TSN Hockey Insiders Bob McKenzie, Pierre LeBrun and Darren Dreger gathered for the latest installment of Insider Trading and the topics discussed were Joe Sakic's comments about the draft, the latest on Kris Letang's contract discussions with the Penguins, the spin-o-rama in shootouts, Kings goaltender Jonathan Bernier and the World Juniors going to Toronto and Montreal in 2015 and 2017.
Why would Joe Sakic say that if the Colorado Avalanche keep the first overall pick in the NHL Draft, they are leaning towards passing on defenceman Seth Jones?
Bob McKenzie: There are two schools of thought out there on Sakic's comments. No. 1 is maybe it's a sincere and honest declaration in that quite frankly, they don't have the Denver kid who grew up there who has a high profile name because he's Popeye Jones' son. They don't have him ahead of any of the forwards that are available and therefore they want to start cushioning the blow and don't want it to be a big backlash if, all of a sudden, they surprise everybody on draft day by taking Nathan MacKinnon or Jonathan Drouin. The flip side is, there's some people out there who thinks it's posturing; that Sakic is merely saying this because he believes the Florida Panthers or the Tampa Bay Lightning really want MacKinnon or Drouin. And if they think that those players are going to be gone to Denver with the number one pick, they might offer something. I don't believe that. I think the Panthers are going to sit there and say 'we're content to sit in the number two slot and take whoever's there according to our rankings.'
Was there any progress in Wednesday's meeting between Kris Letang's agent Kent Hughes and Pittsburgh Penguins general manager Ray Shero?
Pierre LeBrun: It was a preliminary discussion really setting the barometers of what is this conversation they're having. They're going to meet again over the next week, and again and again until there's a resolution. One thing Shero said Wednesday afternoon was that he knows all the media are speculating that he has to trade Letang this summer if he doesn't get him signed. Not necessarily. They can wait until the trade deadline while they try and sign him. On the other hand, I can tell you that I believe the message that Hughes parlayed to Shero Wednesday at that meeting is not a dime less than $7 million for Letang, which might be a tough pill to swallow for the Penguins. If you ask me, I still believe that the best package for Shero, if you can't sign him, comes this summer and not waiting until the trade deadline, although Shero said he spoke to Nashville Predators general manager David Poile about the kind of packages he got for Ryan Sutter a year-and-a-half ago and that made him think. We shall see.
Darren Dreger: I believe that Letang wants to stay with the Penguins. Why wouldn't you? You have an annual shot at winning the Stanley Cup. There are some who believe that as long as this deal has a six in front of it, 6.5 million instead of seven-plus times eight years the maximum, that he'll take that deal and he'll stay.
Is the NHL actually close to banning the spin-o-rama in the shootout?
Dreger: They talked about it at length on Wednesday. The reasoning behind it is that it's hard on the officials to truly determine the direction of the puck and if it's moving forward and is there contact with the goaltender. It is going to require ongoing dialog over the course of the summer and there is some expectation that there'll be pushback from the players. To quote Bill Daily, "this may not be the hill that the NHL is willing to die on."
LeBrun: It drives me crazy. The shootout as it is is a bit of a joke. I mean, it's a skill event and it's not part of a real hockey game. If you're going to have a shootout, the players can do what they want as far as I'm concerned. My own preference; cancel the whole thing and go to three-on-three overtime. And I know I have a bunch of general managers on my side on that one.
McKenzie: They shouldn't throw the baby out with the bath water. Spin-o-rama moves are okay as long as the goaltender is not interfered with. I would put the onus on the referees; there are two refs and two linemen on the ice to be able to determine if a goaltender is being interfered with. As for whether or not the puck moves forward, I think they can figure that out.
Which teams are serious about LA Kings goaltender Jonathan Bernier, and what are you hearing about Roberto Luongo?
LeBrun: Five teams we believe are in the mix. Bob alluding to three of them on Tuesday; the Maple Leafs, Islanders and Flyers, but today we also learned that the Stars and Panthers are also in the mix. I spoke with Bernier today and he didn't know a whole lot about what's going on on the trade front but he said he's excited. General manager Dean Lombardi promised him at his exit meeting that he would do everything that he can to give him a shot to go and be a number one goalie elsewhere and that's what Bernier wants.
Dreger: The sense is that the Vancouver Canucks are not going to buy out or waive Roberto Luongo. They're confident that they'll have a trade partner for Luongo at the draft.
Why are the World Juniors going to Toronto and Montreal in back-to-back years?
McKenzie: They obviously want to go to big markets, but what's most interesting is that they're going to share it. In 2015, in will be Toronto at the Air Canada Centre that gets the medal games while the Bell Centre in Montreal will have the preliminary games. In 2017 it will flip around and Montreal will be home to the medal rounds. Obviously, the two biggest cities in Canada and two arenas that they can charge a lot of money and generate a lot of interest.