TSN Hockey Insiders Pierre LeBrun, Chris Johnston and Darren Dreger join host James Duthie to discuss Evander Kane, a surprising name that wasn’t interviewed for the GM job in Montreal, what the trade market looks like, what the cap could look like next year and more.

Is Evander Kane a good fit with the Oilers?

James Duthie: Ken Holland says he believes in second chances, you really believe in second chances when you have two wins in your last 13, does Evander Kane to the Oilers become more than possible, perhaps even probable?

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Darren Dreger: It does, the Edmonton Oilers are believed to be in the top-three for Evander Kane, now things can change before a final decision is made, Edmonton along with the two Florida teams, the Panthers and the Tampa Bay Lightning. Most importantly, Connor McDavid, the captain of the Edmonton Oilers, most definitely on board for adding Evander Kane. You can look at him as a big, strong, left-side power forward who can skate and score, so who doesn’t want to add that in terms of the hockey perspective, but Kane continues to do his due diligence along with his agent Dan Milstein. They’re having Zoom calls with general managers and coaches but the Oilers really like the fit here, especially with the leadership group that they have which, of course, includes McDavid and Draisaitl, Duncan Keith, Darnell Nurse, go down the list. So, he’d be a good fit in Edmonton.

Chris Johnston: Even though it’s going to be an expedited basis for Evander Kane’s grievance hearing with the San Jose Sharks to take place, that is still probably going to take a few weeks at minimum before that process goes on. The NHL and the NHLPA are comfortable allowing that to happen on the side while he signs another contract here in the next day, or two, to resume his career with another team this season. But it could get interesting after the grievance hearing is held with arbitrator Richard Levie because he’ll have a decision, perhaps he upholds that contract termination, but he could do something like put Evander Kane back with the San Jose Sharks this coming summer, or perhaps even have the Sharks top up any salary difference he has in future years. That situation will play out on a separate basis to this decision around where he plays next.

A surprising person not interviewed for the Habs GM position

James Duthie: In general manager searches, the focus is usually on the candidates who get interviewed, but one who did not interview for the Montreal Canadiens’ job has raised eyebrows.

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Pierre LeBrun: I think it’s going to surprise a lot of people, I know I was, to find out that Martin Madden, the assistant GM for the Anaheim Ducks, was not interviewed in this first wave by the Montreal Canadiens. I think a lot of people figured he’d be a shoe-in to be part of those first interviews with Montreal, but what we’re being told is that, in fact, the Habs did ask for permission to speak to Martin Madden but were denied by the Ducks, which is well within Anaheim’s rights, of course. As we’ve reported before, Martin Madden is considered one of the in-house candidates for the GM job in Anaheim so now you can understand why perhaps Anaheim wants to interview him before they let other teams start talking to him, but he would have been a candidate for sure, I think, among others in Montreal. The Habs, by the way, still wrapping up their first round of interviews, they’ll have interviewed around 10 candidates when it’s all said and done.

What are some big names on the trade market?

James Duthie: Two months and change from Trade Centre, is there a decent chance that we’ll spend a lot of time in the weeks leading up [to], and perhaps the hours of that day, discussing big name guys in the back end?

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Darren Dreger: Well, let’s hope for that. Once they get the NHL figured out, which should happen sooner than later, then general managers will focus on what looks to be a strong crop defensively. If you look on the right side of the pending unrestricted free agents, you’ve got the likes of John Klingberg, you’ve got Colin Miller from the Buffalo Sabres, you’ve got Josh Manson, potentially, from the Anaheim Ducks. On the left side you’ve got Ben Chiarot, and again potentially, Mark Giordano. There’s a buzz that goes beyond just speculation but again now that we’re freshly into the New Year that trade discussion is starting to happen.

How will COVID-19 affect the salary cap moving forward?

James Duthie: Much more fun talking about that than the financial repercussions of COVID-19. Postponed games, games without fans in Canada, how concerned is the NHL about the cost of this.

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Chris Johnston: Well, I’m not sure where the NHL is at, but what I can tell you is there’s a number of teams out there that are concerned now that we’re going to be facing a flat-cap environment heading into next year, in large part due to all those restrictions in the Canadian rinks. At this point the NHL is sticking to that $82.5 million dollar projection it gave at last month’s board of governors meeting. Bill Daly telling me today that he’s not going to refresh those projections just yet, but other teams around the league are starting to prepare that it might still stay flat at $81.5 million just because there [are] so many games to be rescheduled, and no clarity yet on when fans can be back in the buildings in Canada.

Was there something to the timing of the Marc Bergevin hiring?

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Pierre LeBrun: Finally a note on the L.A. Kings front office. Over the weekend Marc Bergevin, the former Habs GM, was brought in as a senior adviser, and a lot of people were wondering, well that’s interesting because, of course, Rob Blake’s contract as GM expires at the end of the season, but I don’t think you should read one into the other. What I’m told is that the Kings intend to extend Rob Blake at some point near the end of the year. This was Rob Blake’s comfort level in terms of letting most of the year play out before he started having talks with the Kings, but it’s expected that he will be extended. In the meantime, Marc Bergevin is free to still interview with other teams if there are GM openings, but for now obviously he’s joined the Kings in a senior role, replacing what Ron Hextall did between 2019-21 before Hextall went to Pittsburgh as GM.

James Duthie: Kings are third in the Pacific, ton of young prospects, and that rebuild is way ahead of the curve right now.