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Are Sabres targeting top five pick?

The Buffalo Sabres missed the post-season for the second year in a row, prompting speculation big change is on the way, and a new look to the future. (Photo by Rob Marczynski/NHLI via Getty Images)

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The Buffalo Sabres missed the post-season for the second year in a row, prompting speculation big change is on the way, and a new look to the future. (Photo by Rob Marczynski/NHLI via Getty Images)

With the NHL draft less than two weeks away, a couple of teams are attempting to move up the selection order.

CBC's Elliotte Friedman reported the Calgary Flames offered up their three first round picks (6, 22 and 28) to the Colorado Avalanche for the first overall pick, but the offer was rejected.

It's believed the Avalanche won't trade below third overall and seek at least an established young star in return as part of any offer for their pick.

Friedman also noted there's a belief the Avalanche, Tampa Bay Lightning (who hold the third overall pick) and Nashville Predators (fourth overall) won't move their picks, but the Carolina Hurricanes (fifth overall) would consider moving theirs for the right offer.

Strengthening the defense corps is the top priority for Hurricanes GM Jim Rutherford. An offer of a good shutdown defenseman or puck-moving blueliner could get his attention.

Buffalo Sabres director of amateur scouting Kevin Devine said his club, which holds eighth overall as its highest pick, wants to move up in the order.

John Vogl of the Buffalo News feels the Sabres have “ammunition” to make a serious pitch to teams holding higher picks.

The Sabres also hold the 16th selection, plus two picks in the second round. Vogl suggested veteran goalie Ryan Miller and winger Thomas Vanek will be in play.

Packaged with the eighth overall pick, Miller or Vanek would be enticing trade bait, but both are also eligible for unrestricted free agency next summer. An interested team would want to determine if either player would sign a contract extension before a trade took place.

DISAPPEARING DEFENDERS

The Philadelphia Flyers’ acquisition of Mark Streit's rights from the New York Islanders last week potentially took one of the few quality defensemen out of this summer's free agent market.

It's anticipated the Flyers will sign Streit to a long-term contract, which would all but ensure Danny Briere or Ilya Bryzgalov will receive a compliance buyout to make room for the 35-year-old blueliner.

That trade followed Dallas’ acquisition of Sergei Gonchar's rights from the Ottawa Senators, who Dallas then signed to a two-year, $10-million contract.

Those moves prompted Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press to suggest the Red Wings should go the trade route if they hope to bolster their blueline this summer.

St. James noted the remaining free agent defensemen include Edmonton's Ryan Whitney, New Jersey's Marek Zidlicky, Carolina's Joe Corvo, Boston's Andrew Ference and Winnipeg's Ron Hainsey.

The Wings sought a skilled puck-moving defenseman following Nicklas Lidstrom's retirement last summer, but after making enquiries about Jay Bouwmeester and Keith Yandle, they settled on Carlo Colaiacovo.

St. James noted the Wings have an excess of forwards to use as trade bait, but the asking price for a high-end blueliner such as Yandle could be too expensive.

Unless some decent defensemen hit the free agent market after compliance buyouts, the Red Wings will have little choice but to stick with their current defense corps next season.

As St. James pointed out, that might not be a bad idea. Defensemen Brendan Smith, Jonathan Ericsson and Jakub Kindl all improved this season, while top prospect Danny DeKeyser showed considerable promise in his brief NHL debut this spring.

KINGS WILL USE BERNIER AS BAIT

Jonathan Bernier's days with the Los Angeles Kings may be drawing to a close.

Bernier, 24, is a restricted free agent this summer. He sought a trade last year, but Kings management decided to retain him for this season.

Given starter Jonathan Quick's strong recovery from off-season back surgery and Bernier's desire to become a starting goaltender, the Kings are expected to shop him.

ESPN.com's Pierre LeBrun reported a source claimed the Kings have spoken to 10 teams about Bernier, which led LeBrun to suggest the netminder will be traded before or during the draft.

Bernier was linked in the rumor mill this season to the Buffalo Sabres, Calgary Flames, Colorado Avalanche, Edmonton Oilers, Minnesota Wild, Philadelphia Flyers, Phoenix Coyotes, Pittsburgh Penguins and Toronto Maple Leafs.

Given the lack of quality goaltenders available in this summer's free agent market, Bernier could become a prized asset in the trade market leading up to the draft weekend.

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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