Predicting 8 Blockbuster Deals That Would Shake Up the NHL at Trade Deadline
Few dates on the NHL calender have bigger circles around them than the NHL trade deadline, and the truncated 2013 season is no different.
Fans clamor around their computers and stay glued to their cell phones as they await to see what kind of moves will be made. Who is upping the ante—or cupping up, as I like to say—and who is selling off assets for futures?
We've already seen the Pittsburgh Penguins land three huge assets as we approach the deadline. After dealing for Douglas Murray and Brenden Morrow, the Pens outright stole Jarome Iginla from the Calgary Flames in one of the most lopsided (bird-brained) deals I've seen in a long time.
Pittsburgh may not be done, either. The Penguins are reportedly still trying to pry Jack Johnson away from the Columbus Blue Jackets, according to Rob Rossi of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.
How will other clear cup contenders respond to the aggressive moves made by the Pens?
There are a few possible fire sales going on as well. Assets in Calgary are clearly on the table, and the Buffalo Sabres dealing Jordan Leopold may signal the start of a trend for them heading into the trade deadline.
What are some other possible deals that we could see go down over the next few days? Here are a few ideas worth considering.
Roberto Luongo Finally Gets Traded
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A few months ago, if you would have asked me to describe Roberto Luongo in one word, I would have said "embattled."
These days I have a newfound respect for the 33-year-old goaltender. He's maintained his focus and poise throughout the season despite the hurricane-like trade rumors that have followed him. On top of that, he's been an outstanding teammate and has not been a distraction in the slightest for the Vancouver Canucks.
And we all know how this could have gone.
Now the Luongo-to-Toronto zombie of a trade rumor is back again and is gaining steam, according to Damien Cox of the Toronto Star.
He's obviously not a rental player, as his contract isn't over until 2022, so he'd be heading to a team that is currently in search of a permanent solution to a net crisis. James Reimer has been good, and Ben Scrivens has performed well when he's been called on.
Lets be honest though: Luongo is an upgrade over the pair.
An interesting cog in all this could be the Tampa Bay Lightning. How long are they willing to wait around for Anders Lindback to turn into a starting goaltender? If the answer is one lockout-shortened season, then they could surprise some people and get in on the long-running sweepstakes.
Every year there is a surprise trade for a guy who is supposed to be moved, but it's no surprise to the team that actually went out and landed him. I think that could be the case with Luongo as we approach the deadline.
All-Star-caliber goaltenders don't stay on the trade market very long, and some GM could be sick of watching his team lose one-goal games because of soft netminding.
Ryan Miller Is Shipped out of Buffalo
It feels weird to think about Ryan Miller wearing a jersey that isn't that of the Buffalo Sabres, but after watching Jarome Iginla take the ice as a Pittsburgh Penguin, I think I have the fortitude for anything at this point.
A trade before the deadline is unlikely but not entirely out of the question. Talks of where Miller could end up have been ongoing since it was reported by Nick Kypreos of Sportsnet (via CBS Sports) that his days in Buffalo "were numbered."
The goalie market is quite crowded at the moment, however. There are some interesting impending free agents that could become available over the summer including Mike Smith, Jimmy Howard and Niklas Backstrom.
There's still the aforementioned option of Roberto Luongo, and some other options as well.
Depending on how fast the Sabres are trying to blow things up, they could be enticed to move their longtime starting netminder. After all, if Lindy Ruff isn't safe, then no one is. Heads are going to continue to roll in Buffalo, and Miller's could be next.
Mike Ribeiro Demands His Way out of Washington
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Contract negotiations are still ongoing between Mike Ribeiro and the Washington Capitals. He's stated several times that he'd like to continue to play in Washington, but his demands may be a little too long term for the Caps (h/t Katie Carrera of The Washington Post).
Ribeiro has been one of the best players for Washington so far this season, and with Stephen Weiss getting injured in Florida, he is far and away the best rental center available to teams looking for an upgrade down the middle.
If Washington doesn't like its chances heading into the playoffs, perhaps they offload here for a pick or prospect package and rebuild a bit on the fly. They have Filip Forsberg coming into the fold next season, and moving Ribeiro could be a boon moving forward.
