Monday, June 22, 2015

The Dougie Hamilton Offer Sheet

There's a lot of chatter out there in the interwebs about how much trouble the Boston Bruins are in, when it comes to how much space they have against the salary cap ceiling. On Tuesday, they find out just how much trouble they are in, as the salary cap ceiling number is to be made official.

A lot of teams are smelling blood in the water, as they start to circle around some of the team's prized free agents, namely defenseman Dougie Hamilton, who is up for restricted free agency this Summer.

Hamilton is a budding superstar on the back end and at 22 years old, he is on the cusp of getting into the prime of his career.  He has the talent to work the scoresheet offensively and he has the size to do it in his own end of the ice, making him into the quintessential franchise defenseman.  A prize, which has a lot of teams licking their chops.

By my own guesstimation, thanks to the online salary cap websites that now exist, I have the early Summer cap figure in for the Bruins at $61.2 million, with only 15 players signed on: nine forwards, four defensemen and a goalie tandem.  Last year's salary cap ceiling for 23 players was only $69 million and the early indication that the 5% increase may not be entirely the case, leaving the Bruins very little to work with for five to eight players to sign.

Enter the offer sheet.  Once free agency hits, teams do have the chance to negotiate with restricted free agents, but the first line of defense for the team with the rights to these players is the offer sheet.  An offer sheet is the definition of what the player and a new team has agreed to as the base salary for a deal, but the team with the rights can either decide to accept those terms in the offer sheet or relinquish the rights for a measured compensation.  Not only does the team negotiating with the player have to pay the player the agreed upon dollar amount, but it does have to offer up draft picks in compensation, which have to be their own, in order to do so.

For a quick guide to values and compensation, click here.

How feasible is an offer sheet to Hamilton?  Well, let's consider the market and we'll base it solely on scoring, as the intangibles and some of the other statistics can really muck up the basic look.

When I generally look at market value, it is generally age, give or take a year, so 21-to-23, scoring the season previous, give or take 5 points and then his position.  It truly seems like negotiations are based on the 'what have you done for me lately' mindset, where the numbers from the season previous are all that counts.  That may not be exactly the case, but it sure seems like it.

So, Hamilton, at age 22, picked up 42 points in 72 games last year from the blueline, so we'll draw some comparables from there.

Here we find a couple of direct hits, given the parameters of the search and it draws up some great comparables, namely Arizona's Oliver Ekman-Larsson, who now runs the show on the Coyotes' blueline for next season and last season's rookie standout from Dallas, John Klingberg.

2014-2015 Season 2016
Age Team GP P PPG Cap Hit
Dougie Hamilton 22 BOS 72 42 0.583 RFA
Oliver Ekman-Larsson 23 ARI 82 43 0.524 $5.5 million
John Klingberg 22 DAL 65 40 0.615 $4.25 million

There is a competitive edge to the buyout as well, let's not forget.  Teams who are signing these players to potential deals, also want to step to the edge of extreme difficulty for the team that has the rights to first refusal, in this case, the Bruins.

Let's say the Bruins, after the salary cap number is announced, still have $10 million left in cap space for five players, that isn't a lot of money per body left.  If a team was to sign Hamilton to a deal worth $5.4 million per season, one or two years in term, that would put the Bruins in a world of hurt if they matched and the offering team would only have to give a 1st and a 3rd round pick next season.

If the offering team was to really shoot for the moon, they would be giving up a 1st, 2nd & 3rd round pick to get the job done, which does become awfully expensive, but in this world, where franchise defensemen don't exactly grow on trees (they become them), three chances at a possible star for a bona fide, paid for star, doesn't seem out of the question.

What do you offer or how high does it have to go before the Bruins say, "we'll take the picks?"

Do the Islanders Deal Okposo?

The +New York Islanders are closing in on the "winning now" philosophy, as their franchise has taken a while through the rebuilding phase of the process of the professional cycle, so it seems awfully strange, when the reports surface that they have the late-blooming power forward, Kyle Okposo, on the trade block, trolling for draft picks.

I don't think there is anything necessarily wrong with keeping your cupboards stocked up with some young talent, but dealing an established (and rare) player on your roster, just to keep those cupboards stocked, seems a bit hasty.  Sure, the Islanders don't have a pick until the 3rd round, dealing their 1st and 2nd in a botched Thomas Vanek deal and then flipping another 2nd rounder in the deal that brought Johnny Boychuk to town.

