TSN Hockey Insiders Bob McKenzie, Pierre LeBrun and Darren Dreger gathered for the latest installment of Insider Trading and the topics discussed included bubble players for Team Canada, NHL expansion, Morgan Rielly's status for the World Juniors, Dion Phaneuf's contract talks and more.
Q: Team Canada announces their Olympic roster three weeks from today. Who is general manager Steve Yzerman watching?
LeBrun: Over the last 48 hours, he's taken in the home-and-home between the Dallas Stars and Colorado Avalanche with Jamie Benn and Matt Duchene being the obvious targets. They're both on the bubble to make that team. Another candidate to a certain degree is Tyler Seguin but I would suggest he's a longshot at this point. The depth at centre and right wing and the immaturity in Seguin's game probably hurt him from making Team Canada.
Q: What the latest on NHL expansion? Where and when?
McKenzie: The NHL party line hasn't changed. There are no formal plans for expansion but if they expand and everyone assumes at some point, they're going to, the common knowledge is that Seattle is the primary target in the Pacific Northwest. The strong sense I'm getting now is that Las Vegas is second on that list behind Seattle and the NHL wants to be the first major professional sports league to put a franchise in Las Vegas. People in Quebec City may be saying, 'Hey, what about us?' Well, keep in mind, there's no rule that says if they expand, that they only expand by two teams. The possibility of expanding by three teams, with Quebec City being one of them, is at least something that will be considered. There's lots of money in expansion; over $300 million per franchise, close to a $1 billion winfall that isn't shared with the players or anyone else, just the owners.
Q: What's the latest with the Toronto Maple Leafs?
Dreger: Hockey Canada is awaiting word from the Toronto Maple Leafs, specifically on Morgan Rielly. General manager Dave Nonis is expected to meet with head coach Randy Carlyle on Wednesday to get a clearer view on how Carlyle intends to play Rielly. If he's going to continue to play him, then he's not going to the World Junior Hockey Championship in Sweden. That decision will made prior to Thursday. The labour-intensive negotiations with Dion Phaneuf continue. His deal will get done to keep him captain of the Maple Leafs. It's believed to be in the vicinity of seven years at $7 million plus per season. It's not quite done yet. They're still squeezing.
McKenzie: If Rielly is loaned to Team Canada, there's an excellent chance he could be the captain of the team. If not, it could be Scott Laughton.
Q: What is the latest on the vacant general manager positions in Buffalo and Calgary?
McKenzie: The Sabres' search continues and they're looking at some time in the New Year, probably in January or February, likely before the Olympics but no absolute guarantee. I thought the Calgary search might heat up really quickly and get done a lot sooner than Buffalo but now I'm starting to get the opposite feeling. While Brian Burke has received permission from the Dallas Stars to talk to Joe Nieuwendyk, he actually hasn't reached out to him yet. There's speculation that Nieuwendyk maybe isn't ready to jump back into the general manager's market at this time and Burke has not yet asked for permission to talk to anyone else. This might be one that carries on for months and maybe longer if they realize the person they want is not available until the end of the year.
Q: Any repercussions for Brad Marchand's antics against the Vancouver Canucks on Saturday?
LeBrun: I would say he had actually changed his ways until Saturday night and that's what was so disappointing to the Bruins. The Bruins were not impressed with him kissing his ring and I've been told it's been dealt with internally and he knows not to act that way again.
Dreger: There are ongoing debates and discussions about concussions and, while the league does not publicize the numbers anymore and I'm told the number of concussion is consistent to past years but the man-games lost to injury because of concussions is down.
LeBrun: I said a month ago the Ottawa Senators were working the phones looking for a puck-moving defenceman but they didn't find one. They checked in on Michael Del Zotto with the New York Rangers but didn't go anywhere with that. Well, Cody Ceci, who scored the overtime winner on Monday, has filled that role internally so far.
Dreger: Team Sweden is telling all around the World Junior Hockey Championship that Elias Lindholm of the Carolina Hurricanes will be on their team. There's a 90 per cent chance that happens but the Hurricanes haven't officially signed off on it but I expect that to happen this week.