It's the most wonderful time of the year once more!!! That's right, the NHL Trade Deadline is approaching very rapidly, and it has potential to be an insanely interesting day. Last year there were a number of very large trades that happened, and a few shocking ones that did not happen. This year, there seem to be less big names in play, however there are more teams that could potentially be buyers, and given Economics 101, lower supply, with higher demand could yield some pretty major prices out there.
In a change of format this year, I will look at the 10 or so biggest names that have been floating around as likely candidates for a change of scenery (note: this does not include LeCavalier, who will more than likely be a member of the Lightning for ever much to the chagrin of Habs fans). So without further ado...
Easily the most discussed name at this deadline. He is in the last year of his contract, and has been having a fairly productive year. Apparently, there is a high chance that he will walk on to greener pastures next season.
So the Panthers ship Bouwmeester off to a contender for a package that would have made the Predators and Thrashers blush in 2007, right? Well it's not that simple. See Florida is have a great season, and is in position to make the playoffs for the first time since the Clinton years. So do they ship away the veteran and risk missing the playoffs, or do they hold him for the stretch drive, make the palyoffs (probably to lose in the first round, and certainly not make it past that) and let him walk for nothing?
I don't envy Jacques Martin on this one. He has said that the package would include picks, prospects, and a player that can play and help the team out now. They have a ton of depth on defense, and could probably use a first line winger, which is something that most contenders are not going to part with. So as fun as it would be to see him go to a team like Boston or Philadelphia, I just don't see it happening. For better or worse, Jay is staying. Remember, Martin is a coach first, and coaches care about one thing: winning. This one is clear.
Glen's Verdict: No Deal, rightly or wrongly the Panthers are going for it.
Toronto Maple Leafs
Here's an interesting one for sure. The Leafs were insanely close to moving Kaberle last season to the Flyers, reportedly for Jeff Carter and a 1st round pick, and given how well Carter has played this season, the Leafs nation should be pretty regretful about that Kaberle refused to waive his no trade clause.
However, things are different now, as Kaberle has provided a list of 10 teams that he would accept a trade to, and it is believed that they are all in the Eastern Conference. Kaberle is an excellent two-way defenseman, but at 31, he is probably too old for the Leafs to really build around. Apparently the price has been set very high, at picks, prospects, and a roster player. Call me crazy, but I think that a team like Boston or Philadelphia would consider paying a high price in this case, since teams rarely win the cup without a puck-moving defenseman, and you really can never have too many of those.
Glen's Verdict: Deal, and a high price at that.
Toronto Maple Leafs
You can essentially punch this ticket out of Toronto. After Brian Burke called out Anropov a few weeks ago the writing on the wall became even clearer. He simply does not fit into the teams long-range plans.
Apparently the asking price is a first round pick, which quite frankly seems ludicrous. However, when you look at the lack of depth of high quality forwards, and you have to think that maybe, just maybe, Burke will get his asking price, especially as other teams get nervous as the deadline approaches.
If Antropov does get traded, expect it to be to a team that is sorely lacking second line scoring like Columbus, New Jersey, Pittsburgh, Montreal or Washington, with the Blue Jackets being my most likely pick.
Glen's Prediction: Deal, another first round pick going to TO
The Minnesota Wild are in a really tough position. While they currently sit in 10th place, they are very much in the middle of the very tough Western playoff race, especially with a number of games remaining against teams they are in the race with. However, contract talks between Gaborik and the Wild have been pretty far apart all season, and chances are, he would have been traded by now if had not spent the majority of the season on the IR.
Chances are good that a team will be willing to take some sort of a chance on getting something out of Gaborik, however, it may not be enough for the Wild to justify trading away their franchise player, given that the return would probably be low. However, like I said with Antropov is one of the other few "marquee" forwards on the block, so some team will do something stupid. Apparently there was talk of Pittsburgh being interested, and they may still be, also expect Montreal, and the Rangers to check in on the situation.
Glen's Verdict:Deal, assuming that he doesn't get injured eating breakfast on deadline day.
An interesting one, that is not getting nearly enough talk. Much like Gaborik, Backstrom is nearing the end of his contract, but unlike Gaborik, Backstrom has performed, and performed very well this year. He has been quitely having a very strong season and is the main reason why the Wild are in any sort of playoff contention right now.
So what the heck do the Wild do? Backstrom, far more than Gaborik, is instrumental to any sort of stretch run that the Wild can make. So trading him would be a clear singnal that Minnesota is throwing their season away. But Backstrom is in line for a huge raise in the off-season, especially when you look at the contracts singed by Huet and Theodore during the summer (and how both of them have been enjoying time on the bench all season), so it is doubtful that the Wild can come to any sort of an agreement with their elite goalie.
A number of high level teams, including Philadelphia, Detroit, and Washington have been having goaltending issues, and would love to have a solid, dependable goalie for the stretch run. I think that some of these teams, especially Washington, would pay a premium for Minnesota's goalie, and it may just be too tempting of an offer not to take.
