A different look on trade rumours- Jan. 10 Edition

In this week’s edition: the proposed trade of the New Jersey Devils with the San Jose Sharks, the mess that is the Buffalo Sabres and Chris Gratton, and the “on again, off again” Vancouver Canucks.First off will be the Jason Arnott saga. A proposed trade by the Sharks would send gifted youngster Patrick Marleau and a defenceman to the Devils for the hard-nosed Arnott. Now, many Devils fans (from the comments I see posted) are worried about losing Arnott’s grit. Personally, I think the real issue is Marleau: why would the Sharks want to give up a future All-Star for Arnott? It almost sounds like the Alex Tanguay/Adam Oates trade I had suggested earlier in the year: it just doesn’t make sense. Marleau still has a lot of room left for improvement, while Arnott is in his prime, so the Sharks would be the big losers for a long time on this one. While the sagging Devils do need a lift, they’ll be hard-pressed to complete this deal, which might not even happen since San Jose was recently put on sale. The sale might mean that the Sharks will be hamstrung for cash, which might mean that Teemu Selanne will be back on the block, but, for now, all deals are off, especially because the Sharks are leading the Pacific Division.

On the opposite end of the spectrum are the Buffalo Sabres, last in the Northeast Division. Before the season, everyone had high hopes for the Sabres, saying Martin Biron would fully establish his dominance now that Domonik Hasek is gone. Truth be told, Biron is failing and no one is there to help him out. Also, the Sabres are mired in a messy Chris Gratton situation that won’t be resolved until the once-promising centre is shipped out of town. A couple of rumours have spawned, one with Gratton, young thug Eric Boulton, back-up Bob Essensa and the Detroit Red Wings’ first round pick (acquired in the Hasek trade) for scoring defenceman Bret Hedican, thug Peter Worrell, and a third round pick. Another has gritty winger Darren McCarty being sent to Buffalo for defenceman Richard Smehlik. These deals might help out Buffalo in the reorganization department, but, as a whole, these trades don’t really make sense.

First, the Florida trade is simply both of them trading washed-up hockey players with one exception: the Sabres’ first round draft pick. The Sabres shouldn’t give that up, even if it is the 30th pick. Worrell is pretty much useless, considering he has a lack of hockey playing skills (just like his Buffalo counterpart Rob Ray), and Kidd is just as useless as Essensa is. Boulton was supposed to replace Ray, and, given that he’s a youngster, he just might also learn to play hockey. Gratton simply hasn’t lived up to potential, unfortunately for him. With regards to the Detroit trade, McCarty is simply too much for Detroit to give up, even for Smehlik. Hasek must secretly still be loyal to Buffalo if he suggests this one. The truth is, also, that Smehlik, while still solid, hasn’t lived up to potential himself, considering how promising he was until he missed the entire 1995-96 season due to injury. He might enjoy a winning environment in Detroit, and he might win a Cup he failed to get in 1999, but I don’t see the Sabres parting with him, even for rebuilding.

Lastly, the Vancouver Canucks are maddeningly inconsistent this season, and, given the recent spate of trades, one writer asked if the Canucks are finished. True, there are a few missing pieces, but I think that the biggest missing link is more leadership. The Canucks just can’t put together a consistent effort. A winning streak is met by an even longer losing streak. Last year, Markus Naslund was exempliary as a captain, able to lift the Canucks to 30 wins in their first 59 games. Now I’m putting him under the microscpoe for the Canucks’ inability to be consistent: after all, as a captain, he should be able to do it. However, in all other areas he has been solid, and the onus really falls onto the other players, who haven’t been able to be consistent all year like he has. Todd Bertuzzi is again showing that he’s a bust by not being the leader-type he was last year. This might have something to do with the ludicrous ten-game suspension situation (how does Scott Parker, who started the whole fight, get less games?), but the bottom line is that he’s not leading anymore. The Sedin twins are mired in a sophmore slump, but still have potential. The Canucks, even at five games under .500, just might be able to salvage their season since they’re not a non-playoff team: they’ve shown repeated flashes of brilliance. The addition of Trevor Linden was a start, but the Canucks need another guy like him. Could the Canucks look into Devils’ defenceman Scott Stevens? He’s not exactly the Stevens of old, and, as a captain, he hasn’t been that good either this season, but a change of scenery might work. Perhaps the Canucks might also look at Darius Kasparitus or another fiery leader-type player. Perhaps the Canucks might even look into trading again with the Philadelphia Flyers for Mark Recchi, who is mired on the third line. Probably the players I’m suggesting are a bit too much for the Canucks to acquire, but the bottom line is they need a leader. It is still early January and they can still save their season. After that trade, they shouldn’t make another one until the deadline to instill some much-needed stability.

That is this week’s edition of “A different look on trade rumours.” Feel free to comment on these and other trade rumours.