NHL Trade Rumors: 3 NHL Stars in Need of Help This Trade Deadline and Beyond
Let's look past the salary dumps and the potential free agent implications that most NHL trade deadlines seem to focus on, and let's see if there is any help out there for some of these NHL elite players.
While we have seen Peter Forsberg attempt yet another comeback, as well as free agents signed and then claimed by other teams, there should be a focus on a few teams to finally take advantage of some other teams' current fates.
The Nashville Predators' acquisition of Mike Fisher is a prime example of a team getting a player to help them not only now, but certainly for some time to come.
The future ramifications of the St. Louis Blues and Colorado Avalanche blockbuster deal will be felt by both clubs for quite some time.
While the Ottawa Senators open their doors for a good deal of their players to exit, one can't help but wonder where that franchise might be heading.
There are three star players that need help.
They all have different circumstances to deal with. They all have a current situation to ponder and contend with. A dilemma? Maybe...
There are a number of teams that are either in need of a rebuild or are currently trying to live through one, and some of these stars are feeling the pressure that is associated with being a leader and star player on a club that is in flux.
Could relief be right around the corner?
Whether they get help from a deadline deal or possibly through free agency this summer, it's very apparent that these stars need help...and need it quickly.
If their help arrives in the form of a trade at this deadline, then the immediate need will be to take the remaining games and work together to improve.
If players leave at the deadline with only salary space and prospects to show, it could be a long summer for some of these players.
Let's look at three star players that are not only at different stages of their personal careers, but who all have one thing in common: They have all endured a troubling season so far.
Too much will be placed onto these shoulders to carry.
The Senators' idea to have Bryan Murray blow up the team has been in full swing for just over two weeks now.
While this current edition of the Sens is more and more becoming the Binghamton Senators with recent call-ups, including forward Colin Greening, Erik Condra, Francis Lessard and Andre Benoit, the team is looking to continue its quest to gain back salary cap space.
Forward Bobby Butler has been up and down with the big club over most of the season and is poised to complete the season in Ottawa.
So where do the Sens go from here?
With a solid five days remaining, the fate of defenseman Chris Phillips and right winger Alex Kovalev should be known, for Kovalev and Phillips both being potential UFAs with either a no-trade or movement clause, the speculation is that they will have to waive those before Murray can try to deal them.
Rumors persist that Phillips, 32, would like to re-sign with Ottawa and be part of the team's rebuilding efforts. With GM Murray in all likelihood entering into retirement at season's end, those chances are slim. Phillips might be asked to waive his no-trade clause and then possibly be offered a new deal with the next Sens GM. At this point no one is really sure how this will turn out, including Phillips.
While those scenarios play out, the Sens all of a sudden find themselves in a situation of wondering just who will be left to try to help during the next phase of this franchise.
Daniel Alfredsson and possibly Jason Spezza are two players who are likely looking towards an uphill battle next season.
Alfredsson has two more years on his deal currently paying him just under $5 million per season. Jason Spezza has the Sens' longest-term contract, which has him signed through the 2014-15 season with a cap hit of $7 million each season and at this point looks like a hard contract to move.
Can the Sens acquire someone to help these players as the trade deadline approaches in the next five days?
I think they can.
There are still players other than Kovalev and Phillips that are scheduled to be dealt. Defenseman Chris Campoli is a RFA next season making a modest $1.4 million, while rumors continue on the availability of Chris Neil, who has two more years at $2 million per season remaining.
New rumors consist of defenseman Sergei Gonchar being dealt to Washington have surfaced. Should any deal involving Gonchar be done, it will be with his blessing, as he has a no-movement clause and also has a guaranteed contract. Gonchar is a member of the 35-plus crowd, thus guaranteeing his contract to the end of the 2012-13 season.
Players of interest
The Sens might be looking for players hitting their prime or that are caught behind other players on another team's depth charts.
The likely feeling is that the plan will continue to be reducing payroll, but if a deal comes along, don't be surprised if the Sens take it.
Look for the Sens to be trading partners with Montreal, Chicago, Pittsburgh and the New York Rangers.
Young Matt Duchene has established himself as an NHL star. His recent selection to the NHL All-Star Game is just another indicator of the future potential this player has.
Things in Denver have certainly swung full circle.
After finishing the 2008-09 season in 28th place in the overall standings, the Avs were able to draft Duchene third overall.
