Struggling Teams and Trade Speculations

What is up with the struggling teams?

Media’s trade rumors are lame. Let’s speculate on what trades could happen any time soon and which teams could be partners.

Here we go hockey fans. We have seen approximately 1/8 of the season completed and I hope many of you are enjoying the season as much as I am. Before I begin, how about the new look on HTR’s front page, eh? Looks good, refreshing, and neat. I am sure our original regulars who became members nearly ten years ago will be surprised to see the big changes on here.

Anyway, on to the struggling teams topic.

I’ll start with the Florida Panthers. This is a team that should be doing better and certain players are underachieving. While I can’t blame the team much as it is missing Todd Bertuzzi a whole lot, it’s just not playing as well as it should. The Panthers have good young talent, but it’s not necessarily stepping up, cough-cough Nathan Horton. Hello Nathan! You got the skills of a consistent 30 goals per season scorer and you are just looking dazed and confused on the ice. He is a restricted free agent in July 2007, and you would expect the guy to have a career season. Stephen Weiss started well and his skating is superb. His vision is getting better, but Weiss will be nothing more than a second tier second line player. Why? His shooting abilities are abysmal. He does not have a good shot, for wrister and slapper, and his accuracy is not good. I keep seeing the guy facing the goalie and his shots end up hitting the goalie’s team logo. It’s not to say he is a bust. His speed and passing abilities are good and he can become a 50 point guy in the future with good defensive awareness. But, he is not being offensively effective right now. Josef Stumpel hit a brick wall. Started hot, and now just stopped scoring.

This team finished last season on a high note in all aspects of the game, from offense to defense to goaltending. Yet it just has not continued to do so. I think Jacques Martin is also trying to adjust to the double duty life, and I don’t see him hitting the panic button anytime soon unless the Panthers go on a very bad losing streak. A trade may come along as more of an adjustment roster move and it could happen soon. But for now, I think Martin is being patient and trying to get his team to stick around the .500 mark until Bertuzzi comes back.

The Ottawa Senators are in big pile of parasite poo poo. I said it once and I’ll say it again folks, GM John Muckler complements the foul word that is used to rhyme with his name. Here is a hint, take away the M and put in the F. He really Mucked the team up if you know what I mean. I attended the last game between the Senators and the Panthers. Very entertaining although very disturbing loss. Still, this Senators team is wrong and I will not blame one single player on this team. I don’t care if Dany Heatley would go scoreless in 10 games. I don’t care if Emery and Gerber would allow 100 goals on 50 shots (that’s something that Bruce Garrioch would say with his intelligence). I just would not blame them.

Ottawa matured into a top talent NHL team. The talent they had was just hard to believe for all these years. So, who do I blame first? The owner, Mr. Melnyk. This guy should have known, regardless of whoever advised him, that John Muckler would have been a horrible choice. Yet, he hired him. That’s first. Second, he allowed the old guy with ears outgrowing his body to make huge changes to the team.

That leads me to blame the second guy, John Muckler. What was he thinking? He replaced a very good coach with a complete coward that left the Anaheim Might Ducks, of then, in shambles as a general manager to then coach. Bryan Murray saw the team was going in the dumpsters, and he turned his back and left for a lesser NHL job. Doesn’t that tell you anything about him? That’s not the kind of personality I’d want to have coaching my players. He has no control of this team and it is absolutely obvious that his tactics are making the team lose. So, he hired a worse coach than the one before, who was good. He then decided to change the goaltending, which he had to, yet relied on an old timer in Dominic Hasek who was obviously going to get injured. DUH! That’s not it. He made a major move in trading Marian Hossa for Dany Heatley. Heatley’s numbers are good this year but they are not really helping, eh? And the hat trick he scored in Sunrise, Florida involved three lucky breaks. Hossa has helped his team to reach second seed in the Eastern Conference for now, and where is Heatley’s? Sitting under the eigth spot. Marian Hossa is playing his best hockey of his career and Heatley…well, I just cannot say the same for him. Muckler risked it by bringing in a player carrying baggage and giving up a growing young talent who is nearly leading the whole league in points, and is playing his best hockey ever.

