NHL Trade Deadline: Who Is Likely To Make Moves? (East)
As the NHL trade deadline is a little more than a month away, speculation abounds with what teams will make which moves to either make a long playoff run or clear the decks for the off season. Not one to shy away from giving an opinion, it’s time I weigh in with my thoughts…
PHI: The Flyers have an issue similar to the Flames… not much cap space left this year, and about 94% committed to only 17 players for next year. The difference? The Flyers lead their conference and are a favorite to make the Stanley Cup Finals. But, questions do exist for Philly. Will Bobrovsky and Boucher be enough in net? Would they trade a Van Reimsdyk, Carle or Coburn to try to shore up for this playoff and get cap relief for next year? GM Holmgren may be able to hang on to everything until the draft, meaning Philly will still be a very strong team.
TBL: GM Steve Yzerman already addressed the goalie problem by acquiring Roloson for a prospect. With plenty of cap space, the Lightning can afford to add wherever they feel they need to without worrying about moving salary out. But, it would seem things in Tampa Bay look pretty good as they are already.
BOS: It appears Marc Savard has suffered yet another head injury. The only good news in that for the Bruins is they get cap relief to try to replace him. But though they lead their division, the Bruins actually sit 5th in points in the East, and the loss of Savard will affect this team’s scoring. In net and on the blueline, they are fine, but Boston struggles to score, and it was hoped Savard would be able to play out the season. Dangling soon to be UFA Ryder has not attracted any interest, and the Bruins are unlikely to want to deal away Lucic, Wheeler or Krejci. But could the Bruins entertain trading Tim Thomas, possibly the best goalie in the league this year, and riding Rask in the hopes of getting back an impact forward?
PIT: The Pens have endured a series of injuries, including to Staal and Crosby, and stayed in the thick of the playoff picture. Let’s face it, they are still a very strong team having those 2 plus Malkin, Kunitz, et al. For all intents and purposes though, they are capped out. But, interestingly, the Penguins have only 6 forwards signed past this season’s end. Meaning, they may be willing to deal any of the other 10 on their roster who will be UFA/RFA to the other conference. They won’t be able to replace a Crosby, but they could get back just enough to strengthen their secondary scoring should the need arise.
WAS: The Capitals made a move, sending Fleischmann to Colorado for Hannan. As a team, Washington has been playing a more conservative, defense-oriented game. This is reflected in lower goals totals for all Caps. It is in net where Washington may choose to make a move. The Caps have 3 good goalies, but all are quite young, with little playoff experience. Might a veteran give them the stability needed to go all the way?
NYR: The Rangers have also made a move, getting Wolski to help with the offence as the Blueshirts have endured quite a few injuries to forwards. With Callahan, Fedotenko, Christensen, Prospal and Frolov all out (Frolov for the season), and Sather’s reputation, the Rangers are sure to be active in the market looking for any kind of upgrade possible.
MTL: The Habs have also made moves recently, getting Wisniewski to bolster the blueline and shipping out Lapierre. Price has answered his critics and Auld has also been solid. A shoulder separation to Cammalleri will keep him out a month, but Montreal should be fine when he gets back. Other than minor tweaks, I would not expect much from the Canadiens in terms of trades.
ATL: Thrashers activated Modin. They’ve traded Eager for a pick. Noting consummated but word is Bergfors and Cormier are being shopped out of The Dirty South. The Thrash need some offense from their forwards, and have cap room to do it. And they’ll want to do it to show everyone that they made the playoffs while Kovalchuk and the Devils watch from the clubhouse at the golf course.
CAR: The Hurricanes are nibbling at the playoffs, and have cap room, But more to the point, with 9 players slated to be UFAs at seasons end, the ‘Canes may be more of a mind that their time is now. They’re getting goaltending, and they have playoff experience, but look for Carolina to try to add more scoring, a threat to take some pressure off Staal and Skinner.
BUF: A poor start seems to have hurt the Sabres’ chances of making the playoffs. Miller still puts up good numbers, and Vanek and Stafford have 33 goals between them. But the back up goalies have disappointed, and Roy, Pominville, Hecht, Connolly and Niedermayer are all having down years. Everyone will try to pry Gerbe, Ennis and Myers out of the Queen City, but it may be more interesting to see if someone can make the right offer on affordable (and signed past this season) underachievers like Roy, Hecht or Gaustad. To add further intrigue, while they sit around 10th in the east (which is somewhat respectable), Darcy Regier will need to be cautious, as rumors have swirled that maybe his time has run out.
FLA: The Panthers continue to go nowhere fast. Lots of cap space, but seemingly nothing to show for it. Booth and Weiss would seem to be there for the long haul. Florida has little to offer up, with McCabe and Vokoun on big contracts that end this year, but also with movement restrictions. Veterans such as Stillman, Reasoner, Higgins, Dvorak and Bernier will bring little as a return, though all are also on expiring contracts.
TOR: Burke’s accelerated build for the Leafs is in trouble. As the deadline nears, the assets he wants to trade (Giguere and Kaberle) are not bringing big offers. The asset he could trade (Beauchemin) has been rumored to go to about 4 different places. The assets he gets calls about (Versteeg, Grabovski, MacArthur, Kulemin) are not assets he wants to trade. And some things (Kessel, Phaneuf, Komisarek) are not going anywhere. The Leafs aren’t sellers, but they’ll be hard pressed to be buyers, as they have little to offer. Burke will clear as much space as he can and shop for free agents in the summer.
OTT: Dark days in Ottawa. The coach and GM have been given votes of confidence, meaning they’ll likely be fired at season’s end. The goaltending has been bad. The scoring isn’t there. The only pending UFAs of note are Kovalev, Phillips and Leclaire, and none have been very good this season. Spezza, Alfredsson, Fisher, Neil, Michalek and Gonchar all have 3+ years remaining, and it will be interesting to see if GM Murray pulls the trigger sending one of the now aging core out to try to get some prospects in.
NYI: Always a circus on Long Island. After trading Roloson, the Islanders claimed Nabokov from waivers. Nabokov will not report, so the Isles will decide what to do next. Of course, the goaltending problems are due to the repeatedly injured DiPietro, who cannot play enough games and lend some stability to this franchise. With the most cap space available of any team, the Isles could try to pick up someone else’s problems, and they can also afford to resign Moulson, Parenteau, Okposo, Bailey, and try to find some support for Tavares.
NJD: The Devils are a mess this season. And, potentially next also. Hard to the cap, and with only about $8M in cap space for next year, the Devils face challenges in trying to resign Parise for next season. The reason? NJ has 16 players signed for 2011-12, but 11 of them make between $2.6M and $6.6. Uncle Lou has tried to move the aging Devils, Arnott, Rolston, (and did move Langenbrunner). But, he may be forced to entertain the idea of letting a Zubrus, Zajac, Elias, maybe even… Brodeur… go to another team.