Insider Trading: Flames open for business
Gino Reda is joined by TSN Hockey Insiders Darren Dreger and Pierre LeBrun to discuss how Calgary’s future goes beyond their pending UFAs, the interview process beginning this week for Patrick Kane, talking points from the NHL’s GM meetings and Ohio State as a potential Winter Classic site.
Reda: Gentlemen, the GMs are in Toronto for their meetings and Craig Conroy and the Calgary Flames could be potentially putting up the for sale sign?
LeBrun: That might be exaggerating things just a bit, but he's certainly a popular GM - a few other GMs may be trying to run him down at the elevators after the meetings. Conroy politely declined to comment when we tried to talk to him after the GMs meetings as he's got a lot going on. The bottom line is this: the Zadorov trade request that came out Friday night was really just the tip of the iceberg - what teams are telling us is that the Flames are listening on other pending unrestricted free agents: Chris Tanev, Noah Hanifin, Elias Lindholm, the Flames are ready for a roster reset here. Now, Hanifin almost signed an extension here last month, close to $60 million, but he decided he wanted to wait and think about things and now that ship has sailed. The Flames are listening on these guys but they've got no hurry, they have until March 8 for the trade deadline to seek a return on these players.
Dreger: The Toronto Maple Leafs, Vancouver Canucks and New Jersey Devils are the primary teams most interested in one of those Calgary defencemen. Moving pending free agents who are unlikely to sign is good business, but if this renovation gets more hefty, then you start to look at some of the players who are also under contract. Nazem Kadri, as an example, signed that long contract as a free agent with the Flames - he wants to stay in Calgary, he wants to win with the Flames, but if the Flames as an organization regress to a rebuild then he's not interested in that and I think there would be others in a similar situation.
Reda: When last we spoke we mentioned Patrick Kane was nearing a return from his hip surgery and narrowing his list of landing spots, what's the next step in that process?
Dreger: It's a big week for Patrick Kane and his agent Pat Brisson, they will engage with NHL clubs this week which means they will interview coaches and general managers. The list is probably closer to eight teams and they're going to try to cut that down as early as the weekend and they hope to have a final decision perhaps in place early next week.
Reda: Great to see him back. When Shane Pinto got his 41-game suspension for violating the league's gambling rules a number of GMs got on the phones looking for a little clarity, and that was on the GM agenda, Pierre?
LeBrun: Yes, there was a report on gambling, that's how it was stipulated on the initial agenda. Bill Daly basically walked GMs through the gambling rules and obviously it's pretty simple in the Collective Bargaining Agreement: don't gamble on hockey but there are other things that stipulate on gambling in the league's constitution, the league's by-laws, and the bottom line is that Daly made sure the GMs understood the do’s and don'ts and there shouldn't be any confusion about that moving forward.
Reda: Speaking of the Senators facing discipline, on the heels of them losing a first-round draft pick because of the Dadonov fiasco, no-trade clauses also came up in the conversation, Pierre?
LeBrun: Well yeah, no one wants to give up a first-round pick again, right? So I spoke to Daly after the GMs meeting and what he said is he told teams that if they want to avoid that situation, that they're free to send the no-trade list to NHL Central Registry. They don't have to, but certainly Daly strongly recommended to teams that they do so and Daly said that some teams have already done that, they've sent their no-trade list to the Central Registry.
Reda: It seems like a good way to go. The league loves the spectacle of [a] big game in outdoor venues, and planning is already underway for next year, Darren?
Dreger: Well I don't know if it's specific to next year, but you're right. The NHL is coinstantly planning the bigger events and the Winter Classic is one of their marquee events. I know that league officials were at Ohio State on the weekend, and they were conducting a site survey of Ohio Stadium. It's one of the fourth-largest facilities in the United States, with a capacity of over 102,000 people. I'm sure the Columbus Blue Jackets are looking forward to this becoming official - it's not official yet, it's in the preliminary stages.