Thursday, February 19, 2009
Hockey Trade Deadline: Eastern Conference
One of the favorites times of the season for hockey fans is quickly approaching: the trade deadline (March 4, 3:00pm should you not know). This is where teams stock up for a long playoff run or admit their season was already finished and sell off what assets they know they can’t keep in the off season. Hockey fans cheer how their team landed the big free agent, or cry how their favorite team just got bent over on a deal. Teams are deciding whether or not their buyers or sellers, and if so who is on the block. In the first part of Yinzer’s trade deadline preview, we will take a look at the teams of the Eastern Conference.
Status- whether the team will be a buyer or seller
Available- players who are will potentially be moved due to rumors, performance or free agent status
Analysis- my take on their situation and what they will do
NTC- no trade clause (cannot be traded w/o consent, but can be sent to the minors or put on waivers)
NMC- non movement clause (cannot be moved under any circumstance)
New Jersey Devils
Available: Brian Gionta (F), John Madden (F), Bobby Holik (F)
If you pay attention to hockey, you know the Devils will not be sellers. GM Lou Lamoriello just doesn’t do it, be it out of stubbornness or pride. That said impending free agents Gionta, Madden and Holik aren’t going anywhere barring a massive overpayment by another team. They sit at the top of the Atlantic and second overall in the East, so they're definitely going to be looking to add an extra piece. Look for them to go after some secondary scoring or a depth defenseman. P.S- please deal for Miroslav Satan! This has to happen before he retires!
New York Islanders
Available: Bill Guerin (F), Doug Weight (F), Mike Comrie (F), Mike Sillinger (F),
The Isles are sitting at the bottom of the standings with no playoff hopes and that always spells sellers. Unfortunately, the Isles are striking out again. Sillinger is out the year and Weight is out until near the end of the season, meaning no one will be trading for them (and go figure Weight was having a good year and would have been worth something). Guerin has stated he doesn’t want to waive his NTC, meaning that’s three assets gone. Comrie has enjoyed his time on the Island and apparently his return is a mutual want for both, but the Isles can trade him and resign him in the off season. Still, don't expect a whole lot from the Isles because of these things.
New York Rangers
Available: Petr Prucha (F), Aaron Voros (F),Patrick Rissmiller (F), Dmitri Kalinin (D), Paul Mara (D)
The Rangers are sixth in the East but have a tenuous hold on the sport due to their recent free fall. They need a kick in the ass and they know it, because the post season isn’t set in stone for them. Prucha can’t crack the lineup most games, removed from a thirty goal season just three years ago. His stock is low, so don't expect more than a mid round pick if he is dealt. Voros’ name has been popping up recently, and teams looking for depth may be willing to take a chance, same goes for Rissmiller. Kalinin has seen his stock plummet since the lockout and the Rangers are likely to keep him for depth, which is even more likely now that Mara is out for a while. Look for the Rangers to go after some Avery-esque high energy player or someone who can fire up the locker room. Right now, talent isn’t the team’s problem. They have quite a few young players who will be restricted free agents this year and next, so don't expect any blockbusters for them.
Available: Daniel Briere (F), Mike Knuble (F), Scottie Upshall (F), Joffrey Lupul (F), Randy Jones (D)
The Flyers love to wheel and deal, always seeming to have twice as many trades during the year as anyone else. Just like on the ice, they’re aggressive in their pursuit to improve the team (though they don't hit the other GM from behind in this case). They're definitely going to make some depth moves, and you should learn to never count them out of a blockbuster. Briere’s name keeps popping up, and the fact the Flyers seem t play better without him keeps the mill churning. But due to his contract ($6.5mm a year for six more years) and an NTC he isn’t going anywhere. Lupul, despite signing an extension seems to be a favorite target of rumor mongers, but he’s still young and I don't expect the Flyers to deal him. Knuble will be kept for grit and experience despite his fate being a cap casualty this summer, but Upshall, another possible cap casuality could very well be dealt. Jones is considered overpaid by many, and he could be packaged as part of a greater return. Look for them to be active again.
