Insider Trading: The latest on Patrick Kane
TSN Hockey Insiders Chris Johnston, Darren Dreger, and Pierre LeBrun join host Gino Redo on Tuesday’s segment of Insider Trading to discuss the status of Patrick Kane, big-name coaches in the final year of their contracts and more.
When Patrick Kane had his hip surgery at the end of May, his agent said he was going to need four-to-six months to fully recover. We're now about four months into that. How's the progress going?
Dreger: He's doing well, continues to work both on and off the ice in the Greater Toronto Area as part of that rehabilitation following hip surgery. Kane and Co. remain committed to that timeline. I believe the agency for Patrick Kane is currently working on a conditioning video. How they distribute that video in the days ahead – we'll have to wait and see. But, I also know that the primary agent here, Pat Brisson, continues to get requests from some interested teams, from multiple teams, in fact, just wanting a little bit more medical information. But, I don't believe that Patrick Kane is going to be in a position where he can interview with the select teams until mid-to-late October. So, there's still work to get done here.
Johnston: If that's a timeline on an interview, that's obviously going to be the timeline before he can sign a contract and that means this deal is going to fall during the season and that creates some complications. A lot of the contending teams, the sort of teams that would want to sign Patrick Kane, are entering this year either right at the salary cap ceiling or in LTIR. That's roughly two thirds of the league, as we're projecting it right now. There aren't a lot of mechanisms those teams can pull in order to create cap space. They can't give him a 35-or-over bonus – Kane missed that by five months, being able to be eligible for those sorts of things. Can't really give him a signing bonus because that bumps up the salary cap hit in the first year. Ultimately, it might come to a team that has an injury in October or perhaps one of the handful that have some cap space right now.
Speaking of cap space, when we spoke last week, Pierre, you said that the Sens and Shane Pinto's camp were speaking almost daily. How much of this delay is about the cap itself?
LeBrun: It's a pretty big part of it for sure. The Senators still have to move money to be able to accommodate a new contract for Shane Pinto, who's not going to sign a qualifying offer. At least that's his stance right now. So, they got to make room and Mathieu Joseph's name has been out there. The Senators are trying to create cap room, but in the meantime, it's not like there's an extension sitting on the table and they just need to move money. Shane Pinto's agent – I believe – still has some negotiating to do here with Pierre Dorion, the GM of the Ottawa Senators. I think that Pinto probably would sign something in the neighbourhood of $2.5 million per year over two years. Whether or not that's something the Senators can live with remains to be seen. So, still work to be done there. Meanwhile, speaking of RFAs, status quo, we are told on this day when it comes to [Trevor] Zegras and [Jamie] Drysdale and their contract negotiations with Anaheim [Ducks].
Let's go to the Calgary Flames – rookie general manager Craig Conroy's got his hands full right now. No less than eight players going to the final year of their current deals. Any progress on that front, Chris?
Johnston: Absolutely. There's at least some positive energy around talks that have started recently here with Mikael Backlund. This is a significant player for the Flames, having spent his entire career so far in Calgary. He had previously indicated that this summer he didn't want to talk about an extension. He wanted to see how things would play out. But after thinking about it over the last couple of months, getting back to Calgary at the end of the summer and seeing where the environment is at under a new coaching staff led by Ryan Huska, Backlund is in a position where he's willing to engage on a commitment – a longer-term commitment than he has remaining for this season. Those talks have started to happen. I'm told they're going to happen again here in the near future and there's at least a push here towards getting a deal done.
Not only do general managers have to worry about players in their last year of their current contracts, there are also a number of coaches on expiring deals, Pierre?
LeBrun: There's four right now and listen, some years it's a longer list than that. So, it's certainly not that big a list, but some pretty big names. You have Lindy Ruff, whose work last year in New Jersey got him nominated for the Jack Adams, you have Rod Brind'Amour in Carolina – arguably the top coach in the NHL – Todd McLellan [with the Kings] and. D.J. Smith in Ottawa, all entering this season on the final year of their deals. Now, when it comes to Ruff, who had his option picked up by the Devils in June, Tom Fitzgerald – the GM – reiterated to me yesterday that, yes, they were trying to sign a multi-year extension with Lindy Ruff. So, they continue to work on that. My sense is in L.A. is the same thing. The Kings and Todd McLellan are working on an extension. We'll see if that gets done. There have not been extension talks yet with Rod Brind'Amour, but owner Tom Dundon has told me that they intend to get him signed at some point. D.J. Smith? Listen, we have a new owner in Ottawa. It's going to take some time to see how that shakes out throughout the hockey department.
We're two weeks away from the start of the NHL regular season. This is the time the NHL usually steps in and says, 'Here are some changes we'd like to see for the new year.' But are things a little different this time around, Darren?
Dreger: Well, look, general managers, hockey operations, people across the National Hockey League are always pitching ideas and looking at ways to improve. The "media general managers" do it on an hour-by-hour basis, but maybe it's time to just stop and let the sport and the game breathe. ... There's nothing wrong with continuing to monitor, but let's just leave it at that for now.