When is a free agent not really free? When his name is Johnny Gaudreau

Ken Campbell
Johnny Gaudreau (right) (Photo by Bruce Kluckhohn/NHLI via Getty Images)

As of today, NHL teams are permitted to get in touch with restricted free agents in advance of the free agency period opening July 1. Which is kind of like when Communist governments would hold elections. The fix is pretty much in. Chances are overwhelming that nobody is going to get an offer sheet, despite the fact you could make an all-star team out of the players who are available.

“Over the years you can probably count the number of visits teams have had with restricted free agents on one hand,” one agent said. “And I don’t think there will be too many this year.”

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Here are the need-to-know picks from the CHL Import Draft

Filip Hronek (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

The CHL Import Draft establishes major junior rights for European players and it’s never a dull process. Because the kids picked are under no pressure to come over here, it’s never just a matter of Best Player Available. And since junior teams all have different rebuilding/contending cycles, sometimes BPA is irrelevant anyway. Some have already been drafted by NHL teams; other younger picks are hoping to boost their stock for upcoming drafts. Each CHL franchise gets two picks, but some pass because they are already set with their quota of two imports. With another draft in the books, let’s take a look at some of the most important names that were called today.

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How Filip Forsberg’s six-year, $36-million deal affects Nikita Kucherov

Filip Forsberg (Photo by John Russell/NHLI via Getty Images)

Restricted free agent Filip Forsberg’s six-year, $36-million contract extension with the Nashville Predators, announced Monday, was a slam-dunk deal.

In 2015-16 left winger Forsberg, 21, became the franchise’s first player in six years to crack 30 goals, equalling Jason Arnott’s team record of 33. Forsberg has averaged 29.5 goals and 63.5 points over his first two full NHL seasons, playing all 164 games. He’s safe, he’s young, and he’s already the best young scorer in Preds history. Six years at $6 million per? Fair deal for both sides. General manager David Poile has about $7.1 million in remaining cap space to play with for 2016-17. Some will go to re-signing RFA Calle Jarnkrok but, assuming Poile lets unrestricted free agents Paul Gaustad and Carter Hutton walk, he may have enough cash left for a medium-impact free agent signing.

Nashville can feel good about Forsberg’s deal. It’s an open-and-shut case. Forsberg got about exactly what we figured he’d get. What’s more interesting is pondering how it’ll affect negotiations involving a player with a comparable resume: Tampa Bay Lightning right winger Nikita Kucherov.

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Best picks by round on Day 2 of the draft

Carter Hart (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

BUFFALO – On Day 2 of the draft, team preference plays such a huge role in when kids get picked. But for my money, there were some definite winners by round. In some cases, it was teams that made solid multiple selections. In other cases, it was a matter of the value they got in one player. Here are my winners for Day 2.

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Flames get Brian Elliott in trade with Blues and solidify their goaltending situation

Ken Campbell
Brian Elliott (Dilip Vishwanat/NHLI via Getty Images)

BUFFALO – There was a definitive St. Louis flavor to the Calgary Flames first round in the draft. Not only did they use the sixth overall pick to take Matthew Tkachuk, a product of the St. Louis minor hockey system and son of former Blues star Keith, they got the No. 1 goalie they’ve coveted when they traded for Blues goalie Brian Elliott in exchange for the 35th overall pick and a conditional third-rounder in 2018.

The Flames came to Buffalo with a single-minded purpose and that was to get an NHL-caliber goaltender for next season. They had permission to talk to Ben Bishop of the Tampa Bay Lightning and that created a fair bit of traction. But in the end, the Flames were unable to come to terms on a contract extension and turned to Elliott, a player who has one year left on his contract with a $2.5 million cap hit.

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Flames have been looking at possible trade for goaltender ‘for a number of weeks’

Jared Clinton
Karri Ramo (Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

During the 2015-16 season, each of Karri Ramo, Jonas Hiller, Joni Ortio and Niklas Backstrom got a shot at stepping into the Calgary Flames’ crease. However, there’s a very real possibility none of the four will be back, meaning Calgary’s need for goaltending help is at an all-time high.

Though some may have expected the Flames to have a solution in goal by now, GM Jim Treliving and staff have taken their time in trying to find the right fit at the right price. And asked by CalgaryFlames.com’s Aaron Vickers about the situation in goal, Treliving said he’s looking over all his options, from various trades to free agency, to try and find a netminder, or netminders, for the upcoming campaign.

“We’ve been exploring (trades) for a number of weeks,” Treliving told Vickers. “We’ll see exactly who may be on the market, what those acquisition costs are, what may be a fit or what may not be a fit for us, and then keeping an eye on free agency…if players get to that point. Free agency is a little bit of an unknown at this point.” Read more

Flames GM Treliving has ‘every confidence’ he’ll lock up Gaudreau, Monahan

Jared Clinton
Sean Monahan and Johnny Gaudreau (Gerry Thomas/NHLI via Getty Images)

The Calgary Flames enter the off-season without their two brightest offensive stars, Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan, locked up to new deals. But GM Brad Treliving doesn’t see any cause for concern, as he believes firmly that he’ll find a way to get the two young scorers, currently pending restricted free agents, under contract.

In speaking with CalgaryFlames.com’s Torie Peterson, Treliving said that he’s still working diligently on getting contracts in place for Gaudreau and Monahan. That it’s taking so long isn’t worrying Treliving, either, because signing two players who look like they’ll have long, successful careers in Calgary was always going to take time.

“As everybody knows, those are two top young players for us that need new contracts,” Treliving told Peterson. “Sometimes these take a little bit of time. This is not unusual, that we’re sitting here at this time and they’re not done…We’ll continue to bang away at it. We’ve got to get to something that makes sense for them and for us…I have every confidence that we will.” Read more

Rumor Roundup: Tyson Barrie staying put in Colorado, GM Joe Sakic says

Tyson Barrie. (Getty Images)

In recent weeks, Colorado Avalanche restricted free agent defenseman Tyson Barrie was a hot topic in the trade rumor mill. But according to Avalanche GM Joe Sakic, the 24-year-old blueliner isn’t going anywhere.

The Denver Post’s Mike Chambers reports Sakic said he’ll be meeting with Barrie’s agents during the upcoming NHL draft in hopes of working out a new long-term contract.

Sakic tells Chambers that if they cannot work out a new agreement, it’s expected Barrie will head to arbitration. “Either way, he’ll be here,” said the Avs GM.

It’s possible Sakic called his rival GMs to gauge their level of interest in Barrie and the type of return he might fetch. That could account for the recent speculation involving Barrie. Taking Sakic at his word, it’s evident the Avs wish to keep Barrie in the fold for at least the immediate future.

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