LeBrun: How close are the Devils to Gaudreau and Tkachuk, inside the Nill stretch and more offseason nuggets

It is not that demons I haven’t been busy this season. They caught the claw of a free agent untied forward Ondrej Balatbrought much-needed assistance into the goal Vitik Vanishek And trade it for likes John Marino And the Eric Hola.

Oh, but it could have been bigger than that.

It’s well documented as the Demons on Top UFA experience Johnny Goudreu, told that Devils General Manager Tom Fitzgerald was on the phone with both the player and his wife at approximately 12:15 p.m. ET in the opening minutes of the free agency on July 13 to express the organization’s interest. And yes, the Devils made an offer, although I don’t think it was the kind of double-digit AVA offer that would have sealed the deal. The demons were still trying when they got the news, like the rest of us, that Goudru had chosen blue jackets.

But I think the most exciting nugget I came across this week when I tried to play catch-up after some time away from the season was that the Devils also tried really hard to trade for Matthew Tkachuk.

The demons had a number of discussions with flame around it. But in the end, as I reported in my Flames offseason article last week, Calgary got a select list of teams by Newport Sports that Tkachuk agrees to sign and trade.

I think that was the difference ColoradoAnd the Tampa BayAnd the FloridaAnd the CarolinaAnd the Vegas And the Saint Louis. So the Devils eventually couldn’t get into this derby.

that’s good. This team of demons will turn a detour led by their young essence Nico HescherAnd the Jack Hughes And the Dawson Mercer. And get more tackle this season.

But I will be watching the Devils again next season. They took as much as $25 million in potentially expiring UFA contracts that could fall off the books. They’ll want to re-sign some of these players, but even so, there’s a lot of flexibility coming if that’s what the Devils want.

Inside the Nile

The stars They removed a potential distraction from their season by extending General Manager Jim Neal’s tenure last week.

Neil was entering the final year of his deal, and truth be told, his contract status was something new head coach Peter DeBoyer brought up with the property during the interview process.

Every coach wants to know who they are going to work with.

But it didn’t really seem to be something to worry about. Neil & Stars owner Tom Gaglardi had plans to get something done and came to an agreement on a deal that would keep the veteran GM on contract through the 2023-24 season.

Neil is 64 years old and entering his 10th season with the stars. Another two contracting years felt, for him, the right number at this point in his career.

“I want to make sure I leave the team in good shape,” Neil told me Friday morning. “Let’s see where things go. We have a great group of little kids coming up, and I want to help Tom get ready for 10 years down the road.

“I’m comfortable for two years. It was a mutually agreed thing. Some people might look at it and say, ‘Oh, only one year (on the extension).’ But I’m at that point in my career where I’m fine and comfortable for two years.”

And as Neal added, that doesn’t mean it won’t be GM for more years after that, but at this point, two years is enough to keep going. It doesn’t need more security than that.

“I have great people under me, and I want to make sure this franchise is set up over the next 10 years,” Neil repeated.

And yes, during the interview process with DeBoer, Neil’s future was a topic of conversation. The last thing any veteran coach would want to get into is a team with a lame GM.

“This is something Tom and I talked about and talked about with Pete as well,” Neil confirmed. “I said, Tom, this will happen.” So when Tom interviews the coaches, he makes it clear I’ll be right around the corner.”

In the meantime, there is an important file that remains a top priority for the stars. Young star suite Jason Robertson He’s still without signing as a restricted free agent entering the weekend, but Neal seemed confident of where things were headed.

“We’re having good discussions,” Neil said of contract talks with CAA Sports, which represents Robertson. There are various factors involved. There is a different term and different money associated with a different term. This is what we work with.

But we have a very open dialogue. Pat Bryson is the actor, and he was pretty good. We keep talking. It is planned that this will take place before the training camp (next week). I hope that happens.