Glen's Verdict:Deal, in a shocker at the last minute
Smyth was shipped from the Oilers at the 2007 deadline in a huge shocker and wildly debated move. He has since moved on to the Colorado Avalanche, a team that is currently languished at the bottom of the Western Conference. His name has once more surfaced in rumours, being particularly linked to the Montreal Canadiens.
As much as I would love to see Captain Canada return to the Great White North, I just don't see it happening this year. Smyth has a no-trade clause, and apparently enjoys the city of Denver, and likes playing there. Also, his contract is a bit steep, especially for a career 70 point producer, no matter how much some teams would love to add his grit for a stretch run, I just don't see it happening. I would not be too shocked to see him go on Draft Day though.
Glen's Verdict: No Deal, at least not yet
St. Louis Blues
Perennial trade bait, Keith Tkachuk's name has come up once again. A few years ago, Tkachuk was shipped to Atlanta for an absolutely staggering package, that helped set the bar so high for rental players. Of course, the Thrashers failed to even win a single game in the playoffs, and finished near the bottom of the standings the following years, which has left a number of teams questioning the decision to hire rental players. Of course, Tkachuck went out and resigned with the Blues that following summer, and his contract was coming up this season, leaving many to think that they would do the same thing again.
However, in the past few weeks the Blues have been right in the thick of things, and appear to be inching towards a potential date with the post-season. Since the Blues are in dire need of some success, after being post-Lockout laughing stocks, many have thought that they would become buyers to send the right message to their fans. While I doubt that they will turn into buyers, I think that they will stay the course and try to make it on their own, especially if teams like Minnesota and Anaheim turn into sellers. A few weeks ago I would have said that Tkachuk was as good as gone, but not anymore.
Glen's Verdict: No Deal, Tkachuck will be singing the blues for a few more months at least
New York Islanders
Another overpaid rental case from St. Louis in 2007. The Blues traded Guerin to the Sharks for a boat load, however, unlike Tkachuck, he did not resign with the Blues, instead went to the Island, where he has been quietly posting a solid season despite a mediocre supporting cast.
Guerin's name has been coming up in rumours, but proceeded to get a little strange the other day. He was a no-show for a game, and was labelled a "precautionary scratch" and was expected to be dealt before the game was over, however nothing ended up really happening. Apparently people are waiting for the mystery team, thought to be the Washington Capitals, to make up their mind.
If the Capitals have not made up their mind by now, do not expect them to. If this deal does not go through, there are still other options, look for teams that were interested in Tkachuk, notably the Boston Bruins, to make some sort of noise for this one.
Glen's Verdict: Deal, he seems to have made his name as a rental over the past few years, look for that to continue.
It wouldn't be the trade deadline without at least one Jokinen rumour coming up, would it?
It seems that Jokinen's name came up year after year when he was in Florida, and when he was finally dealt to the Coyotes at last years draft, it seemed that those rumours would be put top rest for at least a few season.
Well, I guess not.
Apparently, Jokinen is not fitting in well in Phoenix, and both sides have agreed to part ways, it is just a question of whether it would be now, or some time over the summer. Teams like Calgary, Columbus, and Montreal have been heavily linked to any discussions involving the Finnish centre, and conincidently those are the teams that come up just about every season. Given the lack of depth of the "impact forward" on the market, I think that somebody will pay for this one, with the Flames being the most likely option.
Glen's Verdict: Deal, and a good hockey one at that.
Easily the most interesting name as the deadline approaches. Pronger has been linked to a number of teams, including San Jose, Boston, and New Jersey. After acquiring Ryan Whitney last week, there is little reason to think that the Ducks can afford to keep Pronger, Niedermayer and Whitney on the same defense corps. So, assuming Scott Niedermayer will return next season, it seems that Pronger may just be the odd man out. With the asking price apparently being a good young player who can play now (presumably a forward to deal with the loss of Kuniutz) and a first round draft pick.
So, why would a team not jump at such a price for the best defenseman of the past decade? Two words: Salary Cap.
Not only are most of the teams who want tom ake a splash pushed up against the cap, but Pronger is locked in for a while with a mighty high pay cheque, and it appears that the Salary Cap is going to fall for the 2010-11 season, one the real world economic problems start to really catch up with professional sports. As a result, I don't see much happening on this front until the off-season when the teams that want to restructure are able to with a bit more breathing room. So as much as I would love to see Anaheim make a huge splash at the deadline, I just don't see it happening, not yet at least.
Glen's Verdict: No Deal, the people who want him just can't make it happen.
There are of course a number of other names being thrown around, and I could type all day about it, and that would mean that we would miss all the action. Since I am 13 hours ahead of Eastern Standard, I am not going to be live-blogging the Trade Deadline, but be sure to check TSN's Trade Centre for the most up to date information, but I will be back late this week to reflect on the day's flurries.
Until next time,