Friday, February 26, 2010

Kozlov Asks For a Trade

The Thrashers are in the middle of somewhat of an overhaul and ever since the deal sending Ilya Kovalchuk out of town, there have been indicators that we could be seeing all sorts of changes to the Atlanta line-up before March 3rd. The healthy scratch posts about Slava Kozlov did give me the feeling that he'd be out of town sooner rather than later. Well, its being reported on Friday that Kozlov has asked for a trade and will waive his no-trade clause to end up with a contender.

Kozlov isn't enjoying a great season in Atlanta, having only 8 goals & 16 assists in 52 games with the Thrashers and has a horrible -16 rating. At age 37, you might get the feeling that his legs might not be helping him out much. He does have a lot of veteran experience, including a number of playoff runs with the Red Wings, including a Stanley Cup ring in 1998.

Salary CapWell, Kozlov has an annual salary cap hit of $3.7 million, which is quite heft to look at, but when the roster freeze lifts, his remaining cap hit will be about $860,000. That's not a daunting number at all and there are a number of teams that could fit him into their fold, if they so chose to do so. Kozlov is also set to become an unrestricted free agent this summer, so he may have picked up some interest as a rental, despite his no-trade clause.

I really wonder if the Penguins would like to take another shot at renting an aged veteran, hoping to rekindle his passion for the game. The Penguins have been thrown around the rumour mill about the Thrashers' Russians, which has some legs, because the Penguins have draft picks to throw about this year and the Thrashers must like the idea of a few more picks.

Nevertheless, I would think Kozlov would be worth a 3rd or 4th round pick only, which is pretty affordable to a contender, if they can fit a veteran player into their line-up.

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Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Hamhuis a Popular Name

I was doing some checking in my site stats and I see that Dan Hamhuis has been a keyword of sorts to get to the page, so I thought I would have a look at him in a little bit more depth.

The former first round pick (12th overall in 2001) was touted as a smooth, skating offensive defenseman coming out of Prince George of the WHL, but the Predators did their best to make him a lot more responsible as an NHL defenseman, which included a couple of seasons in the AHL to help his game out. As a whole, he's developed quite well and has proved to be very durable in his NHL career, which is a huge plus.

The Predators, however, are in a bit of a quandary when it comes to their defensemen situation. They are ridiculously deep at the blueline position, especially with Cody Franson making a charge up the depth charts and Jonathan Blum still working his way up. Hamhuis is now 27 years old and is about to become an unrestricted free agent, so the question is for them, with all this depth in the organization, can they afford to move Hamhuis before a run into (and likely through) the playoffs because of their depth? If the answer is yes, they will be able to move a highly-valued defender like Hamhuis for a good package in return. If the answer is no, they will have Hamhuis for their run, but will likely not get a chance to re-sign him, as he'll likely go somewhere that can give him the minutes he could thrive in.

Salary CapOne of the most attractive things about Hamhuis for the stretch run of the season is his cap hit. Annually, Hamhuis is worth $2 million against the cap, so with only 42 days left in the regular season on Monday, the number against the cap would be in the neighbourhood of $470,000, which is very good for any team.

Now, trying to attain a market value for Hamhuis is not an exact science, but there is a level of assumption we can take from other contracts in the league. 26-to-28 year old defensemen in my pool rankings in the range where Hamhuis has been in, could net the future UFA somewhere between $2.5 to $4 million, in terms of a cap hit. Other defensemen in his bracket include: Joni Pitkanen, Fedor Tyutin, Dennis Seidenberg, Keith Ballard, Trevor Daley, Johnny Oduya and Paul Martin. That's purely on a scoring level over the past couple seasons, it doesn't include intangibles or defensive prowess.

Dan Hamhuis' situation does not lead me to believe that if he's moved, he'll be a rental player, because he should be easy to re-sign or picked up with the intention of re-signing him. If his cap hit could be stripped down to $3 to $3.5 million in a longer-term deal, he could be an absolute bargain for any team. I really don't think any team can be held out of the conversation, if you were speculating on what team would be involved in a deal.

We don't know for sure if Hamhuis has been made available for negotiations from Nashville, nor is it likely that we will. If he was made available, I would hope that my favourite team has at least inquired about his cost.

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Monday, February 22, 2010

Rental Players at the Olympics

We're only a week away before the roster freeze lifts and all hell breaks loose before the NHL trade deadline. This gives us ample time to have a look at the future rental players that are playing at the games and assess if their value has gone up or down because of the games.

