June 17, 2018 | 1:30pm ET
BY Dennis Bernstein, The Fourth Period
TRADE SEASON IS PICKING UP
LOS ANGELES, CA -- The rumour mill was fed with solid information via Saturday’s “Off The Rush” program on NHL Network Radio on SiriusXM.
In my regular co-hosting seat alongside Nick Alberga, the lineup of guests included former NHL executive Brian Burke and Mayor’s Manor’s John Hoven. The two touched on several topics including Friday evening’s trade between the Montreal Canadiens and the Arizona Coyotes which saw wingers Max Domi and Alex Galchenyuk change addresses.
Specifically, on the ramifications of the Galchenyuk trade, their inability to improve their center depth and Montreal GM Marc Bergevin’s strategy heading into the draft, Burke conveyed his thoughts that were crafted with a conversation with Bergevin recently:
“I was never a big fan of Lars Eller when he was in Montreal. I never felt he was a factor in games. I didn’t dislike him, but I never thought he was that good of a player. I think his absence was apparent and obvious,” Burke said. “I’ve talked to Bergevin about this and he’s said, ‘no one will trade me a No.1 or No.2 center. If you have them, you’ve (got to draft) them.’ He’s probably right.
“The hardest position to fill is goaltender, second hardest is defense and third hardest is center. He has tried desperately to trade for a center. And he could overpay for a centre, but I think he thinks there’s a couple of centres he likes in this draft and he should be able to move down from where he is (third overall pick) and get one of the guys he likes. I think that’s the way he is going to address it and he hopes that player can play right away. I’m not sure either of the top two centres (in this draft) will play (in the NHL) this year.”
On the increasing toxic situation in Ottawa including the off-ice drama:
“It is not uncommon for two teammates not to get along. Normally, your captain sorts it out or you have a good fight in practice. I’ve had wives and girlfriends of players not get along. I had one wife who wouldn’t go into the wives’ room because she didn’t get along with one of the other wives. She sat outside the room on a folding chair and wait after games.”
Burke then differentiated the Senators scenario:
“It’s very unusual for it to (get) this intricate; I guess we’re just victims now of the technology and it’s very unusual for it to be this public. But this stuff happens and (Senators GM) Pierre (Dorion) is a good guy, he will figure it out. Maybe someone has to go, maybe someone doesn’t, I think one guy was going anyway. So, we’ll see what happens.”
As it affects the potential return on a Mike Hoffman trade:
“First of all, these are only accusations and haven’t been proven. This may be like (former Philadelphia 76ers executive) the Bryan Colangelo situation, it may be that someone else is doing this and maybe Hoffman’s (fiancé) isn’t responsible. It’s all conjecture. I don’t think this affects (Hoffman’s) trade value, but this is an isolated situation. Two women aren’t getting along, it is true, I don’t see how it affects the player’s value.”
Regarding the Kings are their continued search for scoring help, Hoven expanded on his recent Mayor’s Manor article touching on the options both through free agency and the trade market. Overall, Hoven does not believe that a core player (Tyler Toffoli and Tanner Pearson specifically and to a lesser extent Jake Muzzin and Alec Martinez) will be dealt this off-season to improve the offense overall but adds “there is no doubt in my mind they are adding a top six forward in the next couple of weeks.”
On Drew Doughty extension:
“By the time we go to sleep on July 3, the deal will be signed, sealed and delivered. I think it probably comes in at about $12 million (AAV).”
On Joe Thornton:
“It’s possible, but I think for the same reasons San Jose wouldn’t be interested, you look at his age, the type of injuries he’s dealt with for the last couple of years and the money he would command,( I don’t think the Kings would be either). If San Jose closed the door completely, maybe he circles back with LA…. It was a great idea last summer, not this summer.”
On the reported interest in free agent winger Ilya Kovalchuk:
“If you’re looking to commit $18 million dollars over three years to a 35-year-old player, that’s a little iffy especially for an LA Kings team that is trying to get younger and faster. However, the key thing for the Kings to do now is to add offense, they scored they scored 3 goals in losing that first round series and they know they are desperate for offense. Kovalchuk does give them that option of adding instant offense. They scouted him heavily over in Russia the past couple of years, they know what they’re getting - he has a great one timer and he would look great on their top line with Kopitar and Brown. If there is a possibility they can get him on a two-year deal at $5 million per, the Kings would be absolutely interested. They would be able to add offense without giving up assets.”
On a potential deal with the Carolina Hurricanes for Jeff Skinner:
“The Jeff Skinner deal is interesting expect for the fact that it could be Milan Lucic 2.0, I don’t mean the player, I mean the deal. The Kings loaded up, they traded three assets for Lucic and he was gone within a year. Skinner is an unrestricted free agent next summer if you have confidence you can re-sign him (you make the deal), but they thought they would be able to re-sign Lucic and Andrej Sekera, too. You’re going to give up three assets for Jeff Skinner, I don’t see the Kings moving their first-round draft pick this year. The Skinner deal would be the best one but you’re not trading three assets – which would probably be Derek Forbort, Jonny Brodzinski and a second or third round pick because I don’t believe they’re looking to move Muzzin or Martinez (unless you’re sure you can extend him).”
DB’s Final Take
I’m taking the bet that when Vegas Golden Knights GM George McPhee leaves Dallas on the Sunday after the Draft, he’ll depart with Erik Karlsson on the blueline. It will probably require taking Bobby Ryan into the bargain, but I feel he’s ready to pay the price. It will take multiple assets but as his team did all season, McPhee looks ready to seize the moment to build on the Golden Knights’ shocking and unprecedented inaugural season success.