The 2014 NHL draft is a time of hope and change for all 30 NHL teams, which means the rumors are flying as teams look to position themselves for future success.
The draft is set to kick off the frenzy of offseason action later today at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The picks and trades that are made here will have a huge impact on how teams deal with salary-cap limits and potential free agents over the summer.
The first round of any draft is the focal point for teams as they try to improve their rosters, so let's take a look at some of the possible teams looking to make moves with these highly regarded assets.
Panthers Have Multiple Offers for No. 1 Pick
TSN's Darren Dreger has insight on the Florida Panthers' ideas regarding their No. 1 draft choice:
Dale Tallon is telling gm's he has 1 really good offer for 1st pick overall. Not sure he's going to take it. Other so-so offers as well.— Darren Dreger (@DarrenDreger) June 26, 2014
Dreger also offered insight on the composition of some of those potential trades:
Florida is considering a number of trade options for the 1st pick, including teams outside the top 10 offering current NHL players...— Darren Dreger (@DarrenDreger) June 27, 2014
Edmonton Oilers radio analyst Bob Stauffer has an opinion on general manager Dale Tallon's posturing:
My sense is that Dale Tallon is trying to create a bit of a false market for the #1 over-all pick— Bob Stauffer (@Bob_Stauffer) June 27, 2014
Tallon could be looking to fleece a team by trading the No. 1 pick to get multiple players or picks in the later rounds. It will be interesting to see if any team does make a deal with the Panthers, as Tampa Bay Lightning scouting director Al Murray notes there might not be any obvious top prospect.
Should the Panthers trade the No. 1 pick?
"I think there's more guys that are similar to each other than a lot of years," Murray told NHL.com's Adam Kimelman. "It's a little bit difficult. It tends to come down to team preferences."
In a draft without a bona fide potential star like Sidney Crosby, the Panthers could have their work cut out for them to move this draft choice. The Panthers are intent on making a strong transition with newly-christened head coach Gerard Gallant now in the fold.
Philadelphia Flyers Looking to Trade Up in Draft
The Philadelphia Flyers could try to shake things up in the first round and go for a top-tier prospect, according to general manager Ron Hextall.
"We'll look at trading up if we can, but we won't trade up if we're going to get a similar player at where we are drafting right now in the first round," said Hextall, via NHL.com's Mike G. Morreale. "There is separation from the top of the draft and where we are drafting, so we'll look to trade up."
The draft is taking place in Philadelphia this year which certainly puts the Flyers in the spotlight, whether they like it or not.
With the No. 17 choice in the draft, Hextall could be looking to trade way up in order to make a big splash and have a chance at some of the top prospects that have separated themselves from the pack this year, such as defenseman Aaron Ekblad or center Sam Reinhart.
The Flyers finished the season with a 2.73 goals-against average, good for 21st in the league. Flyers' goalies also made 2,281 saves on the year, as per Yahoo Sports—more than all but 11 other teams.
They could certainly use a boost in defense in order to curtail the onslaught of goals, and moving for a prospect like Ekblad or even Haydn Fleury could be a potential long-term solution.
The team also has very little cap space to work with and could try to package an expensive player like Vincent Lecavalier or Jakub Voracek with their No. 17 pick in order to create more flexibility in the long run.
Penguins Willing to Shop No. 22 Pick
Pittsburgh Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford may be looking to shop the Penguins' No. 22 pick for veteran help.
“We will trade that pick if it can help us get a player who can help us immediately," said Rutherford via the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review's Josh Yohe.
InsidePittsburghSports.com's William DePaoli gave his quick insight on the situation:
Jim Rutherford in win-now mode, no surprise penguins 1st round pick (#22) is very much in play. Pit would seek established NHL player.— William DePaoli (@TIOPS_DePaoli) June 27, 2014
Trading the first-round choice for an established player would certainly signal the Penguins are looking to win in 2014-15. They don't have another pick in the draft until the fourth round at No. 113. If they are indeed looking for veteran help, the long-term future is certainly on hold. Of course, this isn't a bad thing considering how well the Penguins played last season.
The Penguins won 51 games and easily topped the Metropolitan Division in 2013-14 but were defeated in the playoffs by the New York Rangers.
Rutherford may also be losing a top player in Matt Niskanen, who is testing the free-agent waters. Niskanen's agent, Neil Sheehy, broke the news:
Matt Niskanen spoke to the Penguins and will make himself available on the free-agent market on July 1st.— NEIL SHEEHY (@ICEHockeyAgent) June 26, 2014
Niskanen combined strong defensive play with an eye for the killer pass; he finished the season with 10 goals and 36 assists.
The team has a high-powered offense to build around if they can shore up the defense.
The Penguins finished second in the Eastern Conference with 249 goals scored and have the ultimate centerpiece in Crosby, who at 26 years old just won his second MVP award and is entering his prime years in the NHL.