Friday, June 17, 2016

Is the Price Too High for Fleury in Calgary?

It was asked of me this week, who I thought the best fit for the Calgary Flames would be, if they had their pick of a handful of potential free agent or trade bait goalies and my initial response was Cam Ward. Of course, that went south, when he re-signed with the Carolina Hurricanes this week.  I thought he would have been the most cost-efficient goalie, who plays well and knows how to play well behind sub-par defenses.

After the Ward signing, it became apparent, through the reports in the media, that the Flames have indeed extended their desires to Pittsburgh, calling on the availability of Marc-Andre Fleury to possibly be their next number one goalie.

Personally, I would maintain that the Pittsburgh Penguins would be very wise to keep Fleury on for the foreseeable future, because as much as Matt Murray dazzled us through the playoffs, he is far from an established goalie in the NHL.  He now has a good foundation, after a solid playoff run, but goalies get hot and then goalies can get cold, just as easy and it takes a lot more than one solid playoff run, where he was arguably taken care of well by his skaters up front, making up for some shaky play at times.  Surely, once the Penguins got deeper and deeper into the run, it became more about Sidney Crosby and his band of merry skaters, more than it was Murray and his rookie run.

The only way that I can see the Penguins parting with a guy like Fleury, who may not even be a great fit for the Flames, is with a pretty significant package coming back the other way.  And if the Penguins are not sellers, which I don't think should be (or are, for that matter), they can really set the bar high on this one and see if Calgary will bite.

With two weeks before free agency, to which Fleury will not be a part of, since he still has three more years left, the Flames don't have a hockey pool worthy (for more on being pool worthy, check out my actual hockey pool blog) goalie signed on for next season and they have one of the few cap numbers that are warm to the acquisition of Fleury's $5.75 million per year hit.

The Penguins are not in terrible shape at this point against the cap either, which allows them to be patient.  With Pascal Dupuis eligible for the Long Term Injured Reserve, I have the Penguins penciled roster in at $68.8 million for 19 players, including Fleury and Murray.   With only a few spots left to fill and anywhere between $3 and $6 million left to spend (cap number pending), their depth can be filled in quite easily.

With that being said, if I was the Penguins, my first request would be for a 1st round pick in any deal for Fleury.  He's a bonafide starter, he has two Cup rings (one of which he earned) and I can't stress this enough, he doesn't have to go anywhere.  The Penguins don't need to take on salary and the Flames don't need to deal salary, so a roster player doesn't need to be dealt, other than Fleury, so a myriad of prospects and lesser picks, going either way, would likely suffice here.

If the Flames hold out on that deal, they will look to unrestricted free agency to throw around some dollars and it is really slim pickins out there right now.  Chad Johnson of the Sabres, James Reimer of the Sharks, re-signing Karri Ramo, Al Montoya of the Panthers or Jonas Gustavsson of the Bruins... all heading to free agency and played last season.  There is a feeling that the time is dawn on their playoff window, with this core group of players and a starting goalie will give them a good jump on their day in the Sun, before the night falls and the cooler air will mean they have to shut that window again.  Those free agent goalies are not the answer, in my opinion, so it might be well within their interests to negotiate hard with Pittsburgh for a guy like Fleury.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Hartnell Could Waive Goodbye

Reports are surfacing that Scott Hartnell was approached by the Columbus Blue Jackets back in February to provide a list of teams that he would approve to be traded to, waiving his no-movement clause to do so.  Obviously, a deal couldn't get done at the trade deadline for the scrappy forward, so he was left to finish the season with the Jackets and didn't exactly have the best of seasons, when it was all said and done.

Now, with the team looking forward, they could really use some more cap space and possibly find a player that is much better suited to the style of play that management and the coaching staff want for their club.  Heading into the Summer, you could look at their signed group of players and establish that they have about 19 players, including Hartnell, who would be in the lineup, when the puck drops in October, in theory.  This group is already coming in at $65.7 million, which wouldn't leave a lot of space for improvement through free agency, with fears that the cap ceiling isn't going to go up much, if at all.  The cap ceiling in the 2016 season was $71.4 million, just for measuring purposes.