There has been a lot said about the 2015 Entry Draft, how deep it is and how valuable these picks are, but at the end of the day, it's still a crap shoot.  If teams are willing to part with these picks, in order to get an established veteran player, it gets them ahead in the race for the Cup, while your team is not sure how this draft pick is going to fare in your system.

The Islanders were only 5 points clear of the playoff race, as a whole, in the Eastern Conference and that's still a pretty slim margin of error they are playing with, given what they are trying to accomplish.

Unless, the Islanders were confident in prospects like Michael Dal Colle or Josh Ho-Sang making an impact on their roster for next season, I would be certainly hesitant to deal Okposo, who may not have a 30-goal season yet to his credit, but he does seem to have a great mix in the team, as it currently stands.  You could really argue that the team missed him dearly, when he was out injured.

There are some other factors to consider, when thinking about keeping him... what happens next Summer?  He becomes an unrestricted free agent in one year's time.  Can the Islanders foresee some issues with trying to sign him to a long-term contract extension?  At only a $2.8 million cap hit for the coming year, the 27-year old forward may look to get paid next year and that could put him out of the Islanders' budget for the 2017 season.  Can the team get some value now, as he tries out for a new deal on a new team?  That is a reasonable cap hit this season, one that could turn out to be a bargain, if he remains healthy.

A team I could see going after a guy like Okposo would be the +Columbus Blue Jackets, as they wanted this type of player in Nathan Horton, but lost out on his services, due to his overall health.  The Jackets have a few 2nd round picks, holding onto Toronto's (#34), their own (#38) and Anaheim's (#58).  The Jackets could do well with a guy like Okposo on their side, if they are willing to part with some key picks.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Upgrade Depth, A Stepping Stone to Fixing the OIlers

The Edmonton Oilers have been the butt of many of my own jokes, yet there really has been no movement from the ownership or significant rumours around players that management could move of late, but that won't stop me from putting up my first post on this blog site in years.

Over the last five year or so, I thought one of the best ideas among teams in their rebuild process belonged to the Florida Panthers, as they poached a whole bunch of Chicago Blackhawks players, as they sold off assets to clear cap space.  To me, this should be something that the Oilers should be looking into, especially with a number of teams on the verge of fire sales, thanks to some shaky salary cap numbers and the dropping Canadian Dollar.

With Reilly Smith, Carl Soderberg, Torey Krug and Dougie Hamilton all up for new contracts through restricted free agency, the Boston Bruins bundle of cap space will be eaten up in a big hurry over the Summer.  Smith and Krug both took short-term deals to get to next Summer, where they should be handsomely rewarded.  Between the four of them, they could fetch North of $16 million for the lot, where they only have about $21 million to spend on 11 players, if the $73 million cap estimates from the Winter GM meetings is the ballpark number we're playing with.

The Bruins likely won't want to deal any of those four, as they likely see them as cornerstone pieces to this franchise going forward, which could mean that some depth may be up for grabs and frankly, that's what I think the Oilers need the most.  Not scoring, not goaltending, but quality depth.

The Oilers need some minutes eaten up, taking the pressure off the kids to do just about everything this franchise needs to win, things that they aren't exactly prepared to do or shouldn't have been asked to do, so early in their careers.

Let's not kid ourselves in Edmonton either... they are not exactly in salary cap heaven either.  By my count, thanks to good ol' CapGeek, they will have some decisions to make with some of their RFA's as well.  Nail Yakupov, Marc Arcobello, Justin Schultz, Martin Marincin and Brad Hunt all come to mind.  The Oilers have about $19.2 million to spend on eight roster spots, which isn't big money.  Thankfully, what they should be after is quality depth... it may not come cheap, but they shouldn't be shopping for top six players.

RUMOUR 2015 Season Cap Hit
To Edmonton POS GP G A P 2015 2016
Chris Kelly F 34 3 11 14 $3 million $3 million
David Warsofsky D 4 0 1 1 $600,000 RFA
To Boston POS GP G A P 2015 2016
Nail Yakupov F 36 4 4 8 $925,000 RFA
2015 mid-round draft pick
To me, this is the kind of deal the Oilers can make with the Bruins and the Bruins can get something of what they wanted to help get their 2015 season back on track.

