The UFA interview period has been open for several days, and though not every free agent wants to jet around the continent meeting with potential teams some want to see what they would be getting themselves into first hand. Pierre LeBrun of The Athletic (subscription required) gives some updates on a pair of top names today, reporting that Matt Duchene met with the Montreal Canadiens yesterday and the Nashville Predators today, while Joe Pavelski spent Wednesday meeting with the Dallas Stars and Tampa Bay Lightning. Pavelski was again spotted by reddit user Boltsfan91 at the team’s development camp alongside head coach Jon Cooper.
While obviously visits don’t necessarily mean a player will end up in that city when the dust settles on July 1, it does at least indicate some level of interest from the hosting club. Tampa Bay is especially interesting because of their own financial issues related to restricted free agent Brayden Point, who should be eating up a substantial amount of their $10.6MM in cap space. The Lightning do have some flexibility after Ryan Callahan was ruled out with degenerative disc disease allowing them to place his $5.8MM on long-term injured reserve, but signing a player like Pavelski would be difficult without moving another contract out.
Duchene has been linked to the Predators for years, but LeBrun notes that he grew up a Canadiens fan thanks to his family’s support of the team and GM Marc Bergevin did inquire on his price at the trade deadline before he eventually landed with the Columbus Blue Jackets. There are still several days before free agency officially opens on July 1, and anything could still happen with these top names.