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Insider Trading: Injuries forcing Jets to consider all options

Winnipeg Jets Nikolaj Ehlers, Adam Lowry - The Canadian Press

Our TSN Hockey insiders Chris Johnston, Darren Dreger and Pierre LeBrun have the latest on how the NHL is handling helmet protocol in pre-game warmups, how the Jets are handling the injury to Nikolaj Ehlers, and more in this edition of Insider Trading. 

Glenn Schiiler: Guys, the one chance fans get to see stars on the ice without a helmet is during warmups but Chris, are the days of the 'hair skate' numbered?

Chris Johnston: Yes, take a picture now because it won't last long, as the NHL has mandated that all future players wear a helmet during warmups. This will be grandfathered, of sorts, to begin with: any players that entered the league in the 2019-20 season or after have to immediately adhere to the rule, but any player that started before has the option to choose what they want to do with their helmet. It results from a recommendation from the NHL and the NHL Players’ Association committee on concussions and also the health and safety committee, so this was the way forward and it is now in effect.

Schiiler: The Winnipeg Jets have gotten off to a great start this season but Darren, they're facing some adversity right now, dealing with some injuries. What's the latest on Nick Ehlers and the other forwards currently out for the Jets?

Darren Dreger: Well, Nicolaj Ehlers has had several consultations with a few different doctors and the reality is that they don’t know yet. Yes, surgery could be an option to get Ehlers healthy again but this has been a slow healing process for them but surgery has not yet been determined. Three of Winnipeg's top nine forwards are out. You're looking at Ehlers, [Mason] Appleton and [Morgan] Barron so in the short term they're hoping someone internally can step up to fill the void but obviously they're also considering some trade options as well.

Schiiler: The most talked-about defenceman on the trade market for the past year-plus has been Jakob Chychrun. He's about to make his season debut Chris, can we expect the rumours to ramp up around Chychrun once again?

Johnston: That's the expectation, it's been a year of talking about it but it's been seven-plus months since he's played a game. That's about to change on Monday night in Nashville when Arizona plays there. It's going to be one of those situations where we start monitoring the scouts list wherever the Coyotes are playing because Chychrun is someone who a lot of teams that have been in discussions with Arizona have said they want to see play. He's had ankle and wrist injuries, he's had surgeries, he's had some stops and starts as he looks to get going, but he's finally going to start playing and there's some hope that that could finally break the ice and lead towards a trade.

Pierre LeBrun: Another team that clubs have been looking at, clubs that have injuries along the blue line, is the Los Angeles Kings, who of course have started the season and are so loaded on the right side - four of their six in their top six are right handers, although Sean Durzi can play both sides and that's what he's been doing. Nineteen-year-old Brian Clark, a righty, is right now in the AHL on a conditioning stint, and there's some talk internally: does it make sense for him, if he wants, to go play for Team Canada at the World Juniors? Of course Jordan Spence, who played 24 games with the Kings last year, he played well and he's stuck in the AHL so teams are sitting there saying "when is L.A. going to be open for business with their D?" Right now Rob Blake, the general manager, wants to keep his depth as long as possible and he's not ready to wheel-and-deal just yet with those right-handed defencemen.

Schiiler: Meanwhile, there are a lot of head coaches with NHL success that currently do not have a job but are on the sidelines waiting for an opportunity; Dregs, is Joel Quenneville ready and able to get back in the game?

Dreger: Well, he's ready but he's not able to get back in the game. He would like to return to an NHL bench sooner rather than later. Now any team with interest or offering a job would have to go through the Florida Panthers first for permission, that seems to be a formality but the big hurdle of course is commissioner Gary Bettman. Quenneville has to be cleared to return to the NHL by the commissioner's office – that hasn't happened yet and there are some who think that it may not happen until next season.

Schiiler: Finally, Pierre, NHL hockey in the southern U.S.: we know it's had its share of ups and downs but the upcoming outdoor game in Carolina looks to be a smashing success, right?

LeBrun: Yeah, this is interesting the Carolina Hurricanes really had to convince the NHL to give them an outdoor game. Originally it was supposed to be played in February of 2021 but was cancelled by the pandemic, now it's coming in February of [2023]. They sold more than 30,000 tickets of their own allotment in six-to-seven days here. The Washington Capitals have their tickets to sell, the NHL has their tickets to sell, but what Carolina have to sell, they did, within seven days, 30,000-plus, so that tells you where the market currently is for the Hurricanes.