Insider Trading: Trade can’t fix what’s broken with the Maple Leafs
Gino Reda is joined by TSN Hockey Insiders Darren Dreger, Pierre LeBrun, and Chris Johnston to discuss if the Toronto Maple Leafs are active in the trade market, the latest on the Ottawa Senators’ general manager search, where free agent Patrick Kane may end up, and more on Insider Trading.
With the turmoil surrounding the Toronto Maple Leafs, is there much action surrounding the team on the trade front?
Darren Dreger: They’re looking [on the trade front] and we know that Brad Treliving is one of the more active NHL general managers. Undoubtedly, he’s involved in trade conversations and most definitely he’s targeting defencemen. But it’s so early and he doesn’t have a magic wand.
It’s the inconsistency of the goaltending and the injury bug since the Maple Leafs have three defencemen out. That means that defencemen who were ninth or 10th on their depth chart are actually playing in the NHL and in the lineup.
There hasn’t been a consistent commitment to checking or defending and those aren’t things that a general manager can fix via trade at this point of the regular season. What needs to happen is the forwards have to buy in, there has to be a commitment to tighten things up where the head coach can hold those who aren’t willing to do that accountable.
What’s the latest on the Ottawa Senators’ search for a new general manager?
Pierre LeBrun: President of hockey operations Steve Staios said that they have not yet reached out to teams for permission to speak to candidates about their general manager vacancy. But he did say that they now have a general idea about some of the candidates that they’ll reach out to.
Staios confirmed what Dreger said last week where all options remain on the table. It could be him [Staios] that ends up taking the job full time, it could be someone externally taking the job, or they can promote from within.
The key is from Staios’ perspective is that they want to stay nimble, they don’t want to box themselves in during this process. They’re going to take their time to figure it out.
Unrestricted free agent Patrick Kane is making huge strides on the ice since his hip resurfacing surgery but is he narrowing down the teams that he's willing to join?
Chris Johnston: I think his list of teams is somewhere between three-to-five range at this point in time. One thing they seem to share in common, at least from my sources, is that they all seem to be based in the Eastern Conference.
We’re talking about his hometown Buffalo Sabres or the New York Rangers, where Kane finished last season after his trade from the Chicago Blackhawks. The Detroit Red Wings who are off to a great start and have Alex DeBrincat, his former linemate, who is doing well there. Finally, the Florida Panthers fresh off their appearance in the Stanley Cup Final last year where there’s ties between him and general manager Bill Zito.
Those appear to be the four main contenders and Kane and his agent, Pat Brisson, are going to work their way talking to those organizations to figure out the best fit is towards finding his next contract.
Pierre LeBrun: There’s certainly none at the moment. The Flames organization have been fine with the way Huberdeau has responded to that benching. Head coach Ryan Huska had a nice meeting with Huberdeau after that benching and my understanding is Huberdeau has absolutely no problem with the coaching or the staff.
The reality is that Huberdeau is angry with himself and expects more from himself. There’s no question when he had his monster year two years ago with the Panthers that they played an up-tempo offence that used his skill set better. But the Flames play a different style.
At the end of the day, Huberdeau is looking at himself in the mirror to get himself out of this funk.
The NHL GMs are going to be gathering to Toronto for the GMs meeting next week. What can you tell us about the topics to be discussed?
Chris Johnston: Two topics stand out to me the most. One is going to be a discussion about trade calls in the aftermath of the Evgenii Dadonov situation with the Senators forfeiting a first-round draft pick. Some managers have reached out to the league wanting a bit more clarity about what happened there to avoid those situations going forward. There will be an update from Central Registry.
As you can expect, there’s going to be more discussion about cut-resistant equipment. The neck protectors have started to appear all around the league and there’s a plan from NHL Hockey Operations to have some of the various neck protectors in the room with an explanation of the material and what makes each one safe or not. So I expect that this will be a conversation that continues in Toronto.
Darren Dreger: I’m also wondering if general mangers will ask about a sudden push for the NHLPA to appeal four-game suspensions. We’ve seen that back-to-back with Flames defenceman Rasmus Andersson quickly appealing a four-game suspension because he didn’t want to miss the Heritage Classic [in Edmonton].
Boston Bruins defenceman Charlie McAvoy was suspended for four games and he also appealed that suspension. Both were upheld by commissioner Gary Bettman, who handles all appeals that are five games or less.
I’m told that this isn’t trend-setting and is purely coincidental. It also almost never happens where the commissioner overturns the ruling of the Department of Player Safety.