February flew by, making March the only thing standing between us and the NHL’s April 3 trade deadline.
That means the trade rumors are going to be flying in the coming weeks leading up that deadline. It seems like only yesterday the NHL lockout was lifted and the players got back into action.
Now, as the playoff race begins to take shake in this shortened season, we will begin to see teams restructure and prepare for the offseason as they attempt to adhere to the provisions of the new collective bargaining agreement.
Let’s take a look at some of the names currently being discussed on the trade block with a little over a month to go before the deadline.
Michael Ryder, Dallas Stars
Mike Heika, Dallas Stars beat writer for DallasNews.com, sees forward Michael Ryder being moved before the trade deadline for a number of reasons:
I just think that with his contract up, with Whitney having another year, with the kids pushing, and with the specter of Jagr still there, Ryder is a candidate to move. Not sure on what he can bring, but he would be a good piece for an NHL team that needs scorers.
As it stands right now the Stars are a fringe playoff team in the Western Confernece, holding onto the eighth and final spot by a narrow margin. If they lose grip of that position in March, they could, as Heika asserted, look to move Ryder and others whose contracts will be expiring this summer.
Ryder, 32, has played well this season and could definitely interest a contending team who is looking for depth at the trade deadline.
Daniel Alfredsson, Ottawa Senators
Ottawa Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson has been the subject of ongoing rumors pertaining to his possible departure from the team. Both the Boston Bruins and Pittsburgh Penguins are rumored to be in the race for acquiring the 40-year-old right winger, but he doesn’t seem to want to leave:
It's flattering if teams are interested, but for me the focus is here and what we're doing. We want to keep this thing going. We're in the playoffs. If we would fall out of that race, maybe there would be more speculation but that's nothing I'm paying attention to.
With the Senators still in contention and Alfredsson wanting to stay with the club, it’s unlikely anything will come of the trade talks as the decision will likely be his to make at the deadline.
John-Michael Liles, Toronto Maple Leafs
Terry Koshan, Toronto Maple Leafs writer for the Toronto Sun, suggested it is likely John-Michael Liles is moved before the league’s trade deadline.
Jake Gardiner won’t be with the Toronto Marlies forever, and Morgan Rielly, another slick young defenceman, will be given every chance to make the Leafs out of training camp next September.
Leafs coach Randy Carlyle prefers big, physical defencemen. Liles is neither. Gardiner and Rielly aren’t physical, but they’re faster and have greater offensive upside.
Saturday night, Lilies was a healthy scratch for the Leafs for the fourth consecutive contest, bringing his utility and value to his team significantly into question.
Liles, who is set to make an average salary of $3.875 million annually from now until 2016, has a modified no-trade clause in his contract. That may hamper any trade talks the Leafs might engage in, but it doesn’t mean a deal couldn’t happen.
Any possibility for added playing time, especially after seemingly falling out of favor in Toronto, would likely be welcomed with open arms by the 32-year-old defenseman.