle through and I don't think management is in any rush to start giving money & term to players who may end up hogging the cap room we need to re-sign our (hopefully large) crop of young players in the next few years or so.  If a player fits a need and the price is right, then sure, but big-name UFA deals seem to rarely work out very well and I assume management would rather build through the draft or trading for young players.

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9 hours ago, Graeme-1 said:

I think it's unlikely we make a push for any big-name free-agents. The MB deals are finally starting to cycle through and I don't think management is in any rush to start giving money & term to players who may end up hogging the cap room we need to re-sign our (hopefully large) crop of young players in the next few years or so.  If a player fits a need and the price is right, then sure, but big-name UFA deals seem to rarely work out very well and I assume management would rather build through the draft or trading for young players.

I agree it's unlikely we go after a big name, but we also know Hughes has been clear he will try to accelerate the re-build if he can (like turning the 13th overall pick into Dach for example or opting for a prospect like Heineman as part of a deal instead of a pick). Right now, he's looking at a right side of his D that features Savard, Barron, Kovacevic, Wideman, and maybe Mailloux. That's pretty bad. I do think he wants to try and compete for the playoffs this year. So while it may not be via free agency, I wouldn't be surprised if he tries to address some of his needs such as RHD this summer.

There are also a couple of pressing issues that he won't be able to ignore:

1. He has too many LHD: Matheson, Guhle, Harris, Xhekaj, and Edmundson. I'm sure he'd love to trade Edmundson, but on the other hand, Eddy likely has more trade value at the deadline next year than he does in the summer. A team at the deadline can add him for a fraction of the cost and do it when they know they're likely headed to the post-season (where Eddy has more value). So something has to give there.

2. He needs to make space up front for his younger wingers. I don't think you can send RHP and Ylonen back to Laval, and Heineman is knocking on the door too. RHp has already stated he thinks he's played his last game in Laval and that he would not be happy about going back. So there needs to be something done to clear out some roster space. Is it Hoffman? It it Armia? Are we forced to make it Anderson?

3. He has Allen and Montembeault, but he doesn't have a true #1 goalie. He also has the problem of Primeau having to clear waivers to go back to Laval. He probably clears, but you never know, and the Habs failed to properly evaluate him at the NHL level last year when they easily could have. So instead, Hughes will need to make a decision on his goaltending situation this summer. Does he simply decide Primeau has no future here and expose him to waivers? Does he trade Allen? Does he trade Primeau for another goalie prospect instead? This could end up being a minor move to fix, but the decision on how to handle those three players will be forced this off-season, and if there's a solution out there (and I still think Demko could be it) then I think it's something you consider. Would a trade of say Montembeault and Harris for Demko be something that appeals to both teams?

All that to say that I think Hughes will need to be active to some degree and depending on how the draft and his trade situations work out, he may well feel we can make a push for the playoffs, which in turn could lead him to be more aggressive on the free agency market.

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Daily Faceoff has worked with an analytics company to put out their annual projections for what they think UFAs will end up signing for. Here are a few names that might have interested the Habs:

- Sean Monahan 1 x 2M... for that money, I'd easily re-sign him, If he gets injured again, he gets injured and we lose very little. If he's healthy, he solidifies the line-up and becomes trade bait.

- Max Pacioretty 1 x 1.5M... similar situation of a guy coming back from a major injury. Low risk high reward here for us again and he fits a need for cheap.

- Jonathan Drouin 1 x 2M... wouldn't touch him, even on a bargain contract, but hopefully he ca go prove to someone else he can play.

- Matt Dumba 3 x 4.4M... I'm a bit surprised this is coming in so low, although I'd guess the statistical model is weighing him down for his poor production this past year. I'd think he can rebound and at just 28 years old, a 3-year commitment is not a terrible risk. This also meets a huge organizational need for us, and I'd like what he can do next to Matheson or as a mentor to Guhle and Xhekaj. We'd have a reasonably fearsome D corps with Dumba added.

