Flames add Leopold. Jokinen next?

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Mar 042009

The Flames have acquired Jordan Leopold from the Colorado Avalanche for a second round pick (acquired from Montreal in Tanguay trade), prospect defenseman Ryan Wilson and recent waiver wire pickup Lawrence Nycholat.  This is a good deal for the Flames as Leopold will add some quality defensive depth on defense which every Cup contending team can use and it doesn’t cost them all that much.

TSN is also reporting that the Flames are in serious discussions with Phoenix about acquiring Olli Jokinen.    The issue is that the Flames are right up against the cap and the Leopold trade doesn’t help things and Phoenix is unlikely to want to take much salary back.  If they do acquire Jokinen, maybe Aucoin and his $4 million salary gets moved to make room for Jokinen’s salary.

Mar 042009

Another defenseman has dropped off the trade market as the Ottawa Senators have supposedly signed Filip Kuba to a 3 year, $3.7 million per year contract.  I can’t say that this is a bad deal, but if I was a Senators fan I would really question whether it is intelligent to lock up more players on a team that has been one of the worst teams in the NHL for nearly two full years now.

Also just in, the Senators have traded Antoine Vermette to Columbus for Pascal Leclaire and a second round pick.  This trade makes more sense because the Senators so desperately need a top goalie, but the jury is still out whether Leclaire can be that guy.  He had a very good year last year but has been mediocre otherwise and has been injured most of this season.  This is a gamble that the Senators probably need to make, but is far from a sure thing.  The second round pick makes the gamble worth while.

The bad news for the Senators is they now have 9 players signed through 2010-11 for about $38.6 million in cap space.  If, as some expect, the salary cap drops significantly (possibly beloe $50 million) that won’t leave much cap space left to fill out a roster that still lacks a second line center and a top defenseman.  The players signed are Alfredsson, Heatley, Spezza, Fisher, Kelly, Ruuttu, Kuba, Phillips and Leclaire.

The Waiver Wire and Other Moves

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Mar 032009

Some interesting non-trade moves have taken place today that might shed some light on trades and player value for tomorrows trade deadline.

First, Niklas Backstrom has signed a four year contract extension in Minnesota. That means, if there was any doubt, that Backstrom will not be traded. But what it does mean is that quite possibly young backup Josh Harding could potentially be used as trade bait for the Wild either leading into tomorrow’s trade deadline or in the off season.

A number of intriguing players have been placed on waivers today. The list included Miroslav Satan, Gary Roberts, Brendan Morrison, Martin Gerber (re-entry waivers) and lesser players Aaron Voros, Erik Reitz, Eric Perrin, Jon Sim and Craig Adams.

Miroslav Satan is interesting because while he hasn’t been great as a linemate for Sidney Crosby, he does have 17 goals and 36 points which has to be worth something to a team hoping to make a run in the playoffs. To me, seeing Satan on waivers can only mean that the Penguins need/want that cap space to make another move (who knows, it may be Guerin). I would say there is a chance that someone will pick up Satan, but if they don’t, will the Penguins look to alternatives to free up that cap space? Brian Burke has in the past said the Leafs would consider taking on salary dumps, if they came with a draft pick. Would the Penguins be interested in trading Satan and a 3rd or 4th round pick to the Leafs for next to nothing in return, just to rid themselves of Satan’s salary so they can make another move? We’ll have to wait and see.

Gary Roberts and Aaron Voros are interesting cases as well because they give us an indication of what the market value for that type of role player is. Presumably the Lightning and Rangers would have tried to trade those guys for whatever they could get, even if it were just a 7th round pick, before they decided to put them on waivers, but they found no takers. Their value, in terms of what other teams are willing to give up for them, is essentially zero. So if that is the case, what does that say for the value of similar players like Chris Neil of the Senators or Jamal Mayers of the Leafs or Ian Laperierre of the Avalanche? Not much, though Mayers is signed for next year so is not just a rental player.

This waiver wire process will also act as a blocker for when trades will get made. Any team who has put a player on waivers (such as the Penguins) or a team who puts in a claim on a player will likely have to or want to wait until after noon tomorrow before making some other trades to see whether they have lost or added a player.

