A different look on trade rumours- Feb. 28 Edition

Sorry for the delay: University work beckoned, and with the Olympic break there really wasn’t too much point talking trade. Anyhow, I’m back and this week it’s “Goaltender Week”: the searches/”shoppings” of the Toronto Maple Leafs, St. Louis Blues and Carolina Hurricanes of netminders.
(Sources: Spector’s Rumours, ESPN.com, Toronto Star)The first note is the Hurricanes’ impending trade of Tom Barrasso. According to Spector’s Rumours, Carolina General Manager Jim Rutherford says he’s willing to trade the impending unrestricted free agent since neither Barrasso nor previous starter Arturs Irbe has laid full claim to the starter role. He says he’ll trade Barrasso to either Toronto or St. Louis, and is also apparently interested in Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Kevin Weekes. My question to Rutherford is this: which team can afford the kinds of players needed to get Barrasso? Barrasso may not be the elite-level goaltender he once was, but he’s still an excellent goaltender that can’t be had with picks at first glance, but with his impending UFA status, his stock drops because teams won’t give too much for a player who might leave. My guess that the Hurricanes might only be able to get a decent role player like Alexander Khavanov or Travis Green, but that might also be cutting Rutherford a little too deep. If he really wants to maximize his trade potential, sign Barrasso to an extension and then maybe he’ll get the types of deals he could really use to shore up the Hurricanes, but would that make his value too much for other teams to handle? It’s an interesting situation, and one where you can’t really know for sure until March 19 (the trade deadline) passes.

However, if the Hurricanes don’t sign Barrasso, that should make him easier for the Blues to acquire. GM Larry Pleau has given a “vote of confidence” to Brent Johnson and Fred Brathwaite, but in the twisted world of sports, can one really be sure he’s not actually looking to upgrade his goaltending? Goaltending has long been lacking in St. Louis, especially in the play-offs, and acquiring a play-off veteran goaltender like Barrasso, who owns a Stanley Cup ring from his days as a Pittsburgh Penguin, might help the Blues in their play-off run. If he’s still un-signed, Barrasso could be had for a player like Khavanov or a really high draft pick (say second round), but if he is signed, the Blues probably will drop out of the running. Pleau also says his payroll is maxed out and doesn’t want to give up too many of his players, but if he really wants to improve his team, he’d better acquire a goaltender like Barrasso. Either that, or his team will probably choke again in the play-offs because of the green goaltending.

Another team who is not so lucky is the Toronto Maple Leafs, who lost Curtis Joseph for approximately eight weeks with a “boxer’s fracture” in his hand. This opens up the Leafs’ goaltending dilemma considerably, and further compunds Joseph’s own UFA status and the fact Joseph and Leafs head coach/GM/Team Canada coach Pat Quinn really haven’t gotten along all too well. The Toronto Star’s Ken Campbell outlined six goaltenders the Leafs might be able to acquire, including Los Angeles Kings’ goaltenders Stephane Fiset and Jamie Storr, Anaheim Mighty Duck Steve Shields, Montreal Canadien Jeff Hackett, Calgary Flame Mike Vernon and Weekes. Of the six, you can strike off Vernon because there’s no way anyone would want the fading goaltender unless they’re desperate. That leaves five other goaltenders, but the cost Campbell outlines is, in my opinion, too weak for the other teams to consider. Most of the offers are mid-round picks or middle-range prospects, but all of them, besides Vernon, represent important players on their teams, and they’ll want more than just picks and prospects. Their stock isn’t very high because all have been suplanted as No. 1 goaltenders, but- with the exception of Vernon- they’re still decent goaltenders and to pry them loose the Leafs may need to give up a lower-depth roster player or, in the case of Anaheim and Tampa Bay, at least a high-level prospect that can contribute next year. That price may look a little steep for those goaltenders, but considering the trade deadline approaches and teams like the Buffalo Sabres, Vancouver Canucks, Dallas Stars and St. Louis might also be looking rather long at these players, their stock will shoot up immensely past their worth, and teams like Montreal and Los Angeles want players who can contribute right away since they’re in a play-off hunt, and the Lightning and Ducks want players to help out their future. It should figure that Campbell would short-change the other teams since he’s a Toronto Star writer, but Campbell has been impartial before and is usually good at being level-headed at least with the Leafs. Still, his list swings far too much in the Leafs’ favour, and, since the other teams will probably demand a lot with the deadline approaching, I don’t see the Leafs making a trade unless they become willing to sweeten their offer, and I don’t see that happening.

That’s this week’s edition of “A different look on trade rumours”. Feel free to comment on these or any other trade rumours.


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