LeBrun: New Timo Meier suitors emerge, Mattias Ekholm price and more grumbles

Over the weekend, I heard a rumor that definitely caught my attention.

It was that the Blues, now armed with three first-round picks in this year’s draft, reached out to the Sharks about Timo Meyer.

It’s not a rumor I was able to verify at the time. But it is not just a rumor anymore. as a colleague Frank Serravalle reported For the Daily Faceoff on Tuesday during his podcast, I also confirmed that the Blues have already inquired about Meier. I think they’re open to transferring two of their first-round picks as part of a potential trade offer to him. Whether or not the Blues can entice the Sharks enough to reach a more serious level, I can’t say at this point.

Blues general manager Doug Armstrong has indicated his desire to make this a quick turnaround re-turner, possibly using some of his first-round picks to get it done. Meyer is 26 and would fit the criteria, age-wise, for the kind of players the Blues hope to retool with.

Another team I’m told has inquired about Meyer? Planes. Imagine the forward power of skating in those top six. But whether or not the Jets have the kind of package that can field San Jose is hard to say.

New Jersey, Carolina, and Vegas, I think, are the front runners for Meyer. As mentioned earlier, the Devils will likely need a contract extension with Meyer to be a part of things, while the Hurricanes are open to making that trade without an extension.

Mayer’s agent, Claude Lemieux, until Tuesday afternoon wasn’t allowed to speak to the teams directly.

I still think Carolina and New Jersey are the lead dogs here. I think they have the most attractive pieces to display. But it is clearly interesting to see new teams in battle.

Sliding bridges

The Predators haven’t given up on their season, even though Sunday’s loss to Minnesota was crushing. They have winnable matches on the schedule this week. So the administration has not raised the white flag yet.

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But the Breeds have no choice but to start making calls regarding the teams’ interest in players, and that process has already begun. I wrote last week that this may soon be the case. Again, I think veteran general manager David Boyle is listening to many of the players on his roster to get a sense of the market. But since he doesn’t have any outstanding unrestricted free agents, it won’t be easy to make deals this close to March 3 involving players on fixed-term contracts. That’s why Deadline can be quiet for Nashville.

One player who has been getting quite a bit of attention over the past week is Matthias Ekholm, 32, who has three more years left on his deal after this deal with an average annual value of $6.25 million. He’s still a solid player in the defensive four, which is a bit of a curiosity for some teams.

But his age, 33 in May, is a concern given the remaining term on the deal. The asking price will be high – perhaps up to two first-round picks. I’m not sure there is a team willing to pay that much. But at least the Breeds are talking teams about it.

I think the Maple Leafs, for example, have looked at him, but I don’t easily see how Toronto can meet his asking price, and there’s the issue of his contract.

Listen capitals

The Caps don’t necessarily shop anyone with interest, but the sense I get is that GM Brian MacLellan takes calls on the many pending UFAs and really has no choice but to at least listen.

What he does in the end really depends on how he feels about his team’s chances.

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I wrote last week about the faltering contract talks with Dmitry Orlov. He’s UFA’s top hanging roster fixture, as far as other clubs are concerned: potentially an excellent defenseman if teams make it impossible for Washington to say no.

But I also think the Caps haven’t given up trying to sign Orlov to an extension. So I think it will really come down to what it takes to sign him versus what’s on the table in terms of trade from the teams.

My TSN colleague Chris Johnston also reported Tuesday night in the insider trading segment that the caps are getting calls on Orloff.

More than half of Washington’s roster is on expired deals. This has always been the caps’ sweet deadline of March 3 depending on where they are in the standings.

Center Lars Eller will be another key UFA commentator whose two-way game appeals to playoff teams.

But again, what the caps ultimately decide to do before March 3rd is, I think, still to be decided.

Hurricane Trade Targets

Carolina has about $10 million in max room to spend before March 3, so it’s no surprise Don Waddell is as active as any GM in exploring the market.

Meyer, as noted above, remains his number one target. I think there’s also a real interest in Patrick Kane if the Blackhawks star is going to consider Carolina. And The Canes clearly do their homework on just about anything. There’s a hole to fill with Max Pacioretty for this season.

But I also think the sticks are looking for potential targets on defense. With that cap space, they can afford to add both up front and defense.

Speaking of Ken

We’re still waiting for word on whether Patrick Kane wants to entertain a deal. In a perfect world, that decision might have already been made, but it’s understandable that Ken feels like he needs more time. It’s an emotional decision after spending his entire NHL career in Chicago.

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Hopefully, he’ll decide by the end of the week, but there’s no guarantee.

If Ken says yes to scouting the commercial market, I understand he and agent Pat Bryson will come up with his first destination and bring it to the Blackhawks to scout. So we’re talking about one team here. Not a list of teams.

Now, there’s clearly a chance that the top team on Kane’s list won’t be able to make it work. Then you need to decide whether to move on to the next team.

But the point is, I think Bryson would go to Blackhawks GM Kyle Davidson with one team if Kane was really open to exploring a trade. This is the effect of the complete immobility clause.

And if Kane’s answer is that he wants to stay put, you have to wonder if that means potentially pre-season surgery, even though Kane has downplayed his pesky health issues.

Extended talks to Larkin

Contract talks on extending suspended UFA position Dylan Larkin are on hold for the time being as both sides agree the focus should be on the playoff race the Red Wings find themselves in.

Obviously, that could change at any moment if the Wings lose a few straight games, but those contract talks seem to be waiting for the time being. And again, Larkin has a full no-trade clause, so nothing will happen on that front unless he wants to anyway. He is now in a playoff race.

(Top photo by Timo Meyer and Matthias Ekholm: John Russell/NHLI via Getty Images)

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