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Off The Record: Like NBA Players, NHLers Can Force A Trade | VHN+

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Are NHL players about to follow the lead of NBA players and be able to force their way out of town with a trade whenever things don’t go their way? Are the Pittsburgh Penguins and Philadelphia Flyers on a collision course via the NHL trade market, and could Philadelphia and Florida be soul mates?

Two official and one implied trade demands by young NHL players, all under team control, were granted on Saturday. Make no mistake, it left a bad taste with some, as NHL insiders wondered if the NHL is about to become the NBA.

In the OTR today, the Keystone State Rivalry is alive and well on the NHL Trade market as the Penguins trade winds are blowing. Still, trade rumors are circulating that Philadelphia and Florida are perfect trade partners.

Montreal Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin is on a mission.

Could Gary Thorne be calling NHL games again soon? (Yes, please). 

More on that in the latest ‘Off The Record’:

1. Are NHL Players Running The Show Just Like NBA Players?

On Saturday, three NHL players who are 23-years-old or under forced their way out of situations they felt were not personally beneficial. New Columbus Blue Jackets forward Patrik Laine and defenseman Jack Roslovic and new Winnipeg Jets center Pierre-Luc Dubois all made it clear; Dubois and Roslovic did so on the record, and Laine made waves through his agent. They wanted out of dodge.

All of these players let the world, instead of just their respective teams, know they wanted out. Then forced they forced those exits. It has some NHL Insiders wondering if the James Harden approach will become prevalent in the NHL?

Off the record“It’s not a good sign, I’ll tell you that,” a high-ranking NHL team management member told ‘Off The Record.’ “So what’s the deal now? You bitch and moan for more playing time, and if you don’t get it, you can just force your way out? Really? Are we about to become the NBA and just let players dictate everything?”

In response to that, one NHL agent had this to say:

“No one is encouraging the Harden approach but let’s face it, the owners, the teams, have the hammer, and sometimes situations aren’t able to be fixed. So should the player not have a say? Are the Blue Jackets and Jets not better off now with those problems gone? There’s gotta be a balance. I wouldn’t encourage my clients to take shifts off like Dubois clearly did to make a point, but there’s got to be a middle ground.” 

2. The Penguins Trade Battle with the Flyers?

The Philadelphia Flyers may have swept their season-opening two-game set with their interstate rival, the Pittsburgh Penguins, by a combined score of 11-5, but that only intensified the Battle of The Keystone State on the NHL Trade market. Multiple NHL sources confirmed both the Flyers and the Penguins had more than exploratory talks on Roslovic with the Jets before they traded him to the Blue Jackets.

As colleague Dan Kingerski of Pittsburgh Hockey Now pointed out Saturday, the Penguins are still looking for help on the blue line. Per numerous sources, so is Philadelphia, and word is their chasing many of the same players. Kingerski speculated a Penguins trade target could be Detroit Red Wings defenseman Danny Dekeyser.

Flyers scouts are watching Dekeyser. Word on the street is that Flyers GM Chuck Fletcher will be very active on the NHL trade market, sooner than later.    

Off the record“Jimmy [Penguins GM Jim Rutherford] is always ahead of everyone, but Chuck is right there with him right now,” one NHL pro scout told ‘Off The record.’ “These two teams and that whole division is an arms race. But right now, it’s a game of chicken as to who strikes first and if they can strike, eh?”

3. A Panther For A Ghost?

Since the October NHL Draft back, there has been NHL trade chatter surrounding Philadelphia defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere and Florida Panthers defenseman Keith Yandle. The former started the season on the COVID Protocol list, has since been confirmed as testing positive for COVID, and has yet to play a game this season. Meanwhile, Yandle once again became one of the hottest names on the NHL trade market over the last ten days. 

Could Yandle and ‘The Ghost’ be traded for each other? 

Off the record: “That’s been a rumor for a while now, and I’m told it has more than legs,” an NHL source told OTR recently. “The Flyers could eat some money there, and they’re easily better with Yandle.”

4. Bergevin In It To Win It

One could easily argue that Montreal Canadiens General Manager Marc Bergevin had the best offseason of any NHL GM. Bergevin made a big splash on the NHL Trade and Free Agency markets. As of Sunday morning, those moves were paying off with the Habs (4-0-2, 10 pts), sitting in first place in the North Division. With less than $100,000 in cap space, it wouldn’t be surprising if Bergevin just rode this early success. However, according to one source close to the Canadiens GM, that’s not the case now, nor will it be for this season.   

Off the record:

“I’m telling you right now that ‘Bergy’ is in it to win it this year,” the source told OTR. “He’s not going to rest on any laurels. He was hard after Dubois, but there wasn’t a fit. He won’t stop there, though.”

5. The Return Of Thorne?

An NHL TV industry source and an NHL source confirmed that in one capacity or another, you could hear some “old, familiar voices like Gary [Thorne] calling NHL games again soon.”

That admission comes after a week that saw news break that the NBC Sports Network will be no more by the end of the year. So what does that mean for the NHL on the Tele? Rumors are running rampant that both Fox Sports and ESPN could benefit from this. NBC may still keep games on their USA Network, but the NHL will want a larger audience, and both FOX Sports and ESPN can provide that. 

The idea of the NHL back on ESPN has many reminiscing of the days of Gary Thorne and Bill Clement calling games and historic NHL moments on ESPN. 

 Off the record:

“I can tell you now that there’s a solid chance Gary’s calling puck again soon,” an industry source told BHN Saturday night. “There could be some retro NHL TV soon.”

Our Pittsburgh readers will forever remember this call. If Thorne’s call doesn’t add to the goosebumps, check your pulse.

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