We’re less than three weeks into the NHL season and it’s already time for teams to start thinking about wheeling and dealing.
With the season compressed to just 48 games, the playoff picture is already forming. Nearly one-fifth of the schedule is in the books, and teams like Calgary and Los Angeles have limited time to climb from the bottom of their conference.
The trade deadline is nearly two months away, but it comes at an inopportune time for teams looking to make a playoff run this season. Deals have to be made earlier in the season. Rumors are already beginning to swirl.
We’ll take a look at some of the teams and players rumored to be in trade discussion and break down the details as they have been reported.
The Flyers have tallied just six points thus far, and their 21 goals scored is tied for 22nd in the league. The time to add some offensive firepower may already be here.
According to Sam Carchidi of Philly.com, Philadelphia could be looking to do some upgrading during the season, potentially targeting players who will be free agents this offseason:
Many NHL teams are searching for offense, including the Flyers, New York Rangers, Los Angeles Kings, Washington Capitals and Nashville Predators. They should hope that the potential free agents (read: midseason trade bait) play for teams that fall out of playoff contention and are made available.
Some of the players Carchidi suggest are Anaheim’s Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf, Dallas’ Brenden Morrow and Alexander Semin of Carolina.
The Flyers clearly need some depth and firepower on the wing, and trading a pick (or multiple picks) in the hopes of landing a player they can also re-sign for future years seems like a logical solution.
Most teams will likely wait to make a deal until their playoff chances become a little more clear, but there’s no denying Philadelphia would benefit from being active in the trade market early this season.
New York Islanders
Despite being No. 4 in the league in goals per game, the Islanders are in seventh place in the Eastern Conference, and Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun doesn’t seem too hopeful that they will right the ship this season:
Once the New York Islanders are officially out of the playoff picture, expect D Mark Streit to get dealt. A lot of teams are looking for somebody who can move the puck and he's in the final year of his contract. Streit is well-respected around the league for his abilities and will likely get dealt for a second-round pick.
Streit has recorded five points through eight games this season and as long as he continues to be productive and healthy he probably won’t be in New York to finish the year.
Even at 35, Streit can bring a lot of value to teams interested in dealing for him. For teams in need of some extra help and a veteran presence, a second-round pick isn’t too steep a price to pay—even if he doesn’t re-sign with that team in the offseason.
Los Angeles Kings
With considerable depth at center and very little room for more bodies, the Kings will likely be faced with a tough decision involving Andrei Loktionov, who they moved to the wing two years ago. He hasn’t seen as much playing time as he would like and it seems Loktionov has asked to be traded.
According to John Hoven of MayorsManor.com, Loktionov has apparently had enough:
Last year, he saw time with both the Kings and Monarchs, scoring three goals in 39 regular season NHL games. Loktionov also returned to LA for the playoffs and saw action in two games, recording zero points… However, likely realizing he’s on the outside looking in, it was confirmed to MayorsManor earlier today that Loktionov has requested a trade to another NHL team.
While the 22-year-old has shown a lot of promise, he hasn’t spent a considerable amount of time with the Kings, instead seeing most of his action with the AHL Manchester Monarchs. According to ESPN.com’s Craig Custance, the market for Loktionov may be limited:
Through an NHL source, we were able to confirm the trade request although his availability is nothing new. GMs were alerted in the past that he was on the market and the response has been underwhelming. Loktionov, who trained with Edmonton's Nail Yakupov this summer, is the first client Hall of Famer Igor Larionov signed as an agent and there appears to be a difference of opinion in his value between Larionov and the Kings ... Loktionov had seven points in 39 games with the Kings last season and has 22 points in 35 games with Manchester in the AHL this year. The 5-foot-10 forward was a fifth-round pick in 2008 and the asking price in L.A. is likely a draft pick in that range now.
Based on the expected return, it may not suit the Kings to move Loktionov this season. Time will tell, but should Los Angeles find a suitor willing to pay up for his services the Russian could get another chance elsewhere in the league.
If the Panthers can’t string together some quality performances in the next month, it’s hard to envision Stephen Weiss not being moved before the trade deadline.
According to Garrioch, rumors have been swirling that Weiss will in fact be dealt before the deadline, due in part to him impending free agency and the lack of “cash to sign him.”
While Florida has reportedly denied Weiss being on the block, ESPNBoston.com’s Jimmy Murphy believes otherwise:
Panthers deny it but hearing more & more Panthers F Stephen Weiss is available. If so and I'm Peter Chiarelli, I'd go after him.— Jimmy Murphy (@MurphysLaw74) February 5, 2013
Given the state of Florida’s financial affairs and Weiss’ unwillingness to negotiate a new contract during the season, it looks like there may be some merit to trading him this season, despite still being a highly productive player at this point in his career.
If Florida can’t turn their season around in the coming weeks it may be wise to move Weiss and get quality pieces in return instead of losing the 29-year-old in free agency this offseason.