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5 teams to watch this week

Avalanche, Canadiens could make moves before NHL free agency begins July 1

by Dan Rosen @drosennhl / NHL.com Senior Writer

CHICAGO -- The stage is being broken down, the hanging video boards removed, the 31 team draft tables and all the chairs folded up and the phones and all the wires put away. The 2017 NHL Draft presented by adidas is over, but the NHL offseason is just beginning.

The window for teams to begin interviewing prospective unrestricted free agents begins Sunday. The free agent market opens at noon ET on July 1. In between, there will be plenty of trade talk and likely plenty of trades, considering the market is active.

Here are 5 teams to pay close attention to this week:

 

New York Rangers

The Rangers have approximately $20 million in NHL salary-cap space, according to CapFriendly.com, and they need to fill some holes. 

They need at least one center to play on one of their first three lines and possibly two centers overall, depending on how they feel about some of their prospects. Oscar Lindberg went to the Vegas Golden Knights in the NHL Expansion Draft on Wednesday, and they traded Derek Stepan to the Arizona Coyotes on Friday.

In addition, the Rangers have to re-sign center Mika Zibanejad, a restricted free agent who will get a raise from the $2.625 million he was making this season.

Video: OTT@NYR, Gm6: Zibanejad breaks in, roofs wrister

The Rangers also have a work-in-progress defense. 

They like Anthony DeAngelo, a 21-year-old puck-moving, right-handed defenseman who came from Arizona in the Stepan trade, but they likely remain in the market for a defenseman, preferably a righty who could play with Ryan McDonagh. 

It's possible they may view Kevin Shattenkirk as that player, but he is going to come at a hefty price. Re-signing Brendan Smith, a lefty who can play on the right side, also is an option.

The Rangers also need to acquire a backup goalie to replace Antti Raanta, who went with Stepan to the Coyotes.

 

Montreal Canadiens

The Alex Galchenyuk trade watch remains on, but it's still unclear if the 23-year-old center, who can become a restricted free agent on July 1, will leave Montreal. 

There appears to be plenty of interest in Galchenyuk. He's a big, playmaking center who had 44 points (17 goals, 27 assists) in 61 games this season after scoring 56 points (30 goals, 26 assists) in 82 games last season.

There have been rumors and reports the Canadiens have been in trade talks with the New Jersey Devils, Minnesota Wild and Anaheim Ducks, among other teams. Montreal ideally would like a defenseman in return. 

In addition, the Canadiens still are trying to re-sign forward Alexander Radulov before he becomes an unrestricted free agent July 1. Radulov's asking price is six years with a $7 million annual salary-cap charge, TSN reported. That's too long of a contract for the Canadiens.

Video: MTL@NYR, Gm3: Radulov nets nifty one-handed goal

Montreal has interest in bringing back defenseman Andrei Markov, who also can become an unrestricted free agent. General manager Marc Bergevin said there is a limit on what the Canadiens will give the 39-year-old. If Markov wants a two-year contract, it might be a deal-breaker.

Underneath all of that is the most important transaction the Canadiens might make this offseason: re-signing goalie Carey Price to a new contract. Price has one year left on his contract, which has a salary-cap charge of $6.5 million. He can re-sign with the Canadiens as early as July 1.

 

New York Islanders

The Islanders made the biggest trade Saturday, sending defenseman Travis Hamonic and a fourth-round pick in either 2019 or 2020 to the Calgary Flames for Calgary's first- and second-round picks next year and a second-round pick in either 2019 or 2020.

Hamonic has three years remaining on his contract, which carries a $3.857 million salary-cap charge, according to CapFriendly.com.

The Islanders are not as good now as they were with Hamonic, but this could be part of a bigger play to get more scoring up front to help center John Tavares and to convince him to sign a long-term contract extension, which he is eligible to do starting July 1.

Video: CBJ@NYI: Tavares wrists one in through traffic

The Islanders now have the extra three significant draft picks and Hamonic's $3.857 million in cap space. They have approximately $9.4 million in available salary-cap space, according to CapFriendly.com. General manager Garth Snow said he would be 100 percent inclined to use the assets to improve the Islanders next season.

They have to use some of the cap space to re-sign defenseman Calvin de Haan, who is set to become a restricted free agent. However, even after doing that, they should have the ability to acquire a No. 2 center, such as Matt Duchene of the Colorado Avalanche.

Duchene, who has long been the subject of trade rumors, has two years remaining on his contract, which carries a $6 million salary-cap charge. More on him below.

The Islanders already acquired forward Jordan Eberle from the Edmonton Oilers on Thursday for forward Ryan Strome. Eberle has two years left on his contract at a $6 million salary-cap charge.

 
Vegas Golden Knights

Vegas GM George McPhee said he has a few things going on in terms of potential trades, but they may not go down for another few days. McPhee said he's getting a lot of calls, specifically about the Golden Knights defensemen.

They are expected to move some defensemen, considering they picked 14 in the expansion draft. Vegas already traded Trevor van Riemsdyk to the Carolina Hurricanes and David Schlemko to the Montreal Canadiens, but it still has 10 defensemen signed to NHL contracts; Nate Schmidt and Griffin Reinhart each can become a restricted free agent July 1.

Video: NYR@OTT, Gm2: Methot slides home a rebound in front

McPhee said assistant GM Kelly McCrimmon has spoken to defenseman Marc Methot about his future, but he has a no-trade clause in his contract, making it more difficult to move him. Methot also is Vegas' only defenseman signed beyond the 2017-18 season. He has two years left on his contract, which has an average annual value of $4.9 million.

 

Colorado Avalanche

The Avalanche are in the market for defensemen, but GM Joe Sakic told TSN the offers for Duchene have not suited Colorado's liking so far. That could change, but it's also possible the Avalanche wanted Hamonic, and now that he's in Calgary, they move on.

Video: CHI@COL: Duchene buries Nieto's feed for SHG

It also has been reported the Nashville Predators have significant interest in Duchene, but they're not willing to part with any of their big four defensemen -- Roman Josi, P.K. Subban, Ryan Ellis and Mattias Ekholm.

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