Tough questions for some GMs

Speaking of the trade deadline, the Bruins are in a terrific position to pry some top-end talent from teams in the seller’s category, thanks in large part to the Phil Kessel deal that gives Boston another of Toronto’s first-round picks this year (the Bruins used the other to pick up Tyler Seguin in last year’s draft). The Leafs look like they’ll be a draft lottery team again this season, which means Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli can dangle a top-five pick.

So, what do you do if you’re Dallas GM Joe Nieuwendyk or Calgary GM Jay Feaster? Both GMs have assets that, if moved, would be the most sought-after pieces at the deadline in the form of Brad Richards and Jarome Iginla.

Richards will be an unrestricted free agent this summer, and we’re guessing the Stars’ chances of retaining his services will be slim unless they go on a long playoff run. Yet the team has played poorly of late (two wins in its past nine games) and looks like it will relinquish its longstanding spot atop the Pacific Division. Even if the Stars do make the playoffs, what is the probability of a long run? Nothing is a given, but an honest assessment suggests the Stars are likely in one-and-done territory. Weigh that likelihood against having a top-five pick and other assets from Boston if Nieuwendyk asked Richards to waive his no-trade clause.

Talk about a dilemma.

It’s the same with the Iginla case. Feaster has repeatedly said he will not ask Iginla to waive his no-movement clause. The Flames have played their way back into playoff contention in the West and are 7-1-2 in their past 10 games, but they are 10th in the conference and the teams in front of them all hold games in hand. In short, a playoff berth isn’t a given.

With the dearth of talent in Calgary’s minor league system, the lure of a top-five draft pick is a powerful one given Iginla’s attractiveness to other teams like Boston. (He has two more years left on his contract at $7 million.)

You can ask the same question of Ottawa GM Bryan Murray, who has already started to deconstruct his Senators team. Would having two draft lottery picks this spring not be attractive if you thought captain Daniel Alfredsson would yield that kind of return even if it meant dealing the classy veteran to a division foe?

Tough calls all the way around. Guess that’s why those guys get paid the big bucks.