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NHL draft pick juggling

Would the Panthers move Erik Gudbranson three years after picking him third overall? (Getty Images)

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Would the Panthers move Erik Gudbranson three years after picking him third overall? (Getty Images)

The Colorado Avalanche created a stir last week when executive VP of hockey operations Joe Sakic and new coach Patrick Roy said they would consider trading the first overall pick in this year's NHL Entry Draft.

Kevin Paul Dupont of The Boston Globe wondered if Roy would convince Sakic to shop the pick for “a young bonafide goaltender,” naming Los Angeles Kings backup Jonathan Bernier as an “obvious target.”

It would take a significant offer, however, for the Avalanche to trade down beyond third overall in the draft. Bernier on his own won't be enough to convince Sakic to part with his pick. Another good young player (preferably a defenseman) and a top prospect or the Kings first rounder would have to be part of the return.

The Avalanche aren't the only club willing to entertain offers for their first round pick.

Florida Panthers GM Dale Tallon last week said he's not actively shopping his pick (second overall) but is willing to gauge interest, telling teams to make him an offer.

Nashville Predators assistant GM Paul Fenton acknowledged his club, which holds the fourth overall pick,  has received enquiries about it.

Edmonton Oilers GM Craig MacTavis and team president Kevin Lowe admitted they would think about moving their pick (seventh overall) for the right offer.

It's been suggested the Tampa Bay Lightning, who hold the third overall pick, could be a good trade partner for the Avalanche. The Bolts have limited cap space next season, prompting speculation they might part with a good player along with their pick for the first overall.

Lightning GM Steve Yzerman, however, recently told ESPN.com's Craig Custance he lacks the “ammunition” to swap picks with the Avs.

CBC's Elliotte Friedman cited an NHL executive claiming he'd heard the Lightning and Panthers were talking about an “Erik Gudbranson for third-overall-pick deal,” but another executive laughingly dismissed the rumor.

It remains to be seen if any of these clubs move their respective picks, but the trade chatter will certainly heighten the excitement and intrigue heading into draft day on June 28.

RICHARDS BACK TO TAMPA?

The possibility of the New York Rangers buying out Brad Richards had Tampa Bay Times columnist Tom Jones dreaming of the former Lightning star returning to the team where he began his NHL career and enjoyed his greatest success.

Jones believes the Lightning should be interested in bringing Richards “home”, claiming there's speculation the veteran center, if bought out, could be had for three years at $3 million per, perhaps less to rejoin the Bolts.

If Richards receives a compliance buyout by the Rangers, the Lightning currently couldn't afford him even at a bargain price.

They have around $3.332 million in cap space and six roster spots to fill next season. Placing injured defenseman Mattias Ohlund ($3.607 million) on long-term injury reserve would free up some space, but not enough to sign Richards and still have room to bring in additional talent.

Unless GM Yzerman makes a couple of bold moves (like buying out Vincent Lecavalier, or trading Ryan Malone) to shed salary, Richards returning to the Tampa Bay Lightning will  remain a daydream.

DON’T EXPECT FRANZEN BUYOUT

Speaking of compliance buyouts, it was rumored the Detroit Red Wings might use one of theirs to shed the remaining seven years and $22.5 million of winger Johan Franzen's contract.

Not true, according to Wings GM Ken Holland, dismissing such talk as “crazy speculation,” citing the importance of Franzen's offensive contributions.

Mlive.com's Ansar Khan speculates their buyout candidates could be Mikael Samuelsson and Todd Bertuzzi, who were injured for most of this season. As long as they're healthy by the compliance buyout period (48 hours following the Stanley Cup Final to July 4), either or both could receive buyouts.

Rumor Roundup appears weekdays only on thehockeynews.com. Lyle Richardson has been an NHL commentator since 1998 on his website, spectorshockey.net, and is a contributing writer for Eishockey News and The Guardian (P.E.I.).

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