What a total Muck up in Ottawa. And when I saw the game, the defense is a weakness. Wasn’t Ottawa a great defensive team? Sure, no Zdeno Chara, but the defense is just weak. It got outmuscled behind the net and in the corners. People can make the argument of whether or not Muckler should have kept Chara instead of Wade Redden. I’m still undecided about that, but I actually expected Muckler to solidify the muscle on the D with Chara leaving yet his best idea was getting Joe Corvo. Best case scenario for the Ottawa Senators franchise is to fire both Muckler and Bryan Murray.

Another team with issues are the Tampa Bay Lightning and their ill-tempered head coach, John Torturella. This team is not exactly struggling, but they should not be bouncing around the eigth seed either. A lot of talent, and I am not blaming the team. This time, I have just about had it with John Tortarella. I have come to the point where every time I see him on TV, his face just drives me mad! He is Mr. Problematic. There is always something wrong in his mind. He always shakes his head no, he always makes an annoyed face at the officials. I mean, seriously…. take a chill pill dude! It was the second period against the New York Rangers a few games ago and this guy went nuts. A low scoring game at that point and the Rangers got a break of some sort, I don’t remember exactly. Then Eric Perrin scores a goal but he kicked the puck in. The goal is being reviewed and the goal judge makes the call. John Tortarella goes nuts and just bashes the on ice officials. Poor guys, what the heck did they do wrong!? They did not even make the call! So the refs gave him a penalty. He grows crazier over that and he gets ejected from the game. This all happened in the second period. You may say “Oh, he did it to maybe get his team going”. No sir. The Bolts flat out stunk in the third period and got murdered the game after; I believe a 7-2 loss.

Marc Denis is a good goalie, most would agree. And, he isn’t panning out in Tampa Bay. Okay, that sucks, but Tortarella treats his goalies so poorly and he immediately put the guy in the dog house. Hey Denis, call John Grahame if you need some advise. Good thing that former well touted Rangers prospect Johan Holmqvist is playing well, but how long can that possibly last? In the end, Torts won the Cup and I’ll give him that, but he is a jerk and the problem of the organization. The officials must dislike him as he always has something to complain about in each game. Duuuuude, just shut up and coach!

The Columbus Blue Jackets tried something new last week. Hire an actual coach! Geee, it only took six years! This team has not really come close to make the playoffs, and after six years of top drafting and having ownership committing big bucks to some players (Foote, Federov, Marchant). you’d figure the general manager would get fired. This team lacks depth. In six years of existence, it should not be lacking depth. Hopefully Ken Hitch will turn the team around for the second half of t
he season, but I would not be betting on it. Fire Doug McLean already! This team has young talent and the guy has no idea how to build around it. He should be finito soon. Team is in the bottom of the league. No excuses; the GM has got to go. And you know who I would give the job to? Neil Smith. The guy was treated so unfairly on Long Island, he deserves a chance.

I am not a fan of GM Dave Tallon of the Chicago Blackhawks, but I actually think he made the right move to fire Trent Yawney, and kudos to Andre Savard for winning his first game as a head coach. And from the looks of it, it was a well deserved win against a tough team. I don’t have anything against Yawney, and I think he should definitely get a second chance in his career. I do think the team should have played better though as they did few things right and the players did not seem to follow their former coach. Tallon can’t be blamed much either, he just had to shake up his team and apparently a trade was just not going to happen anytime soon so the next best option was to fire Yawney. Injuries were a huge factor, but this kind of stuff happens. So, Martin Havlat should be able to come back soon, great news, and then what? Does GM Tallon look to trade? He should, but not immediately. I think he needs more depth up front as the defense should be fine for the next few seasons. There were big talks about Petr Prucha of the New York Rangers being dealt, but apparently that did not happen, as of yet. Soon, Tallon will have the options and I still think the Blackhawks have a decent chance to make something happen. It’s a struggling team, but one that could get dangerous if it finds its winning formula.


