Nichols' Notes

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The Province's Ben Kuzma examines how the dominoes could fall if the Vancouver Canucks deal Ryan Kesler. The Anaheim Ducks have been heavily mentioned as suitors and their No. 10 overall pick would be very attractive to the Canucks.

“We’re talking to teams and we’re listening to teams,” said Canucks GM Jim Benning, who has had two conversations with Florida Panthers general manager Dale Tallon about the No. 1 pick and expects to have more leading up to the first day of the draft. “I understand what you’re saying and it (No. 10 pick) probably factors into the equation, right? We’re working hard to try and figure that out. We’re going staying on top of it.”

Excellent content, as usual, from Star Tribune scribe Michael Russo on the Minnesota Wild beat. Not surprisingly, the Wild will be in contact with Thomas Vanek's agent during the free agency interview period. Russo hears the Wild has 'significant interest' in Paul Stastny (if the Avs haven't locked him up) and also Matt Niskanen.

Russo asked Steve Bartlett, Vanek's agent, if he'd be willing to take a short-term deal.

“I don’t think we’re absolutely entrenched on anything," Bartlett said. "Vanek is a very confident guy, somebody that is, I think, going to look at everything – the financial side, the family side, the team side.

“I don’t think we have anything cast in stone come Wednesday or July 1.”

Loads of contract info in that blog. Check it out.’s Mike Heika examines the smash hit season of Stars captain Jamie Benn, who thrived on the left side with newly-acquired Tyler Seguin in the middle. The transition really began in the last off-season though.

“I think I thought I was working hard, but I took a big step last summer,” said Benn. “Now, after playing in the Olympics and in the playoffs, you realize just how much more work you have to do. You get a taste of that, and you want even more.”

GM Jim Nill doled out some highly-deserved praise.

“You look at him and he elevates his game when things get intense,” Nill said. “Pressure is not an issue for him, it just makes him better.”

Also: “I think he’s one of the best all-around power forwards in the league, I don’t think anyone would argue that. And honestly, I think he’s just scratching the surface of the player he can become.”'s Randy Miller notes that Philadelphia Flyers GM Ron Hextall said Tuesday he wouldn't hesitate to draft a goaltender in the first round, if it was warranted.

“You look at the history of drafting goalies and, believe me, it’s the hardest position to draft,” Hextall said. “We can all see the skills, but the mental part, that’s the part you’ve got to try to figure out.

"So talking to people, watching a guy that makes big saves in the last few minutes of a game, he doesn’t come unglued when the goalie’s pulled and they’ve got a one-goal lead ... There's a lot of little things that I've talked to our scouts about. I think there’s little things that I can add.

“It’s hard, but I will tell you I won’t shy away from a goalie. But also I’m not going to draft a goalie for the sake of drafting a goalie."

Red Wings GM Ken Holland spoke with Ted Kulfan from The Detroit News about Daniel Alfredsson. Alfredsson isn't 100 percent healthy, although he does feel good.

"He's not ready to make a decision right now that he's gonna retire," Holland said. "He wanted (to) just kind of pass that news on to me and get my thoughts."

Holland continued.

"I said, 'Let's take a few days,' and I'm gonna explore the phone lines Wednesday and Thursday and see what's in Philadelphia (at the draft) and then he and I will touch base."

Tom Gulitti has a full rundown of the latest on the New Jersey Devils' contract situations from GM Lou Lamoriello.

Also included are thoughts from agent Stephen Bartlett, who represents Ryan Callahan and Brian Gionta.

On Callahan and the Tampa Bay Lightning: “We’re engaged in serious conversations for the last week, so I think it’s still possible that it will get done before (July) 1st for sure,” Bartlett said.

On Gionta and the Canadiens: Bartlett is “still talking with Montreal.”

The Sun-Times' Mark Lazerus cites Pierre LeBrun's report (scroll down a little bit) about the Chicago Blackhawks and Anaheim Ducks leading the pack to potentially land Ryan Kesler from the Vancouver Canucks. Sources tell Lazerus the Canucks would want either Brandon Saad or Teuvo Teravainen as part of any package, which the Hawks would not likely do.

CSN's Tim Panaccio spoke with Philadelphia Flyers GM Ron Hextall about Monday's Scott Hartnell trade with the Columbus Blue Jackets. Hextall explains how the trade evolved (the team was originally looking for cap relief) and said “I wasn’t shopping Scott Hartnell.”

“The one question he asked me was, ‘When did I fall out of favor?’” Hextall said. “I said, ‘No Hartsy, you haven’t fallen out of favor. This is just something that fits for us and we want to move forward with it.’

“To Scott’s credit and his agent’s credit, they were open to it, though it took them two days, which I had no problem with.”

Pierre LeBrun's Rumblings indicate multiple sources say the Anaheim Ducks and Chicago Blackhawks have broken from the pack and are the front-runners to land Ryan Kesler from the Vancouver Canucks - if they trade him. As of Tuesday afternoon, nothing was imminent on that front. A source also tells LeBrun that the Pittsburgh Penguins have expressed an interest.'s Chris Johnston has tidbits on several notable Toronto Maple Leafs. Agent Gary Greenstin says he plans to take full advantage of the interview period for Nikolai Kulemin. Nothing has been ruled out with the Leafs with Kulemin, but he's looking for a bigger role. Dave Bolland's agent, Anton Thun, says their position "hasn't changed a whole heck of a lot." They'll also be talking to other teams, but the lines of communication will be kept open with the Leafs as well. Sources tell Johnston talks are underway between the Leafs and RFA Jake Gardiner's camp on a potential bridge deal.

Patrick Sharp is available from the Chicago Blackhawks, according to Sportsnet's Nick Kypreos.

