Ducks Last Call, Stars Coming Back, Yotes In Desperate Times

Here is a quick look at 3 Western Conference Teams as the Trade Deadline approaches.

Anaheim Ducks

This could be the last hurrah for this flock of Ducks. With only 9 players under contract, the team is likely going to try and take one last run and pretty much start fresh next season.

The following are due to be UFAs: Brendan Morrison, Todd Marchant, Rob Niedermayer, Sammy Pahlsson, Travis Moen, George Parros, Brad Larsen, Scott Niedermayer, Kent Huskins, Francois Beauchemin, Bret Hedican, Steve Montador

The cap hit according to nhlnumbers.com is $58.5 million

Top Rookies/Prospects:

Bobby Ryan – He has been highly sought after commodity but the Ducks arent going to move him. He is averaging roughly a point a game and is turning into the scoring stud they envisioned. He has 15 goals in 31 games.

Jake Gardiner – He is having a great freshman season in the NCAA with 15 points in 25 games. He is on a pretty loaded Wisconsin scquad and should only continue to get better playing there with such fine talent.

Eric Tangradi – He is one of the OHL’s leading scorers and is projected to be another strong up and coming power forward prospect. He has great size to go with skill and he could be a Duck as early as next season.

Logan MacMillian – Injuries are holding him back, but in time, he should be a solid character player to add depth to the team. The team hopes he can have a strong playoff in the Q to help with his development.

Brendan Mikkelsson – He made his NHL debut this season and hasnt looked too out of place. He is a defensive defenceman with decent size and should be a quality depth player for the team for the next while.

Others: Mark Mitera, Nicolas Deschamps, Eric O’Dell, Josh Brittain

Bottom Line: Team will be aggressive buyers. They will first probably dump the likes of Marchant and Huskins and take one last run at a long playoff. Someone like Jussi Jokinen to maybe centre a 2nd unit with Selanne and a player like Nick Boynton, capable of 20 minutes a night on the backend could be a couple of players who could help the Ducks.

Dallas Stars

After a brutal start, the Dallas Stars are slowly but surely climbing back into the playoff mix. The only question is whether or not they will have enough time to make up all that ground.

The following are due to be UFAs: Jere Lehtinen, Joel Lundqvist, Brian Sutherby, Mark Parrish, Sergei Zubov, Darryl Sydor

Their cap hit according to nhlnumbers.com is $55.8 million.

Top Rookies/Prospects:

Fabian Brunnstrom – The hot free agent from Sweden isnt quite lighting up the NHL but he has shown some promise as an offensive player. He should be a fixture on the top 2 lines for Dallas and be a solid support scorer. He has 10 goals so far but has had some injury issues.

James Neal - Defensively, Neal’s game needs work but in terms of offense, the team is pleasantly surprised at his 13 goals so far. He has added some size and grit to the forward ranks and should be a nice compliment for Morrow giving another line an in your face scoring forward.

Ivan Vishnevsky – A good puck moving defenceman, Vishnevsky may likely make his NHL debut this season. He is not big, but is a terrific skater and playmaker. He should be a fixture on the PP.

Tobias Stephan – The young goalie has not done much to build much confidence for the organization. With Mike Smith gone, he was handed the backup job this season and has not pushed starter Marty Turco.

Jamie Benn – A major surprise, Benn has shown tremendous scoring ability in the WHL. He is well over a point a game player and has good size to go with good hands. He was a key offensive cog for Canada at the WJC.

Others: Perrtu Lindgren, Nico Saccheti, Konstantin Pushkarev

Bottom Line: The Stars will be active if they are close enough at the beginning of March. If they can find a taker for Avery they would be ok to take back a contract plus someone who would help them right away. They may take a run at former Star Bill Guerin or Keith Tkachuk to give them a big winger with size and experience as Morrow will not be available. Someone like Kubina or O’Donnell or Havelid would be someone who could help add experience defensively with Zubov out.

Phoenix Coyotes

A playoff appearance by the Coyotes would be a huge boost financially to the team and give the organization some momentum. However at the end of the day, it may not be enough as the team is in grave financial danger and may be forced to gut their roster of highly paid veterans.

The following are due to be UFAs: Steve Reinprecht, Derek Morris, Ken Klee, Mikael Tellqvist, Brian McGrattan

The cap hit according to nhlnumbers.com is $46.2 million

Top Rookies/Prospects:

Mikkel Boedker – Boedker surprisingly made the team as an 18 year old and has shown some flashes of the kind of offensive skill that could make him a big offensive star. But he is raw and still could stand to get bigger and stronger to better handle the NHL grind.

Kyle Turris – The Yotes are working Turris in slowly not yet handing him a high profile role. He needs experience and its possible he was rushed to the NHL too soon. He is only less than 2 years removed from playing in the BC juniors. He is going to be fine offensive player but needs to bulk up.

Victor Tikhonov – Tikhonov projects to be a quality support player for the Yotes. He is only 20, but after 2 years in the KHL has some pro experience. He has just 3 goals so far but does have skill. But he is more along the lines of a character player who brings more than just flash to a team.

Kevin Porter – After a big college career, Porter is slowly but surely getting adjusted to the pro game. He is small but quick and has a ton of offensive potential. The Yotes are bringing in a ton of young players at once, especially up front so its been a challenge to get someone like Porter the kind of playing time he needs to succeed.

Brett MacLean – An offensive wizard in junior, Maclean is adjusting well in the AHL with 11 goals so far. He is yet another big time offensive forward prospect in the organization and one wonders where there is enough room to fit everyone in.

Others: Al Montoya, Nick Ross, Enver Lisin, Chris Summers, Jared Staal

Bottom Line: The team will likely try and do as best they can with what they have. The Yotes are currently under the watchful eye of the league financially so a big splash at the deadline may not be plausible. A deep long playoff run would be the kind of thing that may revitalize this franchise and perhaps save it from extinction. But they have not won a playoff series in over 20 years. As a result, the team may be forced to get out of their long term contracts, shave their debt and hope for someone to sweep in and save the team, keeping it in Arizona. With the way things are now, the only thing that isnt bleak for this team is the way they’re playing.