TSN Hockey Insiders Bob McKenzie, Pierre LeBrun and Darren Dreger gathered for the latest installment of Insider Trading and the topics discussed were what a rising salary cap means for PK Subban's contract negotiations, the coaching situation with the New York Islanders, the Buffalo Sabres' search for a new general manager, what stories emerged from Tuesday's Board of Governors meetings and Jakob Chychrun, the son of former Flyers defenceman Jeff Chychrun.
Q: With the cap going over $71 million and climbing even higher, what does this mean to P.K. Subban and his contract talks?
LeBrun: It could mean a lot. In many ways, he could be the poster child for young, star free agents and future negotiations. For guys like Alex Pietrangelo and Erik Karlsson, they signed long term deals because they were looking for security and didn't know where the salary cap was headed. Well, P.K. Subban and his advisors from Newport Sports know where it's going and it's going way up, so the debate for Subban is, do I sign an eight-year deal like a lot of people are expecting me to, but then, the salary cap might be at $100 million by the end of the eight-year deal, maybe I'm better off taking a shorter term deal, three or four years. Of course, the Montreal Canadiens will be looking for some long-term security themselves, so a big decision for Subban because the cap is going way up.
McKenzie: The players and agents are wondering who's going to be the guy who breaks the bank; who's going to be the guy who gets closer to the 20 per cent maximum salary that's allowed. If the salary cap is $75 million or $80 million in a couple of years, that's potentially $15-16 million a year. What player might command that kind of money? Well, let's have a look at the guys who are coming up to unrestricted free agency. Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane have a year left on their deals after this year. They can start negotiating in the summer. You can easily justify doubling your current $6.3 million salary if you're Toews or Kane. Steven Stamkos, a free agent in 2016, could he be the guy who breaks the bank? We saw the redefining of the goaltender market last week when Henrik Lundqvist brought the maximum goaltender salary from $7 million to $8.5 million. Agents and players believe it's only a matter of time until some star player gets $12, $13 million or $14 million under this new salary cap environment.
Q: Are the reeling New York Islanders going to be looking for a new head coach?
Dreger: They might, but in the moment, the New York Islanders are willing to be patient, so there is no imminent coach firing. Jack Capuano has the full confidence of his general manager. What the team needs is more offence from its star players and that's aside from the top line. Garth Snow is also looking for a top-pairing defenceman. He's taking more of the responsibility than putting it on the coaches.
Q: What is the status of the Buffalo Sabres' search for a new general manager?
McKenzie: The list is getting longer, rather than shorter. The expectation is that the Buffalo Sabres will certainly take until the New Year and maybe beyond that, closer to the Olympics, before a general manager is named. Our sense is that there is somewhere between six and 10 names that Sabres president Pat LaFontaine is looking at and that he's probably spoken to two-thirds or three-quarters of that group, but he's continuing to look and there's one name that's popping into the mix lately. The Buffalo Sabres have asked for permission from the Los Angeles Kings to talk to director of amateur scouting Mike Futa, but no word yet on whether or not that permission has been granted.
Q: What stories emerged from Tuesday's Board of Governors meeting, including the push for the next World Cup of Hockey?
Dreger: I believe Hockey Canada will reach out, if they haven't already, to the Players' Association. The NHL is waiting for some gesture from the Players' Association on the scenarios that have been discussed over multiple meetings about the next World Cup. Hockey Canada would prefer that the next World Cup be in February 2016. It's unlikely that the owners will shut down part of the season again. They'd prefer September of 2015. There's still a lot of work to do, but the league is getting antsy. They want an answer in the next couple of months.
LeBrun: Brendan Shanahan addressed the Board of Governors on Tuesday, talking about league discipline. One of the things he brought up was Matt Cooke and how he became a rehabilitated player in part because of the help he got from the Pittsburgh Penguins organization. The message from Shanahan was look at what that coaching staff did for Matt Cooke. He'd like to see more teams around the league adopt that model when it comes to helping out their own players when it comes to league discipline issues.
Dreger: This was very much a business meeting for the governors of the NHL and good news for the small market owners, as they learned that they can earn upwards of $45 million. With the cap floor going to $52 million in 2014-15, those full revenue-sharing teams will get upwards of $20 million in national rights money, they'll get $20 million in revenue sharing and, perhaps, an extra $5 million in escrow. So that's $45 million of $52 million to get to the floor.
LeBrun: The story that generated the most buzz today was something that wasn't even talked about within the walls of the Board of Governors meeting - expansion, but because Gary Bettman was questioned about expansion in the media, it was really his demeanour, more than what he actually said, that generated the buzz. He openly talked about receiving interest from other markets. In the past, he would just shut that down and not even broach it. It gives us the impression that expansion is on the horizon. One governor said, nevermind the next couple of years, he believes in the next year, expansion talk will heat up seriously.
Q: What's the next step for Jakob Chychrun, son of former Philadelphia Flyer Jeff Chychrun?
McKenzie: Jakob Chychrun is a 6'2", 195-pound, 15-year-old defenceman who plays for the Toronto Canadiens of the Greater Toronto Hockey League. What makes him special is that if he decides to go the OHL route, he's expected to be the first-overall pick. While he never applied for exceptional status, even before that, they did make an exception at the Under-17 World Challenge this Christmas. He will be the first minor hockey player, not playing in the OHL, to go up and play on the Ontario under-17 team.