- Scott Mayfield 3 x 3.75M... another UFA RHD. He's a couple of years older than Dumba at 30 so he makes less sense to us, but just to give an idea about what he might cost.

- Damon Severson 6 x 6.1M... the Habs were reportedly interested in him a year ago, but at this price, he doesn't make sense for our window.

- Michael Bunting 5 x 5.25M... I noted above that he's a client of Hughes' former agency and he adds some chirpiness to the top 9 left wing that we didn't get from the likes of Drouin, Dadonov, Hoffman, etc. I can see Hughes being interested in him, but that's too much money to pay to a middle 6 winger.

- Alex Killorn 4 x 5.25M... similar to Bunting in what he would bring to the line-up: middle 6 winger with some sandpaper and some secondary scoring, but this is likewise too much. These deals do make you appreciate the contract we have for Josh Anderson a bit more though and maybe reinforce that Anderson will have a trade market when teams see the alternatives they can sign.

- Ryan O'Reilly 3 x5.5M... I don't think he'll come here, but if it's not Monahan, the Habs have a potential need for a 2C depending on what they do with Dach. This isn't unreasonable term for a player who can still compete.

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13 hours ago, BigTed3 said:

Daily Faceoff has worked with an analytics company to put out their annual projections for what they think UFAs will end up signing for. Here are a few names that might have interested the Habs:

- Sean Monahan 1 x 2M... for that money, I'd easily re-sign him, If he gets injured again, he gets injured and we lose very little. If he's healthy, he solidifies the line-up and becomes trade bait.

- Max Pacioretty 1 x 1.5M... similar situation of a guy coming back from a major injury. Low risk high reward here for us again and he fits a need for cheap.

- Jonathan Drouin 1 x 2M... wouldn't touch him, even on a bargain contract, but hopefully he ca go prove to someone else he can play.

- Matt Dumba 3 x 4.4M... I'm a bit surprised this is coming in so low, although I'd guess the statistical model is weighing him down for his poor production this past year. I'd think he can rebound and at just 28 years old, a 3-year commitment is not a terrible risk. This also meets a huge organizational need for us, and I'd like what he can do next to Matheson or as a mentor to Guhle and Xhekaj. We'd have a reasonably fearsome D corps with Dumba added.

- Scott Mayfield 3 x 3.75M... another UFA RHD. He's a couple of years older than Dumba at 30 so he makes less sense to us, but just to give an idea about what he might cost.

- Damon Severson 6 x 6.1M... the Habs were reportedly interested in him a year ago, but at this price, he doesn't make sense for our window.

- Michael Bunting 5 x 5.25M... I noted above that he's a client of Hughes' former agency and he adds some chirpiness to the top 9 left wing that we didn't get from the likes of Drouin, Dadonov, Hoffman, etc. I can see Hughes being interested in him, but that's too much money to pay to a middle 6 winger.

- Alex Killorn 4 x 5.25M... similar to Bunting in what he would bring to the line-up: middle 6 winger with some sandpaper and some secondary scoring, but this is likewise too much. These deals do make you appreciate the contract we have for Josh Anderson a bit more though and maybe reinforce that Anderson will have a trade market when teams see the alternatives they can sign.

- Ryan O'Reilly 3 x5.5M... I don't think he'll come here, but if it's not Monahan, the Habs have a potential need for a 2C depending on what they do with Dach. This isn't unreasonable term for a player who can still compete.

I wouldn't touch Patches.

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16 hours ago, BigTed3 said:

Daily Faceoff has worked with an analytics company to put out their annual projections for what they think UFAs will end up signing for. Here are a few names that might have interested the Habs:

- Sean Monahan 1 x 2M... for that money, I'd easily re-sign him, If he gets injured again, he gets injured and we lose very little. If he's healthy, he solidifies the line-up and becomes trade bait.

- Max Pacioretty 1 x 1.5M... similar situation of a guy coming back from a major injury. Low risk high reward here for us again and he fits a need for cheap.

