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.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Hemsky for Weiss?

2011 Season2011Remaining
To Florida
PositionAgeGPGAPCap HitYearsCap Hit
Ales HemskyForward273192029$4.1 million1Same
To Edmonton
PositionAgeGPGAPCap HitYearsCap Hit
Stephen WeissForward2742131831$3.1 million2Same

One of the few rumours that have one name going for another has dropped over the weekend and showed up again this afternoon, as the going rate is the Edmonton Oilers moving scoring winger Ales Hemsky down to Florida for playmaking centre Stephen Weiss.

From the first glance, I kind of like this rumour, as it looks like it could help out both teams right from the get-go.   Hemsky would provide some much needed offense to a Panthers team that has an outside shot at a playoff spot, while Weiss would add some depth down the middle, likely taking a number one or number two spot at the pivot position between some quality young talent.

This deal also has the benefit of being a wash for the salary cap, since neither team have any cap concerns and it is only a difference of $1 million going either way this season, but Weiss is locked in for another year, which likely appeals to the Oilers all that much more.

The real trouble that I have with this rumour is that the Panthers aren't necessarily deep in the centre position as it is, so moving their top scoring skater, who also plays the centre position for a 1st line winger doesn't exactly seem like a great trade off, unless there are some more pieces to this deal.  The Panthers are very plentiful at the wing position, but I don't really see many that could slide into the middle and make an impact.  The addition of Hemsky would definitely give the Panthers some more zip, but even in Edmonton, it's been somewhat proven that Hemsky needs a bit of help to be truly effective.

That all being said, a straight one-for-one deal doesn't seem to be terribly likely as a standalone transaction.  The Panthers, if they really were to be moving towards a playoff spot, would likely have to have another player coming back that they could use on their roster or another deal in place to somehow make a deal like this one pay off right away.

This still does sound like a decent rumour, who's to say it really has legs, but in some respects, it does kind of make sense today.  It could be a great deal, if the Panthers have something worked out to make that final push, in my opinion.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Possible Big-Name Rentals in 2011

I haven't found a great deal of sizzling rumours to spell out in the past few weeks, as there really hasn't been many hands tipped in that general direction. There have been a number of names churned through the rumour mill, but no names have really been attached to other names, so there is little we can actually play with. So, I thought I would have a crack at pointing out some of the possible rental players, that may or may not be available at the trade deadline at the end of February.

Generally, when you're talking about rentals, you are looking at players who are going to be unrestricted free agents in the Summer, which suggests a team can use the player's talents through the end of the regular season and hope they help during a long playoff run and then not have to worry about them on their books anymore.  Rental players are also coming from teams that have little hope of making the playoffs, in most cases, hoping to get something back, like draft picks or prospects, for players that might otherwise leave the team in the off-season anyways through free agency.  There are plenty of exceptions to these guidelines, but the discussion usually reverts back to the guidelines.

But of course, we'll start the post off with an exception to the guidelines, as Brad Richards' name keeps landing in the rumour mill and likely for good reason.  The Dallas Stars are still running into ownership issues, which suggests some serious cash flow problems.  Richards, a top 10 scorer in the NHL this season, has done a marvelous job with the team, but there are many questions abound as to whether or not the Stars will have the ability to re-sign him to the numbers he'll likely demand.

Richards' 2011 annual cap hit is $7.8 million and the Stars had committed to that contract long before the ownership issues came to pass.  That being said, there will be (or likely has been) a great deal of internal discussion as to whether or not the team can afford not to have him on their payroll, especially since they lead the Pacific Division standings with him in the line-up.

I really don't think it is a matter of 'can he get dealt?', rather it being a matter of 'will he get dealt?'

Next up on the list is our first goaltender of the bunch and there has been plenty of scuttlebutt surrounding Tomas Vokoun of the Florida Panthers.  Vokoun will be an unrestricted free agent this Summer and has been having a mediocre season with the 11th place team in the East.  Teams looking to shore up their goaltending situation going into the playoffs may have a second or third look at Vokoun down this last stretch before the deadline, knowing full well that he can play some pretty good hockey.

