TSN Hockey Insiders Bob McKenzie, Pierre LeBrun and Darren Dreger join host James Duthie to discuss how Alexis Lafrenière and Quinton Byfield impressive starts, Nolan Patrick‘s timeline and more.
It was about three weeks ago we did our first Bob McKenzie draft rankings special, No. 1 and 2 on that list were Alexis Lafrenière and Quinton Byfield, and early in the season is it easy to say they have more than lived up to that hype?
McKenzie: No doubt about it. I’ll give the usual provisory, it’s early, a lot can happen between now and the end. But I’ll tell you what; NHL scouts have been blown away by how these top two prospects have played so far in the Quebec league and Ontario Hockey League. Start with Alexis Lafrenière, 19 points in 8 games for Rimouski, scouts are just raving about his hockey sense and everything he’s done in the early going. And then there’s Quinton Byfield, six-foot-four, 215lbs, he’s got 16 points in seven games. They’ve opened up some daylight between them and everyone else in the draft so far, but you have Lucas Raymond, Cole Perfetti and Alexander Holtz rounding out our top 5. Perfetti is an interesting one in Saginaw, he’s only got one goal and it was an empty net goal. Some scouts think he’s getting a lot of chances, hitting a lot of posts and crossbars and think he’s going to be fine. There’s other who are looking though and see not a lot of energy in his game and putting him on notice. Because there are other challengers in this draft that are ready to jump up and move into that top 5.
Dreger: Well, Tim Stutzle is a player that many are watching around the National Hockey League as well. He’s playing in the DEL with Mannheim, and he may in fact challenge both Raymond and Holtz as the top European going into the draft. NHL clubs are buzzing over this kid, of late. As Bob talked about it’s early, he was 14th on our TSN preseason list but he is an excellent skater, has a great hockey IQ, a NHL quality shot, and he’s quarterbacking the power play in Mannheim, he’s only 17 but he’s a kid worth watching.
We’re still two seasons away from the Seattle expansion team, we’re going to get to know the name in the New Year, but when are they going to name a head coach?
LeBrun: Potentially a year later, so January. 2021 is the opening of the window when GM Ron Francis says he’s looking to name a head coach. Really it depends on the candidates that are available at that time, but sometime between January 2021 and June 2021 is when he would like to name the first coach in the franchise history. To compare, Vegas hired Gerard Gallant six months before puck drop, so January would be three months before Vegas hired their head coach, and that’s not surprising, Ron Francsi was hired a full year before George McPhee as GM of the Vegas expansion team. Seattle is showing that they’re willing to pay in order to get a leg up on their preparation.
Former No. 2 draft pick Nolan Patrick has been dealing with migraines, is he close to getting back in the lineup?
McKenzie: He’s been listed as ‘week-to-week- so there is no official timeline to when he might be back, but the good news is, his condition has been improving he’s not 100 per cent by any stretch of the imagination. But on Tuesday for example, he skated 30 minutes with the Philadelphia Flyers, in a non-contact jersey obviously. And the good news too, as the Flyers headed west in Vancouver, Edmonton and Calgary they took Patrick along with them. He’s going to continue his rehab and his conditioning and the feeling is that this is like his training camp, and that maybe sometime in the next three weeks he might be back playing games and that could include a conditioning stint in the American Hockey League. But he’s trending in the right direction.
The never ending Insider Trading issue of NHL participation in the Olympics, it seems the NHL still doesn’t want to go, the players definitely want to go. Is there any discussion happening?
LeBrun: Yeah and the third component is the IOC, which was really to blame originally as to why it didn’t happen the last time around, they didn’t want to pay for travel or insurance. Well, last week the NHL, led by Bill Daily visited the IOC in Switzerland. It was the first meeting in a while, informal maybe but nevertheless Thomas Bach the president meeting with Bill Daily; we’ll see where it goes.
Dreger: Yeah and actually there is a fourth element and that’s the IIHF. The IIHF meetings are next month and the belief is the European hockey federations are going to start putting the heat on René Fasel to start putting the heat on IOC to get something done.