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Insider Trading: Does Fleury land on a contender?

Marc-Andre Fleury Minnesota Wild Insider Trading Marc-Andre Fleury Insider Trading - TSN

TSN’s Hockey Insiders discuss the future of the NHL’s second-winningest regular season goalie, what’s next for Steven Stamkos, the Jets potentially bolstering their playoff run, the Blackhawks at the trade deadline, the market for Elvis Merzlikins and the latest on the Coyotes in Arizona.

JAMES DUTHIE: Here are your insiders, Chris Johnston, Pierre LeBrun, and Darren Dreger. Guys, I’m not sure there’s many more well-liked players in hockey over the last two, three decades than Marc-Andre Fleury. He goes into second all-time in the goaltender wins list. Is he liked well enough, Pierre, that maybe some teams might take a shot at him before the deadline?

PIERRE LeBRUN: Absolutely, and I know that there are some teams waiting for the appropriate time to wait to reach out to Wild GM Bill Guerin to ask him what’s going on there. I didn’t wait, I reached out to Bill Guerin on this day and asked him about Marc-Andre Fleury’s future, and what Guerin said is, number one, the Wild have not given up on this season. He thinks they can have a second-half surge, they still believe they can be a playoff team, so they’re not going to have a Marc-Andre Fleury conversation if that’s the case. But, Guerin acknowledged that, yes, if they fall out of it, he expects teams to call and he expects to have a discussion with Marc-Andre Fleury. Fleury has to have that discussion in the next couple weeks with his agent, Allan Walsh. They have a full no-move (clause), it’s up to Walsh and Fleury if he goes anywhere before the deadline, and we don’t know the answer to that yet. But there’s some obvious teams to think about, Toronto tried to trade for him two years ago. Different GM, but nevertheless, the Leafs still have question marks in goal. Edmonton, how about a mentor to Stuart Skinner? New Jersey, they haven’t had saves all year. Carolina, how about a mentor to (Pyotr) Kochetkov? So, there are some obvious places where Marc-Andre Fleury would fit if he has a meaningful role, he’s not going to waive to be a backup who doesn’t play. We’ll see where this goes.

DUTHIE: Meanwhile in Tampa, GM Julien BriseBois says he’s not trading Steven Stamkos before the deadline, that topic’s gone for TradeCentre. But what happens this summer, CJ?

CHRIS JOHNSTON: Exactly, it keeps Stamkos’ name off the Trade Bait board but it doesn’t really make the larger problem go away, and it’s been the same one since camp began, right? Steven Stamkos made it quite clear that he was disappointed that there weren’t more talks, that there wasn’t more of a priority placed on his next extension. This, I guess, is a simmering fire that stays under the surface now until after the year. The point from the Lightning end of things is they want to have a full-scale view of exactly where they’re at when that contract is kicking in, which would be next summer, but they have $41 million already committed to nine forwards for the next season, and so the math is very tough even with a rising cap from the Tampa end of things. There’s a mutual desire here to get things done, but this is still one of those issues that is lingering just beneath the surface.

DUTHIE: Winnipeg Jets, one of the stories of the year in the NHL. What might they want to add before the deadline, Dregs?

DARREN DREGER: Well, a couple of things, and look, it’s hard to critique a team that is hovering near the top of the National Hockey League, but every club has that wish list, so if you’re Kevin Cheveldayoff and the Winnipeg Jets, you’re perhaps looking at adding a centreman. Now, the centre market hasn’t fully been exposed yet, and it’ll likely creep closer to the trade deadline, but if there is a fit, and if there is an affordable fit, then yes, they would look to be doing something along those lines. They would also like to add a depth defenceman, every contending team wants that. But in the meantime, they’ve got Kyle Connor back and they’re looking forward to seeing the chemistry develop between Kyle Connor and Gabe Vilardi.

DUTHIE: In the middle of a rebuild, their spot in the standings, CJ, it looks like Chicago would go into the sellers’ side, but maybe not this year?

JOHNSTON: Well, they have less and less to sell, right? They’ve signed Jason Dickinson on this day to a two-year extension, not long after doing the same with Nick Foligno, and those were two of the main rental pieces that they probably had to dangle at the trade deadline. They do have other UFAs, likely not as prized around the league as much as those two players, and this is a shift from Chicago’s management. Obviously they need to hit the salary cap floor next year, these are two veteran forwards that have been proven to be a part of the leadership core, positive pieces to have around a Connor Bedard. They’ve also got 13 draft picks in the first two rounds of the next three drafts, so I think that they’re less thinking about accumulating assets, and more about building the right structured team around the young core to come.

DUTHIE: Elvis wants to leave the building in Columbus, Pierre, but are there any takers?

LeBRUN: You stole my line James, let’s face it you’re better at this than me anyway. No, there are no takers right now, the market is pretty soft for him, why? He’s got three more years on his contract after this year at $5.4 million, so I get that there’s maybe a mutual desire to have him move on, but he’s going to have to play a lot better when he gets a chance in goal to really reignite his marketplace before March 8th. I see this as more of a summer move, I could be wrong.

DUTHIE: Finally, the longest running story in the history of Insider Trading, I think we’re into our second or third decade of finding a stable home for the Arizona Coyotes, Dregs.

DREGER: There should be a buzzer very time we talk Coyotes, James, you get to hit the buzzer. But look, more or less an update here, I’m told that they are making progress in securing the property near Phoenix. Now it’s far from a done deal at this point, but the Arizona Coyotes are considered to be a primary suitor. The problem with it is, the property that has been targeted has to go to land auction first. It’s a valuable piece of land, so there could be other suitors. So, it’s not done yet.

DUTHIE: I’m sure you’ll update us, numerous more times before the end of the year.