TSN Hockey Insiders Darren Dreger and Pierre LeBrun and TSN Senior Hockey Reporter Frank Seravalli join host Gino Reda to discuss where things are going in Buffalo with head coach Ralph Krueger, what to make of Kyle Dubas’ and Marc Bergevin’s comments from earlier on Tuesday and whether or not the Sharks could be looking to move a goaltender.
The latest on things in Buffalo
It’s been a difficult season to say the least for the Sabres. Is it all but over for head coach Ralph Krueger’s tenure?
Dreger: Well I would say that the Ralph Krueger watch has definitely intensified. Now Kevyn Adams, the general manager for the Buffalo Sabres, is in constant communication with Sabres ownership – that’s Kim and Terry Pegula. But let’s make this clear. This is Kevyn Adams’ decision to make. Now, some think that change is coming. But it’s complicated. If Adams fires Krueger, then it’s likely he’s going to have to promote internally and do a full search at the end of the year. With COVID, the outbreak there, the injuries that the Sabres have sustained, this season has been an absolute nightmare. But Kevyn Adams may also want to get this matter resolved sooner rather than later because, in the bigger picture, as general manager, he’s got to attack his roster. And look at some of the potential trades with the trade deadline looming.
Leafs, Habs lay out deadline plans
General managers Kyle Dubas and Marc Bergevin laid out their plans for their clubs Tuesday afternoon. What to make of the contrast between each GM’s approach?
LeBrun: I think you saw real juxtaposition from the GMs of the two Canadian original six teams. On the one hand, the Toronto Maple Leafs and Kyle Dubas doubling down, absolutely all in in their desire to add before the trade deadline, especially up front. Whereas with Marc Bergevin, who held his availability about a half hour later, way more subdued. Listen, identifying legitimate salary cap and quarantine reasons and hinting that he probably may not do a whole lot. But I think what that really is about is that his team has been inconsistent. His team has to give him a reason to want to add before April 12 and it’s going to take a few more wins between now and then. As for the Leafs, whether it’s a rental like Kyle Palmieri or Nick Foligno or Mikael Granlund or it’s a hockey deal for a Filip Forsberg or Rickard Rakell, which is a lot harder to do, I think all options are on the table for Kyle Dubas.
Seravalli: Well, Kyle Dubas certainly raised an eyebrow when he said ‘Yes’ that he is willing to trade a top prospect at the deadline in order to make the Leafs better. That doesn’t mean he’s willing to trade just about any prospect. I hate using the word untouchable, but Rasmus Sandin is probably as close as you can get to that term as possible for the Leafs. In the short term, they view him as a contributor to this team during this season once he comes back from his injury. That’s part of the reason why they traded Mikko Lehtonen and, in the long term, they view him as a big part of their future. Not just with the expansion draft looming and the fact that the Leafs may lose a defenceman, but also with some other long-term big board prognostications, Sandin figures in a big way. So he’s one guy unlikely to be on the move unless the Leafs feel like they can hit a home run at this deadline.
Update on the goalie market
Should teams looking for help in net be giving the San Jose Sharks a ring?
LeBrun: Yeah, Devan Dubnyk, who was acquired Oct. 5 by San Jose. His play has improved of late. He’s an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season. I think the Sharks are going to look to go a different route in terms of their goaltending in the off-season. So, Dubnyk will be available in all likelihood before April 12. He’s got a 10-team no-trade list, but I think for the right contender and the right fit he would certainly waive it. A couple of teams that come to mind for me are the Colorado Avalanche and Washington Capitals. Potentially the Avs, I’m told, have been calling around looking at goalie options to back up Pavel Francouz. He’s been injured long-term. Jonathan Bernier, who played for Colorado in 2017-18 also potentially an option from the Detroit Red Wings for Colorado. So, some options in net. Goalies aren’t moved often but those are a couple names that could.
Blackhawks potential facilitators?
Could Stan Bowman’s team be willing to take on some money in the next month?
Seravalli: One team to keep an eye on over the next month is the Chicago Blackhawks who could play a big part in what happens at the trade deadline if not directly, then certainly indirectly because they’ve let it be known that they’re a team that is willing to take on bad contracts. They’ve got almost $22 million in long-term injured reserve space that is essentially use or lose. And so, if it’s not taking on a bad contract or two, then they could be willing to facilitate a trade as well via a third-party. Eat some cap space, some part of that contract to help make a deal go through. So, the Chicago Blackhawks and Stan Bowman certainly are one franchise to keep an eye on.