Finally, Martin Gerber is back on re-entry waivers less than a week after he was in the same situation with no takers. Have the Senators been given any indications from other teams that there may be an interest in picking him up, or is Bryan Murray once again hoping? Possible takers are the Red Wings (whose 8-0 loss to the Predators on Sunday may have been the straw that broke the camel’s back when it comes to their goaltending), Buffalo, Calgary, and Washington.

Brian Burke was just on Fan 590 in Toronto and said that he doesn’t think that the return on rental players will be anything like what it was in the past. There will be no rental players going for a roster player, a good prospect, and a first round pick like Forsberg and others have been traded for in the past. So unless things change, even though there are more buyers than sellers, the prices to acquire players may be at a discount from previous years.

Trade Deadline Rumour Thoughts

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Mar 022009

The talk around Toronto and Boston today is that the Leafs and Bruins have been discussing a Tomas Kaberle deal. The rumour is the Bruins have offered the Leafs a first round pick, a third round pick and prospect Joe Colborne, the Bruins first round pick from last season. TSN.ca is reporting that Brian Burke has emphatically denied this rumour and says it is completely fabricated and that he has not talked with the Bruins about a Kaberle deal.

So, which is it? Well, as is oftent he case, the truth usually lies somewhere in the middle. It would surprise me if Boston didn’t at least inquire as to what it would cost to acquire Kaberle so I have a difficult time believing completely Burke in that Kaberle has never been discussed. But, if the Bruins were only willing to give up draft picks and prospects to acquire Kaberle, I can see where the discussion may not have gotten all that serious. Burke has made it pretty clear that his asking price is going to be steep and will be a player, a prospect, and a first round draft pick, much like the deal he made for Pronger when he was in Anaheim when he dealt Lupul, Smid and a first round pick (and actually a second first round pick as well because the Ducks won the Stanley Cup). Now, if someone like Milan Lucic or Blake Wheeler or Mark Stuart were also included in the rumoured deal it would make more sense.

The Bill Guerin situation is an interesting one. As you are probably aware by now, Bill Guerin was taken out of the Islanders lineup on Saturday night during the pre-game warm up. Everyone believed that mean that Bill Guerin had been traded, or would be traded, at any time. But it is now Monday and Bill Guerin is still an Islander. So where was he going to be traded and why has it seemingly been delayed? The where has been rumoured to be a contending eastern conference team and many believe Montreal or Washington are the most likely destination. But why has it been delayed? There has been some speculation that the other team has backed out, but if that were the case I think we probably would have heard something to that effect from the Islanders side. So I don’t put a lot of stock in that explanation. Andy Strickland, a Blues blogger on a hockey rumour website that I won’t link to because the main blogger is a false rumour monger, believed the other team might be the Philadelphia and the reason the trade hasn’t gone down yes is because that have to free up salary cap room. To me, this makes perfect sense as to why the trade is being delayed, far more than the other team just backed out. Whether the team is the Flyers or not, I believe the other team having to free up cap space is a likely reason for the delay in this trade going through.

Derek Morris is also in limbo having being scratched from the Phoenix lineup on Saturday, though it doesn’t appear that he was scratched because a deal was imminent, but rather the Coyotes may be just protecting their asset and didn’t want to risk Morris getting injured. But rumours are several western conference teams may be interested in Morris including Calgary, who Morris played for early in his career.

Getting back to the Leafs, they may be the most active sellers at the deadline because that have a large number of affordable players that teams can get under this years cap, and also who have affordable contracts for next season so if the trade doesn’t translate into playoff success this year they aren’t left with nothing when the player leaves as a free agent in the summer. Alexei Ponikarovsky is a 20g, 45 point player who won’t hurt you defensively and has a $2.1 million cap hit for next season. Matt Stajan would be a great third line center for a contender who will contribute offensively and is set to make just $1.75 million next year. Jamal Mayers hasn’t had a good season but with a $1.3 million contract for next year and would add some toughness to a contending team. Mike Van Ryn is a bit of a risk because of his injuries, but if he is healthy is is a great #3 defenseman and has just a $2.9 million salary cap hit next season. None of this above players are going to cost you a lot in assets to trade for, nor will they cost a lot to the salary cap, and none of them will walk on July first. Because of this, the Leafs might have some of the most sought after free agents, and that isn’t without discussing unrestricted free agents Nik Antropov and Dominic Moore.

