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8 NHL Players Who Won't Be Traded, but Should Be

Al DanielCorrespondent IIOctober 10, 2016

8 NHL Players Who Won't Be Traded, but Should Be

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    The Anaheim Ducks have solved their Corey Perry dilemma, taking him off the list of soon-to-be free agents with an eight-year contract extension on Monday. The man of the hour himself was apt to note that the deal neutralizes any trade talk and debate over whether to live fast for one season or make a sacrificial investment for the future.

    Other teams, though, are still subject to that internal conflict of debating whether to keep a pending free agent while they still can or cut him loose early when a return package is still assured.

    Besides that annual ritual, though, 2013’s bridge between now and next season also presents the need to brace for a salary cap reduction. The trade deadline could be an optimum time to release a hefty cap hit and take on a less weighty one that will nonetheless bolster one’s on-ice product.

    Several NHL general managers have been apt to cite the unusual circumstances of a shortened season as the cause of an inevitably sparse trade market. Chicago’s Stan Bowman told NHL.com’s Dan Rosen on Wednesday, “I don’t think guys are going to want to trade players away until they’re out of the race, and as it is now, certainly in the West, you could make an argument that almost every team is still in it.” 

    Although a case can be made for playoff contenders to hold back, some of those teams have players that they ought to put on the block if it means addressing an immediate need through the return package.

    Here are the players whose employers either do not appear to be "sellers" or who have otherwise not generated reckonable trade talk, but would nonetheless make for a sensible export.

Ben Bishop

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    Due to his ankle injury, No. 1 netminder Craig Anderson is listed as out indefinitely by multiple outlets, including TSN and the Canadian Press. Until he is ready for action again, the Ottawa Senators have virtually no choice but to keep rotating Bishop and Robin Lehner.

    With that said, once Anderson is ready to come back, there will be an overload in the Senators’ goalie guild. Both the 26-year-old Bishop and especially the 21-year-old Lehner are fast outgrowing the AHL, in part owing to their being pressed into more service than they would be if Anderson were healthy.

    The combination of Anderson and Lehner are likely the tandem of the future, with Lehner looking like a particularly promising apprentice.

    That leaves Bishop, a pending free agent who might be a tempting purchase for teams who are looking to upgrade their backup position.

    Given the current Anderson situation, it is safe to assume that the Sens will resist such a move between now and the April 3 trading deadline, which is now less than two weeks away.

    But given Ottawa’s rash of injuries elsewhere, particularly among defensemen, it is worth risking a baptismal fire on Lehner for the sake of nabbing another decent blueliner to play in front of him.

Danny Briere

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    This is one of the more believable cases of the player and/or higher-ups in question dismissing trade talk. But as always, that isn’t going to stop other teams from trying to acquire the 35-year-old Flyers forward, and it would serve all parties’ best interest to listen.

    The way this season has been going for Philadelphia, which is currently 13-16-1, a Briere trade could be of short-term benefit for the player and long-term for the team.

    Despite the veteran presence he brings and his expressed desire to stay put, the fact is Briere has the highest cap hit ($6.5 million) on a club that is facing an overwhelming crunch as it is. Nevermind what this franchise could be facing next season when the cap melts to $64.3 million, even if they can shed the long-injured Chris Pronger’s hit.

    The Flyers will still have the seasoned likes of Scott Hartnell, Max Talbot and fast-radiating captain Claude Giroux up front, but they will need to re-sign some of their free agents and bring on some new faces this summer.

    Dealing the Stanley Cup-less and not-getting-any-younger Briere to a more immediate contender would be one way to obtain some of those pieces along with more financial viability.

Valtteri Filppula

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    Nearly a month ago, on Feb. 25, CBC’s Elliotte Friedman relayed this remark from Detroit general manager Ken Holland on the state of the Red Wings and its effect on the prospect of Filppula leaving or staying: “I’m still trying to figure out what we are.”

    As it happens, the Wings are currently in a footrace with St. Louis for second place in the Central Division. Through 30 games, they hold a cumulative plus-one scoring differential, but rank a few slots higher in team defense than team offense.

    Filppula is sixth on the team and fifth among forwards with a 6-7-13 scoring log through 23 appearances. Not too shabby, and, on the surface, not grounds for a trade in this team’s situation.

    But rather than bank on Filppula and others stepping up and staying up, which his comment to Friedman all but confirms he will do, Holland ought to consider an active upgrade.

    Pierre LeBrun of ESPN is one pundit citing Detroit as a possible suitor for Jarome Iginla. If Holland wants his team to flex its contender’s persona of years past, he should follow through on that. Filppula would be a sensible deal-maker.

    After all, Filppula and Jiri Hudler, one of Iginla’s current teammates in Calgary, have a history of playing on the same line.

Chuck Kobasew

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    There has been very little, if any mention of Kobasew in any trade talk lately, which is somewhat surprising.