There are plenty of rental players to choose from, but a lot of them didn't make their potential Olympic teams, likely because of age, production and/or style the coaching staff was looking for, but its those players who were taken to Vancouver from basement dwelling teams that I'll be looking at here, sorted by pool scoring.

Maxim Afinogenov, forward
Atlanta - 19 goals, 27 assists in 60 games
Russia - 1 assist in 3 games
Annual Cap Hit - $800,000

Afinogenov leads the way on the list and I would think he would definitely be a prime candidate to move when the roster freeze lifts, because he was under the guise of having him play with Ilya Kovalchuk all season. With Kovalchuk gone to New Jersey, he might be an attractive pick-up for a team hoping to add a second-line winger. His cap hit is reasonable enough that it won't be a terrible gamble, even if they had to lose him on waivers. As for an Olympic effect, I think Russia is getting what everyone thought they would from him, especially as a depth line winger.

Scott Niedermayer, defense
Anaheim - 6 goals, 31 assists in 62 games
Canada - 1 assist in 3 games
Annual Cap Hit - $6 million

It's not entirely clear whether or not Niedermayer will indeed be a rental player, especially if Anaheim decides to make a run at the playoffs. In Niedermayer, they could expect to get some good futures for the veteran rearguard, but if they want to use him for their own good, he'll be off the market. After three games in the round robin, it really doesn't look like Niedermayer's value has gone up, mostly because his ice-time has gone down and does not compare well to Shea Weber or Duncan Keith thus far. Nashville and Chicago likely won't be after Niedermayer, but teams still may want to add the veteran presence, but at what cost?

Marek Zidlicky, defense
Minnesota - 5 goals, 31 assists in 60 games
Czech Rep. - 5 assists in 3 games
Annual Cap Hit - $3.35 million

Flying a little under the radar heading into the Olympics, Zidlicky is quietly having a pretty good season with the under-performing Minnesota Wild, but during the games, he's been racking up some points for a pretty good Czech Republic team. The Wild should be sellers when the roster freeze lifts and I would have to think there might be a bit of a bidding war getting ready for the blueliner. At age 33, he should have the veteran poise that most teams are looking for and brings some good offense to a team. If he can find his way onto a good team making a run, he should compliment their scorers well, especially on the power play.

Pavel Kubina, defense
Atlanta - 5 goals, 29 assists in 59 games
Czech Rep. - 0 points in 3 games
Annual Cap Hit - $5 million

Kubina might be considered an expensive option with a questionable amount of intangibles to justify his cap value. His scoring abilities are okay, as he's rated 157th in pool scoring this year, he does have a Stanley Cup ring from 2004, but I would still question what he's able to bring to a team, especially after his days in Toronto, where skills and intangibles went to die. Kubina should end up as a reasonable Plan B for some teams that are trying to shop for either Niedermayer or Zidlicky. No points and minimal defenseman minutes in the Olympics should see to that.

Saku Koivu, forward
Anaheim - 12 goals, 21 assists in 53 games
Finland - 2 assists in 3 games
Annual Cap Hit - $3.25 million

Teemu Selanne, forward
Anaheim - 18 goals, 11 assists in 37 games
Finland - 2 assists in 3 games
Annual Cap Hit - $2.625 million

With another pair of Ducks on the list, you would have to wonder whether or not they will be making any moves at the trade deadline when it comes to selling players. Both Koivu and Selanne have both dealt with injuries this year, which has had an effect on their numbers during the year, but they are both dressing for a solid Finland team in these Olympics and their teamwork has to be mentioned as a huge plus. Both players are on the older side of the ledger, which has negotiated some smaller cap numbers. Those cap numbers are very appealing to teams that want to add some veteran presence either down the middle or on the wing. Both players look exceptionally healthy at the minute and should get an audience, if Anaheim wants to have their Yard Sale.

Dennis Seidenberg, defense
Florida- 2 goals, 20 assists in 61 games
Germany. - 1 goal in 3 games
Annual Cap Hit - $2.25 million

The Panthers are in the midst of their fire sale phone calls and I would imagine that Seidenberg's experience with the German national team will increase his stock for the March Roster Thaw. A smaller cap hit, a potential UFA and the leading minute-getter for Germany should make him somewhat intriguing to a lot of teams. Seidenberg could also play in the rent-to-own motif, as he's young enough to be a player that teams would consider re-signing, given a good performance by the defender. Value has had to have increased, in my opinion.

