Yesterday we saw the the best player available at this years trade deadline (maybe still the best player in the NHL when healthy) traded to Nashville and many people are now anointing the Predators as the Stanley Cup favourites. I am not ready to do that yet as the Predators are still a significantly inexperienced team and good defense and goaltending can more often than not defeat a good offense. But this should help the Predators but if I was Nashville I’d go for broke this year and try to add more experience to their 3rd and 4th lines.
But enough about the Predators. I wanted to take a look at a some of the other players that might get dealt between now and the trade deadline.
Bill Guerin: Guerin might be the best goal scorer available at this years trade deadline. He leads the Blues in goals and points and is second on the team in +/-. He also had 96 games of playoff experience including a Cup win in New Jersey in 1994-95. Any team looking to add a top goal scorer with some toughness Guerin would be a great guy to get. Vancouver comes to mind or a return to the Devils but he’d also be a good fit in Toronto to be a winger for Mats Sundin as well. Ottawa has been rumoured to be interested as well but I suspect the Senators will settle for a lesser player as Muckler has proven to be a but gun shy in the past (see settling for Arnason).
Keith Tkachuk: Used to be one of the best power forwards in the NHL an could still be if he had a bit better work ethic. Despite that he is still a decent player and can help a team in need of a goal scorer.
Martin Gelinas: Everyone thinks the player to get from the Panthers is Gary Roberts and certainly he is a guy who can help anyone but I personally think that Martin Gelinas might be a better pick up. First he is younger and healthier than Roberts. Second, he is a role player who is happy in a secondary role and not a dominant personality that could potentially upset the dressing room. Third, he has good speed and can play at both ends of the rink. He has 10 goals and is second on the Panthers in +/- trailing only Bouwmeester. Last year he had 17 goals and led the Panthers in +/- by a whopping margin of +27 to second place Van Ryn’s +15. Finally he has oodles of playoff experience and playoff success. He won the Cup with Edmonton in 1989-90 and helped his team to the Cup finals on 3 other occassions. He was a key cog in Calgary’s playoff run in 2004 and his 147 playoff games are more than that of Peter Forsberg, Gary Roberts and probably anyone else available at the trade deadline. If I were a GM looking to make a playoff run this is the guy I would get.
Gary Roberts: The other prize in Florida is Gary Roberts. What Roberts would bring to a team is a hard work ethic, significant playoff experience and a never quit attitude. He’ll fight through injuries and that makes him a good lead by example leader. The only downside on Roberts is also a strong personality and if he joins your team and tries to become a vocal leader it may rub some of the previous leaders of the dressing room the wrong way. Rumor is Roberts wants to go to a team close to his off season home in Toronto. Toronto and Ottawa are high possibilities while Detroit and Buffalo are possible too.
Fredrik Modin: Modin might be considered a poor man’s Gary Roberts. He is big and strong and can play the physical game like Roberts, just not with quite as much passion or enthusiasm and consistency. He not the speediest of players but won’t hurt you defensively either. He’d be a great guy to plug into a second line winger role or third line on a deep team. Rumours are that the Leafs have some interest in bringing him back.
Bryan Smolinski: I really like Smolinski and I think the Senators have missed his presence a bit this year. I think he is the perfect kind of player to add at a trade deadline because he not only has 99 playoff games experience but he is highly versatile. He can play at center or on either wing. He can play a bit in a secondary offensive role or in a defensive role. I just think he is a guy you could plug into your team relatively seemlessly which I think is ultra important in any trade deadline deal.
Marco Sturm: Personally, I’d avoid this guy as it will probably cost you more than I think he will provide in return but he could help a team in need of some secondary scoring.
Aaron Miller: For defensemen available I would rate Aaron Miller quite high for many of the same reasons as Gelinas. At this point in his career he is happy being a #4/5 type defenseman. He knows his role and he does it well. He’ll chip in a bit offensively but is more of a defensive defenseman now. He also has 80 playoff games under his belt so would bring some needed experience to many of the younge rteams out there. For teams looking to add some defense depth he’d be a great guy to look at. He’d be a great pickup for a team like Anaheim who has a great top pairing of defensemen but is a bit lacking in quality experienced depth. San Jose is another option.
Brent Sopel: For teams looking for more of a power play quarterback Brent Sopel is a guy to look at as he has one of the better shots in the NHL.
Eric Brewer: Quality #3 type defenseman who can help out at both ends of the rink. Has very limited playoff experience but helped Team Canada win the 2002 Olympic gold medal. His career has kind of stagnated since then though. Rumours have been that the Oilers are interested in bringing Brewer back but I think the Blues end up re-signing him instead of dealing him.
Bryan Berard: A power play quarterback like Sopel but much less reliable defensively. I wouldn’t trade for him unless you are desperate for an offensive defenseman.
Nick Boynton: Boynton is more of a defensive defenseman who will play a physical game. He’s a good second paring kind of player. Not a rental player since he still has a couple years left on his contract at nearly $3 million. Not sure if the Coyotes will trade him or if another team is willing to take on that contract but the number of defensemen available is somewhat limited so that makes guys like Boynton a possibility.
Adrian Aucoin: In a similar position to Boynton. Aucoin has a couple years left on his contract at $4 million and sits somewhere between a deadline acquisition and a salary dump by the Blackhawks. Rumours have been of a Samsonov for Aucoin swap but that might depend on whether Montreal decides to trade on of their soon to be UFA defensemen.
Jassen Cullimore: As far as depth defensemen go, Cullimore might be the best. he certainly isn’t going to be a top 4 guy but he has great size, is a good skater, and was a part of the 2003-04 Tampa team.
I am not sure there is a big market for goaltenders this year, either those selling or those buying. Tampa might be looking for some help in net but I am not sure any of the other playoff teams are desperate for goaltending help. On the selling side, Belfour might be available from Florida and Buffalo might use Biron as trade bait so long as Biron is willing to sign a contract with the team he is traded to. Ottawa would be happy to find a taker for Gerber’s contract and then go and pick up a back up elsewhere but I am not sure they will find any takers.
I am probably missing a lot of players so feel free to add to the list by posting a comment.