TSN Hockey Insiders Bob McKenzie, Darren Dreger, and Pierre LeBrun join host Gino Reda to discuss Chris Kreider's trade value ahead of the deadline, where the Maples Leafs stand with Jake Muzzin, and the NHL's investigation into the Arizona Coyotes.

Gino Reda: Well gentlemen, the trade deadline is now just over three weeks away. If you're looking for a winger who can score, on an expiring contract, you better hurry because there's big demand for one guy in particular. 

Embedded ImagePierre LeBrun: Yeah and it's not to say the trade will happen that much ahead of Feb. 24 but there are at least eight teams, we believe, that have expressed interest in Chris Kreider, who tops the TSN trade bait list. No surprise there. 

The asking price will be similar, at least, to what the New York Rangers got last year for Kevin Hayes, when he went to the Winnipeg Jets. Remember, that the Rangers got Brendan Lemieux and a first-round pick from the Jets. So a hefty price if you're getting Chris Kreider this year. We should know, the Rangers have not lost hope on trying to re-sign Chris Kreider but as of Thursday, no contract talks yet between Kreider's camp and the New York Rangers. 

Reda: Toronto Maple Leafs have three defencemen, Muzzin, Barrie, and Ceci, all averaging over 20 minutes per game, all on expiring contracts. Any progress on any of those fronts? 

Embedded ImageBob McKenzie: Well there's no question Jake Muzzin's on record saying he'd like to come back and stay with the Toronto Maple Leafs. And I think there's no question, I think, that the Toronto Maple Leafs want Jake Muzzin back, for both sides, under the right set of circumstances. 

We reported last week that there have been some preliminary discussions. We expect that to pick up in the days to come, when there is an expectation that the Leafs management will be meeting with Muzzin's rep to try and further those contract talks. 

Too soon to say exactly where it'll go but, as I said, both sides want to get something done, so this is the next logical step.

Reda: Interesting development inside the league now, it looks like the NHL may be investigating the Arizona Coyotes for alleged recruiting violations. 

Darren Dreger: It's an ongoing National Hockey League investigation, yes, into allegations that Arizona allegedly has been fitness testing draft eligible Canadian Hockey League players. 

Now the OHL, the Western Hockey League, and the QMJHL all sent out emails to their respective junior teams asking that any contact be reported. Now according to sources, multiple teams have returned to say "yes, there has been contact." 

It is clearly defined by the National Hockey league that there cannot be any physical testing before the NHL combine. If guilt is established, and again it's an ongoing investigation, the Arizona Coyotes could face substantial fines. $250,000 or more per incident at the discretion of NHL commissioner Gary Bettman.

Reda: Interesting story surrounding the Boston Bruins right now. The writing was on the wall for David Backes. He's only played 16 games this year, just one goal so far. So they send him to the minors but they told him he doesn't have to go.

Embedded ImageMcKenzie: It's kind of an interesting scenario. You're right, David Backes, right now the Bruins don't need him in the lineup. They do need his roster spot, hence the assignment to providence of the American Hockey League. 

But because he's a veteran and because he's got a good relationship with them, the Bruins basically said to him, "you don't need to report." And so the Bruins will get to bury about a million dollars of his $6 million cap hit in the minors, that's standard CBA stuff. No circumvention of the cap or anything along those lines. 

What's unique is that Backes doesn't have to report and yet he's still going to get fully paid. Not only is he going to get fully paid, he's actually going to get a raise, because when you're assigned to Providence in the American Hockey League there's no escrow down there.

Not an ideal situation for either side. They're taking it a day at a time right now but they need the roster spot and he's down collecting more money than he'd make [if he was playing] in the NHL. 

Reda: We're a couple of weeks away from the firing of Gerard Gallant. The dust has settled a bit. We were all shocked. You spoke to him on Thursday, what did he have to say? 

Embedded ImageLeBrun: Well he says in the last four or five days he's finally starting to be in a better place.He did take it hard. He was surprised that he got the axe in that situation. His team just a couple points out of a playoff spot. But he is turning the page at a terrific time in Vegas. And now the question is, what next? 

What he told me Thursday is that he is in no rush. He's going to use the rest of the year to decompress. He's enjoying spending time with family, in fact he's in Vegas this week tying up some loose ends. He says he has not spoken with any teams since his firing. His phone has been quiet that way. 

I think what you'll see in the off-season is quite a rush to get to Gerard Gallant, is my expectation. he has a year and a half left on his contract in Vegas. The team that intrigues me the most, is the team that hasn't played a game yet. The Seattle expansion franchise. 

The story line is unbelievable, obviously, but the timing is not perfect. They don't play for a year and a half. Is there a way to bridge that gap to make it work? We'll see. 

Reda: Briefly back to recruiting, it looks like there might be an age change moving forward. Tell us about that. 

Dreger: Well there's lobbying that's going on around the minimum age requirement. Some top player agents are lobbying the National Hockey League Players' Association to follow the model that is in place now in Sweden. 

Now, you cannot approach a player before his 16th birth year. And top player agents in North America want to embrace a similar model because some of the bird dogs out there around the minor hockey rinks are approaching these kids or their families at age 12 or 13 and most of us wouldn't like that.