UFA goaltender Martin Brodeur spoke with's Tom Gulitti about the coming free agency interview period. He and agent Pat Brisson have charted out which teams might be interested.

“We went through everything,” Brodeur said. “We did our homework on the teams that might fit and how they’d utilize me and the coaches and the organizations. For me, that’s what’s going to be hard. I’m so used to playing with one organization. I want to make sure where I go it’s not going to be a big change as far as the way we’re treated and what the attitude about winning a Stanley Cup is. I don’t want to come into an organization that’s loosey goosey or whatever. I’m so used to one way and I want to try to have something similar.”

Brodeur also told Gulitti he won't be visiting any cities during the interview period.

“To me, it’s more about the GM and about the coaches and the relationship I’m going to feel,” he said “If I do talk to teams, these are the important people.”

UFA news on the Pittsburgh Penguins, via Dave Molinari of The Post-Gazette: Ross Gurney, the agent for Tanner Glass, has not spoken with Jim Rutherford or Jason Botterill since the management/coaching changes. He and Botterill did have preliminary talks a few months ago. Allain Roy, the agent for Joe Vitale and Deryk Engelland, said he has not had contract talks with the Pens about either client.

Edmonton Journal writer Jim Matheson reviews Monday's Scott Hartnell trade between the Philadelphia Flyers and Columbus Blue Jackets, also noting that "the Oilers were close to getting Hartnell in a trade a few years back when Steve Tambellini was GM."

Roberto Luongo joined Team 1040 Monday evening and he shared some thoughts on the Vancouver Canucks and Florida Panthers.

Does he have closure on the Canucks’ front and does he have peace with it?

“Yeah, I’m good with it. You know, the way it went down is a bit weird, a little surprising and stuff like that. Yeah, I mean, I’m okay. I’m good. I have no hard feelings toward anybody. I’m happy to see everybody. I just saw Trev, so that was kind of weird to see him now that he’s the president, to talk to him in that regard, but yeah, it’s great to be here.”

Were you shocked when it happened? You said it was weird.

“Yeah, I mean I was. I didn’t – we all know, obviously, what led up to it. The year, year and a half before that. Going into the year, I didn’t know what was going to happen, but after we had passed the midway point my family was here, my daughter was in school. You know, we were getting used to being here again and we were actually starting to look at houses, so at that point in time we really weren’t expecting to get traded. It’s kind of weird how things happen in life, but all of the sudden we come back from the Olympics and we all know what happened there. A couple of days later that was it.”

Was that the trigger point – the Heritage Classic?

“Yeah, I think so. I think it was really the last straw, if we can call it that. I think – you know, and I don’t have any resentment toward anybody about it, but I think obviously that’s what led up to the events that happened. “

How close to winning do you think you are with the Florida Panthers?

“Here’s the thing. A lot of people think that I went down there to ride into the sunset and all that kind of nonsense. That’s not me. I want to win. I put a lot of trust in my agent in the work that he put in and the ownership is dedicated to winning. We’ve got some new owners in there and they’ve said that we’re going to spend some money in free agency and bring the salary up close to the cap within a year or two. I’ve talked to them many times over the course of the last couple of months and they’ve told me they’re in the free agency market and they told me they’re looking to spend some money and get some players.

“Definitely the young talent is there. I think we’ve got a new great young coach coming in this year that can help us go along and who knows? It’s all about the pieces that we get, right? I mean, you have to get the right mix together to have a good team and hopefully we’ll be in contention for a playoff spot this year.”

How many years do you think you have left to be part of that organization?

“I mean, as long as I could play. I’m enjoying the game. I think I had a pretty good season. I’m happy with the way things went. Obviously I wasn’t participating in the playoffs, which was disappointing, but I want to keep it going as long as I could. Right now I’m feeling healthy. My body is holding up, which is key, and I’m enjoying the game. Those are the key things for me in regards to my career.”

The only update concerning Calgary Flames UFA Michael Cammalleri on Monday from Brad Treliving was that talks continue, although the GM did drop a teenage dance reference. This via The Calgary Sun's Randy Sportak.

"It's an interesting time for those players," said Treliving. "They've earned this right. I liken it to the old high school dance. You ask one girl and she says, 'Yeah, maybe, but let me go check with the other guys and see what they've got to offer.' I've extended my dance card and am just waiting to see if somebody will accept. I understand it."

The Denver Post's Adrian Dater notes the Colorado Avalanche are still hoping to get Paul Stastny under contract. Rookie Nathan MacKinnon doesn't like the prospect of an Avs team without Stastny.

"I just don't want it to happen. I don't want Pauly to go," said MacKinnon, a linemate with Stastny and Gabe Landeskog. "He was a huge part of our team. He took all the biggest faceoffs, probably got to see the other teams' top lines all season and still had 60 points in (71) games. He's definitely one of our top players and we need him, plain and simple.

"I'm young, but I realize it's a business. You can't play forever, and you have to be fair. He's going to be fair to the Avalanche and the Avalanche are going to be fair to him. In my head, it's just a matter of time before it gets done, and hopefully it can."

Dater also takes a look at the Ryan O'Reilly situation.

Jeremy Rutherford of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch writes that Alex Steen, T.J. Oshie, David Backes and Ryan Reaves are the only forwards with contracts beyond 2014-15, although the Blues maintain the rights for several years for players such as Vladimir Tarasenko and Jaden Schwartz.

“When I look at Backes’ contract, Steen’s contract, Oshie’s contract ... I look at that as the window,” GM Doug Armstrong said. “We can re-sign those players, but then again, those players are going to be 32, 33, 34 (years old) once they come up again and we’re going to need the next wave of players coming in to allow those players to gracefully go into support roles and other players take charge. So I would say we understand our window is now.”

The article indicates Armstrong is looking for a point-producing forward before or after the draft.