Quietly return the stick

Speaking of GM contracts, it certainly went under the radar because, like some teams, it went unannounced, but veteran Carolina Hurricanes president and general manager Don Waddell signed a new contract this summer, I’m told.

His old deal expired on June 30, just like fellow GM Don Sweeney in Boston. Sweeney’s new deal has been announced before Bruins In June, but the Canes were even lower, which is what some teams are now choosing to do.

I don’t think it was in doubt. Waddell has a strong relationship with Canes owner Tom Dundon, and I don’t think neither of them were particularly nervous about the expiration of the GM deal. The new contract was completed without any fanfare.

Why the Canadiens-Allen extension makes sense

It was interesting to read our friends’ Habs coverage this week about talks about an extension for Jake Allen.

I’m sure some people are wondering why the 32-year-old goalkeeper is bothered when it’s obvious they’re still in roster rebuild mode (ok, I’ve found a way to not use the word “rebuild”), but I guess what it tells you he is Canadian The Trust Team, led by Jeff Gorton and Kent Hughes, wants to protect the team’s culture while reshaping the roster.

This means that Hocks feel it’s important to have some veterans around the little bits – not to mention trying to get some steady goals so tough moments don’t take away the confidence of these young players.

Considering the almost impossible task of substitution Carry price For a year, if not longer, it is likely that keeping veteran Allen in the past when his current contract expires after this season makes sense.

Allen’s agent, Allain Roy, began initial contract discussions with Habs in mid-August, and both sides hope to return to them soon.

“We’re definitely open to that,” Roy said Thursday, regarding Allen’s extension. “Jake likes some of the moves they’ve made and where the team is heading towards culture. I think Kent was emphasizing that message, he really wants to have a good culture in that locker room and good leadership. And I think Jake is part of that leadership.”

“Yes, we are very willing to discuss things with them. It is just a matter of not doing all the details yet, so it is hard to know when it will be done or not.”

Chara check in

Future Hockey Hall of Fame Zdeno Chara hasn’t made a call regarding the future of his playing.

“He hasn’t decided at this point,” his agent Matt Keator said via text message Thursday night. “So far he hasn’t been in a hurry.

“I will meet him at the weekend.”

The 45-year-old played 72 games last season for the Islanders.

Stralman remains

There are still a few notable names in the UFA market where camps are opening, and one of them is veteran defender Anton Strallman.

The 35-year-old averaged 21:20 per game last season in Arizona, which easily tops among the remaining UFAs on the market.

Obviously his best hockey game is behind him, but I’m surprised he still stands given his pedigree. Surely he can help a team in a third pair.

“Anton doesn’t have a lot of games left and she will undoubtedly be a great addition to the team’s blue line,” Mark Levine, Anton’s agent, said Thursday.

What usually happens at this time of year is that NHL Clubs first want to take a look at their young defensive men and see if some of them are ready to take the next step. Some teams will realize that young defensive men need more AHL seasoning. I suspect Strallman will find a suitor before the puck landing in October.

Critical NHL dates

The NHL still hasn’t officially announced all the crucial dates for this season. That should come soon, I think, within the next week or so.

But here are some dates to remember:

• March 3rd: NHL trade deadline. By the way, this is Friday.

• June 28-29: Nashville’s NHL Draft, which the NHL announced last month. This is on Wednesday and Thursday. Remember, the NHL went to a Thursday-Friday draft last July in Montreal, breaking away from the usual first round on Friday and the end of the draft on Saturday.

• July 1: Opening of a free agency. So finally, we’re back on July 1 regular Free Agent Frenzy, for the first time since before the pandemic. Free Agent Frenzy was on October 9, 2020, July 28 in 2021 and July 13 last year.

It would be a quick switch between the draft and the start of the free agent this season, which will lead to more fireworks than usual in draft week, with some teams having to make decisions about suspended free agents at short notice. cheerful.

(Top photo by Johnny Goudreau and Matthew Tkachuk: Sergey Belsky/USA Today)

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