The other interesting team is he Anaheim Ducks who have basically all of their third and fourth lines set to become UFAs as are several of their defensemen. If the Ducks decide to just give up on the season, they could be an extremely active team at the deadline, but they have won 3 of their last 4 games to halt their slide and they currently sit in 8th spot in the western conference. It’s anyones guess what they will do.

Mar 012009

With less than a week until the deadline, the GMs are burning phone lines and big names are starting to pop. Here’s a look at some of the players that have “buyer beware” tags.

Chris Pronger
I still maintain the fact that the Ducks would be ill-advised to deal Pronger at the deadline. The Ducks have played uninspired hockey all year long but still have enough talent to make it to the postseason. If they do, they’ll once again boast one of the stronger defensive corps with Pronger, Scott Niedermayer, and Ryan Whitney. However, the buyer beware tag on this guy is not so much on the ice as off it. Controversy still surrounds Pronger’s exit from Edmonton and is known to be a prima donna and has publicly stated on his blog that he is flat out refusing any trade out of Anaheim. Should Pronger land in a city he does not like, sitting out and demanding a trade is not out of the ordinary for him. Pronger has one more year remaining on his contract.

Jay Bouwmeester
He’s another guy that I don’t anticipate moving considering the Panthers’ strong play and playoff bid. Consistency and dedication was a problem for Bouwmeester early on the in the year when most predicted the Panthers to finish last in the Southeast, and Bouwmeester was reportedly very unhappy with the direction of the team. Although he boasts the skill set of a potential franchise defenseman, Bouwmeester has shied away from the spotlight and many people question his ability to anchor a blueline by himself or provide any sort of leadership role in the future.

Olli Jokinen
The key stat here is zero playoff games. While this can be attributed to the Panthers’ woes for the past few years, he was expected to push the Coyotes over the top and mentor their young kids. Clearly this hasn’t been the case and he’s on the block again. Part of this is because Jokinen has been known to be rather unpopular in the dressing room. Over the summer the Panthers and Canucks were involved in trade talks that involved Jokinen and the Sedins, but talks broke down after former Panther and now Canucks front office staff member Scott Mellanby advised against it, citing “character issues.”

Milan Hejduk

It’s no secret that the Sens have fallen from the top in just less than two years, but perhaps no team’s fall from grace has been more drawn-out than Colorado’s. A perennial powerhouse before the lockout, the aging Avs sit 15th in the West and are heading nowhere fast. With Ryan Smyth also on the block, the Avs seem committed to a full-youth movement and Hejduk does not figure into Francois Giguere’s plans. However, it’s a little known fact that Hejduk has publicly announced that it is his intention to retire from the NHL after he fulfills the last year of his contract in 2010 due to a knee injury that never healed properly. He did not skate all summer because of the knee and says that if he does continue playing hockey it’ll be in Europe. Hejduk turned 33 this year.

Tim Connolly
He may be one of the league’s best playmakers when healthy, but that’s the issue, and it’s a big one. Since the lockout, the injury-prone pivot has not played more than 63 games a year, and appeared in just two in the 2006-07 season. He has limited playoff experience but boasts pretty good stats, although some question his ability to handle a much more physical game in the playoffs. He has played well lately in Buffalo and this means that he is unlikely to move unless Buffalo gets the right offer. He has missed 167 games out of a possible 309 regular season games (54%) since the lockout.

Gary Roberts
Roberts was a very sought-after veteran for playoff bound teams looking to add veteran leadership and experience into the lineup. However, after being made a scratch by Michel Therrien in Pittsburgh’s playoff run, Roberts made his feelings clear that he was very unhappy about the decision. Whichever team that acquires Roberts will have to make sure he’s willing to accept less ice-time than usual and make his impact in the dressing room rather than on the ice.