Last season, the trade deadline was highlighted with the trade of Marian Hossa to Pittsburgh for Colby Armstrong, Erik Christensen, prospect Angelo Esposito and a first-round draft pick. The trade was made by the Penguins in hopes of making a serious push for the Stanley Cup and it was almost successful, barely losing out to the much-more-experienced Detroit Red Wings.
This year, Pittsburgh seems to be paying the price for that trade because there lineup is now lacking a lot of toughness and grit. But that's the price you pay at the trade deadline. Teams are willing to give up all their young assets in order to make that big run for Lord Stanley.
So what will be given up this year and for who?
Here are the top 12 players that will be available at the trade deadline:
12. Niclas Havelid—Atlanta Thrashers
The underrated defenseman's contract is up at the end of the season, so the Thrashers will be looking to unload his reasonable contract on a team that is looking for depth in the back end. Look for maybe Boston or Calgary to make a move on the steady blue-liner.
11. Vesa Toskala—Toronto Maple Leafs
When the season began, Toskala was arguably the best asset the Leafs had and was what the team was going to build around. Now the netminder has become one of the worst starting goalies in the NHL.
Even still, a new change of scenery might not hurt and some teams might be looking to the netminder to help in goal with a playoff run or fill a void in net. I could see Detroit, Ottawa, Calgary, or the Islanders interested.
10. Steve Sullivan—Nashville Predators
This is an intriguing prospect because two months ago people weren't sure whether or not he would be back. He is a very fast player with a quick release. It all depends on whether or not his back can hold for the season. If it doesn't show any wear or tear come trade deadline, he will be a very-wanted commodity.
He could fit in anywhere on either the first or second line and do well. I would expect Anaheim, Pittsburgh, or any team that needs backup scoring to want his services.
9. Mathieu Schneider—Atlanta Thrashers
Schneider is almost 40 and is not as fast as he used to be, but he still can still run a power play and pass the puck with the best of them. Although he may not be cheap, he will get any struggling power play going. Expect Pittsburgh, Columbus, the Rangers, and even Montreal if they can't get a hold of Tomas Kaberle.
8. Keith Tkachuk—St. Louis Blues
He has been a rental player before, and will be a rental player again this trade deadline. He may not be the best playoff performer, but he is still solid and can play on any second line in the NHL.
Look for a playoff team to rent his services, more specifically a team that needs to give their second line a little more pop and a little more grit. Look for Pittsburgh, Chicago, and maybe even look to Phoenix to trade for his services.
7. Manny Fernandez—Boston Bruins
An interesting situation has risen in Boston. The tandem of Tim Thomas and Fernandez has been solid and the two combine for the best save percentage of any team in hockey. But Tuukka Rask is waiting in the wings and is ready for experience. Yet, their forwards keep getting injured and could use some depth.
If there were a trade to come for this player, I could see Calgary, Detroit, or even Washington looking into his services.
6. Nikolai Antropov—Toronto Maple Leafs
Although he isn't the biggest name on this list by any means, he could be the biggest center available come trade deadline. He is great in front of the net and is a good stick handler also.
If Brian Burke doesn't see what he likes, I can see him trading Antropov at the deadline. Teams that would be interested in his services would be Chicago, Columbus, Calgary, and Florida.
5. Tomas Kaberle—Toronto Maple Leafs
If it wasn't for Jay Bouwmeester being on the market, Tomas Kaberle would easily be the best defenseman on the market. He can run any power play that is having trouble and is easily one of the best passers in the game today.
If he decides to waive his no trade clause, then I could see him going to Montreal, the Rangers, Washington, maybe even Florida??
4. Marian Gaborik—Minnesota Wild
Poor Minnesota. Tried to sign him, he refused. Tried to play him and he got injured. When he came back, they tried to trade him and then he got injured again. Now he is expected to come back sometime after the trade deadline. Minnesota is always in the run to make the playoffs so it all matters where they are when the deadline comes.
I imagine if they are willing to trade him that a couple teams are willing to take a risk on him. I could see him alongside Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin in Pittsburgh, or he could also be heading off to Vancouver to play along side Mats Sundin as well.
3. Jason Spezza—Ottawa Senators
Ever since that amazing start to last season, this team has been on an unstoppable spiral. Ever since this spiral, Jason Spezza has been a one-dimensional player. He seems to have forgotten about defense. But he is still able to put up 100 points if he has the right line mates.
He is still young and even though he has both a big and long contract, lots of teams would be willing to trade for him. Columbus, Anaheim, maybe even Montreal if they can't get Lecavalier.
2. Jay Bouwmeester—Florida Panthers
Easily the most desirable player available at the trade deadline, Bouwmeester has it all. He has size, speed, and scoring ability. Plus he can get nasty if he has to. All that is missing is some playoff experience.
With him being as young as he is, any team would be interested in trading for him. Toronto, Edmonton, New York Rangers, and Ottawa are all in the front-runners trying to trade for him.
1. Vincent Lecavalier—Tampa Bay Lightning
This is easily the best player available right now. Every team drools to have a player of his skill. He is easily one of the top 10 players in the game today at any position. The problem with a player of this caliber is that you need to give up a lot in order to get him and few teams have the assets to get him.
That's why only one team comes to mind. Montreal. They have the players, prospects, and draft picks available to bring this guy to Montreal. Not to mention a fan base that cries his name every time he is in town. He even got a 10-minute ovation during the All-Star game.
Shane House is one of the leading writers of the Toronto Maple Leaf B/R community and is a writer for T.O Sports Magazine. Check the out at www.tosports.ca
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