With the Stanley Cup Final under way, TSN Hockey Insiders Bob McKenzie, Darren Dreger and Pierre LeBrun gathered in New Jersey on Thursday for the latest installment of Insider Trading. Among the topics discussed were the futures of Tim Thomas, Roberto Luongo and Tomas Vokoun, the hiring of Bob Hartley as coach in Calgary as well as the ongoing search for a head coach in Montreal and Washington and Jordan Staal's future in Pittsburgh.
Tim Thomas' Options
LeBrun: We know the Boston Bruins may potentially try and trade goaltender Tim Thomas when his no-trade clause evaporates on July 1 but among the other options I'm told Tim Thomas is considering is maybe not playing next season. I'm not saying that's going to happen for sure but I was told today that he's thinking about maybe taking the year off. It's been a stressful year for the 38-year-old, we all know about the White House controversy, and the Bruins have a #1 goalie-in-waiting in Tuukka Rask.
Dreger: Vancouver Canucks general manager Mike Gillis will talk with goaltender Roberto Luongo this week and he's trying to get a sense from him as to whether or not his views have changed on his future and for next season. The Canucks will also have scouting meetings next week and after that, they will nail down a definitive plan. I'm told Gillis is receiving interest from teams for Luongo but there's an equally strong chance that he does nothing and Luongo returns as a member of the Canucks.
What About Vokoun?
LeBrun: I know everyone wants to write off Toronto but I still think the Leafs could sneak in there if there's a rebate sale on Luongo. Other more likely names are Tomas Vokoun, who is an unrestricted free agent on July 1 and Anders Lindback in Nashville, a young backup who's a restricted free agent. It's believed Vokoun turned down a lucrative offer from the KHL because he wants to stick in the NHL and see what's out there and I think he believes Toronto could be a fit.
Looking For a Goalie?
McKenzie: I wonder if Vokoun or a veteran goaltender like him might be an option for the Philadelphia Flyers. We know they're fully committed to Ilya Bryzgalov, he's got a contract that makes them fully committed, but I also think there's a sense in Philadelphia that (Sergei) Bobrovsky is not experienced enough as the backup to work in tandem with the inconsistent Bryzgalov and that they are looking for veteran help there.
Down To Two
McKenzie: Bob Hartley was obviously a candidate in Montreal but now all the talk we're hearing is the Montreal Canadiens coaching search is likely down to two people: former Pittsburgh Penguins coach Michel Therrien and Marc Crawford. A lot of people believe that Therrien may be the frontrunner. This has been a thorough search with multiple interviews going on and that process continues but it's not likely to generate a name until next week.
Hartley in Calgary
Dreger: The Hartley hiring in Calgary is interesting, given that he had a multi-year contract with Zurich in the Swiss Elite League. The Flames aren't completely off the hook on this one, having to pay some compensation to Zurich but they will not disclose what it was; there is a confidentiality issue there. In asking general manager Jay Feaster whether the hiring of Hartley has any impact on the heavy lifting he may or may not do in the offseason, he said you don't hire a coach like Hartley if you're going to trade away your veteran players like Jarome Iginla.
Dreger: We know Washington Capitals general manager George McPhee is talking to some potential coaching candidates but don't discount the possibility of hiring from within. There are strong internal candidates there in Dean Evason and Jim Johnson.
LeBrun: I don't think Pittsburgh Penguins centre Jordan Staal is available yet but he might be. Right now, the Penguins have received phone calls from other teams inquiring about his availability but I believe the plan in Pittsburgh is to try to sign Staal and Sidney Crosby to extensions because they're a year out from their contracts expiring. If they can't get both done and it starts to get complicated, then I think Staal is back on the table.
Dealing With Schultz
McKenzie: It's going to be very difficult for Anaheim Ducks general manager Bob Murray to make a deal involving defensive prospect Justin Schultz. He's certainly out there trying to make it happen and there's lots of teams interested. Every NHL team will want this guy when he becomes an unrestricted free agent, which is likely to happen before July 1 but I can see the Vancouver Canucks, Toronto Maple Leafs and Edmonton Oilers among others being extremely interested. But it's going to be tough for Murray to get anything for Schultz. It looks like he's going to unrestricted free agency.