The right phone call to the Jets from another team can change everything, but a source said on Wednesday that nothing on the table from other clubs was close to something that Winnipeg GM Kevin Cheveldayoff would accept at this point.
And so the waiting game continues, as it has ever since the defenseman asked for a trade last month.
"Time is precious, time is precious,’’ Trouba’s agent, Kurt Overhardt, said Wednesday via phone. "Obviously we’ve been working on this since May. We’ve been overt and transparent about it. We continue to try to facilitate a mutually advantageous transaction. There’s certainly several of them out there and, at some point, I’m confident that one of them will happen and confident that both parties will work in good faith.’’
In the meantime, Trouba is losing money with each passing day. But his camp is taking a big-picture view on things. "This is a career decision, one which was deliberated upon," Overhardt said.
This is an interesting negotiation because both the agent and Cheveldayoff are patient guys. I believe the Jets GM when he tells other teams he’s not making a deal for the sake of it. Other GMs have said as much. His price -- a young, top-four, left-handed defenseman -- must be met. And he has the full backing of ownership, which is no small thing.
But Overhardt showed with another client who once asked for a trade, Kyle Turris, that he will wait it out too. That trade -- between the Coyotes and Senators -- didn’t go down until Dec. 17, well into the 2011-12 season.
Other items of interest from around the NHL:
Teams continue to inquire with the Anaheim Ducks regarding the availability of defenseman Cam Fowler because of word that the Ducks have to move money eventually, but I don’t think that’s a front-burner issue just yet. And maybe he'll never be traded at all. My read here is that priority No. 1 for Anaheim remains getting top defenseman Hampus Lindholm re-signed, and I think both sides have moved on that front over the past few weeks. Still, no deal yet. The recent signing of Rasmus Ristolainen to a six-year deal worth $5.4 million per season, the same contract that Seth Jones got in Columbus, is certainly a comparable. But so is the contract of Morgan Rielly from the Maple Leafs (six years times $5 million per season).
On the one hand, Lindholm’s 92 points over 236 career games played are more than Jones (who had 83 points in 240 games before this season) and Ristolainen (65 points in 194 games before this season) and yet exactly the same as Rielly. That’s right, strangely enough, the Leafs’ blueliner had 92 points in 236 games before this season, same as Lindholm.
So where does the right number fall for Lindholm? My sense is that his camp, led by agent Claude Lemieux, is probably still looking for just a bit more than the $5.4 million Jones and Ristolainen got, while the Ducks are somewhere in between Rielly’s $5 million cap hit and the $5.4 million figures of Jones and Ristolainen.
In the meantime, once Lindholm does re-sign, the Ducks will indeed have to create cap room. That’s where teams will come calling hard on Fowler ($4 million cap hit this year and next); but other options for Anaheim include buying time by parking a guy like Simon Despres on injured reserve if he remains out.
There are lots of moving parts in Anaheim, to be sure.
The work continues on the expansion draft front as it pertains to nailing down, once and for all, the eligibility requirements for players. According to sources, the NHL recently sent the NHL Players’ Association the list of protected players (those with no-move clauses in their contracts). These are the players who can’t be exposed in the June expansion draft; they must be protected. The NHLPA has 30 days to respond to the list, so that should fall somewhere in mid-November. Both sides want to make sure they agree on the protected list because the wording of no-move clauses isn’t standard; it varies from contract to contract, particularly those that are modified by limited no-trade clauses on top of it. Waiting eagerly for this protected list to be finalized, of course, is the Las Vegas expansion franchise, which already has held a mock expansion draft and plans to conduct more as the season goes on. But getting final clarification on a lot of these players will make their preparation more effective.
Speaking of the expansion draft, Pittsburgh’s signing of Matt Murray to a three-year extension reminds everyone of the decision ahead. Veteran Marc-Andre Fleury has a full no-move clause but also a modified no-trade. I think the Penguins are operating under the assumption that he would have to be protected for the expansion draft because of the no-move. Again, everyone will know for sure once the NHL and NHLPA agree on that protected list, as cited above. But let’s assume that Fleury’s no-move exempts him from the expansion draft, and let’s also assume that Pittsburgh will choose the younger Murray over him eventually. If so, here are the options for the Penguins, who greatly respect Fleury and would want to treat him well no matter how this plays out:
1) Trade him with his (no-move) consent to a desired team either before the March 1 trade deadline or before the June expansion draft;
2) Ask him to waive his no-move for purposes of putting himself in the expansion draft;
3) Buy out his contract, making him a free agent and allowing the Penguins to protect Murray from the expansion draft;
4) Make a trade with Las Vegas that ensures the new club doesn’t select Murray even if the Penguins can only protect Fleury.
