Insider Trading: Blue Jackets open to trading Kings' first-round pick
Gino Reda is joined by TSN Hockey Insiders Pierre LeBrun and Darren Dreger to talk about first-round picks that could be on the move in the off-season, Michael Bunting and the Toronto Maple Leafs’ battle with how he’s being officiated, and more on Insider Trading.
We’re just over a week until the end of the regular season at which point half the league is going to switch into playoff mode, while the other half looks to the future. Pierre, the Columbus Blue Jackets have some assets that they’re willing to move.
Pierre LeBrun: That includes the first-round pick that they acquired from the Los Angeles Kings that they acquired in the [Vladislav] Gavrikov/[Joonas] Korpisalo trade. It’s not going to be a high pick given where the Kings are in the standings but speaking with [Blue Jackets general manager] Jarmo Kekalainen today, which is going to run in The Athletic later this week, he said “100 per cent he is open to trading that first-round pick from the Kings” in an effort to replace Gavrikov. He’d like to get a top-four defenceman as part of the package for a first-round pick.
One of the reasons why it’s interesting is because we already know that the [St. Louis] Blues have said publicly that they will listen in regards to their two late round picks. [General manager] Doug Armstrong said this in regard to the picks they got for Ryan O’Reilly [from the Toronto Maple Leafs] and Vladimir Tarasenko [from the New York Rangers]. Then you got a team like the Montreal Canadiens that I believe would listen on the Florida Panthers’ first-round pick, which would probably be a mid first-round pick, if they can make the type of hockey trade like they did for Kirby Dach [from the Chicago Blackhawks] a year ago.
There’s potential here for a lot of movement for some of these first-round picks from mid to lower round when we get to Nashville for the Draft in June.
After Toronto Maple Leafs forward Michael Bunting was called for embellishment and got a 10-minute misconduct in Sunday’s game [against the Detroit Red Wings], head coach Sheldon Keefe said general manager Kyle Dubas was going to call the league and deal with it. What’s become of that?
Darren Dreger: The National Hockey League, as we know on an annual basis, will meet with the NHL coaches and general managers prior to the start of the Stanley Cup playoffs and historically they talk about embellishment and the areas of concern there. We know Michael Bunting is a very emotional player. He’s a very demonstrative player especially when he feels like he’s been fouled, but is there an exaggeration aspect here?
Look he doesn’t often get the benefit of the doubt. An example of that is a game against Evander Kane and the Edmonton Oilers. Kane is all over Bunting, Bunting gets mauled by Kane, and both of these players end up in the penalty box. I’m sure Bunting is thinking “look I don’t know what I did there.”
The problem is with so few games left in the regular season, the intensity gets elevated but so does the impact of taking an ill-timed penalty. So, Bunting can be a very effective and efficient add for the Maple Leafs but he’s got to stay on the ice and tone down his temper and emotions.
Timo Meier was a big prize at the trade deadline about a month ago. The New Jersey Devils paid a big price because they had plans for him long term. Any news on that front?
Pierre LeBrun: They still have plans for him long term, in fact, Devils general manager Tom Fitzgerald has talked to Meier about just that. They view him as a core piece moving forward. What hasn’t happened is the start of negotiations on that long-term deal.
That’s interesting because, as you may remember, the initial plan with the Devils was that they didn’t even want to make that trade [with the San Jose Sharks] without having Meier signed to an extension as part of it. They dropped that to get the deal done.
Then you had the idea that they should sign it as soon as possible but they also pivoted on that. Fitzgerald and the Devils decided to give Meier time to adjust to life on and off the ice as a Devil. They have shelved talks on an extension until after the playoffs because they don’t want to rush it or press him, but they’re still confident they can get that done.
Last week it was reported that there were a number of teams calling for the potential ouster of American Hockey League president Scott Howson. Where are we on that story now?
Darren Dreger: There were a number of teams seeking that, there’s no question. I don’t know if their position has changed but there is an end in sight here. The fact that the story is public and the NHL got involved helped settle things down over the last number of days, but there is an AHL board meeting coming up in early May. If that group of teams is successful to oust Howson as president and CEO as head of the AHL, it would come by vote at that general managers meeting in the AHL.