For the Oilers, they would get a quality 3rd liner with great PK experience and a defenseman that has his name thrown around as a pretty good up-and-coming blueliner, who can't seem to crack the depth chart.  Kelly is stable and fits within the budget going forward, while Warsofsky could likely sign for something short-term and cheap, giving the team the opportunity to take that horse for a run in 2016.

The Bruins, on the other hand, would get a scoring forward, who has a bit of a physical edge, something that Boston uses on a regular basis anyways.  The immediate cap savings would help the team at the deadline, help the team in July and speaking of July, Yakupov hasn't done much in his career to be worthy of a big raise, so he shouldn't cost nearly as much as Kelly would next season (in theory).

The next team I would try to hit up, from an Oilers perspective, would be the Philadelphia Flyers, who might not be in the worst shape, if the cap was $73 million, but if projections dip any lower, then they would have some interesting decisions to make.

Nevertheless, the Flyers could be in a spot where they could do with getting rid of some salary cap space, just to be a bit more flexible on the market next Summer.  At $73 million and Chris Pronger staying on the Long-Term Injured Reserve, I have the Flyers in with $10.8 million in cap space for six open roster spots, including a goalie.  The Flyers are fading in the East, despite huge numbers from both Jakub Voracek and Claude Giroux, so selling pieces may be the way to go to help their cause in the long run.

In return, I could see the Flyers looking to get a bit younger, trying to find players that can possibly crack the roster next season and give the team a little bit more youthful exuberance.

RUMOUR 2015 Season Cap Hit
To Edmonton POS GP G A P 2015 2016
Braydon Coburn D 23 1 3 4 $4.5 million $4.5 million
To Philadelphia POS GP G A P 2015 2016
David Musil D 0 0 0 0 $894,000 $894,000
Greg Chase F 0 0 0 0 $746,000 $746,000
2015 mid-round draft pick
The Flyers will be looking for prospects and picks, if they decide that selling off assets is the way to go.  Dropping Braydon Coburn, who has been on the rumour radar for sometime now, would give them much more flexibility in the Summer and picking up a couple of well-sized prospects and a draft pick would likely go a long way to getting the job done.

Coburn would be the kind of player that would be looked upon to be a second pairing defenseman, mostly in the shutdown role, but with time and an extra look or two, he could just as easily feature as well as Johnny Boychuk, when he moved from Boston to Long Island before this season started.  Coburn has always seemed to play a lesser fiddle to other Flyers defensemen and a move to Edmonton would easily give him the chance to play real minutes in the top two pairings.

Sure, Coburn would come in just above the budget number, but it would definitely give the team more of what they need... sandpaper in that rough & tumble Pacific Division.

I don't think any of these ideas are generally outlandish and both would at least give the Oilers more depth where they need it the most and these guys could go out and protect the goaltending, which could always use a little bit more help and even provide some physicality, something most of the young stars on the team lack as a whole.

Personally, I would be hard pressed to move a kid like Taylor Hall or Jordan Eberle right now, even though they really have nothing to show for their time with the team.  Hall has posted some good numbers, but hasn't won, where Eberle hasn't posted numbers, but that doesn't mean they are not right for the job.  The Oilers haven't given their stars an opportunity to shine, just more reasons to fail.

If the Oilers start using their young pieces in deals to upgrade their depth, especially doing deals with Eastern Conference teams, everyone can start moving in the right direction together.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Nash is Available, Any Favourites?

It really seems unfathomable that a guy like Rick Nash would eventually become available on the trade market, but this is the story that has dropped today and now we can all play with the different scenarios that turn in the hamster wheel we call our brain.

Let's consider the surface facts about Nash, before we get a little too crazy with who and what could possibly transpire.  Nash, 27, has scored 40+ goals twice in his nine seasons in the NHL, he's been to the playoffs once and played four games in his one series and will come with a $7.8 million cap hit for six seasons after this season has finished.  Nash also has a no-movement clause, which means that he will have to waive that clause and accept the deal he is eventually (if at all) moved, so he gets his choice of team to play for.

Now, since Nash has his choice of team to play for, we can only speculate what he would be looking for in a new uniform, be it close to home (Brampton, ON), a perennial playoff contender, former international team teammates, a new rebuild where he could be front and centre again... it's hard to say what's going on in his mind.  I would have to imagine that he would want to win really bad, since he really hasn't been able to do that in Columbus.

