TSN Hockey Insiders Darren Dreger, Pierre LeBrun and Chris Johnston join host Gino Reda to discuss where Barry Trotz may land, the future of Andrew Brunette behind the bench in Florida and the free agent frenzy that is set to begin on July 13.
One of the most attractive free agents out there right now is Barry Trotz. Teams have been wooing him for a while. Is he getting any closer to picking a partner?
LeBrun: He is getting a little closer. What we're told is that Barry Trotz, his intention is to make his decision on his NHL future around July 1st and he's indicated that to a few teams. Now we know, of course – we've reported before – that he's interviewed with the Winnipeg Jets. He's interviewed with the Detroit Red Wings, among other clubs for the head coaching jobs. But we're also told that he has chatted with his old NHL club, the Nashville Predators, about a potential management role with the organization, which has always kind of been rumoured about Barry Trotz. But it's interesting that's yet another option for Barry Trotz potentially.
Dreger: Well, a management position is something that Barry Trotz has been interested in for quite a while now. However, it is important to note that he is going to continue to talk to teams about coaching and is expected to meet again with the Winnipeg Jets next week. So we'll see where that goes. Meanwhile, an interesting scenario happening in Florida and the fact that Andrew Brunette, who was a Jack Adams finalist, coached the Panthers to a Presidents’ Trophy. He very much remains in limbo right now. We're told that the Florida Panthers management, Bill Zito, is talking to other potential coaching candidates. So, it's a delicate one in Florida.
Andrei Kuzmenko, the 26-year-old forward coming off a career year with 20 goals, 53 points in 45 games in the KHL, is being wined and dined by a number of NHL suitors. What's the update on him?
Johnston: He completed his tour of the NHL stops on Friday. The last visit was to the Vancouver Canucks. He made previous stops in Edmonton and Vegas as well. What's interesting here is each of these teams can offer him the same thing. He's going to get an entry level contract on one year. So this tour has allowed him to talk to the teams about where he might fit. Get a feel for the cities as he looks to choose between them. At this point in time, it looks like within the next week or so we'll expect a decision from Kuzmenko and he's someone who's expected after a point-per-game season in the KHL to jump into a top-six roll with whichever NHL team he signs with.
Big news on the Habs front on Thursday when they dealt Shea Weber's contract to Vegas for Evgenii Dadonov. What's next on their to-do list?
LeBrun: There's no question that a Jeff Petry trade is something that the Habs are working on. It's not guaranteed it'll happen, but there's certainly some effort being done right now on that front. The Dallas Stars are a team that has some interest in Jeff Petry, especially if they can't resign pending UFA John Klingberg. I can tell you right now there have not been any talks with Klingberg of late. It looks like he's headed to the UFA market. So, Petry could be a landing spot in Dallas. I'm told Detroit is also a potential destination. Five or six teams have talked to Montreal recently about him.
Dreger: Habs general manager Kent Hughes may not sleep until August. He's got a lot going on right now, including looking at the draft, to augment the first pick overall. The Montreal Canadiens are going to try and move up in other areas of the draft. They've got 14 picks. You're not going to sign 14 drafted players. A crazy thought that's been drifting around the National Hockey League – what if Ken Hughes and management of the Montreal Canadiens were able to land the second pick overall as well from the New Jersey Devils? It seems a tad absurd, but anything is possible. If New Jersey is moving that pick, they've got to get a real significant impact player in return.
The Oilers have been speaking with Kuzmenko, but they're also in talks with a couple of their own pending UFAs.
LeBrun: This week, GM Ken Holland met with Gerry Johannson, the agent for Brett Kulak, who's a pending UFA. The Oilers want to re-sign Brett Kulak. They haven't made him an offer yet. It's got to work for their cap, but it also has to work for Brett Kulak, who I think wants to stay. But obviously it could be a fair deal for both sides. Evander Kane – Ken Holland has indicated to Dan Milstein, the agent for Evander Kane, that they'd like to talk contracts as well. I think there's mutual interest there. I think Kane likes to fit there, but there are other teams circling. Kane is going to meet with his agent next week to formulate a game plan.
What is the status of Filip Forsberg?
Johnston: A player the Nashville Predators would like to bring back to their lineup is Filip Forsberg. But at this point in time, it's not clear if they're going to be able to do that. There hasn't been much progress towards an extension since talks were held in March. The sides have had an ongoing dialogue, but they are dug in at this point in time. And so as we get closer to July 13th, a career long Predator who loves his time in Nashville may face the choice that he has to go to the open market.