Where Teams Stand for February Trades
The latest commentary on trade rumors and teams; where do they stand? Well, it is the all-star break and that means we get to sit back and ponder how the month of February will go about. Now that player salaries will not completely count against a team’s cap, when acquired, it will be easier for general managers to make trades. Yes, it has been a slow season with trades as the main two I can remember are the Comrie trade, and the Mikael Tellqvist trade. Yet, you know the saying, “save the best for last”.
I’d actually be expecting a trade to occur soon after the season resumes.
Ok, so team-by-team and for some teams the commentary will be short, for others more in-depth. First with the Eastern Conference in order of appearance in the conference standings.
Buffalo Sabres: They will lay low until trade deadline day. They can acquire a defenseman to solidify their defense. Martin Biron may be used, but I doubt the Sabres will trade him as they could use him in the playoffs.
New Jersey Devils: They don’t have any cap room to work with, then again, do they need to? I am in shock that this team still manages to win by playing a heavily concentrated defensive game. The Devils may look for help by pulling another Malakhov type trade by dealing Matvichuk along with a 2nd rounder, or prospect, to clear up cap space, and then acquire a player. Otherwise, I’d think that Johnny Madden may be traded to clear up cap space. Not too sure what the Devils would look at, maybe a more skilled 2nd, 3rd line player. Regardless, this team is set to make the Finals, and they can go all the way this season.
Atlanta Thrashers: They will look for a forward, but most likely a defenseman to place on the powerplay. The Canucks may be willing to part with Sami Salo to clear up some space, and he’d look good with the Thrashers. Brent Sopel may also be an option. The problem with the Thrashers is that they don’t have many assets to trade other than draft picks and prospects, who apparently don’t look too good either overall. Do not be surprised if the Thrashers stay flat during the deadline as other teams could beat their offers, yet if Waddel wants to make a big entrance in the playoffs, Forsberg’s name would look good with the likes of Kovalchuk, Kozlov, and Hossa.
Montreal Canadiens: Probably a major player for a trade. The Habs need help on the scoring front. Moving Samsonov can be an option, although his stock is at an all-time low. Gainey likes to add veteran players and role players. Do not rule out Peter Forsberg as a possibility along with Sami Kappanen. Bill Guerin could also be a possibility. The only team that may find interest in Sergei Samsonov is Chicago, as he could look good with Martin Havlat. Montreal will not keep too quiet this season. They have a legit shot and Gainey is a winner. My condolences to him and his family for the loss of his daughter. I wish the Gaineys the best.
Ottawa Senatros: They too have little cap space to work with, but Muckler will refuse to disappoint the franchise again with an early first round exit. No big name player is expected to come to the Senators, however.
Carolina Hurricanes: Do not expect this team to be a big player. The Canes have given up a lot of future when acquiring Doug Weight and Mark Recchi last year, and trading away highly touted defenseman Jack Johnson.
Tampa Bay Lightning: Cap space is too tight for a change in Tampa, but this team knows it won’t go anywhere until it has a real goalie. They could fetch Ilya Bryzgalov or Vesa Toskala, but at what price? Bolts dealing in a weak position.
Pittsburgh Penguins: They will look for veteran help on defense and on the scoring lines, but no big trades, of course. They have good assets to work with as well. The Rangers have not been using Darius Kasparaitis much, and the Pens could make good use of him. The LA Kings may be ready to deal veterans for an affordable price, which the Pens could use.
New York Rangers: They may make a trade early in February to position themselves better for the trade deadline. Reports suggets Peter Forsberg as a possibility, but the Rangers may be reluctant to trade youth to the divisional rival. A trade with the St. Louis Blues is very possible whether it would be Martin Rucinsky, Keith Tkachuk, Doug Weight, or Bill Guerin. The Rangers won’t stay too quiet this year. They will make the headlines with a very intriguing trade.