Also, it will have to be considered that the Blue Jackets will also have to find a deal that is well-suited to their needs, which is a fresh rebuild.  A tweet this morning from Darren Dreger from TSN suggests that it will be young players that will be front and centre in trade demands from Columbus and likely some pretty high draft picks.  The price will be steep, but with a potential 50-goal scorer and an international level winner, it could certainly be worth it.

Well, let's look at the immediate favourites, as per the rumour mill and ask some of the pertinent questions.  The two teams that have come up as big favourites for Nash are Los Angeles, New York and Toronto, as they have been rumoured to make some big pushes.

Would Nash want to play in Los Angeles?  The Kings are in the playoff picture as we speak, they have quality talent to surround him with in Anze Kopitar, Drew Doughty and Jonathan Quick (just to name a few) and they are committed to putting a winning team together.  That should be good enough to entice Nash to say yes to a trade, despite being on the opposite coast.  What could the Kings offer Columbus?  The going rumour in the mill is that the Kings will offer up Jack Johnson in a package going the other way, which may have to include Jonathan Bernier and some draft picks, to which the Kings do have their 2012 1st round pick in house.  I think the Kings could fit something in for making that push today and down the road.  Could the Kings fit Nash into their budget?  If Johnson was to go the other way, I would say yes.  According to CapGeek, they would be pretty close for the rest of the season and then there could be some creative movement in the off-season to accommodate the long-term contract, but it's certainly possible.  How likely does a move to Los Angeles seem?  It's in the realm of possibility, especially if the Jackets were to get Johnson and Bernier, starting the build from the back end.  Getting a quality goalie would be fairly clutch for Columbus.

Would Nash want to play in New York?  All signs would say yes.  They are among the league's elite this season, they play a very gritty style of play with speed and have playmakers to suit the needs of a superstar like Nash.  What could the Rangers offer Columbus?  This would be a good time to explore movement of a kid like Chris Kreider, who is far and away the Rangers' most prized prospect.  The Rangers don't have a great deal of top end talent in the back end, besides some of the young blueliners that are already on the team, nor do they have the goaltending prospects of a Los Angeles or Vancouver to make it really interesting.  Could the Rangers fit Nash into their budget?  Not without some moving cap space the other way.  The Rangers do have quite a bit of room, according to CapGeek, but with Brad Richards, Marian Gaborik, Marc Staal and Henrik Lundqvist already on board for big money, there is going to be some top heavy lines out there for New York.  How likely does a move to New York seem?  We all know the Rangers' affinity for big name players and spending a lot of money, not to mention moving money around so they can spend more money.  I would say that the Rangers are not necessarily a favourite, just because they may not have as much to offer than other teams.

Would Nash want to play in Toronto?  Well, it's about as close to home as he can get, so that's got to be a big selling point.  The Leafs are finally in the playoff race, as a team that is on the move, making good decisions and building well around some key players.  Homesickness would be the biggest key in this decision, as I think he could find better teams to play for today. What could the Leafs offer Columbus?  The Leafs are building a good base of prospects that could have some value to other teams, like Joe Colborne, Nazem Kadri, Keith Aulie and Luke Schenn, but no real good goaltending prospects, which the Leafs haven't showcased already.  The Leafs do have draft picks again, but mortgaging more 1st round picks for a star player, as successful as it looks now, looks a tad harsh from the outside, but certainly possible.  Could the Leafs fit Nash into their budget?  I think if there is a good roster player going the other way, like a Schenn, this should be no problem.  The Leafs are playing with some cap space, but this would likely be the only real deal that Toronto would make around the deadline.  How likely does a move to Toronto seem?  It seems like this would be a move that Brian Burke would be hard-pressed not to make, just to have a top quality player like Nash on his team is quite alluring and he has a knack for kicking the tires of the best players available.  I don't know if Toronto has enough to give up though, but they could dress up a deal with more quality picks to make up for a lack of goaltending.

As of right now, I think the Kings are my immediate favourite of the big three, Bernier would be a great player to pick up, especially with Steve Mason being hung out to dry as the goat of the team.  A top end goaltending prospect in return, plus going to a team with some real potential, it has the makings of a good deal.  Other teams that may have some goaltending available to move, like Vancouver, may struggle with the salary cap and the long-term outlook of Nash, but it isn't like they wouldn't ask what Columbus would be interested in.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Sweepstakes for Jagr?

rangersWord that there is some suitor shopping going on by the agent of Jaromir Jagr has got a little bit of buzz to it these days.