- Jonathan Drouin 1 x 2M... wouldn't touch him, even on a bargain contract, but hopefully he ca go prove to someone else he can play.

- Matt Dumba 3 x 4.4M... I'm a bit surprised this is coming in so low, although I'd guess the statistical model is weighing him down for his poor production this past year. I'd think he can rebound and at just 28 years old, a 3-year commitment is not a terrible risk. This also meets a huge organizational need for us, and I'd like what he can do next to Matheson or as a mentor to Guhle and Xhekaj. We'd have a reasonably fearsome D corps with Dumba added.

- Scott Mayfield 3 x 3.75M... another UFA RHD. He's a couple of years older than Dumba at 30 so he makes less sense to us, but just to give an idea about what he might cost.

- Damon Severson 6 x 6.1M... the Habs were reportedly interested in him a year ago, but at this price, he doesn't make sense for our window.

- Michael Bunting 5 x 5.25M... I noted above that he's a client of Hughes' former agency and he adds some chirpiness to the top 9 left wing that we didn't get from the likes of Drouin, Dadonov, Hoffman, etc. I can see Hughes being interested in him, but that's too much money to pay to a middle 6 winger.

- Alex Killorn 4 x 5.25M... similar to Bunting in what he would bring to the line-up: middle 6 winger with some sandpaper and some secondary scoring, but this is likewise too much. These deals do make you appreciate the contract we have for Josh Anderson a bit more though and maybe reinforce that Anderson will have a trade market when teams see the alternatives they can sign.

- Ryan O'Reilly 3 x5.5M... I don't think he'll come here, but if it's not Monahan, the Habs have a potential need for a 2C depending on what they do with Dach. This isn't unreasonable term for a player who can still compete.

I would'nt go on patches regardless of the cost / term. We have a lot of LW depth assuming Caufield signs, in Cole, Slaf, RHP, Farrell, Heineman. I would rather develop one of these LW's before Patches takes that space. Spend the money elsewhere. Same answer on Bunting for me. Killorn price is very high but I suspect he is not interested in a rebuild fit and he will be 34 next season. This is Killorn's last pay day opportunity.

Dumba - have provided earlier sentiments that I am lukewarm on him as this past season was it an indicator of declining performance? Term concerns but maybe he makes Savard more marketable at the trade deadline. 

I am surprised on the price for Mayfield. I am not as familiar with his game so it's tough for me to comment on him. Agree on Severson. 

ROR - brings leadership and heart qualities but agree he probably wants to go to a contender for his last hurrah. Doesn't fit the team goal of a fast highly skilled team that HuGO seem to desire

There is not much on the UFA tree beyond Monahan and his risk. 

 

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On 5/24/2023 at 9:49 AM, BigTed3 said:

Daily Faceoff has worked with an analytics company to put out their annual projections for what they think UFAs will end up signing for. Here are a few names that might have interested the Habs:

- Sean Monahan 1 x 2M... for that money, I'd easily re-sign him, If he gets injured again, he gets injured and we lose very little. If he's healthy, he solidifies the line-up and becomes trade bait.

- Max Pacioretty 1 x 1.5M... similar situation of a guy coming back from a major injury. Low risk high reward here for us again and he fits a need for cheap.

- Jonathan Drouin 1 x 2M... wouldn't touch him, even on a bargain contract, but hopefully he ca go prove to someone else he can play.

- Matt Dumba 3 x 4.4M... I'm a bit surprised this is coming in so low, although I'd guess the statistical model is weighing him down for his poor production this past year. I'd think he can rebound and at just 28 years old, a 3-year commitment is not a terrible risk. This also meets a huge organizational need for us, and I'd like what he can do next to Matheson or as a mentor to Guhle and Xhekaj. We'd have a reasonably fearsome D corps with Dumba added.

- Scott Mayfield 3 x 3.75M... another UFA RHD. He's a couple of years older than Dumba at 30 so he makes less sense to us, but just to give an idea about what he might cost.

