McKenzie: ‘Major strategy shifts going to happen here with teams’

As the holiday trade freeze approaches, chatter around the league continues to heat up.

Bob McKenzie had a Friday morning radio hit on Montreal’s TSN 690, and expanded on what he noted the prior evening on TSN’s Insider Trading.

“Well, there’s actually an incredible amount of trade talk going on,” revealed McKenzie. “I’ve talked to some general managers over the past week and they all say the same thing, that for the week before the freeze there’s a lot more talk than there usually is.

“And I think that’s a function of as close as things are in the National Hockey League, it doesn’t feel so close for the L.A. Kings or the St. Louis Blues or the Chicago Blackhawks or the Philadelphia Flyers. Those four teams in particular, but not exclusive to them, that’s driving a lot of trade talk.

“There’s some major strategy shifts going to happen here with teams. The L.A. Kings did not expect - not even close did they think they would be one of the worst teams in the league. So this necessitates Rob Blake and his entire management team and ownership in coming up with a plan for the rest of the year, for the next few years.

“And that necessitates basically saying, ‘Okay, Doughty and Kopitar are untouchables. Anybody else, talk to us. We’ve got to get younger, we’ve got to get quicker, and we’ll see on a case-by-case basis whether it’s worth our while to trade a Jake Muzzin or a Jeff Carter or a Tyler Toffoli or virtually everybody on the roster except for Doughty and Kopitar.’

“And I’m sure there’ll be some teams that even call up and say, ‘Well, what about Doughty.’ His full no-move and no-trade doesn’t kick in I think until July 1, and that’s not the plan for the L.A. Kings. But I mean, if you’re listening then I guess people would say listen.

“It’s a similar situation in St. Louis, where Doug Armstrong is really not at all happy with what’s gone on. He’s had to fire a coach and he finds himself in a spot he never thought he’d be in when he added Ryan O’Reilly and Tyler Bozak and started injecting some of the kids like Jordan Kyrou and Robert Thomas into the lineup.

“And yet here he is, and so somebody says, ‘I want to talk to you about Tarasenko.’ He says, ‘Well, let’s talk.’ And Alex Pietrangelo, take your pick.

“These guys are all ears because they can’t afford not to be.”

The holiday trade freeze runs December 19-27.

Doughty’s eight-year, $88 million contract extension won’t kick in until next season, and it contains a no-move clause in its first four years and a modified no-trade clause in the final four seasons.

Doughty had a no-move clause added to the final season of his current contract, which will expire at the end of 2018-19.

Contract-related info via CapFriendly