The Canadian Club Perspective
The Canadian Club Perspective:
Insight to the Trade Deadline
With trade rumors swirling around the media and the deadline less than two weeks away, the six Canadian clubs seem to be right in the middle of all of it once again. With the Ottawa Senators and Montreal Canadians in a battle for first place in the East, and the Calgary Flames right in the mix to finish at the top of their division, it looks to be a strong contending post-season for the three clubs.
The Senators have already jumped into a playoff run by dealing away long-term youth in Patrick Eaves and a puck moving defensemen in Joseph Corvo to the Carolina Hurricanes in return for two-time Stanley Cup champion Cory Stillman, and hard-nosed defensemen Mike Commodore. Many believe they are not done shopping, as speedster Antoine Vermette has shown value for a trade, but after acquiring a sniper in Stillman to play on the second line with Fisher, it looks as if Ottawa has acquired exactly what they were looking for in terms of scoring depth.
The Montreal Canadians, who sit on the heels of the Senators for the division title, have yet to find the right piece to bolster their lineup for contention. Although names such as Michael Ryder, and Saku Koivu’s have been more than whispered in rumors, it does not seem likely that they would trade their captain, and an underachieving Ryder, who is on par for a mere thirty points after three seasons of fifty-five plus, is not attracting the attention they would want from a former Calder runner-up only three seasons ago. It appears as though they have been after Patrick Marleau all season, but after extending himself to the end of the two-thousand-ten season, he too has put on the weakest performance year of his career as well. Perhaps the Canadians will be able to work out a deal that would send an underachiever for an underachiever.
The Calgary Flames sit in an interesting position. They, along with the Vancouver Canucks, can prove to be either buyers or sellers, though many would believe they are both looking to buy for the playoff run. Vancouver sits just two points out of a playoff berth, yet they are only five points away from the division title and their second title in two years. Calgary, on the other hand, is looking to capture the division title for the second time in three seasons. Calgary seems to have the inside shot, as Kiprusoff has a 0.915 save percentage in his last five games and Iginla as he is on pace for a career year in goals, assists, and points; but as the deadline nears for the Flames, they are growing more and more dependable of Daymond Langkow as their search for a number one centerman continues. Olli Jokinen, and Mats Sundin have been rumored to fill that void, but with Mats’ constant statement of maintain a Leaf until retirement, which very well could be at the end of this season, and Jokinen’s insistence on maintaining his residence in Florida, Calgary might have to maintain the status quo into the playoffs and hope Iginla and Kiprusoff stay on top of their game throughout the post season. Vancouver, however, is in desperate need of a second line. The Sedin twins have shown they can score, but they seem to be the only players providing offense this season. As usual, Roberto Luongo should be nominated for the heart trophy, for without him, the Vancouver Canucks would not be competing for eighth, but rather for the top choice in the upcoming draft. They too have looked into acquiring the services of Mats Sundin, but at a heavy price to pay for a rental player, they would much rather acquire a long-term contract either included in the Sundin deal, or elsewhere. Their interest in Peter Forsberg is just one of thirty teams who have spoken to the Swede, but even fellow countryman Markus Naslund has his doubts of Peter landing in Van city, stating “It’s surprise me if he came here”. There doesn’t seem to be much optimism for the Canucks to play long into the post-season unless they are willing to trade some of their youth, or poor more money to persuade bigger name free agents to tackle a role in Vancouver. At twenty-three years of age, grinding forward Ryan Kesler is considered a valuable asset for teams around the league, and he along with prospects Luc Bourdon and Alexander Edler could attract a lot of attention and prove to be the names required in order to gain the scoring depth needed to succeed in an offensive league. With arguably the top goaltender in the league playing between the pipes, it doesn’t sound all that intimidating to trade away young defensive prospects to improve the offense.
Toronto and Edmonton are in similar and definite situations. Both will not make the playoffs, unless the almighty himself joined the squad, and both have faced injury woes all season. Leafs fans are under the impression that Darcy Tucker has not played up to full form all season due to a suspected long-term injury the gritty forward has played through all season, and they may be correct. Colaiacovo’s jinxed career has been nothing short of expected. The young stud defensemen returned to action after rehabbing his knee back to form from surgery this summer, and after only a few games had reinjured the same knee and has just recently hopped off the injury-reserved shelf. The Leafs currently sit with a top five pick in the June draft, and regardless of the teams losses and recurring blown-out performances, interest remains in several players, but perhaps not the right ones. The replacement for John Ferguson, interim general manager Cliff Fletcher, has spoken repeatedly that the team’s performance from here on our will not alter his stance against a short term fix. The Leafs are looking to shed some salary and build for the future – a statement some Leafs fans have been starving to hear for decades. Unfortunately, all the money locked up in Toronto remains on defense, and to add to the financial woes, all four big money defensemen have no trade or no movement clauses. Toronto has found a bargaining chip in order to move some of these players. If convinced to waive the no trade/no movement clause, is it believed the Leafs would part with Sundin – if the right team interests him and the captain decides to help the club long-term and return in the fall – or even move one of Stajan, Steen or Wellwood to get the deal done, and decisions on the future of youngster Ian White should be determined over the next few weeks as to where he stands as either a piece to the club’s future, or trade bait while his value remains strong. Andrew Raycroft, however, is a player that should be waived and relieved of his duties in a blue and white jersey. Since joining the squad, Raycroft has shown minor signs of his Calder winning form, but his continuous embarrassments and predictability has proven to be too much for head coach Paul Maurice to think about shedding out a few more games to the back-up this season if the Leafs have any hopes of making it into eighth place this season. Andrew has taken the media attention very well in Leaf land, but in order for him to try and get his career back on track, he needs to find a new home, and waivers or buy-out options seem to be the only way for the young Canadian to get back on track.
There are a lot of positive outlooks on the Edmonton Oilers this season. The likes of Andrew Cogliano, Sam Gagner, and Dustin Penner have proved their worth, and Joni Pitkanen looks to have found a new home if he chooses to extend his contract this summer. The level of chemistry on this team is high, and will prove to be contenders in next to no time. New captain Ethan Moreau has excited fans with his high level and gritty play, regardless of rejoining the team after a fourteen month sidelined leg injury. The emergence of Ales Hemsky has shown all Oilers fans why he was selected thirteenth overall in the two-thousand-one entry draft, totaling nearly a point a game so far this season. The free agent signing of Sheldon Souray wil
l have to wait until next season to prove its worth after back to back shoulder injuries, but the powerplay specialist was on par for nearly forty-points this year on a team that is also looking at a top five pick in the entry draft. They sit only eight points out of the playoffs, but so do thirteen other teams in the league, a problem that affects the Leafs, and in some ways, the Canucks as well. The Oilers should look to develop their prospects and continue to acquire youth, perhaps shopping Raffi Torres and Fernando Pisani for draft picks or prospects. Much like the Penguins and Capitals, the Edmonton Oilers will be full of young talent for years to come.
It looks as though all Canadian clubs are headed to the right direction, either a force to be reckoned with in the post-season, or rebuilding their clubs to become juggernauts in the years to come, and each fan base is behind them, supporting their teams regardless of success. This provides the confidence and ability for clubs to rebuild or push hard to acquire what is needed to drink from the silver grail. All Canadian franchise fans should be excited for the trade deadline, as each will play a key role.
By: Micheal A. Aldred (Polastem)