The Oilers are looking for help on the blue line, the Sharks are hearing from teams about Erik Karlsson, and the Canadiens have some decisions to make about developing their young players. Gino Reda and TSN Hockey Insiders discuss these topics and more in the latest edition of Insider Trading.
Pierre, you’re usually the type to “hit the brakes” when it comes to driving change, but is it fair to say the Oilers are no longer in a position to wait?
LeBrun: I don’t think Ken Holland is ready to panic, but our understanding of the situation is that Ken Holland has been on the phone a little later than usual and is digging into what’s in the fender swap market. So yes, we understand that he has spoken to Arizona about [Jakob] Chychrun, to Montreal over Joel Edmundson. Think of a team [that] it has a potential advocate in the commercial market and the Edmonton tankers are trying to dig deep into what that means and what the price is – the prices are very high. I think Ken Holland is willing to be patient, he doesn’t want to make a panic move. The other thing is that they are not one step away from fixing everything in Edmonton. I think the internal message is: ‘We need to play better.’ There is no doubt that it has been heard.
dredger: When I think of a team that might have a defenseman available, I think of Matt Dumba and the Minnesota Wild. There is no question that the Edmonton Oilers and Ottawa Senators have reached out and have an interest in Dumba. Why not? He’s 28, he’s a right-wing defenseman and he’s a pending unrestricted free agent. The problem from Wild’s point of view is that they need it. They’re playing pretty good right now. They’re still not sure they’re ready to move on from Matt Dumba even though you look ahead and see the Minnesota Wild’s salary cap problem… But the price would be high and then the Wild would have to go on the market. potentially to find someone to replace Matt Dumba.
And Erik Karlsson? With that incredible start, we originally thought four-plus seasons with a $11.5 million salary cap would make the deal really tough, but are we getting anywhere near anything?
LeBrun: Here’s what’s interesting: In November, at GM meetings, Mike Grier, the GM of the Sharks, came up and we asked him about Erik Karlsson and his future, and Mike Grier basically announced at the time, “We’d listen” to Erik. Karlsson. And so our question was: would someone call given that contract? Well, Karlsson has continued to have a torrid season and what’s happened subsequently: We can confirm that the teams have committed to the San Jose Sharks on what a trade might look like. I still think this is more likely to wait until the off-season, if anything. Karlsson isn’t completely moving … but the notable aspect here is that teams have called and talked to San Jose about Erik Karlsson.
When Kraken sent Shane Wright back to junior, it reignited a debate about what the Habs should do with Juraj Slafkovsky, especially since they can send him to the AHL if they want. Any news there?
dredger: Aside from the Montreal Canadiens remaining committed to strong development with Juraj Slafkovsky and some of their other younger players, the absolute truth is that the Montreal Canadiens aren’t playing hockey well right now. They are last in their division. They’re trying to shake things up to get a better assessment of where Slafkovsky and some of these other players are at. They are more likely to send Slafkovsky and some of the other young talent to Laval, but Kent Hughes won’t make a knee-jerk decision because his team is currently not playing well.
As difficult as the season has been for the Vancouver Canucks, one major bright spot has been the game of free agency signing Andrei Kuzmenko, and the Canucks’ situation is getting curious now. Are they closer to doing something with it?
LeBrun: There have been no contract negotiations, although the expectation is that it should happen within a month here, but the interesting thing of course is that the teams are calling. Why wouldn’t they be? It has a cap top. Teams looking for him, who are contenders, have next to no cap space — he’d be a great fit both in terms of what he can do offensively and the fact that he doesn’t take up a lot of cap space. But for now, the Canucks aren’t even sure they want to move him. They want to try and see if they can sign him. I think the price starts at at least $6 million per year on a bridging deal for Kuzmenko to stay in Vancouver, where, by all accounts, he’s pretty happy.
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