TSN Hockey Insiders Darren Dreger, Pierre LeBrun and Bob McKenzie joined host James Duthie to discuss why Jake Virtanen wasn’t suspended for his elbow on Mathieu Perreault, the Oilers’ and Flames’ search for a top-six forward and the goaltending situation in Chicago.
What’s the NHL’s reasoning for not suspending Virtanen?
Mathieu Perreault was frustrated with the NHL’s Department of Player Safety for not imposing discipline following Jake Virtanen’s elbow. What went into the league’s ruling?
Dreger: Well part of it was that it’s believed the elbow wasn’t forceful enough to rise to the level of supplemental discipline and some believe that Virtanen’s elbow actually grazes Mathieu Perreault’s chin/beard but the full impact is absorbed by the shoulder. Now at the very least I think we can all appreciate and agree it’s a minor penalty but it wasn’t called. But obviously that would not suffice with Mathieu Perreault who was very upset, mostly because of his concussion history.
LeBrun: And a busy week for the National Hockey League in a couple of their offices because George Parros and Colin Campbell were on the phone on Wednesday in separate calls with the general managers from the Battle of Alberta trying to calm those waters down ahead of the Jan. 29 rematch between these two rivals and specifically I think the NHL certainly took issue with some of the comments that came out this week as this battle continues off the ice, in particular of course Zack Kassian talking about some form of retribution. So know this – George Parros is expected to be in the building for the Jan. 29 game. Both GMs have been warned about calming this down.
Phaneuf’s next steps?
Dion Phaneuf has been seen around the Maple Leafs the past few days, but it might not be for what you’d think. So, what’s he doing?
McKenzie: The last couple of days and for the next couple of days Dion Phaneuf is going to be shadowing Brendan Shanahan, the president of the Toronto Maple Leafs, and it has nothing to do with signing him as an emergency fill-in on the blueline or coming back to the National Hockey League. Now, I should point out. Dion has not officially retired from hockey, he would like another opportunity somewhere but the reason he is in Toronto is simply to get a look at the business of hockey and he reached out to Brendan Shanahan, asked if he could come in, get a feel for what the whole Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment operation off the ice is all about. That’s what he’s been doing. He’ll also be at NHL hockey ops on the weekend checking things out from their perspective.
What are the Flames looking for?
As the trade deadline gets closer and closer, what are Brad Treliving’s plans for the Calgary Flames?
LeBrun: Well they had their amateur scouting meetings this week in Niagara Falls. Now, you may remember they traded Michael Frolik to the Buffalo Sabres a few weeks back. That created some valuable cap space and they intend to use it. They hope to add a top-six forward, a right-hand shot. That’s a key criteria for the Calgary Flames and it makes me think there’s certainly some interest in Tyler Toffoli from the LA Kings, among other targets.
Dreger: And the Battle of Alberta may drift off the ice as well because the Edmonton Oilers are also looking for a top-six forward. Not sure about the Flames but I believe the Edmonton Oilers are going to pay close attention to what happens with the Toronto Maple Leafs. Again, speculation around the likes of Kasperi Kapanen, Andreas Johnsson, maybe Alex Kerfoot. And another team to watch? The Minnesota Wild. I’m told that Bill Guerin is open for business and part of the trade bait list could include veteran defenceman Mathew Dumba.
Goalie controversy in Chicago?
Is there a decision coming between Corey Crawford and Robin Lehner in the crease for the Blackhawks?
McKenzie: Yeah, for sure. The Chicago Blackhawks are surging, they want to make the playoffs but they’ve also got a bigger picture to decide. Are they rebuilding in terms of a soft rebuild? Or are they trying to go for it and makes the playoffs. As part of that, what are they going to do with their goaltenders? Both have played well but both are unrestricted free agents at the end of this year. Robin Lehner has made it known there won’t be any hometown discounts, he needs a long-term deal for big money to play off of his success after last year and this year. And Corey Crawford publicly said recently ‘I don’t want to be anybody’s backup’ and he’s also had a good year now that he’s been healthy. Stan Bowman has a decision to make at some point. Does he trade one of these guys? Which one can he sign? And I would imagine in the days and weeks ahead they will get down to brass tacks in terms of talking contract to both guys to see what the expectations are and how that decision is going to go before the deadline.
LeBrun: If and when Robin Lehner becomes available by the way, keep an eye on Carolina. They tried to sign him last summer and I think they’d like to add more insurance in goal. That’s a guy they have on their list.