Available: Miroslav Satan (F), Ruslan Fedotenko (F), Phillip Boucher (D), Ryan Whitney (D)
Before you go jumping on me for being a Pens homer, no, I don't think they will make the playoffs. Pens management would beg to differ with me, which is why they’re going to try and make a few trades to get there (only to get their asses kicked in the first round mind you). So instead of selling what they have they’ll spend more assets in a futile attempt at a post season run. Satan and Fedotenko have been worthless and I think other teams have noticed so no one will be particularly interested (seriously Devils, take Satan. We’ll just give him to you!) Boucher just had foot surgery, meaning he won’t be going anywhere. Whitney has popped up in rumors the past month since his return due to his ability to actually get worse as he heals from an injury. His stock is the lowest it’s ever been, but with a reasonable contract and still young he can bring in a good return, and potentially that scoring winger the Pens so desperately need. Look for them to waste some picks trying to make a difference.
Available: PJ Axelsson (F), Tim Thomas (G), Manny Fernandez (G)
For the record I’m reminding everyone how I said the Bruins were the dark horse of the East this year. But I admit, I didn’t expect them to be at the top of the conference. Rumors in recent weeks have them aggressively pursuing bigger name players such as Eric Cole from Edmonton. They have few free agent skaters, so their roster is mostly set next year, so there is less pressure to win this year before the roster blows up. GM Peter Chiarelli will need to decide which goalie to keep, but he may go with both into the post season. Both Fernandez and Thomas are experienced, and a hot goalie is always key in the playoffs. If he gets a deal that blows him out of the water for either though, expect him to go for it.
Available: Tim Connolly (F), Maxim Afinogenov (F), Ales Kotalik (F), Jaroslav Spacek (D),Teppo Numminen (D)
Buffalo holds the eighth spot as of this writing and can easily move up or down a notch. They have lost key players every year since the lockout and it may happen again this off season. Two forwards, Connolly and Afinogenov are likely not to return, the former from injuries that have kept his production limited and the other from poor play. The Sabres have attempted to deal Afinogenov since end of last year, and that no one has taken him is a sign of how bad his play is. For a low price someone may be willing to take him. Kotalik will probably be resigned, and Spacek has stated he is returning to Europe upon completion of his contract after this year, limiting his value as there is no hope of resigning him. Numminen may draw interest, but if Buffalo is planning on the post season they would rather have his experience than the mid round pick they would get in return.
Available: Alexei Kovalev (F), Alex Tanguay (F), Steve Begin (F), Mike Komisarek (D), Patrice Briesbois (D)
This was supposed to be the Canadiens year. Their players are a good mix of young and old, they hosted the All Star game and are celebrating 100 years of existence. Things haven’t gone as planned. Kovalev has underperformed leading to rampant trade speculation and that there is no chance of him being resigned after the year, not to mention the ire of fans. Robert Lang injured his Achilles heel putting him out for a while and the young players are not doing their share. They have managed to be middle of the playoff pack, but if they hope to go far they need to get better. They already dealt picks for veteran defenseman Mathieu Schneider and will probably make a play for another winger. Don't be surprised if Kovalev is gone at the deadline as his play has deteriorated to the point many fans would rather have less depth than him playing.
Available: Chris Neil (F), Cristoph Schubert (F), Dean McAmmond (F), Flip Kuba (D), Martin Gerber (G)
The Sens have been plummeting since the middle of the ’07-’08 season, going from cup runner up to bottom feeder with mostly the same roster. The chance of making the playoffs is close to nil so they’ll be trying to get what they can in hopes of a quick rebuild. Neil will draw the most interest with his physical style of play (look for the Rangers to go for him), and close behind is Kuba who’s departure depends on whether he will waive his NTC if the Sens feel they can’t resign him. Schubert has been on the block all year with no takers and McAmmond may get some interest for a team looking for center depth. Gerber was on re-entry waivers at half price earlier this year and still no one bit, so don't expect him to be dealt. It is possible the Sens will blow their roster up even more with some major deals, but expect at least one of the aforementioned to be wearing a new uniform in March.