The Panthers have a pretty good situation going for them in Florida at the moment, stocking up on some excellent prospects to go with some of their younger veterans, trying to build a solid contender.  Some of those prospects are also goaltenders, like Jacob Markstrom or Alexander Salak.  The sticking point for the Panthers would likely have to be whether or not they would like to have a guy like Vokoun for another season, waiting for their prospects to mature, or jump right into the young player game and let their prospects ride.

I'm sure there are a number of teams who are willing to look at the remainder of Vokoun's $5.7 million salary cap hit, just to give them some added security down the stretch, likely for a late 2nd or early 3rd round pick in the Summer.

Next up on the list sits Alex Tanguay, who may come in as a runner-up prize to the likes of Richards, in the sense that a team could be looking for a quality play-making forward.  Tanguay will also be a decent runner-up prize, because his annual cap hit is so much lower than Richards' at $1.7 million and going to a contending team should make it rather appealing for him to waive his limited no-trade/no-,movement clause, if he has to.

It's no secret that the Flames have definitely been struggling in the 2011 season and with new management in place to make some changes to the team, a guy like Tanguay is ripe for the picking, when it comes to making deals for future assets, like picks or prospects.  I could definitely see Tanguay go for a reasonably low set of draft picks.

The name that keeps popping up in trade rumours continues to be Tomas Kaberle of the Maple Leafs and despite his desire to stay in Toronto through this contract, the Leafs do have a very valuable asset on their hands, in terms of what they can get back via the trade market.

Kaberle has been having a pretty decent season in Toronto, despite their low scoring numbers, and that has to remain attractive to a playoff-bound team that is looking to increase their production from the back end.  The addition of Kaberle to most bluelines should be an easy fit and the value going back to Toronto could be adequate to calm some of the critics down.  Of course, the description of the package going back to the Maple Leafs would be a real indicator as to how the team will approach the 2012 season, but that's another story altogether.

I don't personally think that the chances of the Maple Leafs moving Kaberle are that good, but me saying that probably increased his chances by 15%.  If the Leafs get the deal that they really want out of Kaberle, I would imagine that there would be a relentless pursuit to force his hand and waive the clause, but so many factors are in the way before they get to that point.

Let's face it, the Devils have been terrible this year and they are in a good position to start selling off some of their unrestricted free agent assets, especially since they have already traded away their (former) captain, Jamie Langenbrunner to Dallas, this season.  Jason Arnott's name has popped up a few times already in the past weeks as a possible name to move and frankly, it makes sense.  Arnott is a quality forward with leadership qualities, he has a Cup ring and experience and he will be an unrestricted free agent in the Summer.

Arnott's numbers are down considerably in the 2011 season, but the New Jersey Devils have not been the best model of great offense throughout their line-up this season, to date.  With firepower like Zach Parise on the shelf for the bulk of the year and Ilya Kovalchuk underachieving, it should come as no surprise that the rest of the players are coming up a little short.  Still, at the end of the day, Arnott should garner some interest from a team that is in need of what he has to offer and should find a new home with a new opportunity.

Could the Ottawa Senators possibly move Alexei Kovalev in a deadline deal this year?  Well, it's hard to believe that anyone would take Kovalev on his merits from this 2011 season, but the NHL is a funny place sometimes and some managers seem to think that some players can still add something to their team, even if that player has had a bad run of things in the current season.  There might be hope for a guy like Kovalev, but his $5 million annual cap hit may have a lot to do with him staying in Ottawa for the duration of the season.

Kovalev does still have some talented hands on his side and the rumour mill does keep churning his name around, so there does seem to be a little bit of smoke around his name.  If I had to guess, I would think that Kovalev may be one of those secondary prizes at the deadline, as many teams will covet the same player, but only one team will get that top end player, forcing a team that still wants to make a move into picking up a guy like Kovalev.  If Kovalev does go, he might be a guy that goes for a cheap draft pick, near the end of the day on the 28th.

Whether or not any or all of these players are going to be traded remains to be seen.  The rumour mill will continue to churn out names that have potential to be moved, but it all really depends on the supply and demand of the teams involved.  Some teams may want way too much for players of this calibre to be moved, especially a team like the Dallas Stars, who may only part with Richards if the price meets their satisfaction.  I am definitely looking forward to the deadline this year... I might even have to take a day off for it.