The TSN Hockey Insiders discuss the possibility of Wayne Gretzky becoming Canada's head coach for the Spengler Cup, as well as which NHL players could be made available for the World Junior Championships, the Maple Leafs backup goaltender situation and much more.
It was 10 years ago, September 2009, the Great One stepped down as the head coach of the Coyotes and now, a decade later, Hockey Canada is trying to persuade Wayne Gretzky to come out of retirement this Christmas.
LeBrun: Yeah, just for a little bit, if Hockey Canada has its way. Sean Burke the GM of the Spengler Cup team for Canada, has asked Wayne Gretzky whether he'd be interested in coaching the National team in that tournament. I spoke with Wayne Gretzky on Tuesday who said "It's an immense honour that Sean Burke has asked me to do this." He doesn't know if he can swing it. Right now I think he's having a lot of talks with the family. It's a busy time of year, we know the tournament's held December 26th to 31st so they've got plans. He's a grandfather, Christmas is a special time, but he is thinking about it. He'll give word back to Sean Burke at some point soon.
Speaking of international hockey, in just under three weeks’ time Hockey Canada is going to announce its invitation list for this year's World Junior team and of course the questions, Bob, are going to be: Which junior eligible players currently in the NHL will be made available?
McKenzie: Well, there are certainly no guarantees at all that Arizona is going to let Barrett Hayton come back for that tournament. Or the Chicago Blackhawks with Kirby Dach. But there is a player from the Detroit Red Wings organization that looks like he's a real solid bet to be back on the team and that would be Joe Veleno. He played on the team last year. To get a returning player back would be great. Now, Veleno has played four years of junior hockey because he had that exceptional status year as a 15-year-old. He is currently in the American Hockey League with Grand Rapids, Detroit's farm team, he's a got a couple of goals, three points on the year. And right now all things being equal he is a guy that will be back in the fold for Team Canada as long as he's healthy and there are no other developments.
Last December, Jim Lites, the CEO and president of the Dallas Stars, called out Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn publicly and there was a real firestorm. Things had quieted down (and) now, 11 months later, another callout from within the organization.
Dreger: Jim Montgomery, head coach of the Dallas Stars, was very emotional after the 3-2 loss in overtime to the Winnipeg Jets on Sunday. Fed up with the inconsistent play of his team, primarily his leaders in Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin and the fact that they've been largely unproductive this season. Now the players have taken ownership of their lack of offence. Jim Montgomery has apologized for his comments postgame after that loss to Winnipeg. I can tell you that there is a high level of frustration in Dallas from top to bottom. But with all those contracts, those big deals, they're married to each other and they've got to figure it out.
You know what the Leafs have to figure out, is what to do in their goaltending situation. Not the number one guy, that's already settled. But Michael Hutchinson has cleared waivers on Tuesday. Kasimir Kaskisuo gets called up as the backup. Is that a stop-gap, or a long term plan?
McKenzie: Well, right now he's going to get an opportunity, Kasimir Kaskisuo, to be the backup goaltender of the Toronto Maple Leafs. Right now the Toronto Maple Leafs are not in the market for a veteran backup goaltender. They want to give Freddie Andersen, obviously, his start on Wednesday against the Islanders, probably Friday night against the Boston Bruins. We'll probably see Kaskisuo, if Mike Babcock holds firm to his philosophy, playing in the back half of the back-to-back games, and that would be Saturday night against the Pittsburgh Penguins. Right now they want to give Kasimir Kaskisuo his chance to prove he's an NHL backup. We'll see how it fares. There are five more back-to-back situations for the Toronto Maple Leafs between now and the end of December.
While they try to resolve that, the Oilers are trying to figure out how to resolve the Jesse Puljujarvi situation. Last week, Dregs, he was quoted as saying, "He's happy to spend the rest of the year in Finland." How do the Oilers feel about that and what do you see happening?
Dreger: I think Ken Holland and the Edmonton Oilers are okay with that. There's no sense of urgency from Edmonton's perspective but that doesn't mean there isn't NHL interest. We know that teams continue to inquire, and in doing so they're going to continue to investigate and scout Puljujarvi who is playing in Finland. Now one team with interest in Jesse Puljujarvi in scouting said they'd like to see him come back to the National Hockey League or at least back to the NHL game on that smaller ice surface because on the big ice, he likes to play a little bit too east-west for the NHL game and they'd like to refine that.
LeBrun: I have no idea if the Sabres have interest in Jesse Puljujarvi. They do have interest in acquiring a top-nine forward, and sooner rather than later. Now there's even more urgency I would say because of the injury to Vladimir Sobotka, who took that low hit from Nikita Kucherov last week in Sweden. Didn't look very good at the time, didn't feel very good and now I believe it'll be a longer-term injury rather than a short-term absence for Sobotka. Because of that I think the Sabres will continue to work the phones and perhaps acquire a forward.