The Anaheim Ducks, Chicago Blackhawks and St. Louis Blues are all teams that could be interesting in adding a guy like this for a Stanley Cup run.
Keith Yandle and His Salary Get the Ax in Phoenix
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Young puck-moving defenders don't hit the trade market very often, so the asking price on Keith Yandle is understandably high. Like always, the ownership woes of the Phoenix Coyotes are making it hard for GM Don Maloney to go about his business.
The team isn't close to signing starting goaltender Mike Smith according to the Fourth Period, and it's believed that if a deal came across the table that allowed Maloney to offload Yandle's contract while acquiring solid future assets he'd be urged to take it.
The Fourth Period reported recently that the Chicago Blackhawks are keeping close tabs on the Yandle situation, and "could look to package defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson with a good, young NHL-proven player or top prospect and a draft pick in exchange for Yandle."
Aside from the 'Hawks, there are several other teams (such as the Detroit Red Wings and Philadelphia Flyers) that could be willing to part with futures for a defender of this caliber.
Marian Gaborik Gets Moved out of New York for Some Depth
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The New York Rangers were considered by many pundits to be among the Stanley Cup favorites heading into the shortened 2013 season. They were sporting newly acquired wing Rick Nash, and already possessed considerable top-end talent with Marian Gaborik and Brad Richards among the top six.
These days, nothing is certain for the Rangers, including making the playoffs. They currently sit in eighth place, clinging for dear life as only seven points separate them from the last-placed Florida Panthers.
We all knew things were going to be tighter than usual during the shorter 2013 season, but this is just a bit too close for comfort for a team that was a cup favorite just eight weeks ago. Now rumors are starting to surface that New York could be dangling top sniper Marian Gaborik (h/t Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun).
The Rangers would really need to be impressed with a deal, but they are looking to replace some of the depth that the Nash trade cost them, along with the offseason departures of Brandon Prust and Ruslan Fedotenko.
Jay Bouwmeester Goes from Zero to Hero at the Deadline
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While offensive defenseman may be all the rage these days, teams still need an anchor on the back end for a multitude of reasons. It's foolish to let a fleet-footed defender off the chain unless there is a steady presence there constantly to back him up.
Teams looking for a guy who can secure things in the defensive zone and make a calm first pass should be very interested in Jay Bouwmeester.
His cap number his borders on ridiculous, but teams wouldn't have to live with that $6.8 million cap hit for very long. Teams such as the Detroit Red Wings have been inquiring about the 29-year-old defender all season, according to MLive.com's Brendan Savage, and Calgary Flames GM may have finally given into the idea of a rebuild after dealing Jarome Iginla.
Bouwmeester has a no-trade clause (just like everyone else on the Flames roster), so he'd be in control of his fate, but it's hard to imagine him turning down a deal to Detroit or a team like the Boston Bruins.
Jaromir Jagr Gets Another Shot at the Cup Outside of Dallas
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Every playoff-bound team in the NHL would love to add Jaromir Jagr for the charge toward a Stanley Cup. Jags has been there, done that and still has plenty of talent for a guy who is over 40.
The Dallas Stars are currently in talks to extend Jagr according to Mike Heika of the Dallas Morning News, but if a deal doesn't come to fruition very soon, they could look to offload him to a contender for a pick or prospect. It's hard to imagine his price tag being much higher than that as a 41-year-old rental, but it beats a blank for Dallas and gives Jagr another chance at the ultimate prize.
Could he be a consolation prize for the Boston Bruins? After losing out on both Jarome Iginla and Brenden Morrow, the Bruins could do much worse than adding Jagr for a cup run.
Derek Roy Gets Moved as Dallas Cashes in on Lack of Available Centers
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Another Dallas Star that could end up moved is center Derek Roy. With captain Brenden Morrow gone, and the likes of Jaromir Jagr on the block, it's clear that this is a team looking for a new direction.
With the severe shortage of difference-making centers available at the deadline, Dallas could see an inflation of Roy's worth on the trade market. Unlike several rental players available, he's only 29 and could end up bringing several more years of good hockey to whichever team acquires him.
The Chicago Blackhawks would love to add another forward to their group, according to Brad Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun, and a team like the Ottawa Senators could really use a rental center of Roy's capabilities while Jason Spezza heals.