Jere Lehtinen, forward
Dallas - 3 goals, 9 assists in 38 games
Finland - 0 points in 3 games
Annual Cap Hit - $1.5 million

It hasn't been a good NHL season for Lehtinen, who has suffered from injuries all season, only appearing in 38 games this season. The depth in Dallas has certainly dropped Lehtinen in the depth charts, limiting his ice-time and his ability to score more points to more of a defense-first role, which will be what he's looked upon to do, if he was to be picked up for a playoff run. His cap hit is very new team friendly and his role would be easily laid out, especially with a Stanley Cup ring already on his finger. With Finland, he's definitely playing third-line minutes and is a -1 for the team, but as a guy who should be taking on a team's top line and penalty killing, that's fairly reasonable. Value should remain the same.

Well, those are the players that are in the Olympics and could be dealt rentals, as they are all potential unrestricted free agents come July 1st. It's an interesting mix, especially if they were all to get dealt before the March 3rd deadline.

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Thursday, February 18, 2010

Kaberle for Hodgson?

2009/2010 NHL Statistics
To VancouverPositionAgeGPGoalsPoints2010 Cap Hit2011 Cap Hit
Tomas KaberleDefenseman3261646$4.25 million$4.25 million
To TorontoPositionAgeGPGoalsPoints2010 Cap Hit2011 Cap Hit
Cody HodgsonForward20000In Juniors$1.696 million

An interesting thought was posted on the Hockey News website on Wednesday, which suggested the Maple Leafs could move Tomas Kaberle and land Cody Hodgson from the Canucks. It's just a suggestion, hardly a rumour, but its still fun to play with, because looking at it from the outside, this does have some merit in the franchise-building ideology.

First off, the Maple Leafs. They are in rebuilding mode and they have said that they are not keen on moving Kaberle, but cap flexibility that the team would gain in moving him must be somewhat appealing and a nagging thought in the back of Brian Burke's mind. In this deal, they would gain some flexibility for 2011 and they would end up with a former 1st round pick, which would ease the burden of having moved their 2010 pick to Boston in the Phil Kessel deal. After Hodgson's performance in the 2009 World Juniors and the OHL season, he has a serious upside to him, almost to the point of a franchise player down the stretch. In moving Kaberle, they would accomplish a lot in this deal and it could possibly give the Leafs critics a little less to talk about. We all know they won't shut up, but they would have a little less to go on.

As for the Canucks, they have pieces in their franchise that they can move in order to win now. The Canucks are arguably a top-two defenseman away from being a real contender down the stretch and if it costs them a big piece to do it, it has to be tempting for them. Kaberle has been very good for the Leafs this season and should provide a veteran presence and some extra blueline offense, which would make the team a lot more credible and would ease the pressure on players like Kevin Bieksa (when he returns) and Sami Salo. Moving Hodgson might be on the management's checklist, because they don't trust his health issues despite his offensive upside, so he might be a reasonable piece to move, since the price of winning now is quite high.

Salary CapAs mentioned, the cap burden on the Maple Leafs will be relieved of sorts in this deal, where they could end up saving an entire season of Kaberle's cap hit, if Hodgson was to have a development season in the AHL with the Marlies, which has to be appealing. In theory, this move would give a potential cap hit of $41.2 million for 14 players, which is much more relaxed if you added Kaberle's number in.

For the Canucks, they would have to absorb the remaining hit on Kaberle, which is likely just hovering around hte $2 million mark, which they could have in discounts from their injures this season. With both Willie Mitchell and Kevin Bieksa currently on the shelf for the long-term, they have saved some cap space and also have an open spot on the blueline for Kaberle. Then the question surrounds the 2011 season, where Kaberle has his deal in place for, which adds the $4.25 million on top of the Canucks' $42.6 million already in place for 13 players. That's getting awfully close, especially for adding another nine players and they have serious free agents to deal with. Having a piece like Kaberle does create some flexibility in dealing with free agents, but the won't cross that bridge unless they get there.

In the world where anything can happen in NHL trades, it's hard to say that this is completely impossible, especially for the reasons given above. Between Toronto not really wanting to give up Kaberle and Vancouver needing a second-line centre in their future, Hodgson doesn't seem to be a wise piece to move, there is plenty of reason to make this move for both sides. Two teams with different ideas when they want to win will need to make a move to achieve their goals and both sides are believed to be actively doing some talking during this Olympic Break... it's really, really interesting.

