With the lockout-shortened NHL season underway, TSN Hockey Insiders Bob McKenzie, Darren Dreger and Pierre LeBrun gathered for the latest installment of Insider Trading. Among the topics discussed were the rumours of Wayne Gretzky becoming the next president of the Toronto Maple Leafs, Mike Gillis' comments on trading Robert Luongo, the NHL once again taking a look at staged fighting and the exceptional status of 15-year-old Sean Day.
Is Wayne Gretzky going to be the next president of the Toronto Maple Leafs?
McKenzie - The rumour is constantly out there and it floats every so often. What I can tell is that there has been absolutely no official contact between Maple Leafs Sports and Entertainment and Wayne Gretzky or his representatives, none whatsoever. After the Bell and Rogers consortium took over MLSE in August, Gretzky's name may have come up internally in informal discussions as a potential president or goodwill ambassador. There may have been some third party that informally relayed that to Gretzky and his group, but at the end of the day, no formal contact has been made over the last couple of months. Having said all that, this is one job in hockey that Gretzky would seriously consider taking himself out of semi-retirement to accept.
Dreger - This rumour surfaced a couple weeks ago when Brian Burke was relieved of his duties and via text at that time, Gretzky said he has never received word or talked to the Toronto Maple Leafs. That was then and this is now, but that was a very direct statement.
Are Vancouver Canucks GM Mike Gillis' comments that he has a Roberto Luongo deal in place accurate?
LeBrun - I can tell you, via sources, that Robert Luongo is still a member of the Vancouver Canucks. They are not closer to trading him, despite the kerfuffle that was caused with Mike Gillis' quote in Cam Cole's column.
Is there another team out there we haven't spent a lot of time on? What about the Philadelphia Flyers? If the season ends and Luongo is still a member of the Canucks, I believe the Flyers could still be a factor if Ilya Bryzgalov has another terrible season and they are willing to buy him out. Until then, I don't see the Flyers as a possible trade partner. Toronto remains the number one destination and whether Gillis was trying to smoke out the Leafs, that's a possibility, but they believe they are the only trade partner and they are trying to wait out Vancouver. It's a game of chicken.
Will Nino Niederreiter's trade request be granted?
Dreger - I had a chance to speak with New York Islanders GM Garth Snow and he was surprised and taken aback by the trade request from Nino Niederreiter's agent. Snow said he spoke to Niederreiter during training camp and he seemed happy. They love the way he's playing in the American Hockey League with Bridgeport and they believe he's going to be a good fit in their top six at some point in the future, just not right now. If there is going to be a Niederreiter trade, it's going to come at great expense.
Is the NHL going to crack down on staged fighting?
LeBrun - The league has talked about staged fighting internally, this pops up every few years. As of right now, no memo has been sent out. The league is probably going to bring it up at the GM meetings in March or April if this continues to be a trend so look for that discussion to take place.
Will Sean Day be granted exceptional status to play in the CHL?
Dreger - It has to go through an appeal process of Hockey Canada, the reason being he is a Canadian citizen by way of having a Canadian passport; he does not have a US passport. He did not play in the Canadian system and that language is important to the exceptional player status. Once it gets passed by appeal, assuming it does, then it goes to exceptional review and ultimately, that deadline is February 15th.
How will the Ducks deal with impending UFA's Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry?
McKenzie - It's going to hang over them all season until something goes one way or the other. I can tell you that Pat Morris, the agent for Corey Perry, is heading to California in the next week or 10 days, not necessarily to speak to GM Bob Murray of the Anaheim Ducks, but to sit down with Perry to have a strategy session about whether they are going to negotiate or go to free agency. The representative for Ryan Getzlaf, Gerry Johannson, will initiate dialogue soon on a contract; there was a lot of it last season. I think everyone gets the sense that Getzlaf is a good bet to re-sign with the Ducks, the jury is very much out on Corey Perry.