TSN Hockey Insiders Darren Dreger and Bob McKenzie join James Duthie to discuss the latest on the Maple Leafs' contract negotiations with Jake Muzzin, Vancouver's plans for the trade deadline, Jacob Markstrom's asking price, the interest around the league in Kyle Palmieri, Blake Coleman and Alec Martinez, and more.
As Toronto Maple Leafs fans wonder if they’ll be able to get another defenceman by trade deadline, the Leafs simultaneously work on keeping one of their current defencemen. What’s the latest on Jake Muzzin?
Dreger: Well it’s getting closer. It’s not done yet and the expectation is if all things continue to progress in the fashion that they are, that they should have a contract extension in place for Jake Muzzin as early or before trade deadline. Now, understandably because the Maple Leafs are a cap-strapped team, there is some cap gymnastics at play here. There’s some tagging –room concerns. So they’re working on some different scenarios I would say. But the expectation is that Jake Muzzin will be extended by the deadline.
Out in Vancouver, Micheal Ferland [is] getting close to a return. What’s the latest on his status? And how might it impact what Vancouver does before the deadline?
McKenzie: Well he’s going to play in Friday’s game with Utica (AHL) and Sunday’s game in Utica with the farm team of the Vancouver Canucks. And if all goes well in those two games, he will be recalled to Vancouver. He’s expected to play in at least a couple of games next week for the Vancouver Canucks prior to the NHL trade deadline which is a week (from) Monday. I believe that general manager Jim Benning wants to see how Ferland progresses and if he’s back in the lineup and able to play his usual robust style. But we do know that Pierre LeBrun on Insider Trading in a recent edition talked about the interest the Vancouver Canucks may have in Wayne Simmonds, a rental, a physical forward who could be available from those New Jersey Devils. So, we’ll keep an eye on those situations and how Ferland goes, whether Vancouver feels the need to look for more help in that area.
Dreger: Well, regardless of his label as interim general manager, Tom Fitzgerald of the New Jersey Devils is expecting to be very busy. He expects that there will be a ton of activity on some of his players. Yes, Simmonds. You’ve got (Sami) Vatanen, maybe Andy Greene among the pending unrestricted free agents. But there’s a lot of interest in contract players as well. Primarily in Kyle Palmieri and Blake Coleman. When you look at the numbers for Blake Coleman, I think we can all understand and appreciate why there is interest in him. He can certainly fit on all team’s top-nines and comfortably on many contending team’s top-sixes. Most importantly, he’s got one year remaining at $1.8 million so that’s an attractive number.
McKenzie: I think action continues to heat up on Los Angeles Kings defenceman Alec Martinez. Left-shot guy, not a rental. He’s got a year left on his contract after this (season). The going price seems to be a second-round pick to the L.A. Kings, plus a prospect of some type. It is my understanding that amongst the many teams interested: The Winnipeg Jets, Calgary Flames, Florida Panthers and Carolina Hurricanes [are] all to varying degrees [interested in Martinez], depending on the day you ask.
Jacob Markstrom said he was nervous before Sedins Night in Vancouver. Playing in front of his fellow Swedes, who are legends. He didn’t look nervous. Forty-nine-save shutout, one of his best performances. How much might he cost the Vancouver Canucks?
McKenzie: Well it’s really interesting and they’re trying to determine that right now. And there have been negotiations between Markstrom’s camp and the Vancouver Canucks. From what I can tell, even though neither Pat Morris, the agent for Markstrom , nor general manager Jim Benning want to talk publicly at all about this. They want to keep a lockdown on basically all of the information. It doesn’t seem like they are close that these negotiations go back and forth. These negotiations have not yielded a deal or anything that looks like it is imminent as far as the deal front goes. So, he’s an important guy, obviously. You’ve got lots of issues here. You’ve got the term. At 30-years-old, Markstrom would like five years, but maybe he’d take four? I think Canucks would like to do three (years). But they maybe give him four (years). They’ve loaded up on external free agents; Ferland and (Antoine) Roussel and (Jay) Beagle and it was four-year contracts for them. Why wouldn’t they give four years for the guy who might be their MVP, at least a four-year deal? Then you get into the AAV. What’s it going to be? Is it going to be close to $6 million, less than $6 million? And then there is the expansion draft . You’ve got no-move clauses , no-trade clauses. What’s the future if he does sign? Does it have those things in place? So there’s a lot of moving parts there. But Vancouver Canucks fans might get a little anxious as this goes along, when the guy has been so good this year still isn’t signed.
Pierre Dorion and the Ottawa Senators have been the epicentre of TradeCentre for the past two years and they are in the position to move guys again. But tumbleweeds so far.
Dreger: So far. When you look at their crop of pending unrestricted free agents, and some of the other pieces the Ottawa Senators [have] that are of interest or could be of interest to teams around the National Hockey League, believe it or not, specific to UFAs, I’m told that there hasn’t been that much interest as we might think. But, Pierre Dorion does have work to do to engage in negotiations with a couple of those pending UFAs including veteran defenceman Mark Borowiecki. The expectation is talks will pick up there this week.