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Monday, February 15, 2010

Trying to Assess the Panthers Situation

If you didn't think that the trade deadline was going to be crazy enough with the rental players who have been noted as likely available, the Florida Panthers took to the e-mail around the roster freeze on Friday (Feb. 12th), alerting their season ticket fan base that there are going to be changes because the management and coaching staff are not pleased with how the season has gone for the team and they want to do something about it.

So, with this being said, the scuttlebutt surrounding the Panthers is definitely going to be the most interesting, because the Panthers are not quite out of the race, but if any change is to happen right away, it does sound like they will pull themselves out of the race to ensure they take advantage of the player movement that involves high returns in trades and likely some good shots at high draft picks for the summer.

Now, the letter didn't specify what the actual direction of the team will be or who they will want to build around, but that's certainly not going to stop the speculation of which way they are going to go, who they are going to target or how they are going about changing it up.

I have a feeling that looking at some of Pete Deboer's previous teams in junior, he'll want to be keeping some of that high end scoring talent to keep up with the other major scoring talent in the Southeast Division and he'll want to make sure that he's continuing to keep his top end goaltending talent. Now, the Panthers already have David Booth, Stephen Weiss and Nathan Horton, who are considered top end talent, while they have Michael Frolik and Michal Repik, who are still coming up through the ranks, but their time may be limited to make the team on a full-time basis.

It's hard to say who the Panthers will be targeting in terms of picking up new players or who they will want in return for players they want to deal from their roster, but of course, that just comes with the territory of speculation. The Panthers are likely toying with a owner-imposed salary cap, likely around the $51 million mark, so there will likely be a strategy to build their franchise, much like the Nashville Predators have, with quality hard-working veteran talent, a good young defense and finding some solid goaltending. The strategy has worked wonders in Nashville, so why couldn't it work for the Panthers?

That now leaves the questions, who do the Panthers have up for grabs and are possibly shopping? Now, let's go with some of the obvious ones first, as the unrestricted free agents will likely be the first ones to be shopped or at least added to some potential deals, since these players may not be back with the team and draft picks, no matter how low, would be better than losing these players for nothing. Dennis Seidenberg and Jordan Leopold are the only two active players scheduled to be come UFAs in July and both should carry some trade value. I would say at worst, these are guys that can get a team an extra third round pick, if they were given out as rentals.

The Panthers have hit the Rumour Mill page already this season, with the rumour that Nathan Horton may be heading out of town, so there is a return to those rumours as the first potential player headed out of town. But hold on! Will Horton be healthy enough to be dealt, he's got a broken leg? Well, the 4-week mark will hit about next week and the top end of six weeks, will come just around the end of the Olympics, so yes, he should be good to go and ready for a trade.

Eklund, from who I picked the letter from, suggests that both David Booth and Stephen Weiss are also not very safe or at least open for offers, to which a number of teams would have to look twice at these guys, because they do bring a solid amount of talent, especially to a team's top or second line, giving teams depth. Both players do have longer-term deals already in place and they are both reasonable cap hits. I think that point leads me to believe that the Panthers won't be too quick to part with them, because they have done such a good job negotiating cap-friendly deals with these two players and it makes the team more flexible down the line with good scoring.

Personally, I would have bets on guys like Cory Stillman, Steven Reinprecht, Rostislav Olesz, Radek Dvorak, Bryan Allen and Ville Koistinen becoming the guys on the block. None of which would be considered rentals, because they all have at least one more year on their deals, but none of them are terribly expensive when it comes to cap hits for what they bring, except for maybe Olesz, who is believed to have great top end talent and he might need a change of scenery in the end.

Salary CapThe Panthers have done well to stay around their self-imposed cap number, to whichever it may be, especially after dealing Dominic Moore before the break and dropping $1.1 million from their annual cap number. Their annual cap number, with the injured Horton, is $51.4 million for 22 players, but you can add a good portion of Moore's cap hit, minus Horton's missed time, minus Tarnasky's injury, Booth's injury, Matthias' time in the minors and there you should get their overall hit, which is likely around the flat $50 million mark.

For next season, they currently have 14 players signed on and expected to have a full-time role with the team for an annual cap hit of $43.5 million and since that includes their theoretical top six forwards, two top defensemen and starting goalie, that's a pretty impressive number, no matter what team you're looking at. If the team can improve their potential cap number, they should be able to improve their top six, in terms of skill and they should be in great shape for 2011.

