TSN Hockey Insiders Bob McKenzie, Pierre LeBrun and Darren Dreger gathered for the latest installment of Insider Trading on Tuesday and the topics discussed were Steven Stamkos' recovery from a broken leg, the San Jose Sharks trying to re-sign their "top three," a management shuffle in Philadelphia, USA's goalie situation ahead of the Olympics, and trade talk.
What's the latest on Steven Stamkos three weeks after have surgery on his broken leg?
Darren Dreger: He's ahead of schedule. He's targeting February 6 against the Tornoto Maple Leafs as his expected date of return. He's working out on a daily basis, riding a bike, and core training. He's going to work out exclusively with Gary Roberts over the Christmas break and then he'll kick it in to high gear and do two-a-day training in January.
Pierre LeBrun: And Team Canada is going to use that extra week they got from the IIHF and will announce their roster on January 7. Meanwhile, the Team Canada brain trust is going to meet before the Board of Governors meeting in California, take in a Kings game and fine tune their player list this weekend.
What is on the front burner of trade talk?
Bob McKenzie: Florida Panthers defenceman Dmitri Kulikov has been available for most of this year but the Panthers are kicking it up, very aggressively shopping him, and trying to get an auction going for a 23-year-old defenceman who was picked 14th overall in the 2008 draft. Kulikov though has two knocks against him. One, he hasn't been developing and playing particularly well for Florida and two, he's a restricted free agent at the end of the year and there are fears that because he has the KHL option as a Russian, he might go back there instead of playing in the NHL.
Dreger: The New York Islanders, Vancouver Canucks, and Edmonton Oilers are believed to be among the most active teams in trade discussions. The Islanders are looking for depth in goal and a defenceman. The Canucks had some interest in Martin Erat out of Washington and while that's not a fit they still want a top six forward. And it's Groundhog Day in Edmonton where Craig MacTavish continues to search for a defenceman.
McKenzie: Carolina is a hot spot right now. General manager Jim Rutherford is one of the most patient GMs in the NHL but that patience is definitely wearing thin. There's no coaching change planned right now; head coach Kirk Muller's not in imminent danger. But another week or two of underachieving the way they have been and all bets are off. Off the ice, on the ice, Rutherford is getting extremely frustrated the way his team is looking. And anything is possible if this team keeps taking a nose dive.
LeBrun: Another team to keep an eye on is the Colorado Avalanche. They've been making calls offering up winger Jamie McGinn. They'd like to get a defenceman or a veteran checking forward in return. McGinn's name is being offered to a couple teams around the league right now.
The Board of Governors Meeting next week could have some significance for the San Jose Sharks.
LeBrun: It's significant for a lot of teams but really for San Jose. They are trying to re-sign their big three: Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau, and Dan Boyle. All are UFAs at the end of the year; there have been ongoing discussions with all three with numbers being exchanged with Boyle's camp and Thornton's camp. Not so much with Marleau because he hasn't hired an agent yet after the passing of Don Baizley. But once they get that cap number next week it gives Doug Wilson a chance to go back to all three camps and have a number for all three.
McKenzie: David Legwand of the Nashville Predators is not Thornton, but he is an effective member of the Predators and the first person ever taken by them in the entry draft many years ago. He's an unrestricted free agent at the end of the year and is looking for a new deal but there have been no negotiations thus far. He's a guy that wants to get locked up in Nashville but nothing's happened thus far.
Has there been a shuffle in senior management in Philadelphia?
Dreger: Paul Holmgren will now report directly to Ed Snider and that may have its complications for anybody that knows how volatile Snider can be. Peter Luukko stepped down as President and COO of Comcast so that complicates things because he did a lot of work on the hockey side including buffering between Snider and Holmgren.
What's going in with the goalie rankings for the US Olympic hockey team?
LeBrun: The current ranking right now has Jonathan Quick and Ryan Miller 1-2 one way or the other which has yet to be determined. The battle for the third spot is between Jimmy Howard and Cory Schneider. No Ben Bishop in that top four; in fact the guy they have listed fifth is Tim Thomas. But at this point it looks like Howard or Schneider for that third spot behind Quick and Miller.