TSN Hockey Insiders Bob McKenzie, Pierre LeBrun and Darren Dreger joined host Gino Reda to discuss Barry Trotz calling out Peter Laviolette for putting out his top power play unit with the Predators up 8-3 over the Islanders. They also touch on why Dustin Byfuglien‘s future in the NHL still remains uncertain, why Travis Green isn’t on the hot seat in Vancouver and more.
Tuesday night was not a great night for the Islanders. They got thumped by the Predators 8-3. Not surprisingly, Barry Trotz was not happy with his team. But he wasn’t happy with Peter Laviolette, either.
LeBrun: Two day later, apparently. Because when asked in the media scrum on Thursday morning about the Nashville Predators putting out their top power-play unit late in an 8-3 game on a five-on-three power play no less, Barry Trotz went on to say that it’s something he’s going to bring up with his old pal Peter Laviolette in the summer. But basically, it’s not something he would do and if you read between the lines, he’s going to say that this was rubbing it in the face of the Islanders, is what he’s really saying. And listen, you get that. There’s tradition in this game where you don’t do that. But here’s the Nashville perspective. They were ranked last in power play in the National Hockey League a year ago, and guess where they are now? All the way up to 26th. So I think the Predators feel that every opportunity that they’re going to get to work on that woeful power play, they’re going to take it. Bottom line is Peter Laviolette replaced Barry Trotz in Nashville, I don’t think these guys are sending season’s greetings to each other.
News out of Winnipeg this week that Dustin Byfuglien is now rehabbing his ankle after that ankle surgery seven weeks ago. Is he any closer to rejoining the Jets?
Dreger: We don’t know that yet. But he is making progress, you’re right. And we know that based on the fact that he has advanced through the rehabilitation stage. But it’s not clear when he’ll be able to step back onto the ice and begin skating. And really, that is the phase that is going to be the most telling. Everyone who has this level of surgery requires a full rehab. But, because of the pending arb case, the Winnipeg Jets are also kept in form. But he’s still dealing with the rehabilitation clinic outside of the Jets organization. His status with the NHL club remains unchanged and that grievance hearing has yet to be scheduled.
Things are a little rough in Vancouver right now. (A) bit of a slide, they’ve lost three staight (games). They’re starting to lose track of a playoff spot. Travis Green got a little snippy with the media earlier this week. How much concern is there right now?
McKenzie: Well, there’s a lot of heat from the Vancouver fans and media. But I would say this, at this time there is no hot seat. At least, Travis Green’s not on it. There does not seem to be any sense within the Vancouver organization that a coaching change is anything they’d consider. Even though they had such a great start in October, a November not to remember and things have continued to be poor for them in December. And they also right now look like they’re just going to have to work their way out of this as we head up to the NHL trade roster freeze much later tonight. The Vancouver Canucks don’t have anything on the frontburner in that regard, either.
I want to follow-up on the roster freeze. That takes into effect at 11:59 p.m. ET. Are you hearing anything going on right now?
McKenzie: Well, you know a lot of GMs say it’s a great time if you’re looking for a defenceman. Because there are a lot of teams who are ready to shed defencemen and looking for scoring help. The Buffalo Sabres, for example. Colin Miller, Zach Bogosian, Marco Scandella are three names, amongst others, that have been out there for quite some time for the Sabres. For the Carolina Hurricanes, Jake Gardiner, Trevor van Riemsdyk, Joel Edmunson, take your pick. And more perhaps. Those teams are looking for forward help. They’re peddling out those names on defence. But quite frankly, they haven’t been able to pull anything off with regard to that and right now the market seems to be soft, at least for those defencemen that are available.
Earlier this week, Nikita Kucherov had a bit of a rough night. He gave away a puck which led to a Sens goal and then he watched most of the third period and all of overtime from the bench. Got benched. How do you see this unfolding, moving forward?
Dreger: I see this as a ‘Stay Tuned’ type of category specific to Nikita Kucherov and Jon Cooper, no doubt about it. A bold display of message-sending by Cooper but they won the game. So Nikita Kucherov isn’t too concerned. He wants to be a team-first guy. However, if this becomes a more frequent issue, then it could get ineresting in terms of that player-coach relationship. He’s in year one of a $76 million contract extension. That’s a tough spot for the head coach.