TSN Hockey Insiders Bob McKenzie and Pierre LeBrun join host Gino Reda to discuss why the timing was right for the San Jose Sharks to sign Patrick Marleau.
I guess we understand the fit with Patrick Marleau and the San Jose Sharks. But Pierre, I’m not sure about the timing. If they wanted him, why in October and not in July?
LeBrun: That’s a legitimate question because it wasn’t the right timing in July for the San Jose Sharks. At the time, Sharks GM Doug Wilson explained very polite[ly], because they have so much history with Patrick Marleau, he’s a legacy player, that they wanted to give their young players a chance at training camp. They didn’t want to block any of those players, so they stuck with that plan. But what they did say, I’m told, at the time is, if you’re still there at some point early in the season and if we have to change our plan, then for sure, maybe we will come back and circle back. And that’s what’s happened, but not so much because of disappointment in the young players, because they’re banged up. (Marcus) Sorenson’s out. They have a bunch of injuries. The timing is right. It’s a league-minimum deal for Patrick Marleau. He’s reunited. His family has already been back in San Jose for several months. It has always made sense.
McKenzie: Another veteran who is technically unemployed is 34-year-old centre Brian Boyle. How long that remains the case remains to be seen. There is significant interest in Boyle, he is talking to a number of teams. But one of those teams either needs to clear some cap space or clear a roster spot in order to sign him. But I would anticipate that there is a strong expectation that Boyle will be back in the NHL sooner rather than later. Lots of other veteran guys though on the outside looking in as far as jobs. You’ve got Dion Phaneuf, Andrew MacDonald and Griffin Reinhart on the blueline. You’ve got Jason Pominville, Tomas Vanek and Devonte Smith-Pelley up front amongst those who are NHL veterans with no jobs to be had right now.
Interesting situation developing right now in St. Louis, the defending Stanley Cup champs. Their captain, Alex Pietrangelo, is set to become an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season. Could they actually afford to sign him long-term?
LeBrun: I think they can afford it. The question is a number that can work for both sides. I had a chance to sit down with GM Doug Armstrong on Tuesday morning and he didn’t want to get into the negotiations with Alex Pietrangelo, none of my business. But, his answer to my question was interesting in terms of his philosophy of team building. The fact that he looks at a team like the Boston Bruins who have everyone buying in to what everyone can fit their contracts under a cap. He believes the Blues have that type of culture. Again, he wasn’t specifically mentioning Pietrangelo, but if you read between the lines, I think what he’s saying is there is a very nice contract there waiting for Alex Pietrangelo at some point, but I don’t think it’s with the same amount he can make on the open market. Let’s be clear.
What about the Pittsburgh Penguins, Bob? They’re in a situation right now, they’re a little banged up. They’ve taken a big hit offensively up front. What do they have to do?
McKenzie: Well Evgeni Malkin’s out the next four-to-six weeks and that’s a huge loss and there’s no way that Jim Rutherford, the general manager in Pittsburgh, can go out and trade for a player or bring anybody in who’s going to duplicate what a healthy Malkin would give you. And it doesn’t help that Nick Bjugstad is also another centre who’s out the next four weeks. But there is a situation in Pittsburgh and we’ve known even before those injuries occurred, where the Penguins have nine defencemen. We’ve heard all of the Jack Johnson trade rumours. You could throw Erik Gudbranson’s name in there. Jim Rutherford is trying to move a defenceman. Now because of those injuries to Bjugstad and Malkin, if it’s possible to move a defenceman and bring back in some short-term help to plug one of those gaps in the middle of the ice, absolutely he would love to do that. But it’s almost got to be dollar-in and dollar-out. And they do have to allow that both Bjugstad and Malkin, as I said, a month to six weeks, they’re both going to be back in the lineup.
Montreal Canadiens looking to bring in some help on the left side of their D, from Russia? Explain?
LeBrun: Well hopefully for them, next season . That’s the plan. Marc Bergevin would like to convince Alex Romanov, who is the top-rated defenceman at the World Jr. Championships as Bob knows last year. A second-round pick in 2018, Marc Bergevin went back there last February to Moscow to spend time with his family and the young player. The family and the player came to Montreal in June to visit the city of Montreal and in early December, Marc Bergevin plans to go back to Moscow and again to do some wooing. The bottom line is his contract with the KHL expires at the end of the season. He’s going to get an offer from his team there. Probably for more money. The question is can they convince him to go to Montreal and that would be a big addition in the top-4 for the Montreal Canadiens if they can pull it off.