TSN Hockey Insiders Bob McKenzie, Darren Dreger and Pierre LeBrun gathered for the latest installment of Insider Trading and the topics discussed were the firing of Columbus Blue Jackets GM Scott Howson, the Ryan O'Reilly situation with the Colorado Avalanche and realignment in the NHL.
Why was Columbus Blue Jackets General Manager Scott Howson fired and who will be hired to fill that job?
Dreger: It was a combination of analysis according to Blue Jackets President John Davidson who I spoke with earlier. He said the decision was made today and it was based on him taking over the presidential duties and analyzing the team from top to bottom. Team being the operative word, because in Davidson's words they are trying to build a better Blue Jackets organization and team. He said Howson handled the news professionally and that they aren't going to drag out the process, they already have a short list in mind and it's not going to be weeks but days before they announce a replacement. The names will be thrown out there but one that we need to pay close attention to is Jarmo Kekalainen who we know Davidson has high regard for and worked closely with in St. Louis, he'll be on that list of top contenders.
McKenzie: My experience is when a general manager gets fired and you have a new president in a new organization like Davidson is in Columbus, historically those people generally look to their sphere of influence people they've worked with before, someone they trust or know intimately. Davidson, during his time in St. Louis, obviously saw the work Jarmo Kekalainen did as the director of amateur scouting when he brought in T.J. Oshie, Patrick Berglund and many others and also did the same job with great success for the Ottawa Senators so Kekalainen is definitely a name I would focus on.
LeBrun: Another name you have to think about is Ron Hextall who some people think it's time for him to become a general manager. He was an assistant GM on the Stanley Cup champion L.A. Kings and people feel he's ready. One name you can take off the list is John Davidson who will not be taking over as general manager, a lot of people were rumouring that but he will not be taking over. Whoever is the next GM inherits three first round picks from Scott Howson courtesy of the Rick Nash and Jeff Carter trades as well as their own pick.
Is the restricted free-agent situation with Ryan O'Reilly and the Colorado Avalanche reaching a breaking point?
McKenzie: There has been some talk in the hockey community over the last couple of days that perhaps O'Reilly has asked the Avalanche to trade him. I've asked the Avalanche and O'Reilly's representation about those rumours that are out there and neither of them was interested in responding, either rejecting or confirming. It might be a moot point because there are teams out there that believe that while a week or two ago the Avalanche were under no circumstances thinking about making a trade now maybe they would consider dealing O'Reilly. The negotiations are not going well, the Avalanche want him to take the same deal Matt Duchene took, 2 years $3.5 Million, they've offered a longer deal, 5 years, $17 Million. O'Reilly wants to be paid based on how he played last year, Avalanche want to pay him based on the three years of entry level comparable to Duchene. This thing is ugly and it will be interesting to see if these talks get any traction.
Dreger: Sources say there are trade discussions between the Avalanche and Eastern Conference teams. One team told me earlier that the expected return is a roster player and a top prospect. There is going to have to be a tough decision for Greg Sherman and the Avalanche as they sit last in the Western Conference and they might be thinking about the draft and building for the future.
Is Edmonton Oilers defenceman Ryan Whitney likely to get moved?
Dreger: There is interest in Ryan Whitney because there is always interest in veteran defenceman, especially those that have offensive upside. Whitney isn't happy and I'm sure he would welcome the chance to get playing time somewhere else but general manager Steve Tambellini says he simply needs Whitney to play better and isn't actively trying to move him.
Are we any closer to realignment?
LeBrun: The PA and the League met on Tuesday in Toronto to advance that discussion. The PA has to sign off on it as we know from December 2011. The owners could have a vote in two weeks for a new realignment, four conferences though some of the teams have switched around from the format they agreed on in December 2011.