NHL Trade Buzz – Fantasy Impact, Part II

Part two of three in taking a look at some of the trade buzz, which players are available, and what you should do in your hockey pool to prepare for these moves that may or may not happen.

Detroit Red Wings – Along with Carolina, Montreal and Anaheim, Detroit is a lead contender in the Peter Forsberg sweepstakes. Regardless of if they land Forsberg, Keith Tkachuk, or Todd Bertuzzi, if any team picks up a big name over the next two weeks it will be Detroit. They are in the hunt for a skilled offensive forward to play on one of the top two lines. If that forward is in the middle, Robert Lang’s production will drop. If that forward is a winger, both Dan Cleary and Jason Williams will see their production drop. Otherwise, a big deal such as this one will only help the team as a whole in terms of scoring. Exactly what poolies want to hear. Youngster Jiri Hudler is being used as trade bait.

Edmonton Oilers – The Oilers are going all PR with this one, giving every indication that they will be buyers at the deadline. That’s easy to say now, but what matters is what they say when February 27 rolls around. If the team is still ninth and within eight points of a playoff spot, expect them to buy. Any other situation and this will sell. By the same token, if GM Kevin Lowe fails to sign Ryan Smyth by the deadline and the team is in selling mode, the career Oiler will be moved. Edmonton desperately needs a quarterback for the power play and have been rumored to be shopping both Raffi Torres and Joffrey Lupul around. The latter would make a cheap pickup in your keeper league that will pay off handsomely next season.

Florida Panthers – Sellers. GM Jacques Martin has lost his patience and will not sit idly by this time around when there are so many assets available to move. Gary Roberts is likely gone. Ditto for Jozef Stumpel. Other possibilities include Mike Van Ryn, Ed Belfour and Todd Bertuzzi. Even captain Olli Jokinen, although that is somewhat of a long shot. A Bertuzzi deal would require a blue-chip prospect in return, such as a Hudler (Detroit), Brian Little (Atlanta), Benoit Pouliot (Minnesota) or a Rob Schremp (Edmonton). Of the four, Hudler and Pouliot are the only ones not deemed untouchable.

Los Angeles Kings – No surprises here as the Kings have made it quite clear that they are in a full rebuilding mode. So far, they are doing such a good job of it that I really must point out to keeper league owners that acquiring several Los Angeles players would be a smart move if you are looking at two seasons from now. Anze Kopitar, Jack Johnson, Mike Cammalleri, Alexander Frolov, Dustin Brown, Patrick O’Sullivan and now Marc-Andre Cliche will form an elite core. What are they missing? An elite goaltender. This team should be ready to give away all of their tradable commodities in an effort to land a Martin Biron-type of netminder. That would be the final piece of the rebuilding puzzle. Tradable commodities include Brent Sopel, Aaron Miller, Derek Armstrong and goaltender Mathieu Garon (who would be required to be included in any deal that brings Biron over). Rob Blake’s salary makes him expendable, but would there be any takers when he makes another $6 million next year?

Minnesota Wild – The Wild will be buyers, but will unlikely be very active at the deadline. The rumor mill has been quiet in Minnesota and this may be the team that picks up that No.6 defenseman or that fourth-line forward on February 27 – and not much else. Adam Hall is about it for this squad methinks.

Montreal Canadiens – The Forsberg rumors have died down in Montreal, as have the Craig Rivet for Adrian Aucoin rumors. We are now hearing Sergei Samsonov for Aucoin rumors, which would make more sense for Chicago, a team that could use Samsonov’s skill and the salaries between the two players are much closer. The Habs are in a tailspin and a shakeup is on the way – expect a deal to be done in advance of the deadline. Incidentally, Montreal will be buyers.

Nashville Predators – The Preds have made some great moves this past week. Knowing that they had an extra forward and Josef Vasicek had requested a trade, the team knew that the market for Vasicek was not very hot – other than in Carolina. So Nashville did a straight swap for Eric Belanger, a pivot of equal salary who is much more marketable. One day later and the Preds addressed their weakness – defensive depth – by flipping Belanger to Atlanta for Vitali Vishnevski. The team is now a powerhouse in every area and will likely be fairly quiet come deadline time. Scott Upshall is a spare forward who may be moved, but it is likely that the team is happy with having depth at all positions, given their injury problems last April.

New Jersey Devils – The Devils will be buyers, but their backs are pressed up against the salary ceiling. Rearguard Richard Matvichuk will be back soon and that is salary that the Devils will not want to carry. Expect him to be moved for a low pick. There is a rumor going around the team would like a backup goalie for Brodeur, but they did not get one last year and have not had any problems since then…so why now? Rumor had the Devils in the running for Brad Stuart, but they were offering far less (David Hale) than the Flames were (Chuck Kobasew). A long shot idea has a blockbuster deal with Scott Gomez moving his big contract out of town for a top (but older) pivot in return, but that is doubtful.

New York Islanders – The team may have faded but they are still very much in the playoff picture. If this remains, expect them to be buyers. Prospect Robert Nilsson is not a Ted Nolan favorite and could be used a trade bait to land a quality (and expensive) veteran. Jason Blake has given the ol’ ultimatum “sign me now or I’ll walk in the summer” and as such may be on the move out. The Isles are without Alexei Yashin for awhile (knee) and the Isles would love to add a top two pivot.

New York Rangers – The team has added Sean Avery and Pascal Dupuis already this past week and the Rangers are likely not done. They want to add some more toughness and size and as such you may see youngster Petr Prucha on his way out of town. Earlier rumors of a Petr Prucha for Ryan Malone swap have died off as the Penguins continue to win hockey games. Top prospects Ryan Callahan, Lauri Korpikoski and Marc Staal are all reportedly untouchable.

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