I just enjoyed reading GM Tallon continuously saying “I will not deal Brent Seabrook”, yet you had continuous reports from the supposed “expert journalists” saying “Chicago could deal Seabrook”. But see, this is the kind of crap that the hockey media throws out there just for fans to read. I think that’s what they actually think of. The thought process goes like this: “I think next week I will talk about Lecavalier possibly being traded to the Canadiens, or maybe Joe Sakic, Peter Forsberg, Olli Jokinen, Derek Morris, Ladislav Nagy, Shane Doan, and Lubomir Visnovksy being traded to the Maple Leafs for Bates Battaglia. I can’t use Nik Antropov anymore, he is playing well!”

So, let’s actually use our hockey smarts here. This is why I love this Web site. I know there are smart hockey fans out there who actually think things through unlike the journalists from the hockey media who don’t.

Trading Partners: I say the Florida Panthers and the Edmonton Oilers could benefit from each other. The Oilers are reportedly looking to add offense on the blueline. The Panthers, and I am reporting this myself, need an energetic winger that plays physical and yet scores to kind of replace Bertuzzi’s absence, and when Bertuzzi comes back, he’d fit in. How about a trade involving Mike Van Ryn and Raffi Torres? Jay Bowumeester is the real deal for the Panthers on defense, and Mike Van Ryn would be losing his role to Bo next season. So, both teams would be filling a need with two players not posting stellar numbers, but a change of scenery could help. What say you on this? I’d go for it for both teams.

Trading Partners: The New York Rangers are still stuck with eight defensemen on the roster with Tomas Pock and Darius Kasparaitis not playing. To me, it’s very tough to believe that a guy like Kaspar is still not in shape by now. Rangers defense is playing fairly well, despite some blunders, and Kaspar is the odd man out. Who needs a physical presence on D? I just mentioned a struggling team being weak on defense a few moments ago, did I not!? Ottawa. I’d like to pick Peter Schaefer for Darius Kasparaitis, but he is a left-winger and that’s not a position the Rangers need to fill. The right-wing could be helped, and maybe Muckler could deal Patrick Eaves in the trade? Of course, it would not be a straight up deal.
No trading partners: The Rangers will trade Kaspar sooner or later unless a defenseman gets injured. Fedor Tyutin surely has learned a lot from the vet as he has been playing so well and being very effective with his hip checks. Any team desiring a physical presence from the blueline will surely make an offer to get Kaspar. Strangely enough, his name has not been mentioned in any trade rumors by the media and he is an obvious candidate.

Trading Partners: The St. Louis Blues are starting to sniff around the trade block as they could try and offer Eric Brewer, who has struggled in Missouri. The Vancouver Canucks are looking to get offensive help on the blueline. How about a Ryan Kessler for Eric Brewer kind of trade? They are the main pieces of the deal and salary wise it is pretty much even. Kesler makes $1.9M and Brewer makes $2M.

Trading Partners: The Minnesota Wild are reportedly unhappy with newly acquired Mark Parrish. Does it mean that they will give up on him so early into his five year deal? It’s tough, somewhat unlikely, but I would not be surprised if the Wild dangle him around for a trade. I will once again use the Florida Panthers. The Cats need a forward who plays tough and just crashes the net to score goals and still replace that much missed presence that Bertuzzi has left so early into the season. The Wild could use a forward that plays center, has size, can play all three forward positions, and can play the PK. I know it may sound highly unlikely, but if the Wild want to get rid of Parrish, it’s not going to be easy trading his contract, so his value drops dramatically. I could see Jozef Stumpel fitting in Lemaire’s style of game and they need something. Besides, the potential of Stumpel and Gaborik forming excellent chemistry is actually quite good. Stumpel for Parrish as the main part of the deal? Why not, I’d pull the trigger.

That’s it for now. Stay tuned for my next column that will involve hockey’s popularity in the USA, and how the NHL should gain popularity. It will be interesting because I have some very interesting opinions on certain sports and athletes.

Anyway, thanks for reading as usual!

Micki Peroni