- Damon Severson 6 x 6.1M... the Habs were reportedly interested in him a year ago, but at this price, he doesn't make sense for our window.

- Michael Bunting 5 x 5.25M... I noted above that he's a client of Hughes' former agency and he adds some chirpiness to the top 9 left wing that we didn't get from the likes of Drouin, Dadonov, Hoffman, etc. I can see Hughes being interested in him, but that's too much money to pay to a middle 6 winger.

- Alex Killorn 4 x 5.25M... similar to Bunting in what he would bring to the line-up: middle 6 winger with some sandpaper and some secondary scoring, but this is likewise too much. These deals do make you appreciate the contract we have for Josh Anderson a bit more though and maybe reinforce that Anderson will have a trade market when teams see the alternatives they can sign.

- Ryan O'Reilly 3 x5.5M... I don't think he'll come here, but if it's not Monahan, the Habs have a potential need for a 2C depending on what they do with Dach. This isn't unreasonable term for a player who can still compete.

I’d definitely take Monahan and Dumba for that money/term but the figures seem a little low. Pretty sure at least Dumba will get more…

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Going to change the focus here a bit, but let's say Hughes' goal is to compete for a playoff spot next year and to be a challenger for the top 2-3 in the division in two years. This summer's list of free agents isn't terribly impressive, but next summer's sure is. Now often we'll see this and then teams will re-sign their own and take players off the market, but FWIW, the current list of potential UFAs is impressive. Here's a few guys who might make the summer of 2023-24 interesting:

- Matthews and Nylander... I guess we'll see what direction the ship takes in Toronto next year, but Matthews has been fairly non-committal about staying and the rumors are that he wants to play in the US. Nylander has largely been a whipping boy in Toronto despite being one of their better players. So two guys who might well want out by the end of next year. Not that we'll be going after these guys, but their departure could shake up the division and give us a chance to leapfrog the Leafs.

- Stamkos... Tampa's another team that's paid for its run with a lot of futures, so it's hard to see them not being overtaken by the likes of Buffalo and Ottawa in the coming year or two. Is Stamkos set on being a one-team player or does he want another shot at a Cup? Let's remember this is a player who apparently came close to signing here and is good friends with Subban, who still loves the city and was pulling for Bedard to end up here. Now he's not really a fit for our window, but maybe he's a guy who pulls a Danny Briere type move or a Corey Perry type move and is willing to sign here for a year or two at the end of their career. He's still good.

- Sebastian Aho the Good... not the one on the Isles, although he too is a UFA. He'll be 27 next summer and yeah, let's remember he once chose to sign here and that our willingness to offersheet him is what got him his free agency at age 27. Now maybe Kotkaniemi has trashed the organization to him, but it's a different coach and GM who seem to be viewed as pro-player, and maybe just maybe this is a player who would see us as a team on the rise in a city he wanted to play for. Don't think anyone would disagree that he would be the ultimate fit as a top 2 center with Suzuki. Imagine we draft a Michkov, a Benson, or a Leonard this year and are able to run Caufield-Suzuki-Dach and Slafkovsky-Aho-draft pick as our top 6. I'll also mention his teammate and countryman Teuvo Teravainen is also a UFA in the same year.

- Elias Lindholm and Noah Hanifin... it sounds like everybody and their mother wanted out of Calgary and while Sutter is gone, this seems like another sinking ship. Maybe Toffoli talked us up as a location. But Lindholm will be 30 and Hanifin 28. Not young but still options for 4-5 year deals. If you can't get Aho and you don't draft a center this year, maybe Lindholm becomes an option. And Hanifin is young enough that he'd be an asset, potentially one that allows you to move someone else at LHD for help elsewhere.

- Anthony Mantha and Anthony Beauvillier... a couple of under-performing Quebecois wingers named Anthony. Just saying that these could be cheap options for prove-it deals.

There are other big names that I think are too old for us or bad fits, but this is just a quick list of some big names in play who could shake up our situation. I think the Aho one in particular is one to watch and would be a great move for Hughes if ever he makes it to free agency.

