Puck Daddy Countdown: Draft intrigue and Doug Wilson, ladies and gentlemen

Ryan Lambert
Where will the latest Tkachuk land? (Getty)
Where will the latest Tkachuk land? (Getty)

7. Pierre Dorion

Let’s just start out by saying this is an unenviable position for Dorion that he didn’t want, but maybe you can argue it’s what he signed up for.

Being the public face of an organization this disfunctional is always going to carry with it a certain amount of crap-shoveling, but the Hoffman thing was beyond the pale. He had to trade Hoffman, and the fact that he didn’t do it (perhaps he wasn’t *allowed* to do it?) before the deadline — when he could have pulled probably a first-round pick and a prospect — seems like a major goof-em-up at this point.

After all, to only get a mediocre pick, a guy who’s barely an NHLer, and trade down in the draft for a guy who was your third-highest scorer last year is “walk into the ocean” bad. Especially when the other team in that trade immediately flips that guy for a better package than you just got from them.

Now, there are other factors at work here. Obviously the Senators will need to get to the cap floor, and their awful owner will want to do it on the cheap, so trading for Mikkel Boedker makes perfect sense. He makes $4 million AAV, but only $3 million in actual money, and he stinks! This is the perfect thing to do when tanking. Also worth noting, though, that Florida might have been able to give the Sens a better package and offloaded some money, but Melnyk apparently doesn’t allow them to trade in the division, which is just true brain genius stuff.

So now Dorion is getting dunked on pretty good and none of this is really his fault. He might not be particularly good at his job, and his player evaluation decisions are often suspect, but I still feel bad for him.

6. Peter Chiarelli

Hey speaking of the Sharks (who just freed up $4 million in cap space and got a bunch of picks on a Tuesday morning for basically being the middle-man on a deal they didn’t really need to be involved with), and the fact that Vegas seems to be gearing up for a big summer, isn’t it funny that the Oilers — who need desperately to improve as a means of not ruining Connor McDavid’s career — haven’t done anything?

Like, okay, all due respect to Matt Benning and yeah you have to do that kind of housekeeping, but this is MAYBE the second-best team in the division as it stands, and certainly, you can say Vegas is about to pull in front of them because of how much top-end talent they’re probably about to add. This is about to become a Sharks/Knights slugfest despite the fact that the Oilers really ought to be at least making it a three-way dance.

Oh and remember that, “The Oilers would love to add Karlsson?” Turns out TSN’s Frank Seravalli reported Edmonton is on Karlsson’s no-trade list and when they called mid-season, they were told not to bother. So, y’know, no help there.

We’ll get to their efforts to trick someone into taking the Lucic contract in a minute here, but I dunno, doesn’t it seem like Chiarelli might want to do, y’know, anything? Just a thought!

5. Jarmo Kekalainen

Rumor is that Artemi Panarin won’t negotiate with Columbus on an extension right now, which Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman says Jarmo Kekalainen feels he at least needs to listen to offers on Panarin’s services.

You’ll recall that a couple of weeks ago I mentioned that while this summer isn’t that big of a deal for the Blue Jackets, they’re going to have Panarin, Sergei Bobrovsky, and Zach Werenski all up for a new deal at the same time. Not great! And if Panarin won’t even discuss framework right now, yeah, seeing what’s out there is the only thing that makes sense. Sucks to be in that position, but that’s life.

The good news, I guess, is that you now have proof of concept with my years-long “Panarin is what made Kane great and not the other way around” take, because Panarin made that Columbus top line go. So this is a talent who makes everyone else around him better, which means you can maybe get a better price than the straight-up-for-Brandon-Saad deal last summer. But also, yikes.

4. Teams looking to offload bad contracts

Tough to say exactly what the cap floor is going to be next season but last year it was north of $55 million and will likely be closer to $60 million this time around as the cap explodes upward. Teams therefore have a lot of money to play around with, and three teams are actually south of $48.5 million as I write this.

Take out Vegas, because they’re gonna torch that $15 million or so in cap space needed to get to the floor pretty quick. Still leaves you with Carolina and the Islanders. The Rangers, too, are just a shade over $50 million right now and you know they’ll be looking to spend on something.

All these teams obviously have guys to re-sign, but that’s so much cap room to play with that if you’re, say, Edmonton and want to unload, say, that Lucic contract (dumb as hell the day it was signed) you’re probably going to be able to find someone to help you out with that. Benefit of the cap going up by a larger amount of money than Lucic’s AAV, I guess you’d say.

3. Barry Trotz?

So Trotz winning a Cup for the Caps triggered a clause in his contract that gave him an automatic two-year extension, but the money on that extension wasn’t that good, so the guy walked. Smart move, I think.


a) This was a total surprise win for the Caps, who dramatically overperformed their regular-season level in the playoffs and had the good fortune to run into an expansion team that hit a wall in the playoffs.

b) Get that money, dawg.

Now, I know the Islanders seem like they’re about to back up a dumptruck loaded with money here, and again, get paid while you can. But also, these Islanders seem to be kinda, y’know, extremely bad. And they may be about to lose John Tavares, which would be a big issue for them. I wonder at what point for Trotz there isn’t enough money to coach a team like the Islanders. And I wonder what else is out there.

2. Draft intrigue

From everything I can gather, it’s looking more and more like the Canadiens will go full 2016-Blue-Jackets and eschew conventional wisdom to pick… Jesperi Koktaniemi third overall???????

(It may or may not have worked out for CBJ there, though, because PL Dubois has 20 more career points than Jesse Pulujarvi in 11 fewer games, but one must also consider that Puljujarvi has the unique misfortune of having to play for the Oilers.)

Leaving Filip Zadina on the board there seems like a big mistake, because he was touted as the clear No. 3 all year. Koktaniemi was, by and large, seen in the 8-12 range but the Habs seem to have talked themselves into him being better than that because they scouted him heavily in anticipation of, well, picking in the 8-12 range. This is, generally speaking, not a good way to do business.

Which allows Zadina to slip to Ottawa at No. 4, or so you might think. But there has been a lot lot lot of smoke around Ottawa really deciding they liked Brady Tkachuk at 4, which, again, that’s a guy I like in the 6-10 range (and I got to see him a lot this year). If Zadina or Quinn Hughes are on the board and the Senators take Tkachuk instead, they’ll be getting a good player, but not one as dynamic as what they should be pursuing.

I remember being on the draft floor in Buffalo in 2016 and you started to hear people saying, “Looks like Columbus is gonna go Dubois at 3” and people were generally like, “Huh, really? Doesn’t seem smart.” That was on the floor. The fact that we’re getting this chatter days in advance? That’s wild.

1. Doug Wilson

Out: Mikkel Boedker (finished) for $4 million AAV, Julius Bergman, 6th-round pick in 2020, 7th-round pick this year.

In: Cody Donaghey (inconsequential), 2nd-round pick next year, 4th-round pick this year, 5th-round pick this year, 5th-round pick in 2020, $4 million in cap space.

That’s a great Tuesday morning. They’re going after Kovalchuk and Tavares. Buckle up.

(Not ranked this week: A bad reminder.

I had totally forgotten we were supposed to be mad about who was gonna win the Hart and Norris until I remembered they’re doing the awards today. They’re gonna screw it up and I’m mad!!!

Does that work for everyone? Cool.)

Ryan Lambert is a Puck Daddy columnist. His email is here and his Twitter is here.

(All statistics via Corsica unless otherwise noted.)

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