The 39-year old Czech winger has spent the last few seasons as one of the best players in the Kontinental Hockey League in Russia and might be shopping his services around in the NHL in hopes that might get him some more money back in Russia, where salary caps don't really exist.

The rumour mill has the Penguins, Red Wings and Canadiens in on his services, although by the sound of some ramblings on rumour sites, Montreal may be less into Jagr than the other two teams.  The Penguins should have some pull, being the original team that Jagr played for in the NHL, while the Red Wings are a team that enjoys taking on ageing veterans for their poise and coach-ability, while the Habs are a team that have seemingly been on Jagr's radar, as a team that he would like to play for.

It is somewhat unclear as to how much a team would be able to offer a player like Jagr, as he had shown at the Vancouver Olympics, his skills haven't really diminished in his time over in Russia and he was a top-dollar player (whether he deserved it or not) when he was last playing in the NHL, back in 2008.

The Red Wings do have some cap space available, but I couldn't see them making a move for Jagr unless it was on their terms, which would likely put the cap hit down around $2.5 to $3 million, at best.  The Penguins are in even worse shape than Detroit, having less cap space to worry about, but the allure of a top end scoring winger for either one of their top two centres must have some appeal to it.

Personally, I have no nostalgic feeling for Jagr, so I could really care less as to whether or not he actually comes back.  If this isn't an elaborate ruse to suck more money out of the KHL teams, I would think that this is a significant blow to the KHL's credibility as a hockey league, especially one that is trying to rival the NHL.  Jagr wanted to play hockey closer to home and make a lot of money doing it, but I would think that the competitive drive of most players would still like the game to be at its best for a player of his calibre to still be playing in it.  Taking less money to play better hockey, that could be damaging for the KHL, if they ever could make a big push for another superstar free agent out of North America.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Blue Jackets in on Jeff Carter?

RUMOUR2010-2011 NHL StatisticsJuly 1st Status
To ColumbusPositionAgeGPGAPYearsCap Hit
Jeff CarterF268036306611$5.3 million
To PhiladelphiaPositionAgeGPGAPYearsCap Hit
Jakub VoracekF2181432460RFA
2012 1st Round Draft Pick

Now, this is what I call an excellent trade rumour!

Not long after the Philadelphia Flyers acquired Ilya Bryzgalov from the Phoenix Coyotes, the flags started going up, asking the question, how the hell are the Flyers going to sign a goalie that wants top dollar for the long-term to a deal with so much cap trouble as it is?  The easiest and most likely answer is that a player of significant value, possibly two players that add up to significant value, would have to depart in order to get this to go.  Hence this rumour.

As you can see in the trade table above, the Blue Jackets will help the Flyers out by moving some serious assets to Philadelphia to acquire Jeff Carter, a player of reasonable magnitude and good offensive skill.  The Jackets would send Jakub Voracek, an under-whelming prospect with Columbus, who becomes a restricted free agent in July, and the team's 1st round pick at the draft in a couple of weeks.

Let's quickly look at the Flyers, who not only clear some space for the signing of Bryzgalov, they get to name their price with a talented centre in Voracek, who could very well be signed for the short-term for some testing out money, and a decent 1st round pick (8th overall) to help build their youthful depth.

For the Jackets, they have the cap space to take on a top end centre like Carter, who should give some immediate help to a winger like Rick Nash, likely increasing their fantasy value for the 2012 season, which is one thing that the Jackets are desperately seeking.  In order to win now, the Jackets would almost be silly not to make this deal, granted they are probably the team pushing this one in the end.

I like this rumour a lot, I think both teams could certainly benefit from this one in a lot of ways.  Granted, this is a deal that is almost too good to be true, so it will be interesting to see whether or not this one goes down before or at the draft.  The only thing I could see slowing this deal down is that the Flyers would not really want to part with Carter, but their depth down the middle is very impressive and Carter has fallen down the depth charts behind Claude Giroux and Mike Richards.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

A Flames & Devils Blockbuster?

