TSN Hockey Insiders Darren Dreger, Bob McKenzie and Pierre LeBrun joined host James Duthie to discuss Wayne Gretzky growing the game in China, Canadian teams odds in the draft lottery, Eeli Tolvanen set to join the Preds, Washington possibly doing a sign and trade on John Carlson and College free agent Daniel Brickley. 

Wayne Gretzky growing the game in China? 

James Duthie: Wayne Gretzky grew hockey in California so he took care of the West, now he’s going to take care of the East, Dregs, as in Far East.

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Darren Dreger: As in China. I expect an announcement to come out in the next several days announcing that Wayne Gretzky is partnering with some very powerful people in China to build the game.

Now it could start with something as simple as having Wayne Gretzky’s name on hundreds of arenas being built in China.

Many hockey academies will be in Wayne Gretzky’s name and his son Ty will help operate some hockey camps with the Wayne Gretzky brand attached. 

Along with a Wayne Gretzky equipment line, which could turn out to be very lucrative when you consider that China’s grassroots plan is to introduce hockey to hundreds of thousands of young players over the next four years. This is a big deal for Wayne Gretzky.

Draft Lottery is up for grabs

James Duthie: The Draft Lottery takes place in less than a month and we finally have the exact odds, Pierre.

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Pierre LeBrun: We do and, obviously, they had to be readjusted for the first time in NHL history because 15 teams have missed the NHL playoffs, so the league re-jigged it and the NHLPA signed off on it Friday.

As we look at the board - a lot of Canadian cities - Vancouver have the third-best odds if it was held today and Ottawa at four, Montreal at six and that’s noteworthy because last year New Jersey went from the fifth-best odds to first overall.

Edmonton is at 10 and Calgary, well, it’s not their pick, (it) belongs to the New York Islanders, and while the odds are pretty miniscule for that Calgary pick, it’s worth remembering that Philadelphia went from 13 to two in the draft lottery last season. I’m not trying to give Calgary Flames fans a heart attack but those are your odds and certainly a good chance of a lot of movement again this year.

Eeli ready to excel? 

James Duthie: Nashville Predators at the exact opposite end of the standings, first overall and about to get better, Robert?

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Bob McKenzie: No question about that. As long as there is no immigration hiccups, Eeli Tolvanen, their first round from 2017, the 30th overall selection in last year’s draft, is going to be on a plane from Finland to Nashville.

 If that happens I would assume that his contract is likely to get registered with the National Hockey League, perhaps as early as Thursday. The Preds play Thursday night but there’s no sense that he would be in the lineup that quickly. It may take a little while to process this and they also want to get him some rest. But Saturday could be the first game that he plays in the National Hockey League.

Speaking of the contract, it’s remarkable. The 30th overall pick in the draft is getting the same contract that Auston Matthews or Connor McDavid would get. This guy’s got so much leverage he could have stayed in the KHL with Jokerit, so he got the max deal that’s reserved for number one overall picks and he’s obviously a great sniper and Nashville is looking forward to working him into their lineup down the stretch.

Caps looking to sign and trade Carlson?

James Duthie: Guys, you’ve been talking about the possibility of a sign and trade for John Tavares if he doesn’t want to return to the Islanders. Pierre, could there be other guys that do the sign and trade? We haven’t seen it in the NHL.

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Pierre LeBrun: I would say that whatever remote chance there is of John Tavares doing one it’s certainly a possibility, his camp is examining that. The same would hold true for John Carlson, the number one UFA defenceman on this year’s market. He just happens to be leading all defencemen in scoring, perfect timing.

 I think his preference is to re-sign in Washington, I know the Caps are going to make that a number one priority but they have challenges with their salary cap. It’s going to be tough to fit that in because the number keeps growing every day. The only reason there’s a possibility of a sign and trade is if the eighth year matters that much to John Carlson.

I think it is of importance to him and, of course, from Washington’s perspective if they can’t sign him, they get something in return if they give him that eighth year and trade him a trade so that’s something to keep an eye on with John Carlson.

Brickley narrowing down his signing destination

James Duthie: Before (the) NHL free-agent season, it’s college free-agent season. Daniel Brickley is a highly sought after defenceman from Minnesota State. Bob, he’s submitted a short list of teams or has narrowed it down to short list and we know he’s not coming to Canada?

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Bob McKenzie: He’s not going to be on a Canadian team but is looking right now very closely at three U.S.-based teams. He’s visited the Detroit Red Wings yesterday (Monday), visiting the San Jose Sharks today (Tuesday) and scheduled to visit the Los Angeles Kings on Wednesday.

Now there is talk that there might be as many as five teams on his list, so two more unidentified teams beyond those three. But those three would appear to be the front-runners and get the personal visits from Brickley who should make a decision by the weekend.