With the 2010 NHL trade deadline fast approaching and nearly every observer has an opinion on who is coming and going. This is the first part of a two part series examining players who may find themselves with a new club after the first week of March.
Ray Whitney - After missing some time in November with an upper-body injury, Whitney has been one of the Hurricanes most consistent offensive threats. He's posted 6 goals and 9 assists over the past 13 games but could still find himself with a new mailing address after the March deadline. The 'Canes look to change the culture of their team and that started with Eric Stall named as the squad’s new captain. A change in the culture unfortunately starts with veterans. Even though he has a no-trade clause, he may be willing to waive it to end up with a contender down the stretch.
Maxim Lapierre - It seems difficult to mention the Montreal Canadiens these days without the words "failure" and "expectations." Lapierre came into the season with the expectation his offense would flourish. Unfortunately, he has nine measly points and a dreadful -12 +/- differential. He may benefit from the same change in scenery as fellow Quebec-native Guillaume Latendresse, who was dealt to the Wild earlier and has rediscovered his offensive abilities. The Habs could do without him with the stellar play of Glen Metropolit centering the third line.
Vinny Prospal - Prospal is notorious for fluctuating between productive and unproductive seasons, and with this current season being the former, the Blueshirts may dump him in anticipation of the another lackluster year next season. He's been playing well along side Marion Gaborik, but it's hard to ignore what his potential would be without Gaborik on right side. Vinny went from Tampa Bay to Philadelphia, back to Tampa Bay, then was waived and signed by the Rangers in the offseason.
Ales Kotalik - Another Ranger on the block is Kotalik, who was a constant power play threat early on in the season. He was a healthy scratch for a six game stretch and will likely see a bulk of his ice time on the man advantage. Maybe a change of scenery will snap him back into early season form. Like Prospal, Kotalik has played for three clubs in the past two seasons (Edmonton, Buffalo, NY Rangers) and could find himself in the same situation as last year's deadline: being dealt with high expectations in hopes for high return.
Olli Jokinen - As mentioned here, Olli is one of those players with (seemingly) high potential, but can never consistently find his stride. He was brought to Calgary to play along side Jarome Iginla, but the chemistry never materialized. He also never found his groove in the desert with Phoenix. Though Jokinen showed some promise by scoring 15 points in 19 games, his numbers this year have been a complete disappointment. It's very likely the Flames try to shake up their roster by dealing Jokinen for a proven scorer.
Carey Price and/or Jaroslav Halak - The three options are keep both, keep one, or trade both. Obviously, the third option is out of the question, but I would argue that both of these goaltenders will be in le bleu blanc et rouge when the trade deadline comes and passes. Both may have callers, but it would be reckless for GM Bob Gainey to deal a stellar talent like Halak and a top draft pick in Price. The Habs need to focus their efforts on shoring up their blueline and possibly adding a depth forward. Bottom line: this will be a closely watched situation at the deadline, but ultimately both will stay. The bigger question with these two is who should be number one.
Yann Danis - Do people even know Danis plays in New Jersey? He will continue seeing virtually no playing time behind elite netminder Martin Brodeur, so his potential trade value will be hindered. Danis showed his skill last year with the Islanders and would likely be a fit with a club that can play him 10-15 games down the stretch.
Martin Biron - When GM Garth Snow signed two former-number one goalies during the offseason, we knew there would come a time when franchise goaltender Rick DiPietro and his ridiculous 15-year contract would make it back into the Islanders line up. Biron, when called upon, failed to show why he was the starter in Philadelphia, posting a terrible 2-11-2 record on a surprisingly decent Iles squad. He may be able to find a team that needs a veteran backup, possibly Ottawa, Anaheim, or even Montreal should the unthinkable happen with their goalie situation.
J.S. Giguere - Jonas Hiller has played very well for the Ducks this year. He and Giguere were splitting duties from the start of the season and Hiller ran away with the starting gig. Anaheim would likely seek to trade Giguere, moving the former Conn-Smythe winner's salary to a team where he could get a few more starts. He has an annual cap hit of $6.5 million through 2011.
Vesa Toskala - Toskala likely figured his days in Toronto were numbered when GM Brian Burke signed Jonas Gustavsson over the summer. His 7-11-2 record along with a 3.64 GAA and .874 SV% are an equal reflection of his skill and the terrible team playing in front of him. He also has missed some time this season with a groin injury, which may lower his overall value on the trade market. There were early rumors in the beginning of the season that Toskala would be dealt to Anaheim for Giguere, but with Gustavsson establishing himself as the team's goalie of the future, that trade now seems very unlikely.
Do you think any of these players will end up being traded?