Are the Oilers and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins close to a contract extension? Which former Olympic gold medalist is expected to be Canada's GM at the IIHF World Championship? Will the Panthers move one of their goalies? TSN Hockey Insiders Darren Dreger, Pierre LeBrun and Frank Seravalli discuss this and more.
Oilers, RNH struggling to find common ground
Frank Seravalli: No meaningful progress but that certainly [is] not for a lack of trying. I’m told that the Oilers tabled a recent offer to Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and his camp but it was one that wasn’t flattering; I believe in the five-year term, certainly not one that Nugent-Hopkins was rushing to find a table to sign. At this point, these two sides are going to continue talking, that’s what they’ve agreed to. They’re going to continue the dialogue and see if they can work something out and I have zero sense at this point that the Oilers have any interest in moving Nugent-Hopkins before the trade deadline even without a deal done. They’d like to keep him and try and find a way to win as well as keep him locked up long term. We’ll see if they can do that.
Luongo expected to be Team Canada GM at worlds
Daren Dreger: The expectation is that Roberto Luongo of the Florida Panthers will be named general manager of Team Canada for the upcoming men’s worlds as early as next week. This doesn’t come as a surprise. Luongo is part of the Olympic team staff as well. He’s going to face some big challenges. Recruiting is going to be top of mind for Luongo, which is part of the reason why Hockey Canada would go to Luongo given everything the players have gone through in the NHL — the shortened season and the challenges associated with the COVID-19 protocols. Recruiting is tough but he’s ready to face that challenge. I would expect, though, for Team Canada to be relatively young.
Panthers getting calls on Driedger after Knight signing
Pierre LeBrun: The Panthers signed first-round pick Spencer Knight, the World Juniors star, on Wednesday. That was immediately met by several NHL teams reaching out to Panthers general manager Bill Zito, I’m told, wondering what that meant for pending UFA goalie Chris Driedger, who has had a really good year. And the answer from Zito, I think, to teams was ‘we don’t know yet.’ There is a possibility now that Driedger gets dealt, now that the Panthers have signed Knight. There have even been a couple of trade offers that were made on the spot on Wednesday, I’m told, in lieu of this news. Keep an eye on this as Driedger is a cheap cap hit and there are teams looking for goalie insurance and Driedger would certainly top the list for a lot of those teams.
Kucherov still aiming for start of playoffs
Dreger: Tampa Bay Lightning forward Nikita Kucherov has been skating for the last three weeks and his timeline for return from injury remains on point, and that is somewhere around the start of the playoffs which is likely mid-May. This has caused some head-scratching around the NHL given the fact that we know that the Lightning have enormous salary cap issues. The NHL has had multiple conversations with the Lightning and the NHL has no issues. The Lightning are certainly looking forward to having Kucherov back in their lineup for the start of the postseason.
Adding goalie not Leafs priority
LeBrun: My sense is that the Toronto Maple Leafs front office is not panicked and I don’t even get a sense that they’re even calling teams about goalies. The key in all of this is the return of Frederik Andersen. The expectation is that he will come back fully healthy and will not rush back. That’s what happened earlier in the season. I’m told that Andersen rushed back and wasn’t totally a 100 per cent. Jack Campbell was out at the time, so Andersen wanted to do that to help [the] team but that led to the setback that he’s still dealing with. When Andersen is back, he’s going to make sure that he’s back for good. If that’s the case, then the Leafs are happy with their goaltending. Also, Campbell is 7-0. If there is a setback again with Andersen, then that changes the script and Toronto goes out and looks at what’s out there. But right now that’s not the plan.
Luke Hughes out for U18’s in Texas
Seravalli: Team USA has suffered a blow as they get set to host the upcoming under-18’s in Texas, as Luke Hughes, the youngest brother of Quinn and Jack and pending top-five overall pick in the upcoming draft, will miss the U18’s. He underwent surgery for a skate laceration and will be out for approximately six weeks, maybe even a little longer, but he will be healthy well in time to be ready for the NHL combine or whatever the NHL plans to do with its prospects.