With virtual GM meetings scheduled for Wednesday, some issues that are slated to be discussed are the Seattle expansion rules and scheduling for playoffs. Which players will travel overseas to play for Team Canada in 2022? What is Zach Hyman worth as a UFA? TSN Hockey Insiders Pierre LeBrun and Darren Dreger join James Duthie with more.
What's the status of this year's virtual general managers' meetings?
Pierre LeBrun: A virtual meeting, indeed. They're replacing the three-day annual GM meetings, usually in Boca Raton, usually right after the trade deadline. It will be virtual. On Wednesday afternoon the league booked about three and a half hours on a Zoom call. Not only for all the GMs around the league, but also their assistant GMs which is a bit of a departure. Lots to go over. I can tell you the agenda was not yet finalized as of last Tuesday afternoon, so the teams have not received it yet. That should happen either Tuesday night or Wednesday morning. Among some subjects that we believe will be part of it: Seattle expansion rules. I think the league will want to go over that again with teams. Also, Stephen Walkom, director of officiating, as he always would at the meeting, will go over some things ahead of the playoffs and certainly there are teams with questions. How are the playoffs going to look in terms of scheduling? So lots to go over and that will come on Wednesday.
Roberto Luongo was named the general manager of Canada's world men's hockey championship team. The tournament runs from May 21 to June 6 in Riga, Latvia. What do you think the team will look like?
Darren Dreger: It's going to be a young team primarily, James. Roberto Luongo and his assistant general manager Shane Doan, they definitely are going to have their work cut out for them. They're looking at perhaps some Olympic hopefuls. If you look in net for Team Canada, perhaps you see Carter Hart or you see MacKenzie Blackwood. I mean they'll get an opportunity if they accept. Thomas Chabot defensively would a great add for Team Canada. And up front, Bo Horvat has had a lot going on with the Vancouver Canucks, maybe he wants some international flavour mixed in to his year. And then you got guys who because of the shortened NHL season just want to extend their playing time. Like Dillon Dube, Andrew Mangiapane, Ty Smith, Gabriel Vilardi, Dylan Cozens. These are interesting names and I expect Hockey Canada will try to get this first wave of those who have accepted out perhaps as early as the end of the week.
Maple Leafs forward Zach Hyman, who is currently sidelined with a knee injury, will be an unrestricted free agent this summer if not signed to an extension. What would his dollar value be if he gets to free agency?
LeBrun: It's part of that reaction that I saw from Leaf fans that inspired me to go out and ask half a dozen NHL front office executives from other teams, it's a very simple question: What do you see as Zach Hyman's value on the open market or in a new contract? And what I will tell you is that the response I got varied anywhere from $4.5 million a year to $5.5 million a year. And a lot of that is based on player comparables of signings we've had here since the pandemic. Brendan Gallagher tops the list of course at $6.5 million a year. He's 28 just like Zach Hyman by the way. And I will tell you that I think Hyman's camp led by agent Todd Reynolds will definitely try to introduce that contract as part of the conversation after the season, but again I didn't hear anyone give me a $6.5 million in a comparison. Bottom line to me is that I think if Zach Hyman wants to remain with the Leafs where the cap is tight, the number is going to have to start with a four. I think if he hits the open market, the number starts with a five.
What's the status on prospect Cole Caufield getting his shot with the Montreal Canadiens?
Dreger: Yeah, cap complications. It's shocking, I know. In the cap world that many teams across the National Hockey League continue to try and operate in. We can appreciate the excitement around Cole Caufield given everything that he's accomplished at this stage of his young career outside of the NHL, but it's not that simple. And it's more complicated with Carey Price going down. So the Montreal Canadiens need Cayden Primeau at least to back up Jake Allen and as soon as he's introduced to a game day, then his cap hit of just under $900,000 hits the books. So as long as there's Cayden Primeau at the NHL-level, then there likely won't be Cole Caufield. That's just a cap reality in Montreal.