When the roster freeze lifts and the gun goes off, I would imagine that the Panthers will have set-up all sorts of potential moves and will likely not wait for any dominoes to fall. I don't think its really going out on a limb to suggest that Booth, Weiss, Keith Ballard, Bryan McCabe and Tomas Vokoun are safe, as that isn't a bad core of five players, taking care of each segment of the line-up. Since general managers are able to negotiate over these next couple weeks, this could drum up some real business for a lot of teams, including the Panthers.

Even if they move a large number of their major players for the end of the season, they can still be a winner at the deadline, in my opinion. It just has to be looked at with a patient eye.

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Thursday, February 11, 2010

Another Frolov to Habs Rumour...

RUMOUR 2009/2010 NHL Statistics
To MontrealPositionAgeGPGoalsPoints2010 Cap Hit2011 Cap Hit
Alexander FrolovForward27581337$2.9 millionUFA
To Los AngelesPositionAgeGPGoalsPoints2010 Cap Hit2011 Cap Hit
Matt D'AgostiniForward233824$500,000RFA
Yannick WeberDefenseman21500$875,000$875,000

A few interesting tweets this morning (example) have a rumour flying about, saying that Alexander Frolov is soon to be traveling to Montreal to be a part of the Canadiens for a rental package. As we come down to the rental time of year, this is the kind of deal which is really interesting.

Frolov, who is only just qualifying for unrestricted free agency, has been on the bubble with the Kings all season, as you may have noticed by reading this blog and other rumour blogs on the net. Montreal has also been one of the more interesting targets, where the rumours have been interesting, to say the least. Well, now that its crunch time and the Olympic roster freeze is quickly coming upon us, the rumour mill is in high gear.

The Canadiens are looking for some more depth scoring, especially since the injury bug has been taking big chunks out of the collective skin. With Mike Cammalleri and Andrei Kostitsyn out of the line-up, just to name a couple, the Habs are likely out looking for some more lamp lighters to help fill the roster gaps. Alexander Frolov is that kind of guy, who should be able to help that cause out, although you may not think he can very well, since he only has 13 tallies for the Kings this year. He has topped out at 35 goals in his career, so he does have the skills to do it.

If the Kings are indeed going to move Frolov, it is primarily to make sure that they get something in return, instead of losing him to unrestricted free agency for nothing. The Kings are still in the thick of the Western Conference playoff race, going into Thursday night's action with a firm grip of 5th spot. Asking for a roster player and a prospect is a fair request for a potential UFA who has scored 35 in his career, so this does seem somewhat likely.

From one tweet I had just recently seen (at the time of writing this post), it looks as though the prospect, defenseman Yannick Weber, may be the key to this deal and holds the most value. That makes some sense, but it is kind of interesting that the Kings are looking for another young defenseman.

Matt D'Agostini almost looks to be a throw in as the roster player at this point, since he has a very low cap hit, the Canadiens look to be taking on this reasonably-sized hit of Frolov's with little concern to their own overall hit. D'Agostini isn't going to bring anywhere near the offense that Frolov leaves behind and he'll likely be a depth 3rd or 4th liner, which the Kings do seem to have enough of. It would be interesting to see how he'd fit into their line-up.

Salary CapCap-wise, the Canadiens were going into the season with a little bit of buffer space between themselves and the ceiling, but with new injury discounts, they should be able to take on the new cap hit that Frolov would take and be able to take back the players from injury without too much of a hiccup.

The Habs have seen discounts from Brian Gionta, Andrei Kostitsyn, Andrei Markov and Andrei Kostitsyn, so they should be able to house Frolov from their annual cap hit of $55.8 million (approx.). I would also have to think Mike Cammalleri will be close to a discount, despite the Olympic Break, he should be able to miss at least five games after the fact, so that should also be a discount.

The Kings, on the other hand, don't even hit the $50 million mark in annual cap hits, even with Frolov in their active roster. That's an easy cap move there.

Like I had mentioned earlier, a roster player and a prospect is a good price around rental time and if the Kings are really high on Yannick Weber, then this deal does seem to be good for both sides... although, I can't really see what the Kings would like about D'Agostini... but if he's getting thrown in, there must be something to it. I would say it makes sense, but don't be surprised if there is a pick or two in there as well, just to level out the deal.

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