RUMOUR2011 Season2011Remaining
To New Jersey
PositionAgeGPGAPCap HitYearsCap Hit
Jay BouwmeesterDefense274941216$6.7 million4Same
Rene BourqueForward2947151328$3.3 million5Same
Mikael BacklundForward21415611$1.3 million1Same
1st Round Draft Pick
3rd Round Draft Pick
To Calgary
PositionAgeGPGAPCap HitYearsCap Hit
Zach PariseForward2612336$3.1 million0RFA
Brian RolstonForward373151015$5.1 million1Same
Bryce SalvadorDefense350000$2.9 million1Same
Mattias TedenbyForward20265611$875,0002Same
Vladimir ZharkovForward2310112$850,0000RFA

Well, our good friend, Eklund, has given us a real doozy to ponder over... and for the most part, laugh at considerably.  I mean, this is a blockbuster by all standards of trades, but the names and dollar figures going either way just make this rumour into a beautiful mess of impossibility, in my opinion.

For one, I can't see the Devils ever moving Zach Parise without some sort of falling out or contract dispute.  Secondly, all of the players heading to Calgary in this deal have been problematic or injured for the better part of the 2011 season, none of which, in my opinion, would be tempting for any NHL team, including a fumbling team like the Flames.  Next, the Flames have made mention of the word "rebuilding," so trading top end draft picks is somewhat counterproductive to that cause, despite getting a franchise player like Parise.  Even if the Flames were to get a player like Parise, I can't imagine what kind of deal he would be seeking in the Summer, so that would only further handcuff the Flames and their salary cap dealings.

No, this deal, as exciting as it may be, does not seem at all reasonable.  I'm sure there are plenty of other reasons I have yet to even make mention of yet, but I think the ones that were mentioned were more than good enough.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Nabokov on Waivers, Who's In On Him?

I've found myself some time tonight and looked at my StatCounter and found that some people were looking for the waiver order for Evgeni Nabokov, as he awaits to see whether or not he will be picked up by another team or be allowed to join the Red Wings' 23-man roster.  I can't believe the amount of anticipation to see what happens out in the Twitterverse, but I'll admit, I'm kind of excited as well.

So, as it stands, the Detroit Red Wings signed Nabokov to a 1-year deal, worth $570,000 annually, which works out to be about a $250,000 cap hit for the rest of the season. There is a no-movement clause to his deal, meaning any team that actually takes on Nabokov, won't be able to shift him to the minors or deal him without issue.  The Red Wings put those clauses in the deal, in order to try and stave off some interest from other teams and it should work in some cases.

As the waiver order goes, it goes from the lowest point percentage earned to the best, in terms of priority, if more than one team put a claim in for Nabokov.  Let's see how that shakes out.

First up is the Devils, as they are currently the worst team in hockey. Nevertheless, with Martin Brodeur starting to finally show some life in the Devils crease and a capable back-up in Johan Hedberg, those are two pretty good reasons why the Devils commented to the negative side, that they'll be in on Nabokov tomorrow morning.  Despite the bargain basement price of $250,000 for the rest of the season, the Devils are still wrestling with some cap issues of their own and don't need the headache.

The Oilers might be in the basement of the Western Conference, but I really think that their believe in their goaltending, as that really hasn't been the worst part of their season. They held onto Jeff Deslauriers and carried three goalies until it was safe for them to demote him, I don't think they want to do the same with Devan Dubnyk, who might be tempting to another team that may be in on Nabokov.

For my money, I really think the Islanders will take a shot on Nabokov, because they don't really have anything to lose. Rick DiPietro is playing an on-again, off-again schedule, they have two back-ups competing for time and the team still looks like they want to play spoiler for the rest of the year. They have cap space up the ying yang and they could really give their franchise goalie some more time to get back to 100% and to a point where he doesn't have to rest every other day.

Failing the Islanders desire to improve their goaltending status in the league for the rest of the season, the Senators are probably looking at their 13-point deficit in the East and thinking that they have an outside chance at making it with a goalie they can play for the rest of the season. For the cost, it isn't a bad gamble to take for most people's money, but there is also the thought process that they might as well give more time to Mike Brodeur or Robin Lehner, work the future in their favour.

