TSN Hockey Insiders Bob McKenzie, Darren Dreger and Pierre LeBrun have the latest on the coaching vacancies in Pittsburgh and Vancouver, the trade market for the top three centres reportedly available and if P.K. Subban will receive an offer sheet in free agency.
With Bill Peters being named the head coach of the Carolina Hurricanes, three coaching vacancies remain in the NHL. What is the latest news on the Pittsburgh Penguins' opening?
Dreger: We're looking at Willie Desjardins as potentially the next head coach of the Penguins. Now, Desjardins is a hot commodity, given his American Hockey League championship with the Texas Stars of the Dallas Stars organization. We know he was a hot commodity with the Vancouver Canucks, but I expect the Pittsburgh Penguins are the team that will land Desjardins.
McKenzie: If Desjardins ends up with the Pittsburgh Penguins, some might consider that to be a blow to the Vancouver Canucks, where he's long been considered a candidate for their head coaching position. Keep in mind that John Stevens, who recently re-upped with the Los Angeles Kings, was another candidate in Vancouver. However, there are still lots of guys who general manager Jim Benning and president Trevor Linden have interviewed and are interested in. Mike Johnston, the general manager and head coach of the Portland Winterhawks, is amongst those who is considered to be a strong candidate for this job.
LeBrun: Stevens would have had an interview - at very least - with the Hurricanes, Penguins and Canucks but he decided to stay put in Los Angeles, where he was promoted from assistant head coach to associate head coach. I spoke to Stevens and the one thing that's out there that he claims is absolutely false is that this promotion is not about a succession plan. There have been rumours that he's in line to replace Darryl Sutter as coach at some point in the next couple of years. Those are not true, according to Stevens. He stayed because he wants to be there and one day if he wants to be head coach, it will probably happen somewhere else.
On the trade front, three centres are drawing a lot of attention. Amongst them is Joe Thornton, who has a no-movement clause. Would he willing to waive it?
LeBrun: Joe Thornton has yet to tell the San Jose Sharks he wants to be moved somewhere. Right now, Thornton wants to stay in San Jose. Could that change by the end of the summer? I suppose it could before the end of the summer. In the meantime, teams who are intrigued are calling San Jose. Amongst those teams are the Detroit Red Wings. Thornton is from St. Thomas, not too far from Detroit but, again, none of that talk means anything until Thornton decides to tell the Sharks he does not want to be a part of the rebuilding plan, and that has not happened at this point.
A lot of talk surrounding Ryan Kesler's availability and the availability of Jason Spezza, who after Bryan Murray spoke at the general manager's meeting, sounds like it's a fait accompli he's moving.
LeBrun: Once we get to the draft in Philadelphia it looks like things will really heat up on the Spezza trade front and on the Ryan Kesler trade front, obviously with first-round picks being involved next Friday night. The Anaheim Ducks are real wild card in all of this. We know they want another centre and they tried to get Kesler at the trade deadline in March but failed. The Ducks have talked to Ottawa about Spezza and have talked to the Canucks, again, about Kesler but the price is too high. I think the Senators would love to get their first round pick back from Anaheim, which they traded for Bobby Ryan, but I don't think Anaheim is willing to make that deal.
McKenzie: Keep on eye on the Boston Bruins; they have surplus of defencemen. Obviously, Zdeno Chara and Dougie Hamilton won't be moved but Johnny Boychuk, Dennis Seidenberg, Adam McQuaid, Kevan Miller, Torey Krug and Matt Bartkowski, who are all NHL-caliber defencemen. Don't be surprised if they move one of those players for a forward. The Bruins are still looking to sign Jerome Iginla and whether that deal gets done or not will dictate their needs this off-season.
Could restricted free agent P.K. Subban draw an offer sheet this summer?
Dreger: He'll definitely be a prime target but it is hard to say that it is likely to happen. However, the longer the negotiation - or lack thereof - between Newport Sports and the Montreal Canadiens drags on will create a target for Subban from an offer sheet perspective. However, in saying that, there is no chance the Canadiens would not match and it sounds like the Canadiens are prepared in case of that situation.