    The struggling Colorado Avalanche have two established forwards in their 30s who are both approaching free agency: Kobasew and Milan Hejduk. Hejduk, a career-long Av since 1998-99 and a one-time Stanley Cup winner, is hard to envision in as part of a trade, but the 30-year-old Kobasew’s history makes him the right commodity for a deadline seller to dangle.

    The rationale behind Kobasew’s worth is simple. He performs in accordance with the caliber of his team. Since becoming a full-time NHLer in 2005-06, he has finished multiple injury-shortened years with single-digit totals in key columns, but has also had three 20-goal campaigns while playing a regular role on playoff-bound teams.

    Colorado’s brass should accentuate the plus points of Kobasew’s resume in hopes of swapping him out in exchange as a means of retooling its roster.

Roberto Luongo

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    A White Towel blog post this week on the Vancouver Province’s website holds that the Washington Capitals might be an interested buyer for Luongo. The same idea made rounds in the rumor mill in early February when Vancouver Canucks general manager Mike Gillis dropped in on a Caps home game.

    If that idea gained any tangible traction, it would be worth Gillis’ while to try to reap an offensive upgrade in exchange. Of course, other teams might offer the same basic deal.

    Brian Stubits of CBS Sports has cited the Canucks as a possibly enticing destination for Iginla. Stubits’ rationale for an Iginla-Vancouver alliance is “it’s relatively close to where he is now and he is familiar with British Columbia from his junior days.”

    To have any chance of taking on Iginla and his $7 million cap hit, though, the strapped Canucks would need to somehow relinquish one or two hefty hits of their own.

    Whether it is through a direct deal, a three-party trade or a separate swap, exporting Luongo and his $5.33 million cap hit is one easy way to do that. The same holds true with any other prospective big-name acquisition.

    Regardless, given the first two months of 2013, it seems like Vancouver would just as soon stick with the Luongo-Cory Schneider tandem for the balance of this season. But rather than hope for a charm on the third try with Luongo in the playoffs, it would be better to trust Schneider and arrange for a more potent strike force to support him.

Nino Niederreiter

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    The New York Islanders’ NHL season began with reports that the 20-year-old Niederreiter, a veteran of 64 NHL games prior to 2013, wanted out of the organization and that no such move was forthcoming (via ESPN).

    Fast-forward to the present, and Niederreiter has yet to be promoted from AHL Bridgeport, which he leads with 26 goals and 45 points through 60 games. Meanwhile, one could look at the standings in both leagues and argue that postseason action is more realistic for the Islanders than it is for the Sound Tigers.

    If Niederreiter is not going to be a part of the ride on Long Island or see playoff action in the minors, a new arrangement might be in order. Assuming all prior reports from January were accurate, the Isles brass should reconsider its stance and try to acquire a useful return package.

Rich Peverley

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    Columnist Joe Haggerty of csnne.com holds that, were the Bruins to pursue the aforementioned Iginla, Peverley would be “the most likely candidate” to constitute a “roster player” portion of an export package.

    Based on Boston Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli’s past tendencies, that does not sound like a realistic proposition. Peverley is one of 16 skaters still held over from the team that won Boston a championship in 2011.

    That is likely why he will be retained, but it may be a reason why Chiarelli should deal him or one or two other depth forwards, especially if it means making room for Iginla. Inserting the Calgary captain would mean injecting a specimen with long-unfulfilled hunger for a Cup, a dearth of which may have contributed to the Bruins’ elimination from the first round in the 2012 playoffs.

    In addition, the addition of a top-six-caliber forward like Iginla would allow the Bruins to reassign the likes of the hot-and-cold Milan Lucic to the third line, which would likely redress both the player and the line. Lucic has simply been more effective in the postseason, where he has played fewer minutes per night.

One of Many Carolina Defensemen

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    With a nightly average of 2.83 opposing goals and 31.4 opposing shots on goal, the Hurricanes are looking a tad better defensively than they were last year, when they yielded 2.89 on 32.4 shots per game.

    But if they are to ensure their playoff qualification, let alone make ripples in the tournament, they could still stand to trade in some of their surplus offensive defense for a specimen of defensive defense.

    Between Justin Faulk, Joni Pitkanen, Joe Corvo, Jamie McBain and Bobby Sanguinetti, five of Carolina’s top seven blueliners draw acclaim for offensive skill on their online profiles from The Hockey News.

    Meanwhile it has been noted by the likes of the Ottawa Sun’s Bruce Garrioch that the San Jose Sharks appear to be seeking a change of scenery for the more defensive-oriented Douglas Murray. San Jose, with only 2.28 goals-for per night, could use a boost in offensive output, whether it came from up front or from a point patroller.

    Some of the players in question have had injury issues of late, but swapping out a Corvo, McBain or Pitkanen in exchange for Murray could still be one way for all parties to address their needs.

    Unfortunately, there have not been any reports indicating that Carolina GM Jim Rutherford will pursue such a deal.

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