Elliotte Friedman suggests in his 30 Thoughts from Saturday that teams are being considered are probably not keen on how much is left on Hartnell's deal, three more years at $4.75 million against the cap per year.  That's fair, especially since Hartnell hasn't exactly been a sure thing every year.  Between Nashville, Philadelphia and Columbus, already 15 seasons deep, how much does the 34-year old have left in the tank and what kind of consistency are you going to get from him?  Both are great questions, thus becoming a much bigger gamble.

Since he is already getting up there in age, you would have to believe that he is looking at teams that are trending upwards in their championship trajectory.  With those in mind, a lot of those teams are already facing cap issues, either already having players signed or they have building blocks that they want to take care of first.

Without any doubt, you can bet that Hartnell likely won't move until the salary cap numbers are announced and even more likely, when free agency opens up, teams start spending and then find out what they have left for Hartnell.

And then there is the return that the Blue Jackets want for Hartnell and Friedman reported that the deadline request for a return was quite high.  With the way the market is shaping up and likely how much the team wants to shed his salary, that the asking price will be somewhat lower than what it was at the deadline.  No team is going to take on this salary without sending some back in return and/or having the Jackets retain some of his money for the next three years.  The latter being less than ideal for the Jackets.

One team I could see making a move for Hartnell this Summer would be the New York Rangers, who have been cycling through the rumour mill, more so for their overhaul that could be coming this Summer, including a move to get Rick Nash off of their books.  I am not suggesting that Nash would go back to Columbus in a deal for Hartnell, that doesn't make any sense, rather, once the Rangers move Nash, if they do, they would have a lot more space to work with and they never seem to be afraid of sizable cap hits.

In a much less likely deal, the Buffalo Sabres could send troubled forward Matt Moulson and his $5 million cap hit for the next three seasons to Columbus for Hartnell and his three years remaining on his deal.  It's troubled player for troubled player, but this deal would not solve Columbus' salary cap crunch, rather it would make it less comfortable and that's not really what they want to accomplish here.  The Sabres could use Hartnell's leadership for the kids, while Moulson might be able to find some more scoring in the Jackets' system, which would make it a hockey trade, but still a head-scratcher.

The Anaheim Ducks also fall into the category of a perennial playoff team, which really showed some promise in the 2016 season and currently has some potential openings, where Hartnell's experience, grit and nose for the net could come into play.  They are a team that could absorb a good portion of Hartnell's contract, sending pieces in return and could be a pretty good fit.  The Ducks are closely looking at the numbers that the league comes up with, in terms of the cap ceiling, and they have decisions to make with restricted free agents, but it could be a good move on either side of the conference border here.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Where Does Stamkos Land?

As we draw closer and closer to the NHL silly season, one of the big questions leading up to it is, "where does Steven Stamkos sign?"

First and foremost, the leading factor for this decision is how Stamkos' relationship with the team, general manager Steve Yzerman and head coach Jon Cooper is going forward and even before the blood clot issue, which cost him the back half of the season and most of the playoffs, we were under the impression that things were not very rosy.

Speculation sucks.  Basing a lot of what these rumours are on is a bit rough around the edges and we will never know the full story, until someone writes a book and even then, we should take some of those reports with a grain of salt as well.

Nevertheless, out of boredom, we trudge along and have a little bit of fun, at the expense of looming questions about a superstar player.  Let's all try and offer a guess, as to what goes on, in an attempt to kill some time, yeah?

Does Stamkos re-sign in Tampa Bay?  I don't see why Stamkos wouldn't want to try and field some offers from other clubs, since the Lightning have seemingly moved on, in a sense, feeling very comfortable making it to the Eastern Conference Finals without him in their lineup and not really finding a boost when he returned to the lineup for that final game.  There were reports that the coaching staff wanted to shift his position, there is a sense that he is now a second line player for this team and he isn't being leaned on as a superstar anymore for this club.  That's the impression I'm getting.

