Insider Trading: Olympic meeting to bring global leaders together
The TSN Hockey Insiders join host James Duthie to detail the latest on a meeting Wednesday for further Winter Olympics planning, how much cap room the Devils could have at the trade deadline, Carolina’s recent struggles, how Philip Broberg is a trade asset in more ways than one, goaltending priorities at the NHL’s holiday roster freeze and the Ducks modifying their "Leo Plan."
So, Wednesday in New York - all the key players finally getting into the same room as far as Olympic participation from the NHL?
Dreger: Yes, correct. I mean, it's a schedule that's been on the agenda for quite some time, but it includes all the global leaders. So, you're talking about the NHL, the National Hockey League Players' Association, the IOC and the IIHF. Now, international sources suggest that the IOC could present a formula to the NHL and NHLPA that would help remedy, or at least search for a resolution on some of the cost issues related to insurance, travel, accommodations, etc. Now, the NHL isn't quite as hopeful. They're looking, perhaps, into the new year for a full resolution, but I know all parties are looking forward to getting together in New York City.
Can't wait to see guys like Jack Hughes in the Olympic Games. His Devils right now sixth in their division, which is a bit of a disappointment and higher aspirations than that, and perhaps some money to spend at the deadline to get better if they want to?
LeBrun: Yeah. Silver lining. They'd obviously much rather have their top defenceman, Dougie Hamilton, in their lineup. But, you know, they officially announced after he had surgery for a torn pectoral muscle earlier this month that he'd be out indefinitely. They don't have a firm timeline, but my understanding is that he's probably out until the playoffs, until perhaps late April or early May. The flip side to that is it means they have his $9-million cap hit to play with ahead of the March 8th trade deadline. And that's the intention from the New Jersey Devils – is to likely be aggressive if they improve in the standings here. They've already been doing their due diligence on the "D market," but they could also potentially add a goalie. They could add a couple players that could help that roster with that $9 million.
Another team we thought would be doing a lot better is Carolina. If I go back to our season preview show, a lot of the prognosticators had them going very deep in the playoffs. What's happened and how are they taking it?
Johnston: Well, look, there was good reason for that. They won the division title the last three years. They're a team that's comfortably been in a playoff spot and here they are more than 30 games into the season on the cut line. And I think that's made for some really tense moments in Carolina. There's not a lot of harmony right now in that organization as they search for some answers. They've only won three-of-10 entering play on Tuesday night. A lot of eyebrows raised around the league when they put Antti Raanta on waivers over the weekend, ultimately sending him down to the AHL. Not just because of Raanta's pedigree, but because the guy they replaced him with came from the East Coast [Hockey] League up to Carolina. So yes, they're going to be looking in the goalie market. They've got some contracts assigned with some pending UFA's. Oh yeah, Rod Brind'Amour doesn't have a deal either. So I think that there's a real unsettled feeling around that team.
Edmonton still hoped to be a lot better than they are, despite the little run there to get them back into things. Philip Broberg never really fit in or found a place with the Oilers. Could he still be an asset on the trade market?
Dreger: Yeah, in a couple of different ways. It remains a curious situation for Philip Broberg, as we know, they're in win-now mode and he couldn't get into the lineup at the NHL level. Yet, you look at his [AHL] numbers – he's playing in Bakersfield and he's logging between 25 and 27 minutes per game. He wants to get back into the NHL. That's not likely in Edmonton unless there's an injury, so trade seems the most likely. But here's an interesting twist: maybe it's not just Philip Broberg for an asset coming back to the Edmonton Oilers. Maybe Broberg becomes the sweetener so they can also move Jack Campbell's contract to free up a little bit of cap space. So, Broberg is a commodity and it seems like that commodity is growing higher day by day.
Johnston: And when you mentioned Campbell, you might be sensing a theme here – another team that's in the market for a goaltender. Edmonton is one of at least four teams that's keeping tabs in this market. We've mentioned Carolina, we've mentioned New Jersey. Los Angeles has lost Pheonix Copley and they may be looking for maybe some lower-down depth, but also at that position. As the [NHL] formally moves into its holiday roster freeze here – meaning there's no trades or waiver activity through December 28th – I'm thinking on the other side of the holidays that the goaltending moves might be something that sparks the trade market because we have a lot of teams looking there. You only have to look at Detroit right now. They had three NHL goalies on their roster entering the week. They were down to one and they were signing Michael Hutchinson after a couple [of] injuries. So, there's been a lot of carnage in the crease around the league this year.
Pierre, out in Anaheim, you talked earlier this season about the "Leo plan," how they were going to ease Leo Carlsson into the gruelling NHL [schedule]. Has there already been a modification to that plan?
LeBrun: There has been, James. And you're right, Leo Carlsson limited to two games a week in the first two months of the [season]. Pat Verbeek, the Ducks GM, telling me this week that now he can play up to three games a week as they modified this plan and, starting in mid-January, Pat Verbeek believes that Leo Carlsson will play every game the rest of the year. Obviously, if he's healthy. So, it's been a unique approach to the second-overall pick from last June's draft. Carlsson has sat out nine of the team's 31 games so far this year. But he's put up points and it looks like it's a plan that's been well-received on both sides.