Following an active opening night of the 2014 NHL draft, the offseason should continue to heat up as the draft concludes Saturday. Once the seven-round showcase comes to a close, the focus will quickly shift to the trade market and free agency.
The biggest question is whether it will be a summer that features several blockbusters. There's already been plenty of talk involving some big names, but that's often the case. Getting to a point where several of the high-profile trades actually get done is rare.
That said, let's take a look at some of the latest buzz from around the league, featuring both potential trades and free-agent signings. These are all situations worth monitoring as the markets begin to get even more active in the days and weeks ahead.
Few players have been involved in more rumors during the early portion of the offseason than Thornton. The veteran center is a hot commodity if he's willing to move and the San Jose Sharks make him available. He ranked second in the league with 65 assists last season.
Now, we can apparently add another team to the list of interested parties. Kevin Kurz of CSN Bay Area reports that the Dallas Stars are looking for more depth up the middle alongside Tyler Seguin and have already contacted San Jose:
According to an NHL source, Dallas has approached San Jose about acquiring the 34-year-old center. The Stars could use help at the position behind budding superstar Tyler Seguin, while Wilson has clearly indicated he will be turning his team over to the younger core players on the ice and in the dressing room.
It's an idea that makes a lot of sense. Not only would it give Dallas two talented centers for its scoring lines, but Seguin could learn a lot from Thornton. It's unclear if he's ready to leave San Jose, however, and there will be plenty of competition if he's willing to waive his no-trade clause.
The Wild have made some big splashes in free agency over the past couple of years. Adding Zach Parise and Ryan Suter were the most notable moves of the bunch. Now, the franchise seems ready to chase down another big name or two.
Michael Russo of the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports that the team has already made contact with four of the most coveted players available. And general manager Chuck Fletcher is expected to continue discussions during the draft:
It's not believed the Wild had any formal sit-downs yet, but General Manager Chuck Fletcher contacted at least the agents of defensemen Matt Niskanen and Willie Mitchell, goal scorer Thomas Vanek and center Paul Stastny, NHL sources confirmed. At a minimum, Fletcher is expected to meet with Niskanen's agent, Neil Sheehy, and Vanek’s agent, Steve Bartlett, while they're all in Philadelphia this week for the NHL draft.
Minnesota made the playoffs as a wild card and proceeded to upset the Colorado Avalanche in the opening round. There's definitely a need for more scoring depth, which would suggest Thomas Vanek should be atop their free-agent list. But adding anybody from that quartet would be a nice upgrade.
Myers was one of the league's most promising young players, capturing the Calder Trophy in 2010. His play has slipped since then, though, and it could mean his days with the Buffalo Sabres are numbered. Nick Cotsonika of Yahoo Sports reports that the Detroit Red Wings are interested, but the price is high:
Buffalo remains firmly in rebuilding mode, but it doesn't sound like a package of prospects and picks would be enough for Myers. General manager Tim Murray is also seeking some veterans to help the young players, per John Vogl of the Buffalo News:
Myers represents one of those situations where a change of scenery could do wonders. The talent is there, but he's fallen into a funk with the Sabres and can't seem to get out of it. Buffalo is wisely keeping the asking price high, though. Selling low would be a mistake despite his struggles.