Yzerman has publicly said that he would like to re-sign Stamkos, but I do get the feeling that it is a bit more posturing for the off-season, more than a genuine statement, but that's just my opinion.  I truly believe that Yzerman needs to keep up appearances, making sure that if he moves the negotiating rights for Stamkos, he gets a decent return for them.

Will teams want a guy like Stamkos?  Well, of course they would, dummy.  His expiring cap hit in the 2016 season was $7.5 million, which isn't a small chunk of change, but for a potential 50-goal scorer, that's not an unreasonable number.  It also begs the question about his negotiating rights and how much they are worth, if a team is going to end up with such a quality player.  A 2nd round pick?  A package of picks?  There is certainly no guarantee that he will even sign with the team that acquires his rights.

Two teams that have popped up the most in the  Stamkos discussions have been the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Detroit Red Wings, but it would be silly to think that there isn't more teams in the weeds, waiting to offer up a tasty package to attract the rights of Stamkos or in a much better scenario, hope that the 26-year old makes it to unrestricted free agency and the open market.

The Maple Leafs have to be the favourite destination for those trying to predict the future. Their rebuild allows them some cap freedom, it gives Stamkos the opportunity to get back to some big minutes on the ice and it is close to home as well.  The downside to signing in Toronto is that they are still a little ways from being a great playoff threat, which is the ultimate goal for any player, especially the superstars.  If Toronto could land a marquee player like Stamkos, add Auston Matthews to the mix at the draft, they will expedite the process, without any doubt.

The Red Wings are a different kettle of fish altogether and their involvement in the Stamkos scenario hinges on the future of Pavel Datsyuk and rightly so.  If Datsyuk comes to the final conclusion that he will sign his retirement papers in the NHL, giving him the free and clear to sign with a KHL team of his choosing, the Red Wings will still be on the hook for his salary cap hit, which is still very significant ($7.5 million).

Datsyuk's 35+ contract will count against the cap, if he chooses to retire, so the only way that the Red Wings could possibly afford Stamkos, would be to move that cap hit to a team that could absorb that hit and offer up an asset for their troubles.  Those teams are becoming few and far between and the asking price to eat up that much cap room would likely be high.  Most teams won't likely know if they're in or out on this situation until after the 2017 season cap numbers are announced, which should be soon.

There are more ifs than answers in this scenario, but the Red Wings would certainly benefit by having a talent like Stamkos join their ranks, as the old guard of Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg age themselves out.  The move would also keep the Red Wings in the playoff relevant conversation and give them a building block to work around.  Stamkos isn't the end-all solution for the Red Wings though, as their depth in other spots is questionable, but at least they would have an attractive piece to sway other free agents their way.

Instead of being a team that would want to take on the cap hit to allow the Red Wings to sign Stamkos, why couldn't the Arizona Coyotes throw their hat into the ring and possibly offer him a key spot in their future?

Much like the Maple Leafs, the Coyotes are not short on cap space and flexibility for a top end player like Stamkos.  The Coyotes are rich in draft picks this year, able to shift something to sway the negotiating rights over.  They would get an established superstar into their market, after missing out on the draft lottery for one of the top end draft picks and let's not forget, they have lots of top end talent to play with Stamkos, making it into a remarkably great fit in the end.

It would be a daunting task to help this Coyotes team succeed in the desert, which would be a possible downside to moving out to Arizona, but if there is one guy that could give it a solid swing, it would be Stamkos.

I honestly can't see Stamkos re-signing in Tampa Bay, when there is opportunity for more hockey and more responsibility elsewhere.  There are going to be established teams that wish that they could afford to talk to such a great player, but they would have to give up on someone, in order to make that deal go, which is too big of a gamble for those teams.  I like the rebuilding and retooling teams to come around with reasonable offers to pry the negotiating rights away and you will know when Tampa Bay has realized that they have nothing left to offer, because they will likely move his rights for a bit less than what they valued him at.

It's anyone's guess around here... but it's sure going to make for good hockey news when it all goes down.

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.