Depending on how long Jake Muzzin could be out after his scary collision with Chris Wideman, what options do the Maple Leafs have ahead of the trade deadline? The TSN Hockey Insiders weigh in on that front, discuss the Ducks beginning extension talks with Hampus Lindholm, whether or not there are suitors for Zdeno Chara and more.
What are the options the Maple Leafs are looking into following the injury to defenceman Jake Muzzin?
Darren Dreger: Well, adding a defenceman, perhaps a forward as well, Gino. But you're right, if Jake Muzzin is out long-term and the Toronto Maple Leafs are able to place him in LTIR, that frees up over $5.6 million in cap space. Now Muzzin is back in Toronto. He's said to be feeling OK, but anything head related, you're going to need a bit more time to fully assess. So, when you look at defencemen that the Toronto Maple Leafs are targeting, you look at Hampus Lindholm in Anaheim, looking at John Klingberg with the Dallas Stars. We talked about Ben Chiarot. And what about Mark Giordano from the Seattle Kraken? Again, those are all just pie in the sky options at this point. And then you look at adding a forward up front. Toronto would love to add a top-six winger, something to complement that second line. But, they're going to take their time with Jake Muzzin first to decide whether or not he has to be placed on LTIR and then look closely at the trade market.
Pierre LeBrun: And Dregs with all due respect to the other defencemen that you mentioned after Hampus Lindholm, when you talk to other teams around the league, they view Hampus Lindholm as the No. 1 rental defenceman on the market - if he is indeed on the market. Now, he a pending UFA and one of the first things Pat Verbeek, the new GM in Anaheim, has done according to our sources, is reach out to Lindholm's camp led by agent Claude Lemieux and start the process of seeing if there's enough common ground to sign an extension before the trade deadline to remove Hampus Lindholm from the trade market. That would be a heartbreaker for a lot of teams that would love to throw some assets at Anaheim for a guy who plays 23 minutes a night on that top pairing. We'll see if that deal gets done or not.
If all goes according to plan, Zdeno Chara will set the NHL record for most games played by a defenceman this Thursday, but Pierre that's not the only reason why people are keeping an eye on Big Z right now?
LeBrun: No, and that is quite the accomplishment by the way. Teams have started to call Lou Lamoriello and the Islanders who are fading out of the playoff race, they were never really in the race all year, one the league's true disappointments, and they're saying to Lou Lamoriello, 'Hey keep us in mind if you decide to do something with Zdeno Chara.' Now this is an interesting situation. Chara does not have a no-trade clause, but he's a future Hall of Famer and the sense around the league is that Lou Lamoriello is going to go to Chara at some point and see if in fact he actually wants to move. And if he does, then there's interest already in Zdeno Chara despite his age, 44, the fact he's slowed down a bit, but he's still a major leader and a very physical presence that could help a contender on that third pairing for sure.
Brad Marchand's six-game suspension is done, but the matter still may be open?
Chris Johnston: It might. It might still be in courts, Gino. We'll see what Brad Marchand decides, but as of today, he hasn't decided whether or not he wants to move forward and have an appeal heard by a neutral arbitrator. Gary Bettman has already upheld the six-game suspension for this brush with Tristan Jarry a few weeks ago. Brad Marchand has sat out those games as you've said, but he feels that he was targeted here, that there's kind of a principled aspect to why he might move forward, also if any games were reduced it would be worth $75,000 per game back in his pocket. He has until Friday to make a decision.
We spoken about making deals at the NHL-level, the minor league level and, Dregs, some teams like the Canucks are expanding their search in the European free-agent market as well?
Dreger: The Vancouver Canucks really don't have much of a choice. They don't have a whole lot coming from within their feeder systems, organizationally speaking. So, Patrik Allvin, Swedish born general manager for the Vancouver Canucks, has vowed that he will continue to scour the European market and the college free-agent market as well. Allvin is looking closely at Russian forward Andrei Kuzmenko, the 26-year-old is at the top of the charts when you look at the pending unrestricted free-agent Russians and Europeans for that matter, so I will say this, we are going to continue to talk about Kuzmenko. The Vancouver Canucks would definitely like to be in the mix, but there's probably about 30 other teams that want a crack at this guy as well.