Toronto Maple Leafs
Available: Jason Blake (F), Dominic Moore (F), Nik Antropov (F), Tomas Kaberle (D), Pavel Kubina (D)
Ah what a train wreck that whish are the Leafs. They fired their last full time GM mid season, had an interim blow up the roster last deadline and this summer, and now with a new full time GM in place they’re blowing it all up again. New GM Brian Burke has made it known nearly every player on his roster is available, and has asked two players, Kaberle and Kubina, a list of teams they're willing to waive their NTC’s for. Antropov Burke has stated is as good as gone, and Moore could be available for a team wanting depth. They’d love to get rid of the underachieving Blake and his $4mm a year the next three years off the books, but the contract will deter anyone from taking a bite. They’re probably going to be the biggest sellers at the deadline, so keep an eye on them.
Available: Colby Armstrong (F), Marty Reasoner (F), Niclas Havelid(D)
Atlanta didn’t wait for the deadline, dealing spare parts in Jason Williams and Mathieu Schneider in advance. Despite the massive rumors of Kovulchuk on the block, don’t expect it. He's their only real draw right now and they can’t afford to lose him. It’s primarily the rumormongers making waves because they dealt Hossa last year. They also keep trying to get Armstrong dealt, preferably back to Pittsburgh where he liked playing and was a fan favorite. Unfortunately Armstrong has been one of Atlanta's better players this year so they’ll be reluctant to give him up, and the Pens don’t need another third line winger, so unless it’s a bargain for the Pens forget them willing to deal back for him. Havelid has been a steady defensemen for most his career, and being around a while at 37 is something playoffs teams will look to get at the deadline. Look for the Thrashers to get what assets they can as Don Waddell continues to try and build the franchise since its inception, which was ten years ago.
The Canes have been up and down since their cup win, always losing players to injury or not fielding enough talent in general. They sit the last spot out of the playoffs, fighting division rivals the Panthers. They’re caught in that precarious position where the only real assets they have to trade are the ones they can’t afford to give up. They're going to try and add some minor pieces, hoping for diamonds in the rough as is normally the case with GM Jon Rutherford, rather than going for a big name player. Even if they were to try and sell, their free agents aren’t really anything other teams need.
Available: Richard Zednik (F), Radek Dvorak (F), Jay Bouwmeester (D)
The Panthers look to be making the post season for the first time in years, something they desperately need to keep their dwindling fan base. To that end they are going to look to shore up team to make sure they get there. The biggest name on the block is young all star defenseman Jay Bouwmeester. The only problem is no one actually knows if he is on the block. Due to be a UFA, if Bouwmeester refuses to sign with Florida (as it’s been rumored for a while he doesn’t like it there) then he will be lost for nothing, which the Panthers don’t want. Unfortunately, trading JBo sends the wrong message to the fans they are committed to winning. It’s a crappy position for them to be in. If they decide to deal him, look for a lot coming back, based around a young player and another young player, touted prospect or first round pick in addition. The remaining players like Zednik and Dvorak (yes, he is still playing Ranger fans) wont garner enough of a return to make the Panthers part with them in their current position.
Available: Michal Nylander (F)
The Caps are looking strong with developing talent and led by head coach Bruce Boudreau who has turned the team into a contender in a little over a season he has been there. Don’t look for the Caps to add any major pieces or sell off depth for picks. Their goaltending has been shaky with one year wonder Jose Theodore, and while a veteran would be good don't expect it to happen because it would send the message to Theodore they don't have confidence in him, and when he's your starter for another year that isn’t good. Nylander’s name continues to pop up in trade rumors as his age and contract make him the odd man out, but the latter will keep him there. He is expensive and signed for a few more years, and an NMC lets his bar any trade the Caps may attempt (rumor mongers love to ignore NTC's and NMC's btw). They may add some depth players, but don’t expect much more from them as their roster is pretty well set for the future.