LeBrun NHL trade rumors: Senators ‘very active’ in GM meeting, Chychrun, Karlsson talk, more

LeBrun NHL trade rumors: Senators ‘very active’ in GM meeting, Chychrun, Karlsson talk, more

TORONTO – The NHL‘s general managers gathered Tuesday for their traditional post-Hockey Hall of Fame meeting, a four-and-a-half-hour session that made little news but gave the opportunity to some managers to plant first seeds in business talks.

“I had 29 friends here who were actually trying to help me,” he joked senators GM Pierre Dorion, accounting for the two GMs who did not attend (Brian MacLellan of the Capitals and Jarmo Kekalainen of the Blue Jackets, the latter of whom had a flight issue).

“These meetings are a little different from the March ones because no more operations can be done at the March meetings (it is after the deadline),” he added. “Here you see guys coming together and trying to figure things out.

“You find out what’s going on, if there’s anybody on the market, and you get an idea with injuries or whatever, who’s talking to who. We’re all trying to talk to each other and try to make our teams better.”

How active has Dorion been in checking the market right now?

“Very active,” said Dorion. “Very active to see what’s out there and what’s going on.”

Dorion believes his team is playing better than its record shows, so he wants to be patient. But up to a point.

“I think at this time of year, we’re all analyzing to see where we’re going to be, where everybody’s going to be in the next few weeks, where everybody’s going to be at Christmas,” he said. “We have to be a little bit patient, but at the same time, we can’t let this go on too long.”

Dorion also doubled down on his belief in head coach DJ Smith, again sending the message that this is not the type of trade he has in mind.

“The issue is not coaching. Simple as that. Not at all,” Dorion said. “For me, it’s the first time we’ve given DJ a team that can compete for a possible playoff spot. So I think we’ve got to be patient there.”

But seeing his team lose so many close games in the first month hasn’t been easy to digest.

“(It’s been) tough, for anyone who knows me,” she said, smiling. “It can be really hard to stay patient, but it’s a process. If we were getting outplayed and outplayed every night, then you have to do something.

“But right now we don’t think that’s the case. We’re close every game. …

“Hopefully we can start getting some puck luck. But at the end of the day, we’ve got to start winning games.”

A boost on the blue line is the obvious need, and Dorion reiterated what he’s said before, that he thinks it’s the hardest position to change. But that’s obviously where he’s looking.

Speaking of which…

The Senators, as discussed earlier, have shown interest Jakob Chychrun, and it happens that the 24-year-old blue will finally make his debut next week. Or at least that’s the current plan.

There are several teams eager to finally see Chychrun play again before deciding whether to get more serious in trade talks with Arizona.

“He’ll be back on Nov. 21,” Coyotes GM Bill Armstrong said after the GM meeting. “He will join the team to train from, I think, tomorrow. That’s the plan.”

And I think it’s clear that if a team steps up with a serious offer, the Coyotes don’t feel the need to drag it out forever.

“There’s been a lot of injuries to a lot of defensemen (around the NHL) this year, and I think there’s a lot of opportunities that are going to come our way,” Armstrong said. “We’re just going to be patient with that. Obviously, that has to do with how well he plays when he gets in the lineup.”

Armstrong also has no intention of lowering his asking price, which I believe includes a couple of first-round picks as part of any package.

“I don’t know if it’s a high bar. I think other GMs feel that way,” Armstrong said of his asking price. “But I think they’d ask the same thing if they were me, you know? I think he led the league in goals for a defenseman, and he’s 24 years old on a pretty good contract.

“I think they would probably ask for the same thing.”

Mike Grier was attending his second general managers meeting after going to one of the draft in Montreal in July, just days after being named as sharks GM.

What I was eager to hear after Tuesday’s meeting was how Grier felt about veteran blueliner Erik Karlsson’s excellent play and what it could mean for the trade deadline.

We’ll get to his big contract in a moment, but specifically, I asked Grier if he could see a situation where teams called up Karlsson.

“I don’t know. He’s a dynamic player,” Grier said. “To me, he’s probably one of the top three offensive defensemen in the league, and he’s been great for us. He has done everything we have asked in terms of preparation and practice.

“Maybe there’s a scenario where a team comes asking for him, because I think he’s a difference maker. He’s somebody who can go out and win you a game or win you a series, that’s why. Maybe something will come along the way. See me.”

Any potential trade would require the Sharks to work out that contract somehow. Karlsson after this season has four more years with an average annual value of $11.5 million.

How much would sharks be willing to eat to make a move possible?

And, of course, that all depends on Karlsson. It has a full no-movement clause. He calls the shots. He may not want to go anywhere, even if teams call closer to March 3.

“I would listen (if a team called), but at the end of the day, a lot depends on Erik as well. He has the no-trade protection,” Grier said. “And what he wants to do … I know he’s happy in San Jose right now, his family is happy there and we’re happy with how he’s playing.”

Why the bounce in Karlsson’s game this season, a media colleague asked.

“I think health is a big part of it, but I think he’s in good shape mentally, mentally,” Grier said. “From the moment I got the job, we’ve had good conversations. Quinny (head coach David Quinn) did a good job of coming out to Ottawa (last summer) and visiting with him.

“I think it has been an open line of communication. If he needs a day off or if there’s hockey stuff he wants to talk about, we’ve had an open door with him. I think he feels good about where things are personally in his life, with his family, and I think where he is with our relationship, where he’s very open to back and forth, give and take.”

MacFarland’s first GM meeting

I don’t think he was given a tour of the room on his own before things got rolling on Tuesday, but it was indeed the first GM meeting for Chris MacFarland after his summer promotion with the champ of the Stanley Cup, Colorado.

“It was exciting for me,” MacFarland said afterward. “It was old hat for a few guys, but you know, for me, it was another new moment. Something that I enjoyed.”

I’ve always been told that rookie GMs know not to talk much in their first meeting or two.

“I didn’t say anything,” MacFarland laughed. “I don’t know if there are beginner rules, but it was very welcoming and a very good day.”

It was a chance to talk to other GMs in person, especially for an injury-plagued Avs team perhaps looking to improve at some point. For now, his team just has to get by with a depleted lineup.

“I think the coaches are doing a great job, the players are doing a great job. I think 20 teams are in LTI, so it’s a challenge,” MacFarland said. “As always, if there’s an opportunity to improve, we’ll always look at anything. Whether it’s now or months from now.”

(Pierre Dorion Photo: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

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