 

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43 minutes ago, BigTed3 said:

Going to change the focus here a bit, but let's say Hughes' goal is to compete for a playoff spot next year and to be a challenger for the top 2-3 in the division in two years. This summer's list of free agents isn't terribly impressive, but next summer's sure is. Now often we'll see this and then teams will re-sign their own and take players off the market, but FWIW, the current list of potential UFAs is impressive. Here's a few guys who might make the summer of 2023-24 interesting:

- Matthews and Nylander... I guess we'll see what direction the ship takes in Toronto next year, but Matthews has been fairly non-committal about staying and the rumors are that he wants to play in the US. Nylander has largely been a whipping boy in Toronto despite being one of their better players. So two guys who might well want out by the end of next year. Not that we'll be going after these guys, but their departure could shake up the division and give us a chance to leapfrog the Leafs.

- Stamkos... Tampa's another team that's paid for its run with a lot of futures, so it's hard to see them not being overtaken by the likes of Buffalo and Ottawa in the coming year or two. Is Stamkos set on being a one-team player or does he want another shot at a Cup? Let's remember this is a player who apparently came close to signing here and is good friends with Subban, who still loves the city and was pulling for Bedard to end up here. Now he's not really a fit for our window, but maybe he's a guy who pulls a Danny Briere type move or a Corey Perry type move and is willing to sign here for a year or two at the end of their career. He's still good.

- Sebastian Aho the Good... not the one on the Isles, although he too is a UFA. He'll be 27 next summer and yeah, let's remember he once chose to sign here and that our willingness to offersheet him is what got him his free agency at age 27. Now maybe Kotkaniemi has trashed the organization to him, but it's a different coach and GM who seem to be viewed as pro-player, and maybe just maybe this is a player who would see us as a team on the rise in a city he wanted to play for. Don't think anyone would disagree that he would be the ultimate fit as a top 2 center with Suzuki. Imagine we draft a Michkov, a Benson, or a Leonard this year and are able to run Caufield-Suzuki-Dach and Slafkovsky-Aho-draft pick as our top 6. I'll also mention his teammate and countryman Teuvo Teravainen is also a UFA in the same year.

- Elias Lindholm and Noah Hanifin... it sounds like everybody and their mother wanted out of Calgary and while Sutter is gone, this seems like another sinking ship. Maybe Toffoli talked us up as a location. But Lindholm will be 30 and Hanifin 28. Not young but still options for 4-5 year deals. If you can't get Aho and you don't draft a center this year, maybe Lindholm becomes an option. And Hanifin is young enough that he'd be an asset, potentially one that allows you to move someone else at LHD for help elsewhere.

- Anthony Mantha and Anthony Beauvillier... a couple of under-performing Quebecois wingers named Anthony. Just saying that these could be cheap options for prove-it deals.

There are other big names that I think are too old for us or bad fits, but this is just a quick list of some big names in play who could shake up our situation. I think the Aho one in particular is one to watch and would be a great move for Hughes if ever he makes it to free agency.

 

I am wondering what direction the Rangers will go... Lafreniere, Tarasenko, & Kane are unsigned and they would have to waive a magic wand to sign them all and stay under the cap. There would be only one of them that Gorton and Hugo would be interested in and an offer sheet is out of the question (IMO). If there was one RFA to target upfront it would be Alexis but don't know if the Rangers would ask too much.. Was his 2023 playoff performance  a warning sign ? I don't think so with Panarin, Kreider, Tarasenko, & Kane getting more minutes, etc. Could he get to his full potential with a more important role with the Habs?

Under the rebuild plan, there is no unsigned UFA or RFA two way dman with a righthand shot that will be targeted to put pen on paper but maybe something will happen via trade?

IMO realistically there are no imminent 2023 pure individual signings with unsigned players from other teams that will be a game changer but please continue and hope. I just don't think Hugo wants to overpay for what is out there currently and he knows this aspect of GMing from being other the other side of negots.

 

 

 

 

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