We are coming up to the trading season so it is time to start looking at some players who might be changing teams and where they might be going.
Martin Biron, Buffalo Sabres
Dwayne Roloson, Minnesota Wild
Nikolai Khabibulin, Chicago Blackhawks
Andrew Raycroft, Boston Bruins
Olaf Kolzig, Washington Capitals
There are a number of teams looking to improve theirgoaltending situation with Vancouver, Edmonton and Colorado would top the list but the question remains whether any of the above goalies are significant improvements over what they currently have. Biron is the most likely to be traded and has played very well at times this year but his goals againt average (2.98) and save percentage (.901) are nothing spectacular. Roloson has shown that he is a very good goalie but has never been a true #1 guy as his career high is just 50 games played in any single season. Chicago would love to get rid of Khabibulin but his horrible play and huge contract make that all but impossible. Andrew Raycroft is struggling significantly in his second season and while some teams might take a chance that he will return to form it is unlikely that a contending team will be the one taking that chance. That leaves us with Kolzig who is certainly the best and most reliable goalie of the bunch. The problem with Kolzig is the Capitals want to keep him and he wants to stay with the Capitals so unless they can’t work out a contract extension he won’t be traded.
There is one other goalie that might be traded. That is Ed Belfour of the Leafs. My gut tells me that he won’t be traded but if Toronto continues to struggle and one of those western conference teams decide that his experience is just what they need then maybe he gets traded. But his contract includes a $4.5 million team option for next season with a $1.5 million buyout that would count against next years salary cap if exercised. That $1.5 million buyout might be enough to scare away many teams from taking a chance on him.
Defensemen are difficult to predict who is available and where they might go because almost everyone wants a good defenseman and few teams are willing to give them up. But here are a few to think about.
Brian Leetch, Boston Bruins
Adrian Aucoin, Chicago Blackhawks
Sergei Gonchar, Pittsburgh Penguins
Dick Tarnstrom, Pittsburgh Penguins
Bryan Berard, Columbus Blue Jackets
Adam Foote, Columbus Blue Jackets
Brendan Witt, Washington Capitals
I am sure that there are many more guys available too but the above list might be some of the more available and better players. Leetch is rumoured to be going to the Rangers and that seems to make a whole lot of sense. The Blackhawks have some good young defensemen coming along and with Aucoin’s somewhat subpar play they are probably more than willing to get rid of his contract if given a reasonable offer. Gonchar is one of the biggest free agent flops and Pittsburgh would love to dump his contract but there may not be anyone willing to pick up that contract. They might have more success dealing Tarnstrom to someone who think they can rejuvinate his PP quarterbacking abilities. My gut tells me that the Blue Jackets will keep both Foote and Berard but if offered the right package might be enticed to trade them. And Brendan Witt asked to be traded before the season began and is a prime candidate to be traded. Some were concerned that he wouldn’t be suitable for the new NHL but he seems to have done OK so far and would be a good depth defenseman for someone to add.
Update: Tarnstrom has been traded to Edmonton. Jaroslav Spacek formerly of Chicago, who I almost included on this list, has also been traded to Edmonton.
There are several big name wingers that are on the definitely available list. Here are some worth looking at.
Sergei Samsonov, Boston Bruins
Glen Murray, Boston Bruins
Mark Recchi, Pittsburgh Penguins
John Leclair, Pittsburgh Penguins
Keith Tkachuk, St. Louis Blues
Martin Lapointe, Chicago Blackhawks
Mathieu Barnaby, Chicago Blackhawks
With Palffy and Lemieux both retiring and the team is total disarray any and all veterens with contracts on the Penguins are availalbe. Recchi and Leclair are no exception. Recchi has been the better of the two this year but neither have had banner years. That said, a team looking to add some scoring from the wing will definitely have interest in these two guys and they probably wouldn’t cost a bundle either. Of the two Boston wingers I think the Bruins are most likely to keep Murray but they need to find him a playmaking center to play with as he hasn’t produced since Thornton was traded (although he hasn’t always been healthy either). Samsonov could be used as the trade bair to get that centerman. Keith Tkachuk is probably the prime winger on the market, if he could only get healthy. He has only played 10 games this year but has 8 goals and 15 points. Any team in need of a pure goal scorer will wan to look at Tkachuk. The two Chicago wingers are more of the role player types and should generate a fair amount of interest from teams looking to add depth to their roster without paying a huge price.
Here are some of the centers that could be traded.
Doug Weight, St. Louis Blues
Tyler Arnason, Chicago Blackhawks
Jason Allison, Toronto Maple Leafs
Olli Jokinen, Florida Panthers
Marc Savard, Atlanta Thrashers
Doug Weight is probably the best of all the available players and will be attracting a lot of interest from several teams. Rumours are that Ottawa has significant interest in bring Weight in to anchor their second line. The Calgary Flames will also look at Weight to act as the play making center that Jarome Iginla needs to thrive. Earlier in the seasont he Oilers were thought to be a highly probable destination but with the play of Stoll and Horcoff their need for a center is not as great as once thought and they have that big hole in goal that they need to fill first. The Boston Bruins have played better lately and are getting close to geting back in the playoff picture. With Thornton gone, they deseperately need a center. Weight would be ideal and the Blues might have an interest in taking Raycroft off their hands too. It might be a good match.
Tyler Arnason is the other sure bet to be traded. He seems to be the guy that the Blackhawk management has soured on. He’s a pretty good player and whoever gets him will benefit nicely. Rumour has it the Leafs are interested but then you can never really trust all the Leaf rumours you hear. Speaking of the Leafs, they already have an abundance of centermen and Jason Allison has been rumoured to be on the trading block all year. I’d peg the chances of him getting traded as good. Boston might be interested in bringing him back but would the Leafs want to trade him to a division rival they would be fighting for a playoff spot with? Calgary might be a possible destination as Allison’s playmaking skills might fit in nicely with Iginla and the Flame are defensive minded enough that Allison’s defensive deficiencies would probably not be as significant an issue.
Ollie Jokinen will only be traded if the Panthers are unable to sign him. I suspect they will which means he will stay put. Marc Savard is an unrestricted free agent at seasons end and will be traded if Atlanta falls out of the playoff race. Earlier in the year the Flames were thought to be interested (he’d be ideal as Iginla’s centerman) but my guessis that Atlanta stays in the playoff race and keeps him.
I am sure there are a ton of other players on the trade block but the above are some of the more likely ones. Feel free to discuss others in the comments.