What is the latest development in Evander Kane's return to the NHL? Will Kane's exit from San Jose help the Sharks sign Tomas Hertl to an extension? Are the Canucks any closer to finding a new GM? Could the World Juniors be re-scheduled for the summer? TSN Hockey Insiders Chris Johnston, Pierre LeBrun and Darren Dreger discuss this and more.

What is the latest on the Evander Kane situation, following more allegations of COVID protocol violations?

Embedded ImageChris Johnston: It’s not exactly limbo but I would say that Evander Kane has put things on hold in terms of trying to make a decision and narrowing down his teams. It was going to take a couple of days, out of respect for those teams, while the NHL conducts investigations into the allegations from his time in the American Hockey League.
There’s nothing that says these NHL teams couldn’t sign him. He could sign a new deal today. But I think out of respect for those teams wanting to see if he’s going to face any further suspension or punishment stemming from the allegations, he is going to wait it out, check his list twice as it sounds like he’s down to three teams, and make a decision once the NHL wraps up that investigation.
Pierre LeBrun: In the meantime for the San Jose Sharks, where does this leave their salary cap, potentially, in terms of extra space? We’ll have to see where the dust clears, in terms of the NHLPA grievance on the Evander Kane matter, and whether the Sharks are completely off the hook from his $7 million cap hit for the next three and a half years. Or, whether there’s a settlement and they’ll owe some money with a smaller cap hit, we’ll see. 
Certainly, there may be some room here for the Sharks to make an extension offer for their top centre, Tomas Hertl, who is a UFA at the end of the season. There were talks last summer and Hertl’s camp, led by Newport Sports, said that the Sharks were interested in talking extension at the time. But now that there might be more cap room, I expect the Sharks to circle back over the next month here and perhaps make an offer to Hertl. 
If that does not lead to an extension, the trade deadline is March 21 and there may not be a bigger name on the Trade Bait Board than Tomas Hertl if he is officially made available between now and March 21. 
He has almost a 100 per cent no-trade clause. Only three teams are on his “yes” list. He has lots of control and one team to keep an eye on is the New York Rangers, who I think have him on their list.

Is there any update on the search for a general manager for the Vancouver Canucks?

Embedded ImageDarren Dreger: Well, true to his word, Jim Rutherford is conducting, what I would describe, as a diverse and very extensive management search. The shortlist will come down to roughly five or six people. I’m told it will involve those with entry-level general manager experience. 
He has conducted a number of interviews, both in-person and virtually, and is establishing a list of second interviews, perhaps as early as later this week or into next week. It’s also believed that Rutherford has already interviewed several women for the role best described as an assistant general manager. So, clearly, Jim Rutherford as president of hockey operations for the Vancouver Canucks, wants fresh voices and different ideas moving forward.

Have conversations taken place about bringing the NHL back to Quebec City?

Embedded ImageJohnston: They have. On Thursday, Quebec’s finance minister got a virtual audience with Gary Bettman and Bill Daly. What’s notable here is that these kinds of conversations haven’t happened recently. Quebec’s position was to just re-establish Quebec City as a viable market, in the eyes of the government, to have an NHL team, why it makes financial sense and, at this point, the league is really just in listening mode.
The meeting was initiated by the Quebec government but they have agreed to keep the lines of communication open which I think is important for the province. Who knows if there’s a team looking to be moved right now, but down the line there could be. 

Any news on a possible rescheduling of the cancelled IIHF World Junior Championship?

Embedded ImageDreger: There’s a lot of work being done. A lot of discussion and a lot of planning going on for the World Junior Hockey Championship, a summer version, if you will. Some are suggesting that much of the discussion has been around the month of August and finding a way to host the event in Red Deer and Alberta as the target sites in August. 
There has been some discussion of hosting it in June as well but August seems more likely. This could create problems for some of the top NHL prospects that we saw over the holiday season. We’re talking about Cole Perfetti, Mason McTavish, or Owen Power because as we know, the training and the focus for these young players is on their upcoming NHL season. 
Hockey Canada, the IIHF, and everyone associated is hopeful that those names could be involved but there is still a lot of work to get done.


Is the discussion of individual NHL players leaving their teams to go play at the Olympics over?

Embedded ImageLeBrun: Yes, it is. As expected, the IIHF has closed that loophole, just like they did in 2018 when NHL players didn’t participate in the Olympics. 
Any idea that a player might go rogue and live with an NHL suspension to play for his country is over. The IIHF controls which players get to play in the Olympics and, on this day, that they won’t be accepting any NHL players under suspension to play in the tournament.