TSN Hockey Insiders Bob McKenzie and Darren Dreger have the latest on the future homes of Jarome Iginla, Ryan Miller and Thomas Vanek as well as updates on the top potential NCAA free agent and the NHL's search for fresh officiating.
Jarome Iginla has been one of the stories of this season individually. He's been a great fit in Boston and his 28 goals leads the team. Does he end up there beyond this year and re-sign?
Darren Dreger: That's certainly the hope of the Boston Bruins and of Jarome Iginla as well. I know Peter Chiarelli, the Bruins general manager, reached out to Don Meehan from Newport Sports last week. There's been no official back-and-forth in terms of dialogue or a negotiation and the reality is that the Bruins don't have the tag room or the cap space to close this deal in-season.
But, most definitely, Chiarelli and the Bruins want to extend Iginla's stay. He loves Boston. They love him in Boston. I think a deal gets done.
Pierre LeBrun: Another top-line right-winger who's slated to be a UFA come July 1 is Ales Hemsky, who came over at the trade deadline to help the Ottawa Senators. Now, he has helped them, even though the Senators have struggled.
Ottawa has seen enough of Hemsky that in the very near future they are interested in reaching out to his representatives to see if he's interested in staying on and to talk about an extension. Obviously, the money has to be right for the budget-conscious Senators, but right now Bryan Murray would like to bring Hemsky back for next season.
Does Ryan Miller stay in St. Louis?
LeBrun: That is what Doug Armstrong and the St. Louis Blues would love to do. They've already reached out to Mike Liut, the agent for Ryan Miller, and told Miller: ‘Once this season is over, we want to bring you back.'
They are being aggressive in their overtures and telling this player that they do not want him to go to the July 1 market. They believe he is a long-term fit for their team which will contend for a number of years.
Bob McKenzie: The conventional wisdom among the hockey community is that one of the reasons Miller wants to wait until free agency on July 1 is to see if there's any interest from the Anaheim Ducks. There was all sorts of speculation that the Ducks tried to make a trade with the Buffalo Sabres earlier this season for Miller, but that it fell through and they weren't able to do it.
Miller's wife is an actress. She does all sorts of work in Hollywood and the possibility of being on a California team might be something that is really good for Ryan Miller. So, we'll wait and see where that goes.
It's college free agent signing season. The most sought-after right now is Christian Folin, a 6'3”, 210-pound defenceman from Sweden who plays for the River Hawks and UMass. Who are the front-runners to get him?
McKenzie: The Philadelphia Flyers, the Minnesota Wild, the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Edmonton Oilers are amongst the teams believed to have the best chance to try to get Christian Folin out of UMass Lowell.
Now, I should point something out. Firstly, they're playing in the NCAA tournament Friday night against Minnesota State. If they lose, he's got a decision to make. He has not yet fully committed to making the decision that he's coming out of college. The likelihood is that he is, but he hasn't made that decision just yet.
Lots of teams are getting the sense now that they're out of it and that those teams I just mentioned are the front-runners.
The NHL is apparently seeking officials...
Dreger: They're calling it the NHL Exposure Combine and the belief is that they're hoping to bring in upwards of 60 high-level prospects. They're going to collect these, literally, from around the world, but yes, they will send invites to certain universities and NCAA colleges for those graduating hockey players who perhaps want to pursue a career as an NHL on-ice official.
They'll hold the combine in August in Buffalo. There will be considerable physical testing but it's all part of trying to expand the search and every other year, they'll do an amateur version.
McKenzie: I smell a reality show coming: “So You Wanna Be a Ref?”
Pierre LeBrun has a quick one-timer for us on Thomas Vanek.
LeBrun: Vanek is obviously loving his time in Montreal so far but I spoke with his agent Steve Bartlett earlier on Tuesday who said the plan has not deviated. They told the Sabres last summer that they're going to July 1. They told the Islanders after he got traded that it's going to July 1 and that remains the plan right now.
Let's see if a little playoff magic might change his mind.