With Morgan Rielly out for the long haul, will the Maple Leafs explore the trade market? Will the struggling Senators or Canucks make a coaching change? What’s the latest on Jakob Chychrun’s trade talks? TSN Hockey Insiders discuss these topics and more in the latest edition of Insider Trading.
Gino Reda: They are the experts Chris Johnston, Pierre LeBrun and Darren Dreger. Jake Muzzin, TJ Brodie and now Morgan Rielly: The Leafs’ top three minute eaters on the blue line. In a pre-cap era, it’s fixable. But what do they do now, Chris?
Chris Johnston: Well, unfortunately they can’t just wave a magic wand because they face a couple of different challenges when it comes to tackling the roster, the first being the fact that they seem to have a lot of salary cap space with Morgan. Rielly was added to long-term injured reserve. But they have to protect that space for when I go back somewhere early in the new year. And beyond the fact that they have 50 contracts right now, that means they’d have to subtract that body to bring someone in, even if it was a cheaper depth addition. And so, maybe they tried to address that by putting Wayne Simmonds on waivers Tuesday. There’s no guarantee he’s recovered, though he did go on waivers earlier in the season, so they might be forced, in this case the Leafs, to grin and bear it.
Gino Reda: So much preseason optimism in Ottawa and Vancouver has now turned into the reality of struggling near the bottom of the league, so what about on those fronts now, Darren?
Darren Dreger: Well, look Gino, you know that coach surveillance continues in Ottawa and Vancouver. There are so many holes in the Ottawa Senators’ lineup, perhaps too significant to overcome. Players say they root for DJ Smith, we know Pierre Dorion is touring the NHL, he hasn’t found the right trade, which is why we are now looking squarely at the Ottawa bench once again and I might add something unfair. . In Vancouver, they told me it’s the status quo and I think a coaching change is coming. But it could be days, it could be weeks, it could be months, so not much is going to happen in Vancouver, but it looks like Bruce Boudreau remains in the crosshairs.
Gino Reda: One of the reasons it’s so hard to make a deal right now is the asking price for the available talent. Is there a better example of the high cost of talent than Jakob Chychrun, who returned to Arizona’s lineup on Monday night, Pierre?
Pierre LeBrun: By the way, he played past 23 minutes, I wonder how many teams noticed that? That’s a high price and listen, I think it’s important to understand why Coyotes GM Bill Armstrong is asking for two first-round picks plus one NHL prospect or young player in any deal for Jakob Chychrun. Number one, I think you looked at the Hampus Lindholm deal from a year ago where Anaheim got a first round pick and two seconds to an older player who was a pending UFA and ends up going to Boston, of course the Bruins signed him. There’s the Brandon Hagel deal, Chicago got two first-round picks for Hagel because of his low cap and Chychrun is young and has a bargain contract and if history shows us anything in terms of the Darcy Kuemper trade where Arizona got a first and a young player and a third. Bill Armstrong is going to stick to his price.
Gino Reda: What about the Buffalo Sabres? They flew out the door, now they’ve crashed to the ground. How’s that going with the Buffalo management here?
Pierre LeBrun: Well, Kevyn Adams is keeping his cool. He doesn’t want to react emotionally and make a trade he’s going to regret. He believes in his team, but obviously he’s also not very comfortable with the way things have played out here over the past month. This is a team that is completely lacking in confidence compared to what we saw last year’s opening month and finale. And yes, calm down for now. I’m not going to do anything stupid, but the next two weeks are going to be important for the Sabers team to tell their GM who they are because he’s going to be ready to act to help this team. He has salary cap space unlike most teams.
Gino Reda: Over the summer, Gary Bettman promised to be transparent in the league’s investigation into sexual assault allegations involving members of the 2018 Canada youth team. What’s the news on that front, Darren?
Darren Dreger: Well, the news is, Gino, progress is being made. Now, the National Hockey League isn’t going to stick to a timeline for revealing its findings. But [according to] NHL sources are substantially complete in terms of the investigation and the interviews involved in the investigation. They will coordinate with the London police. A representative for the London police said they cannot comment on an active investigation that the police department continues to conduct. When they do, they will sync up with the NHL.
Gino Reda: Alright, this is the experts Chris Johnston, Pierre LeBrun and Darren Dreger.