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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