The TSN Hockey Insiders Pierre LeBrun, Chris Johnston and Darren Dreger joined host Gino Reda to discuss what’s happening in Edmonton right now, the situation on Auston Matthews and Connor McDavid, GM searches around the NHL, and much more.
There’s a lot of problems in Edmonton right now, what’s the latest?
Darren Dreger: Everyone associated with the Edmonton Oilers are feeling the heat [as] this club is 2-8-2 in their last 12. According to a source, [head coach] Dave Tippett is not imminently going to lose his job, at least not at the moment. Of course, he has to be feeling the heat, as I said, everyone is. But as we have the conversation tonight, there is no plan to fire the coach. If it gets worse, maybe it’s more seriously considered at that point.
Goaltending though is being looked at by [general manager] Ken Holland and the Oilers. Trade options that are available are certainly being considered. They [also] continue to search for a third-line centre, among some of the other things that could make this roster stronger. Pressure and frustration all mounting in Edmonton.
What’s the possibility of no Matthews vs. McDavid on Wednesday?
Chris Johnston: Blame COVID.
We’ve all heard enough of that, I know, but certainly with both Auston Matthews and Connor McDavid producing positive COVID-19 tests this week, there’s jeopardy that one or both could be ineligible for Wednesday’s game.
What I can tell you about the Matthews situation is that the Leafs think he’ll be okay to go on a trip next week when they go out to Vegas and his hometown when they play in Arizona. He should be fine for then, but he does have to produce a second negative PCR test on Wednesday prior to the game and then a determination will be made on his status. He missed two practices, so it’ll be partially down to [how] he feels if he passes.
As for McDavid, it’s all about whether he has a negative test because his most recent was positive.
With the Arizona Coyotes sitting in last place in the NHL, who are teams targeting as trade bait?
Darren Dreger: Defenceman Jakob Chychrun and that comes as no surprise as there has been speculation out there for the last several weeks. Teams are actively calling Bill Armstrong, the general manager of the Coyotes, and offers are being made. But I think something we can all understand and appreciate is his age [23-years-old], his level of production, and the fact that he’s on a terrific contract [$4.6 million until 2025]. The asking price, according to GMs with interest, is a very significant one.
There’s no rush as far as the Coyotes are concerned. I had one club tell me that the Coyotes are looking for a Jack Eichel type of return. You’re looking for an Alex Tuch, Peyton Krebs, a top prospect, and a conditional first and second [round draft pick]. There’s also thinking that might not be enough so there’s no rush for the Coyotes.
Is there any progress on Jeff Gorton’s evaluation of the Montreal Canadiens?
Pierre LeBrun: The Canadiens, according to my sources, are set to begin general manager interviews this week. Now as I reported earlier, Roberto Luongo, Daniel Briere, and Mathieu Darche are among the candidates that are scheduled to get interviews after the Habs got the green light to speak to them. But the Habs are expected to talk to as many as 10 candidates during this first phase of interviews. So, there’s many more names in there, not just those first three that I’ve confirmed.
Meanwhile in Vancouver, new president of hockey operations, Jim Rutherford, has already talked to a few GM candidates. He’s been at it for the past three weeks and I’ve been told that he’s hoping to speak to several candidates in this first phase, and then he’s going to cut it down to a short list and start the second phase from there. The Canucks hope to have a new GM in place if all goes well by February.
The Canadiens and Canucks aren’t the only teams looking for a new GM right now.
Pierre LeBrun: In Anaheim, they’ve had an opening ever since Bob Murray stepped down and they’ve finally put together a GM search committee that includes two hall of famers, Scott Niedermayer and Paul Kariya, who are joining a couple of Ducks front office executives, and of course [owners] Susan and Henry Samueli as well. They’re scheduled to start interviews as early as next week. Now they have in-house candidates for the GM job in Jeff Solomon, Dave Nonis, and Martin Madden. But they’re looking to talk to a number of outside candidates as well.