The World Juniors have been targeted to get going August 8-19 in Alberta, but will all the big-name players be able to participate? Have the Canucks decided not to sell players like J.T. Miller ahead of the trade deadline? Which Canadian team has shown interest in Flyers defenceman Justin Braun? TSN Hockey Insiders Chris Johnston, Pierre LeBrun and Darren Dreger have more.
On the heels of Canada’s huge win in the gold medal game, some big international hockey news on the horizon.
Darren Dreger – The World Junior Hockey Championship, as confirmed by president of the IIHF Luc Tardif, will be held in Alberta in mid-August. I think we can be a bit more specific, the targeted dates are August 8-19, but they need full sign off from the participating teams and they should get that by the end of the Olympics. However, I wouldn’t expect some of the headline players, specifically for Team Canada, like Owen Power, Cole Perfetti, maybe Mason McTavish, to be part of this. It’s not etched in stone, but their focus more likely to be on NHL training and NHL camps. Now in the meantime, you have got the ongoing discussion between the NHL and the Players’ Association on the 2024 World Cup of Hockey. There was a meeting between the two groups Thursday morning. I’m told the IIHF is very much interested in bringing the World Cup of Hockey back; however, there are some NHL owners that need more information. Again, you’re talking about a shutdown of the regular season of the National Hockey League if they host it in February, so preliminary is the key word. A lot of work to be done before they sign off on the World Cup of Hockey in 2024.
For some teams, the pre trade deadline plan is pretty cut and dry, but for others it’s a shifting landscape. Could the Vancouver Canucks be reconsidering their plan?
Pierre LeBrun – Depends on who you ask. Certainly, I checked with a couple NHL front offices over the past few days who feel that when they talk to Vancouver lately, it feels like J.T. Miller has been reeled back in by the Canucks. Now, we’re a month away from the trade deadline, so perhaps a bit of cat and mouse, but I think the message is clear from the Vancouver Canucks to other teams, they don’t feel they have to trade J.T. Miller. He’s got a year-and-a-half left on his deal and this notion that J.T. Miller’s worth is higher now than it would be this summer, the Canucks’ front office does not believe that. They feel they can get as much for him in the summer as they can now and by the way, maybe they’ll just sign him this summer, so all options are on the table. Translation is this, if you’re the New York Rangers, or any other team, you have got to step up in a meaningful way to get the Canucks’ attention on J.T. Miller, or else they’re happy to keep him.
Cap gymnastics may never become an official Olympic event, but is it now becoming a much needed skill in the NHL?
Chris Johnston – It is, specifically for a team like the Toronto Maple Leafs. You look to the move Thursday, where they put Adam Brooks on waivers one day after reclaiming him from Vegas and that leaves some people scratching their head. When you look at that actual transaction, should he clear on Friday as expected, the Leafs reclaimed some centre depth, a player that they did draft once upon a time. They actually opened up a little bit of cap space with the series of moves that they would’ve had to make and I think this is a good reminder in these next four weeks to really closely scrutinize what Toronto does, because while they have a tight cap, I believe they are looking for a forward potentially, in addition to their stated No. 1 priority of adding a defenceman as well.
LeBrun – Speaking of that, one name to keep an eye on with the Leafs and other contenders is a name that’s more under the radar in terms of defencemen, Justin Braun. Not a very sexy name, but at this time of year, those are the types of trades that while they don’t get a lot of attention, those are the type of playoff additions that end up paying off. Justin Braun who has played 100 career NHL playoff games, he’s playing in a Top-4 role in Philly, the Flyers are going to deal him, he’s a pending UFA. He only makes $1.8 million and to be honest that’s probably one of the reasons why the Flyers have heard from half-a-dozen teams over the last couple weeks. Carolina is another team that’s called, we’ll see where this goes. He’s not a Plan A guy, he’s probably not even a Plan B guy, but he’s on a lot of lists in case teams strike out on bigger names on defence.
Earlier this week, they rolled out video of the Arizona Coyotes’ new 5,000 seat arena that’s still under construction. It was pretty sad to think about an NHL team calling that home, even temporarily. Now the Players’ Association is voicing some concerns about it?
Johnston – As if there isn’t enough to talk about between the league and the Players’ Association, another item on their agenda is what happens with hockey-related revenue and who covers potential losses with the Coyotes going to a 5,000 seat arena. It’s a little early in those talks to forecast where exactly it ends up, but at this point in time the players are worried that they are going to have to foot half the bill if the Coyotes do lower their HRR number and that’s something they’re working through with the NHL.