TSN Hockey Insiders Darren Dreger, Chris Johnston and Pierre LeBrun joined host Lindsay Hamilton to discuss the NHL’s investigation into Evander Kane, what J.T. Miller’s market is looking like going into the trade deadline as well as an update on the Arizona Coyotes arena search.
NHL investigation into Kane
The NHL concluded Evander Kane will not receive discipline for an alleged COVID-19 protocol breach. What took the league so long in their investigation?
Dreger: Well, we’re talking about serious allegations. And there was an extensive investigation done by an outside firm. Not just the NHL head office. And the firm had to go through all of the details to fully determine that Evander Kane did not knowingly breach NHL COVID protocol. Now, the Edmonton Oilers would suggest that they knew as early as this past weekend that there was not going to be any additional discipline thrown Kane’s way and Evander Kane’s camp would say something similar. But what we now know is that he will soon join the Edmonton Oilers as he’s agreed to a contract for the remainder of this year that will pay him roughly $1 million. He’ll get $625,000 in a signing bonus and half of his $750,000 salary based on the remainder of the time left in the NHL regular season. And the deal includes a full no-move clause. So, Evander Kane is an Oiler.
What’s Miller’s market looking like?
With just under two months to go until the NHL trade deadline, how proactive should teams interested in Canucks forward J.T. Miller be?
LeBrun: My sense of that situation is that if you are a contender that plans to bid on J.T. Miller closer to the March 21 trade deadline, you better make your best deal prior to March 21. I think that’s the message that the Canucks’ front office is going to share with contenders calling on J.T. Miller. Now, the Canucks’ front office has a few things to consider here because it’s not a guarantee they move him. He’s got a year and a half left on his deal. The front office, with new general manager Patrick Allvin, has to ask this question – where would the Canucks be in two years time when J.T. Miller’s deal is up? Is he part of what they view as the team moving forward? Number two, this team needs young prospects, more prospects in the pipeline. If a team steps up with three to four prospects, three to four assets, it’s something they’ve probably got to look at. And number three, is their best deal for J.T. Miller before this deadline, or is it in the off-season at the draft when he has a year left? None of those questions are answered yet but it’s something the Canucks’ revamped front office is going to tackle over the next couple of weeks.
What’s the latest with the Coyotes’ arena?
Reports swirled Thursday about the Arizona Coyotes looking into making an NCAA arena their interim home. Any update on if something like this could happen?
Johnston: It should be noted that the search at this point remains entirely in Arizona, it hasn’t gone any further than that. And it’s led them to a somewhat surprising place, and that’s the campus of the University of Arizona where a new rink is being completed. And the reason I call it a surprise it because there’s only 5,000 seats in this venue and it’s something the Coyotes are actually quite excited about the possibility of going on. This is a place they could potentially play for three to four years while their new rink project goes ahead in Tempe. It’s very close to where that rink would be built in Tempe which they see as a positive and at this point the league seems to be on board as well. The league doesn’t have any rules in terms of how [many] seats have to be in the building because they view it as a temporary home much like the New York Islanders played for many years in Nassau Coliseum and in Brooklyn before going to Belmont. This is a temporary solution albeit one that could be a couple years for the Coyotes.
Contract extensions being negotiated in Pittsburgh?
Both Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang are in the final year of their contracts. Has there been any progress toward an extension made with either player?
Dreger: Well, there have been initial contract discussions. And I’m not even sure to be fair to qualify them as negotiations at this point. Obviously Ron Hextall, the general manager of the Pittsburgh Penguins, is getting work done this week in signing Jeff Carter. I don’t believe that there’s going to be much of a stalling process with Letang or Malkin. The Penguins have been talking to the Letang camp now for a while and Malkin, again, just based on entry-level discussions over the last couple of weeks. But they do have to hammer out term and money. But obviously both players and the organization want to keep the family intact.
What about the Ducks’ GM search?
Bob Murray resigned as Anaheim Ducks general manager last fall. How close is the club to finding his replacement?
LeBrun: We’re being told that the Ducks have wrapped up the first round of interviews. They’ve interviewed 10 candidates. Three in-house as we’ve discussed before. Two of the external candidates, Pat Verbeek, assistant GM from Detroit, and Ryan Martin, assistant GM from the New York Rangers. The Ducks plan to start the second round of interviews shortly here. They should have a GM in place certainly in the next month.