Insider Trading: Trade market jammed with teams assessing needs
TSN’s Hockey Insiders discuss the London police investigation, look at the NHL trade market, explain how the Blue Jackets are listening on (unlikely trade pieces) Patrik Laine and Ivan Provorov, have the latest on the struggling Kings, outline the next potential steps for the NHL/Utah and the latest on the Coyotes’ work towards a new arena.
No comment from NHL, NHLPA
Gino Reda: They are the Insiders, Chris Johnston, Pierre LeBrun and Darren Dreger. We got word on Wednesday that according to a report in The Globe and Mail, five members of the [Canadian] 2018 World Junior hockey team had been told to surrender to police in London, Ontario to face charges of sexual assault. Any response to the news from the NHL or the NHLPA, Pierre?
LeBrun: Gino, both the NHL and the NHLPA declined comment again on Thursday for a second day in a row in regards to matters pertaining to that Globe and Mail report, and we believe they may not comment until that February 5 update from London Police unless other events warrant it. For example, a player surrendering to authorities in London and that information being made public by police. In the meantime, the league's own investigation, which had been undergoing for a long time, I don't think they're going to go ahead and make anything public there at this point, anything pre-emptive anyway, they want to see how things unfold with the legal process in London.
Trade market jammed up with teams assessing needs
Reda: We're now just over six weeks to the NHL trade deadline. While general managers continue to light up the phone lines, what else is going on in the boardrooms right now, Chris?
Johnston: Well, it was a big week for pro scouting meetings, which is an important part of the process for most teams, as they prepare for March 8. It's when they identify targets, they go team by team around the league, looking for fits potentially for trades and it usually pre-empts those kinds of conversations and you know, it's not a mystery at this point in time that there's a lot of teams already looking to upgrade their teams. We've seen seven players now claimed on waivers in January alone after a couple of waiver claims were made Thursday from the Calgary Flames. But the word that I'm getting is that it's jammed up because it's just not a lot of clarity in the standings. There's not a lot of true sellers. And so while there are lots of teams out there looking to add to their group it seems like it's going to be a late developing trade market.
Laine and Provorov unlikely trade pieces, but CBJ listening
Reda: We like to use the words buying or selling. But Darren, there's a new word getting used a lot right now, teams are "listening."
Dreger: Yeah, listening. It's a safe way really of describing when you're engaging in trade discussions, or you're at least willing to listen and that's where the Columbus Blue Jackets come in. Jarmo Kekalainen, the general manager of the Blue Jackets, is willing to listen on a couple of big-name guys like Patrik Laine and Ivan Provorov and there are others. Now obviously, Adam Fantilli is untouchable and there are other young players the Blue Jackets won't want to move. A number of teams though are also very interested in veteran Boone Jenner, but he's a heart and soul guy with a terrific contract so it's highly unlikely that the Blue Jackets consider moving him. But again, Jarmo Kekalainen and the Columbus Blue Jackets are listening.
Kings vow to ‘stay the course’ amid a growing skid
Reda: All right, the Kings are getting a little frustrated right now, just two wins in their last 14 games. Drew Doughty even called out his teammates publicly. How do the Kings avoid panic, Dregs?
Dreger: It's not easy. Stay the course for now is the message that's coming from the Los Angeles Kings management group. But the Kings have been a staple here on Insider Trading for the last couple of weeks anyway, given the fact that they've lost 12 of 14. But the messaging is clear. Todd McLellan isn't shirking responsibility. Drew Doughty, I mean he pointed to selfishness following the loss to the Buffalo Sabres. Pierre-Luc Dubois, he's trying to work out of his funk. All of those things have to come together so they can stay the course for now. They've got seven of their next eight on the road. Change may have to come through necessity.
Next steps for potential Utah NHL expansion
Reda: Pierre, you spoke with Utah Jazz owner Ryan Smith about his interest in an NHL expansion team. What's the latest from the league on that front, Pierre?
LeBrun: Well, it's important to note that the league has not actually started an expansion process so far. But what's unusual of what transpired is that Ryan Smith is kind of putting pressure on the league. They're saying, please do start that expansion process. Now officially, there isn't a Board of Governors meeting until June. But that doesn't mean that they have to wait until June, the league that is, to get the ball rolling if they want it. All it takes is for Gary Bettman to ring up the executive committee, the smaller group of owners, and bring this process up and then the executive committee can decide whether or not they want to recommend the process to begin to the Board of Governors in June. Again, we're not saying that will happen. But that is on the table if the NHL wants to. I think the other thing that's important to note is a lot of people are wondering how can you expand to a 33rd team to Utah, it's not symmetric the league finally got to 32. The reality is the NHL would have no problem going [up] by one team if they had to. As Dregs mentioned several months ago, the next expansion fee could be up to $2 billion. That's why I think that they would have no problem expanding by just one team if it wants to. But first they have to figure out what's going to happen with the Arizona Coyotes.
Coyotes still working towards new arena
Johnston: And with Utah in the mix, obviously that does put the spotlight on the Coyotes. And you know, there's some question about whether this imminent deadline here for them to sort out what they're going to do with their new arena situation. They look to secure a piece of land in North Phoenix. I don't get that sense just yet. I know Marty Walsh in an interview with The Athletic this week said the clock is ticking but the clock does appear to have a few more months on it until next year's NHL schedule has to be finalized. And I'll remind you when the Atlanta Thrashers relocated to Winnipeg back in 2011, that announcement didn't come until May 31st. And so there is still a window to play with here while the Coyotes try to figure things out.
Reda: That's not a clock that's a sundown my friend. They are the Insiders, Chris Johnston, Pierre LeBrun and Darren Dreger.