With the rumour mill still churning J-S Giguere through, grinding him down into a trade-able pulp, the only real way I could see the Leafs picking up Nabokov, would be to deal away their already well-paid veteran goalie. They don't really lose anything in terms of skill, since Nabokov hasn't likely played much in the last month and had terrible numbers in the KHL, compared to Giguere's work today.  The Leafs are awfully tight to the cap ceiling themselves, so a deal has to be in place, no matter which way you slice it, by the looks of things.

The term rebuilding may have surfaced this week when talking about the Flames and it would seem awfully odd for this team, who hasn't had much traction in the schedule or in the win column, try to improve their standing with a veteran goalie like Nabokov. Miikka Kiprusoff almost looks like he's at his wits end this season and with Henrik Karlsson getting more starts, adding another chef for the stew doesn't make too much sense either today or tomorrow.  I don't expect the Flames in on Nabokov.

The Panthers are coming in at number seven and with the attitude that Tomas Vokoun has developed over getting passed over for Scott Clemmensen, it doesn't sound unreasonable that the Panthers would try to move Vokoun and bring in Nabokov to help finish their season off.  The word that I've read surrounding the Panthers is that the team is still trying to re-sign Vokoun to a new deal, which would likely suggest that a spur of the moment decision is unlikely for Dale Tallon and his crew.

The Sabres got off to a terrible start to the season, but that doesn't really effect Ryan Miller's stock too much, as their All-Star goalie is playing really well at the moment, minus Friday night's game against the Islanders, where bad luck was all he had.  Even if they were to claim a guy like Nabokov, it doesn't seem really likely that Nabokov would report, knowing full well that he wouldn't get the time that he wants to play.  Even if Nabokov was to get this far, I don't expect the Sabres to be anywhere near the Russian keeper.

Neither goalie in Columbus has been too jaw-dropping, but there seems to be a lot of faith in Steve Mason, in his 3rd season, and Mathieu Garon does play the back-up role fairly well. Adding Nabokov would be a pretty heavy sleight against Mason in this case and that just seems rather unlikely tomorrow.  The Jackets are only five points out of a playoff spot in the West, which might be that little itch that keeps Scott Howson up at night, but I have the feeling he'll sleep well.

The Los Angeles Kings have to be thought of as a team that is quite comfortable with their goaltending tandem going forward, no matter how poorly the team in front of them are going.  Jonathan Quick and Jonathan Bernier are two quality goaltenders that have some long-term potential with the club and are doing a fine job of fighting for minutes as it is.  Nabokov would not be a very good fit, despite being just outside the playoff picture at the moment.

If the Atlanta Thrashers going to be thought of as players in the Nabokov sweepstakes, their mindset may be that Ondrej Pavelec may need some more help to develop his game and playing behind a regular season superstar like Nabokov would be a treat for his development going forward.  There is also quite the European flavour to the team, so Nabokov wouldn't be out of place and with Chris Mason on the Injured Reserve with a knee injury, there might be some room for him.  I could see Atlanta be in for the end of the year, helping to get into the playoffs.

The rumour mill has suggested that the San Jose Sharks would be putting a bid in for their former number one goalie, who they didn't re-sign to a contract, believing a deal would likely cost them an arm and a leg.  With a cheap deal already in place, Antero Niittymaki hurt at the moment and being a point out of the playoffs, it doesn't seem too far-fetched.  Antti Niemi has started to take the minutes now and the team has turned a corner of sorts, so picking up a guy like Nabokov would suggest that Niittymaki's groin injury may be more serious that initially reported.  It could be a full house if Niittymaki was to return to two starting goalies already there.

Already, I have found four teams out of these twelve that I think will take a long look at claiming Nabokov and with the Hurricanes with two good goalies, the Blues working over Jaroslav Halak, the Ducks riding Jonas Hiller, the Wild having Niklas Backstrom and Jose Theodore, the Avalanche riding Craig Anderson, it really begins to thin out the crowd.

The only other team beyond the Avalanche are the Chicago Blackhawks, who have been rather disappointing as defending champions, might not be terribly comfortable with the inexperienced Corey Crawford or the aging Marty Turco, who have been good enough to keep the Blackhawks in the playoff race, but confidence will likely become shaky when the playoffs roll around.  In theory, the Blackhawks may have enough cap space to fit in the small cost of Nabokov, so there is a chance a claim could be thrown in.  Will it get any priority?  Seems unlikely to me.

We don't have too much longer to wait, I know I'll be eagerly anticipating the news.