Toronto Maple Leafs: They could benefit if they become sellers, but could Toronto stand two years without the playoffs? Would JFJ get fired if it happens? While a scoring winger is much needed, in this case Anson Carter or Fredrik Modin, the Leafs could use a solid two-way forward that makes a difference at both ends of the ice on every shift. I’ll expect the Leafs to be conservative buyers, but I would prefer to see them sell.
Boston Bruins: They could be low-key buyers, or in the end, they may be the ones trading for Peter Forsberg. The Bruins will most likely wait it out until trade deadline week, or even to the last day, to make any significant moves. Goaltending has been the big talk, so Bryzgalov, Toskala, possibly Belfour (depending where the Panthers will stand).
New York Islanders: As GM Garth Snow admitted, he’d be looking to buy. Expect the Islanders to be in a race with the Rangers when it may come down to a player like Keith Tkachuk or Bill Guerin. The Mike York and Alexei Zhitnik trades to the Flyers were quite mysterious, however, as they happened separately in a short time span. Could the Islanders have traded those two for also a verbal agreement with the words “future consideration”? Possible, and names like Mike Knuble and definitely Peter Forsberg come to mind. Do not be shocked if the Isle’s get Forsberg.
Washington Capitals: Not a major buyer at all, but a definite player. The Caps will look to make trades to improve the team for next season more than this year. They may give a shot to a rental player, but a low profiled player for sure.
Florida Panthers: Unlike the illogical reasoning of Bruce Garrioch, Jacques Martin will not be “cleaning the house” anytime soon. The Panthers are only four points from 8th seed with teams ahead that aren’t so hot either. Todd Bertuzzi will be back in a couple of weeks + few days, and Martin will try to keep his team as close to 8th as possible. If he is close enough to have a good shot at making the playoffs, expect Martin to actually look for help. If the team is too far by the trade deadline day, then Martin will sell and could fetch good young players. No big name will come to Sunrise, though.
Philadelphia Flyers: Wow, how weird it feels to say that the Flyers will sell and not buy this year. But you know, the Flyers need this, a lot. They need a top notch prospect from the Entry Draft, and a clean-up. Acquiring Zhitnik and York was a good idea, more assets to trade. This team will be ready to deal starting mid February, and boy do they have a lot to deal.
Nashville Predators: First place team in the West, wow. The Preds will be buyers, but I cannot see them acquiring another forward, unless they exchange by using a player like Josef Vasicek. They should concentrate on acquiring a solid defenseman that is a difference maker on the team. Not sure if they’d rather have a two-way defenseman, but a gritty crease clearing defenseman would be a good addition for the team. Why not Derian Hatcher?
Anaheim Ducks: With the current injuries, GM Brian Burke will see the team’s flaws. He needs more depth in case of injuries and would mostly go after 2nd tier players for depth.
Vancouver Canucks: Too little cap space to make any significant improvements. Obviously, GM Dave Nonis would have to clear up space by trading away Jan Bulis and possibly Sami Salo. The team really needs second line help. Tough to name which player they would go for, but one that isn’t too popular.
Detroit Red Wings: As always, they will make a run at the Cup, so I could see the Wings take a good look at Peter Forsberg, one of the most hated players in Motor City (great Autoshow by the way!). Yet, they could try to acquire a player, fairly cheap as far as to trade for, and he’d be a player with potential. Could Samsonov work out? Possible. The Wings will wait for more options on deadline day.
San Jose Sharks: Definite buyers as they want to make a good run this year. The Sharks will look at a solid defenseman to add, one that can provide offense and play very well under Ron Wilson’s style of game. Tough to say which defenseman that would be as not many seem to be available, at least….not yet.
Dallas Stars: Injuries have hurt this team, and they need all-round depth. This is another team that could take a run at Peter Forsberg as well, and could definitely deal with the Flyers in general with Sami Kapanen and Mike Knuble being good fits for the team. They could work out a trade with the Blues as well, but that could be difficult as the Blues may not want to help out Western rivals. If the Panthers will be out by mid-February, the Stars could make a run at Todd Bertuzzi.
