The TSN Hockey Insiders discuss the Leafs being open to acquiring players with term ahead of the trade deadline, the trade speculation continuing to swirl around Jakob Chychrun, why Pierre Dorion's appearance at the Canadiens-Wild game Monday created a buzz, Eric Staal drawing NHL interest, and more.
Gino Reda: Just under two months till the trade deadline, are you starting to get a sense of what the Leafs may be planning in terms of strategy between now and then?
Chris Johnston: Well, certainly they’re at the stage where you start to assemble wish lists, look around the league in anticipation of that March 21st trade deadline, and I think if the Leafs, all things being equal, could control things, they’d rather acquire a player who has a little bit of term left on their contract rather than a straight rental. Remember at last year’s deadline Kyle Dubas was quite aggressive, made multiple deals, all for players on expiring contracts, gave up six draft picks and, of course you know, Nick Foligno the most notable among them gets injured, they go out in the first round, and so ultimately the Leafs won’t rule anything out. I think that they’re just looking to get as many good players as they can, but they like the idea of getting players with some term because they feel like it gives them [a] chance to get settled in.
Darren Dreger: Well look, Arizona Coyotes’ defenceman Jakob Chychrun has term left on his contract and I can tell you, the Toronto Maple Leafs are among many teams who have at least kicked tires on Chychrun, but you look at the Toronto Maple Leafs’ roster, how they move forward, it seems like a tough fit for the Maple Leafs to try and manoeuvre unless Kyle Dubas gets extraordinarily creative. Now, sources say that the list of teams with strong interest in Chychrun includes L.A., Florida, Boston, Anaheim and the St. Louis Blues. Now, Bill Armstrong obviously has time on his side, so he is going to let this marinate a little bit more, unless he gets the four components that are needed.
Gino Reda: Hey guys, Sens general manager Pierre Dorion was spotted at the Habs and Wild game on Monday night. What, if anything, could we be reading into this?
Pierre LeBrun: Well, it’s interesting because a lot of people assume when they saw him there that he was there to check out the Habs, because of course we know the Habs are going to be sellers, but that’s not really the case as far as I can tell. What I’m told is that Pierre Dorion was there to watch the Minnesota Wild play, and that, Pierre Dorion and Bill Guerin, the GM of the Wild, did have a brief discussion. Now, I don’t [think] anything is in the works, I don’t think anything is imminent, but I believe he was there to see Minnesota, one of the teams that the Senators at their pro scouting meetings last week did talk about in preparation for the trade deadline as a team that’s up against the cap. The bottom line is I think you’ll see Pierre Dorion at other NHL games not involving the Senators between now and the deadline, so get used to it.
Gino Reda: When Eric Staal was named to the Canadian Olympic team some asked ‘Wait, what, he’s still playing?’ Not only is he still playing, but he’s a man with a plan.
Chris Johnston: He is, I mean the only thing, right now the plan is to go to Beijing, he’s going to be part of that Olympic team. But you know, quickly on the other side of that, he’s hoping to get back to the NHL, and there is some interest in Eric Staal, he played four games in the American Hockey League as a tune-up for this event. This month, he had five points in those games for the Iowa Wild, and there’s been a couple teams all year that have kind of kept an open line of communication with the idea of potentially adding him later in the year on a cheap deal before the deadline, and so, on the other side of the Olympics, assuming it goes well, don’t be surprised to see him end up in an NHL jersey.
Gino Reda: Jets getting close to making a decision on what to do about Cole Perfetti?
Darren Dreger: Yeah, I mean, it’s imminent, it’s a big week for Cole Perfetti. He is scheduled for games nine and 10 this week, obviously if he gets past game nine then he’s at the threshold of burning a year off his entry-level contract. By all accounts, Cole Perfetti has played very very well for the Winnipeg Jets, he’s on a line with Pierre-Luc Dubois and Kyle Connor but there’s clear decisions that have to be made from an organizational standpoint. He has made a strong impression, so it feels like the Winnipeg Jets are leaning towards keeping Cole Perfetti in their lineup with Ehlers on a long-term injury.
Gino Reda: When Jeff Gorton took over the Habs he said Dominique Ducharme would be behind the bench for the rest of this season, but, as our friend François Gagnon pointed out in his article for RDS on Tuesday, the Habs could make a case for making the move sooner rather than later.
Pierre LeBrun: I mean listen, I think all things being equal that Jeff Gorton would stick to what he said, that they would wait till the off-season to make a coaching change, that’s my sense of it. But obviously games like Monday night [an 8-2 loss to the Minnesota Wild] make it difficult especially when you consider perhaps some of the veteran players that aren’t happy, and also the development of the younger players on the team, that has to be of concern for Habs management. But, consider this, the Habs are still paying Claude Julien $5 million US through June 30th, he’s not off the books until after the season; they’re still paying Marc Bergevin, former GM, until June 30th, he’s not off the books until after the year; and they just signed Ducharme to a three-year deal last summer. And, by the way, the Habs aren’t going to have fans in the Bell Centre for the foreseeable future, so finances are part of this no matter what anyone says. I think they’ll wait until after the season to make this decision, but I won’t guarantee it.