TSN Hockey Insiders Bob McKenzie, Pierre LeBrun and Darren Dreger gathered for the latest installment of Insider Trading and the topics discussed included the Buffalo Sabres general manager search, the resurfacing of former Toronto Maple Leafs coach Ron Wilson, Team Canada's captain and the Edmonton Oilers asking price for Sam Gagner.
Who will become the new general manager of the Buffalo Sabres?
McKenzie: The very clear front-runner and Pat LaFontaine's first choice is Ottawa Senators' assistant general manager, Tim Murray. As of Tuesday evening, no formal offer had been made to Murray and no contract negotiations have taken place as of yet. However, it is clear LaFontaine would like Murray to be the guy. In related news, Boston Bruins assistant general manager Jim Benning's window of permission to talk to the Sabres expired Tuesday. He is now out of the picture, there are also other finalists that have been told they are no longer part of the mix. Right now it is headed toward Tim Murray, but there is no formal offer or contract negotiations taking place just yet.
Who will become the GM of the Calgary Flames?
McKenzie: Brian Burke is getting set to commence his search, it is likely to be a slow and deliberate pace and it could be until the draft before Burke has picked a new GM. Burke has no intention of doing the job himself long-term, but he may fill the role for the balance of this season. There are several reasons for this, he will looking at many experienced candidates such as Joe Nieuwendyk and Darcy Regier, as well as up and comers like Mike Futa from the Los Angeles Kings and Brad Treliving of the Phoenix Coyotes. Due to the length of the Buffalo search, many teams granted their officials a window to interview and are not in position where they want to grant permission again and have their guys flapping in the breeze for another search. Therefore, this could drag out for quite some time.
Ron Wilson walked away from hockey after being fired by the Toronto Maple Leafs, is there a chance he may resurface?
Dreger: Wilson basically disappeared after the disappointment with the Leafs in 2010, 2011, 2012. There is a chance he could return, he is discreetly putting word out there that his ready, waiting and willing to coach again. For some, he may be considered a long-shot and it is relatively quiet on the coaching front but aside from his coaching record with the Maple Leafs, he is considered to be a very good coach, as his record of 1,400 games would indicate.
Who will be Team Canada's captain, it seems obvious with Sidney Crosby but Jonathan Toews has two Olympics appearances, two Stanley Cups and was terrific in the 2010 Games, is there a possibly a question there?
LeBrun: Toews will be in his second Olympics and there is some argument, and how could there not be after everything Toews has accomplished, but the betting money is obviously on Sidney Crosby, the best player in the world. What's interesting to me is the dynamic between Toews and Crosby, mutual admirations aside, I remember when Toews got a text from Crosby when Toews was named captain of Chicago, that meant a lot to him. I remember in September we asked top players who their top forward in the NHL was and most of them, of course, said Crosby but Toews said "and by 30 per cent it's Sidney Crosby." So there is, I think, a special bond between those two guys and they'll both wear a letter in Sochi.
We expect Crosby, Kunitz, Stamkos on the top line but if Stamkos isn't ready to go, do they have a list of top two replacements for him?
Lebrun: They have some candidates, I think among those at the top is Claude Giroux, a big surprise omission from Team Canada, he's one of those strong candidates if he continues to play well. James Neal is another option, a great triggerman, a guy like Stamkos that could fill the net. Those are the top two guys.
Is there an X-factor for Team Canada?
LeBrun: Ralph Krueger, the former Switzerland national coach, talked to the Canadian national coaching staff and they cannot believe what impact he's had in his feedback for them on the big ice and international hockey. In fact, Kruger is going to meet with head coach Mike Babcock on the Detroit Red Wings' upcoming western road trip. He'll update Canada again on what he's seen overseas.
P.K. Subban is on Team Canada, how are his contract negotiations going with the Montreal Canadiens?
McKenzie: Negotiations are ongoing, there is no real hard news to report there other than we know Dion Phaneuf signed a long-term deal with the Maple Leafs worth $7 million a year. P.K. Subban's asking price will be somewhere from $8 million to $9 million a year. I am sure the Canadiens will not be thrilled about that and I suspect it's going to be tough sledding for some time to get this deal done.
Dreger: We will also continue watch the speculation around the Edmonton Oilers and Sam Gagner, there is no question the Oilers would consider moving him. The expected rate of return would be a top-six forward, a top-four defenceman or a starting goalie.