Calgary Flames: They may add some scoring insurance for the playoffs, maybe a steady low profile d-man to stabilize the D, but this team won’t go for any big names.
Minnesota Wild: Tough to say what this team wants. Even if they need scoring, how would it fit under Jacques Lemaire’s system? Not easy. But, this is the kind of team that would look into a John Madden type player.
Colorado Avalanche: They won’t be going anywhere in the playoffs, but just because it is the team’s reputation, they’ll want to make the playoffs. I’d like to see this team sell, but they won’t. I still think that Forsberg should be acquired as it could boost the team as a whole.
Edmonton Oilers: While they are looking ot land a very good defenseman, they ought to re-sign Ryan Smyth first before any acquisitions. Anyway, the Oilers should get a good defenseman, maybe Brad Stuart could be an option, I would not rule out Mike Van Ryn either. Alexei Zhitnik may be a good buy for the Oilers, or bringing back Eric Brewer could help out as he played really well in Edmonton. The Oilers have the assets to trade too, but I’d expect this team to stay conservative and not trade too much.
Phoenix Coyotes: It would be cool to see them make the playoffs, but it won’t be an easy task, despite their recent successful run. This team can do well this season by selling, yet I believe that they won’t be big sellers. The Coyotes have made too many mistakes over the past few seasons. Too many changes! They lose team identity that way. I could see Ladislav Nagy, and Morris, being traded, but I don’t believe that Shane Doan or Ed Jovanovski would get traded. Who knows, maybe they rather keep Nagy and Morris! Although Morris doesn’t seem to fit on that team and would be useful for a team like the Oilers, Thrashers, etc. Playoff rent-a-players for experience and depth are Owen Nolan and Jeremy Roenick. Roenick may not even get traded, but Owen Nolan? Good possibility. To who? Maybe the Preds could use him, or the Flames, Senators, Red Wings, Rangers, even the Canadiens. Curtis Joseph would be a good buy for any team in need of an experience back-up too. If GM Michael Burnett does something right for once, it would be to sell what is not needed for next season, but keep what is needed for next season. The Coyotes need to stay in tact, and if they keep the core players, the nucleus, they have a legit shot at making the playoffs next season.
St. Louis Blues: They will wait until the last week, or even day, to make the trades. For two reasons. 1) They may find themselves closing in for 8th seed and would like to try and make the playoffs. 2) Their tradeable players would be more valuable as time keeps winding down for February 27, 3:00 PM ET. They could pull a trade earlier than expected, but if so, then it would be a no-brainer deal for them with players that they would want. The Blues need to solidify their future and selling would be the way to go.
Columbus Blue Jackets: I would not even allow Doug McLean to handle the deadline. Nonetheless, this team can sell unless coach Hitch***** likes the players he has, although Nikolai Zherdev doesn’t seem to be amongst his favorites. I don’t see this team become a big player in February, expect to make some trades, but nothing special…..unless they want to trade Zherdev.
Chicago Blackhawks: Surprised that they didn’t make a deal already as GM Tallon appears to refuse missing the playoffs again. The Hawks may make an early deal sometime soon after the all-star break. At the deadline, I’d think they wouldn’t be big players either. They may want to make some roster moves that would help them next season, which I think is best.
Los Angeles Kings: Definite sellers, but few to sell. LA has poor assets to trade, just Craig Conroy and Brent Sopel as the most obvious ones and maybe Aaron Miller and Mattias Norstrom.
Well, this article just makes me want to fast forward for the deadline. I cannot wait for February 27. It will be a Tuesday, which means people could be busy working or maybe be in classes. So, instead of having too many Web Sites to look at for latest updates, stick around on HTR.com as we’ll give you the very latest.
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Thanks for reading as always,