Now, to be clear, I don’t believe that the Penguins have made any such decision on either goalie. They want the season to play out a bit. It’s not completely out of the realm of possibility that Fleury reclaims the No. 1 job and the Penguins trade away Murray after the season, an asset that actually would fetch them more in a transaction given his age (22) and cap hit ($3.75 million, starting next season). But I doubt that’s Pittsburgh's course of action after Murray backstopped the Penguins to a Stanley Cup last season.
In the meantime, if there’s ever a season to have two No. 1 goalies, this is it. Normally it’s cumbersome to accommodate the kinds of workload two starters would want. But this is a very compressed NHL schedule this year because of the World Cup and the new five-day "bye week’’ each team is getting in the second half. I’ve heard many teams complain already about the schedule. There are a ton of three-games-in-four-nights sequences all season long. So having the ability to dress a No. 1 goalie every night -- when most other teams will have to play a clear backup more than they’d like -- should be a competitive advantage for the Penguins.
Once Murray is activated by the Penguins, they’ll put Mike Condon on waivers for the purpose of sending him down. They hope to keep him, but there’s certainly a chance he gets claimed. Montreal has first dibs, by the way, because the Canadiens lost him on waivers to Pittsburgh a few weeks ago.
Could the Los Angeles Kings be interested in Condon? With Jonathan Quick out at least three months, I think the Kings will start to look at goalie options unless their current backups pick up their play. Condon makes just $575,000 and is an unrestricted free agent after the season. If the Kings do pick up another goalie, it’s a very good bet it’s a guy who is on an expiring contract. I wonder if Pittsburgh doesn’t call L.A. at some point to ask about a potential trade involving Condon. Better to get a low pick in a trade than nothing by losing him on waivers.
The NHLPA is continuing to look into Edmonton’s decision to scrap an off-day Monday and hold a practice. The union is reviewing the situation, even given the fact that it came with the players’ consent and that the players got Wednesday off in return. The NHLPA has 60 days to decide whether it will file a grievance with the league on the matter. Why? Because it’s the union’s job to make sure the rights the players negotiated in the CBA aren’t eroded in any fashion. It’s a slippery slope from there. When it comes to the mandated off-days the players have as per the CBA (four off-days for a regular month, so basically one a week), the NHLPA is notified ahead of time how all 30 teams are doling out those off days.The NHLPA is concerned that if and when an off-day is cancelled at the last moment -- like it was for the Oilers late Sunday night after a fuming Edmonton coach Todd McLellan announced his players would practice Monday following a bad loss to the Buffalo Sabres -- the union worries that some players make plans in their personal lives that revolve around those mandated off-days, whether it’s going to the dentist or spending a day with a child, or getting the winter tires put on, etc. Those plans get scrapped in a hurry when those off-days are changed. And losing a bad game, according to the NHLPA, isn't a sufficient reason for scrapping a mandated off-day. (That said, I don’t blame McLellan for feeling the way he did. I think it’s important he breaks this team of its previous bad habits early this season.)The NHL doesn’t think there’s anything to this Edmonton situation. One league source called it a "nonissue,’’ adding that clubs have the right to change the schedule, including for reasons related to team performance. Plus, the league source added, the CBA doesn’t obligate clubs to schedule off-days during partial months, which October would constitute.The rule in the CBA is contained in article 16.5 and this passage particularly underscores this situation: "The parties recognize that events may unfold such that the monthly schedule may need to be altered or modified to adjust for unforeseen and compelling circumstances.’’That's certainly open to interpretation. But expect the NHLPA to continue to talk with the league about this, not just as it pertains to Edmonton specifically in this case, but in the bigger picture moving forward in how it relates to all teams.
Andrew Shaw had a meeting with NHL player safety czar Stephane Quintal on Tuesday. The point of the meeting was to clearly communicate to the Montreal Canadiens winger what’s within the rules. Chris Pronger, who works alongside Quintal in the player safety group, did the same Tuesday in Chicago with Philadelphia Flyers forward Brayden Schenn. The point of both meetings was educational, to communicate to both players what is within the rules and what is not. Shaw was suspended during the preseason for a hit from behind and then got in hot water last week for an apparent slew foot at the buzzer in Buffalo, although Player Safety decided it was more of a trip since he didn’t use his arm. Still, a friendly chat Tuesday between Quintal and Shaw -- I’m told Shaw was very receptive to what Quintal was saying -- was warranted.Quintal did the same with the likes of Milan Lucic and Dustin Brown last year. Brendan Shanahan, Quintal’s predecessor, used to do the same thing once in a while -- call a guy up and have a conversation about the dos and don’ts. The point is that player safety should be as much about education as it is about punishment.
And finally ... I’m sorry, but Vincent Trocheck’s shootout goal Tuesday night doesn’t meet the smell test. It passed review from the folks in the video room in Toronto because, as per rule 24.2, the puck was still technically traveling toward the goal line (or was it?). But I also think common sense has to prevail here. That looked like a failed scoring attempt and then a player going to collect a loose puck and taking another shot. You can bet that shootout goal will be brought up at the GMs meeting in November.