Q: Over the years, I am more and more impressed by the hockey acumen of TSN hockey analyst Ray Ferraro. Does he have a future as a general manager in the NHL?
A: If he wants it, I’d say he could do it, for sure. He’s a sharp guy. Ferraro, who took over from Pierre McGuire as the lead analyst on TSN, can usually be found between the benches expressing his opinions. He does his homework, isn’t afraid to say his piece without throwing players under the bus, and, of course, he played the game. He finished with 898 points in 1,258 career NHL games. I don’t know if he wants to be a GM, however. John Davidson, who worked as Sam Rosen’s colourman on the Madison Square Garden Network, left the broadcast booth to become president of the St. Louis Blues, and now has the same position with the Columbus Blue Jackets. Their career paths are similar. Ferraro’s son, Landon, plays for the Detroit Red Wings’ AHL farm club in Grand Rapids, but he also has a young family at home with wife Cammi Granato, who was inducted into the U.S. Hockey of Fame. With a young family, I would say he wouldn’t be interested in a hockey management position. McGuire, by the way, went the other way. He was head coach of the Hartford Whalers for one season and an assistant with Scotty Bowman in Pittsburgh before trying his hand at broadcasting. He’s now with NBC. He has applied for several GM job openings. One in Minnesota, for sure.
Q: Will any Edmonton Oilers be traded at the deadline on April 3? Ryan Jones, Ladislav Smid, Sam Gagner, maybe Ales Hemsky? How about Ben Eager?
A: All trade considerations will be based on where the Oilers are on April 3. If they are out of the playoff race, they’ll be looking to move people. I’d say defenceman Ryan Whitney is the most likely to go. He’s an unrestricted free agent and he’s been in and out of the Oilers lineup. The word is that the Blues may be looking at him now, feeling he can be a better alternative than Wade Redden or Ian Cole on the back end. Goalie Nikolai Khabiubilin is probably the second guy who could move, if his groin issues aren’t too bad. Off his early-season work (2.10 goals-against average and a .935 save percentage in five games), Khabibulin would be an ideal pickup as playoff insurance.
Jones, a third-line winger, and Smid are unrestricted free agents, as is Khabibulin. I believe the Oilers want Smid, who looks to be trying too much on the back end right now, and Jones back next season as they’re strong influences in the locker-room and on the ice with the way they play. But there’s been no movement on signing Smid, the third longest-serving Oiler now after Shawn Horcoff and Hemsky. Lots of teams are eyeing Smid, who came to the Oilers in the 2007 Chris Pronger trade, as a No. 4 or No. 5 defenceman. Jones, who makes $1.5 million, has also caught the fancy of scouts. I can’t see the Oilers dealing either player, but who knows what’s being offered. The two second-liners, Gagner and Hemsky, are probably in play, but more likely in the summer if the Oilers decide to get bigger and they have to give up skill to get size. Gagner’s contract is up ($3.2 million). He’s only 23, but is in his sixth NHL season. Hemsky has one year after this season at $5 million. Of the skill players, he’s the most likely to go.
Q: Montreal was in the same position as the Oilers last year and look where the Canadiens are now. The owner decides to clean house and brings in a new general manager and a new coach. They get rid of some players like Scott Gomez. They sign. P.K. Subban to their offer, not what he wants, make a good trade by moving Erik Cole for Michael Ryder. And the Oilers just stand pat, sitting on their tradable assets. Why is that?
(Betty Hauser, Arizona)
A: The Habs have been the NHL’s surprise story this season with Marc Bergevin coming in as GM, hiring Michel Therrien as coach, not bending to Subban and giving him a two-year deal for average money, trading away two years of Cole’s contract ($4.5 million salary cap), buying out Gomez, now in San Jose. Everything they’ve done seems to have worked out. Halfway through the lockout season, the Habs and Boston Bruins are the best teams in the Eastern Conference. You are right the Oilers have done very little, short of trading for Mark Fistric during training camp after the lockout ended, and then acquiring enforcer Mike Brown from the Toronto Maple Leafs on Monday. Not sure what tradable assets you would be talking of. I guess you mean Ryan Whitney. I figure they are waiting until the trade deadline when the compensation might be better, although what if Whitney starts playing like the old Whitney? Do they want him back? Hemsky is in play for a trade — he’s scoring more than he usually does with eight goals and he’s healthy.
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