TSN Hockey Insiders Bob McKenzie, Pierre LeBrun and Darren Dreger gathered for the latest installment of Insider Trading and the topics discussed were the deal that sent Thomas Vanek to the Islanders, Rick DiPietro's NHL future, the Dion Phaneuf contract negotiations and more.
The Thomas Vanek trade to the Islanders was interesting enough, but even more intriguing is where Vanek could have gone. The Sabres did offer him to the Toronto Maple Leafs, but was the asking price too high?
Darren Dreger: Yes. The Sabres were believed to be asking for a key forward from the Toronto Maple Leafs and financially the deal didn't work either, even though the Buffalo Sabres were willing to retain salary as they did in making the deal with the New York Islanders. They're believed to have retained somewhere between $1.3 and $1.4 million. It was not a fit for the Leafs, so the negotiation or conversation between Darcy Regier and Dave Nonis didn't take all that long. It was not a good fit from a player perspective, either, with Vanek being a winger.
Pierre LeBrun: The other wrinkle that came out today from that deal was not only that the Islanders got Buffalo to eat some of the salary but also they got some protection on that first round pick that they sent to the Sabres, or at least perceived protection. If it's a top-10 pick come June, they can defer for the Sabres to draft in 2015 instead, a decision that the Islanders can make at that draft.
Who gets drafted in 2015? I think Connor McDavid … is that his name? We've heard about him.
So, really, to me, even if it is a top-10 pick for Garth Snow that he's giving away to the Sabres, I just don't know how you can defer that to 2015.
James Duthie: Almost everybody wants to hold onto that pick, just in case they're down there and, remember, every team that doesn't make the playoffs has a shot at that number one pick.
What about Ryan Miller now?
LeBrun: He's the next big name that the Buffalo Sabres will move between now and the March 5 trade deadline, but right now there's just no real market. I spoke to Darcy Regier on Monday and he said that there's absolutely nothing going on that front right now. That's going to change. At some point there's going to be a key injury to a top netminder or someone's not going to play well, but right now that market is very soft.
The team that I keep coming back to, guys, is the St. Louis Blues. I think if Jaroslav Halak - who's had a lot of injuries the last few years – gets hurt again or is not playing well, to me that's a perfect fit. But, right now Jaroslav Halak has been absolutely spectacular for the St. Louis Blues so right now there's no plan to change anything there.
Meanwhile, another goalie is trying to get back to the NHL. Rick DiPietro got the second largest buyout in NHL history, $24 million. He'll never see that kind of money again, but will he get another shot in the NHL?
Bob McKenzie: It's a possibility. The Carolina Hurricanes are having problems in net. Obviously, Cam Ward is out for the next few weeks with an injury and Anton Khudobin is out for at least another week. So, they signed DiPietro to an AHL tryout contract on the weekend and what's going to happen now is that they want to see him in action. On Wednesday and Thursday night, DiPietro is scheduled to play for the Charlotte Checkers in the American Hockey league, on the road in Grand Rapids and Rockford. How he performs in those games, coupled with how Justin Peters plays for the Hurricanes in their next game against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Friday night will determine how quickly or if Rick DiPietro can get back up.
If he has two games where he's really good in the American Hockey League and Peters stumbles at all, then the Hurricanes would look at putting DiPietro on an NHL contract. They're doing the same thing with Manny Malhotra, but they would probably need an injury before they could open up a roster spot for him.
Five of the Montreal Canadiens' six top defencemen will be without a contract at the end of this season. So, what is Marc Bergevin's game plan?
McKenzie: The high profile guys are obviously P.K. Subban, the one restricted free agent and then you've got Andrei Markov, Raphael Diaz, Francis Bouillon and Alexei Emelin. It might surprise some people that Emelin of that group - who's not even in the line-up, he's out with an ACL injury and probably won't be back until Christmas or later – is the guy that's probably first up and most likely to get a deal done in the next little while. Nothing's done to this point, but the conversations are headed in that direction and it could get done fairly soon.
Everybody's talking about Dion Phaneuf in Toronto. What are we looking at, in terms of size of that contract and length?
LeBrun: First of all, no numbers have been exchanged between the two sides. They had a brief meeting last week, just to sort of set up the timetable over the next month. I don't think the Leafs are comfortable going north of $7 million, he's making $6.5 million this year, but the term will be interesting. I would suspect that Newport Sports Management would start at eight years and that the Leafs would be more comfortable at six and at some point you've got to find the middle.
Two months from now, Canada will be in the midst of group play at the World Junior Hockey Championship in Sweden. Are we likely to see Sean Monahan, Morgan Rielly, Mathew Dumba and guys like that making the trip?
Dreger: It all depends on the flexibility that Hockey Canada presents. It's been strong policy that all players invited to training camp need to be there at the start of camp on Dec. 13, but there's policy in place that could be changed by the policy committee so that those NHL players like Monahan, Rielly, Dumba or Washington Capitals forward Tom Wilson could come in late, perhaps as late in certain situations as the exhibition run in late December.