Tuesday, January 21, 2014
Rumblings: Video replay, trade market for Vanek, Moulson and more
By Pierre LeBrun
Detroit’s off-the-mesh goal last Saturday against Los Angeles was the final piece of evidence in guaranteeing that general managers will discuss expanding video review at the March meeting in Boca Raton.
The goal should never have counted but current video review parameters didn’t allow for the war room in Toronto to overrule it.
That’s almost surely going to change. A league source confirmed expanded video review is already on the GMs’ meeting agenda and current momentum seems to be obvious: there are more GMs than ever in support of handing the Toronto war room expanded video powers.
It’s about wanting to get it right. You don’t want Game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals decided by such a goal.
Again Monday night there was a goal that perhaps should not have counted: Joe Pavelski's third-period winner over Calgary. Replays seemed to show Pavelski was offside on the entry into the zone. It’s possible that if GMs OK expanded review in March, that’s the kind of play that could be reviewed and the kind of goal that could be disallowed.
The question is, would the league try to implement expanded video review for this season’s playoffs? There’s a chance that happens, a source said, although certainly far from a certainty.
Getting it down for the playoffs would require the NHLPA and the 30 owners to sign off on whatever the 30 GMs vote on in March.
Vanek's futureIt has seemed like a given that Thomas Vanek was headed to the UFA market this summer, so hearing there’s even a chance he might consider re-signing with the New York Islanders is news in itself.
If I had to put money on it, I still think Vanek walks -- which means he probably gets traded by the Islanders before the March 5 deadline -- but truth be told, the 30-year-old star winger has enjoyed his time in Long Island and it has given him some pause for thought.
"There’s no question he has liked his teammates, he has liked his coaches, has been impressed with [Isles GM] Garth Snow and management; two weeks into it he realized there was tons of positives that he liked," Vanek’s agent, the veteran Stephen Bartlett, told ESPN.com on Tuesday. "Does that mean that we’re ready to sign on the dotted line? No that’s still being discussed in a number of ways. They have to make a decision where he fits into their team structure ... and Thomas has to decide whether at this stage of his career if that’s the best spot for him. But his decision in the end won’t reflect at all in the fact that he’s found way more positives than negatives about his experience on the Island. He’s had nothing but positives to say to me about the way he’s been treated."
It’s not an easy decision. Vanek has never been an unrestricted free agent before. That’s always hard for a player to pass up for the first time in his career.
"There are other decisions that he has to make that are partly financial and partly family-oriented; that’s what he’s working through right now," Bartlett said.
At some point, though, Snow needs an answer closer to the March 5 trade deadline.
"I give Garth Snow tremendous credit because even though he gave up a lot to get him, he’s never turned up the screws, he’s given time to let him get to know the Island," Bartlett said. "We understand the business side of things though, if there comes a time where they fall completely out of the playoff picture on top of that if Thomas isn’t ready yet to make that kind of [contract] commitment, we understand there’s a chance that they’ll have to cover their butts and look to see if they can make a deal to recoup some of the assets they gave up. We completely understand that. But no one thinks anything but good things about how the Islanders have treated Thomas."
Kings' wish listThe Kings were 23rd in the NHL in goals per game before Thursday’s match in Columbus.
They need scoring help and they’re exploring the market to see what’s out there.
The obvious suspects are on L.A.'s list of pending UFAs such as Matt Moulson, Vanek and Mike Cammalleri.
Sam Gagner, to a lesser degree, is an option, but with two more years on his deal past this season at a $4.8 million annual average salary, I don’t sense the Kings really being as enamored with that option.
Whatever the case, though, I think the Kings will give it a shot on the rental front between now and March 5 and try to add offense. It’s a must addition on a team that otherwise has brilliant goaltending and plays rock-solid defense.
But they need more goals.
Senators' wishesSpeaking of Moulson, he’s a guy that interests the Ottawa Senators, as well, a source said Tuesday.
But the Senators have to first decide if they’re buyers or not. The next slate of games over the next few weeks will help shape that decision.
If they string together wins, then GM Bryan Murray likely will feel more comfortable being a buyer, and he’s on record stating he’d like to add a top-six forward.
But if the Sens go through a rough patch and lose touch with a wild-card spot, then perhaps he holds off.
If Ottawa does decide it’s a buyer, Moulson absolutely would be among the names on their wish list.