A different look on trade rumours- Dec. 13 Edition

In this week’s edition of “A different look on trade rumours”, I’ll be looking at the continuing Vincent Lecavalier sweepstakes, the St. Louis Blues’ continuing offensive problems, the New York Rangers’ trade with the Tampa Bay Lightning and what the Calgary Flames need to do to spark up their team.

Lecavalier continues to be the league’s hottest trade commodity at the moment, with the rumours still persisting despite Lightning General Manager Rick Dudley continuing to insist that he’s not parting with the budding superstar. Offers have still sprung up constantly, with just about every team looking to add Lecavalier, but now the frontrunners, according to the Toronto Star, include the Ottawa Senators and Vancouver Canucks. The Sens are continuing to offer Radek Bonk and Chris Phillips, while the Canucks’ offer is believed to be Todd Bertuzzi and Mattias Ohlund. Personally, I like the Canucks’ offer: they are offering two players who didn’t reach their full potential for a player many fear will do exactly the same thing (two over-ripened vets for one vet about to over-ripe. I now see the connection…), but I’d think the Senators’ offer is more reasonable. The Sens should be offering Martin Havlat, but I won’t argue with Marshall Johnston’s masterful team-building techniques. Both players are reliable and useful, and, unlike Bertuzzi and Ohlund, are not viewed as “over-ripened” veterans, a plus for a team that seems to only acquire players who never realize their potential. Lecavalier would become Ottawa’s new No. 1 centre and would have more offensive weapons to work with than he did in Tampa Bay (the Alexandre Daigle that should have been? Perhaps…), while Bonk replaces Lecavalier in Tampa and Phillips solidifies the blue-line corps. The Canucks? All they’d be getting is a potential superstar centre but the team has enough centres and doesn’t need another one (what does Brian Burke want to do, make sure his whole team can win a face-off?). Still, the Canucks need a boost and Lecavalier should do it, although I believe there certainly are other options.

Two teams that definitely need Lecavalier are the Blues and Flames. St. Louis’ offensive woes are starting to trouble the 14-9-5-1 team, as it seems that only a few players there are capable of offensive production. Pavol Demitra leads the team with 17 goals, followed by Keith Tkachuck’s 13 goals. After that, the next highest goal scorers are Scott Young and Doug Weight with seven each and after that is Cory Stillman with a paltry four. The Blues’ 74 goals (as of today) are third worst in the Western Conference and seventh-worst in the National Hockey League. However, what could St. Louis offer to Tampa Bay? According to the Toronto Star, all they have are “muckers and grinders” and have a roster unattractive to teams wishing to deal them a superstar scorer, having lost most of their attractive assets (their youth) in trades for players like Stillman and Weight. The Star also reports that the Blues are reportedly also after the underachieving Chris Gratton, who isn’t giving his Buffalo Sabres their $2 million worth, and the New York Islanders’ Brad Isbister, who has also been implicated in trades with the Pittsburgh Penguins concerning Darius Kasparitus.

As for Calgary, they’ve been pretty silent so far on the trade rumour front, but I personally think they need to get right into it. They are continually a one-line team (Dean McAmmond-Craig Conroy-Jarome Iginla) and need some offence for the second line, as Marc Savard’s return has done little for the team. They should seriously look at Lecavalier for the second line, as well as, perhaps, New Jersey Devils’ underachieving centre Scott Gomez. Somebody suggested to me that the Flames should offer Savard straight up for Lecavalier and underachieving Rob Niedermayer to New Jersey for Gomez, and, I have to admit, I do agree, although I still see flaws. Savard is a budding star and is a “sure thing”, but Calgary GM Craig Button seems content on getting results now instead of in the future, so dealing away Savard (who has only managed three goals in 16 games), for Lecavalier, a player who nearing the stage where potential must turn into results, might be a boost to the squad now. Calgary would get a true second-line centre and might have a star for the future, but considering how much Tampa is asking, Calgary just doesn’t figure in those rumours. Gomez, on the other hand, is different: he definitely needs a new home and maybe a new role, and in Calgary he’d get just that. Niedermayer also needs a change of address and may adjust nicely with less pressure in New Jersey than in Calgary, but considering his concussed past and his underachieving status (not to mention the fact that, as a Flame, Gomez wouldn’t have the scoring winger he apparently needs), the Devils may not be convinced. Still, New Jersey can’t expect the world for Gomez, who is a puzzling underachiever, and a player like Niedermayer may be the best Lou Lamoriello can get, so, reluctantly for him, this trade might happen. The Flames could also pursue Isbister, but, again, who do they offer? Certainly not Niedermayer: the Islanders don’t want another underachiever (mind you, they’ve often made the most out of underachievers- remember Mark Parrish?) Still, this much is clear: Calgary needs a trade and needs it now. Anything to get back on track.

Finally, the Lightning and New York Rangers completed a trade (no, Lecavalier was not involved). The trade sees pointless Matthew Barnaby going to New York for Zdeno Ciger straight up, but I still can’t follow the logic on the New York point of view. Ciger has been good in his return to the NHL, potting six goals and seven assists for 13 points in 29 games, but Barnaby is minus seven with no points and 70 penalty minutes in 28 games. Granted, he did come from the Lightning, so that minus seven isn’t as glaring as it should be, but I still don’t think he is worth Ciger. The “no points” says it all: he can’t score and he’s taking the place of Ciger in New York who could score, which will be a serious blow to the offence. Plus, the Rangers have Sandy McCarthy and Steve McKenna for grit, so Barnaby is superfluous. Also, if the Rangers needed grit, they should have traded for Florida Panther Paul Laus or Brad Ferrence (more likely Ferrence) or Anaheim Mighty Duck Ruslan Salei, gritty defenceman with at least some offensive skills, in other words, they’re comparable to Ciger. In the end, their defence needed help and they didn’t do that here. Rangers GM Glen Sather has done some great trades in the past, but this one certainly defies all logic and is a disgrace after building a winning Ranger team with the wonderfully crafted Eric Lindros trade. Tampa GM Rick Dudley is smiling: he gets an offensive forward for almost nothing at all, but I doubt Ciger, who returned to the NHL this year, will like moving to a losing team after winning all year. He left the Edmonton Oilers when they were a losing venture, and, granted, he had other reasons (I believe it was family, although I’m not sure), losing was probably one of the reasons, if only a minor one. Now he gets to “lose” some more. If he slumps in Tampa, expect that issue to come alive, but, if not, all the better for Dudley, who probably knows his time is running out. Hey, if he can one-up one of the greatest GMs of all time, I think he deserves to stay in Tampa.

Anyhow, that’s this week’s edition of “A different look on trade rumours”. This will probably be the last edition until January 3rd, as I won’t be near a computer until then. Enjoy- and feel free to comment on these and any other trade rumours.

-DG


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