After making the team in 2009-10, along with another 18-year-old forward, Ryan O'Reilly, the Avs set out on a torrid pace through the season, grabbing the last playoff spot in the Western Conference and placing a slight scare into the first-place San Jose Sharks.
While the Sharks went on to win the series, the Avs considered their coming-from-nowhere season a huge success, and the development of their key younger players made all the difference.
Fast-forward to now.
The Avalanche have just completed a major trade—a trade that no one saw developing.
A trade of this magnitude has not been felt in the NHL in the last several seasons, as they dealt young, established forward Chris Stewart and rookie defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk to the conference rival St. Louis Blues in exchange for defenseman Erik Johnson and veteran center Jay McClement. A swap of first and second-round picks were also included.
The aftermath of this deal leaves a big responsibility on players like Duchene and veterans Paul Stastny and Milan Hejduk.
While this team may have overachieved last season, it was also decimated by injuries for the most part of the season. The Avs were one of the league leaders in man games lost, somewhere over 300 games lost to date.
While the wheeling and dealing is rumored to continue as veteran defenseman John-Michael Liles and possibly forwards Stastny and Hejduk could be dealt away, it will be Duchene who could possibly be left.
Hejduk is thinking retirement and has a no-trade clause in his current deal with the Avs. Chances are that Hejduk is not going anywhere, but he could become a quality rental player who could re-sign with the Avs for next season (the Keith Tkachuk rule).
Other prominent players like Tomas Fleischmann, who was acquired earlier this season before injuries ended his season, and one of the faces of the franchise, Adam Foote, are scheduled for UFA status next season.
Foote may even announce his retirement at season's end.
Who is left to help Duchene?
Peter Mueller, who has been battling concussion symptoms for months now, is not anywhere near being ready to play. T.J. Galiardi, Ryan Stoa, David Jones, Kevin Porter, Matt Hunwick, Ryan O'Byrne, Kyle Cumisky and Peter Budaj all need new deals. All are scheduled for RFA.
This certainly is a time of change in Denver. The Avs have a great group of young talent to support a player like Duchene, but if the realization is that players like Hejduk (who has a no-movement clause) and Stastny are dealt by Monday, the Avs need a huge return.
In the end, those deals might not be made. But in the event that they are, it will be a pivotal time for the Avs franchise.
Look for interest to come from Montreal, Toronto, Los Angeles, Vancouver, Nashville and Chicago.
Where to start?
Most of us know the chaotic season that is this season's issue of the New Jersey Devils.
As the John MacLean era began, so too did the $100 million era of Ilya Kovalchuk. Times were looking promising for the Devils.
They acquired a big-time NHL star last season around this time and had visions of keeping him around for a very long time after making a huge trade with the Atlanta Thrashers.
As the summer dragged along with the "Ilya affair," the Devils were looking to strengthen their club and move towards a new direction, but certainly under different cost constraints.
The Devils had always been looked upon as a hockey club that was very efficient in their way of doing business.
Times had changed.
No one pegged this team to be the "Beast of the East", but they had the opportunity to continue to build and move forward. After all, this club won the Atlantic Division and finished third in the Eastern Conference with 103 points.
The state of the club become so bad that their head coach was replaced by Christmas, and the team was in a place it had not been used to in over two decades—at the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings.
Times have changed yet again?
With the club responding after its dismal start and winning eight straight games while going 9-0-1 in their last 10, the question is raised.
Who is going to help Ilya Kovalchuk in the future?
This trade deadline might help clear that...a little.
Veteran players that general manager Lou Lamoriello brought in were players that he and now head coach Jacques Lamaire were familiar with. Jason Arnott and Brian Rolston were two examples of this, and their effectiveness has been somewhat indifferent.
Arnott, with a no-movement clause in hand, signed for one year at $4.5 million this past offseason, while Rolston, being over 35, has a guaranteed two-year deal of just over $5 million. He was placed on waivers earlier in the season and is, along with Arnott, a player looking to potentially be moved.
There is no real interest around the league in Arnott or Rolston. Arnott has been rumored to be on the way out but holds his no-movement clause and can veto any deal.
The "top four" defensemen are under contract for next season—Anton Volchenkov, Henrik Tallinder, Colin White and Bryce Salvador, and you can add rookie Mark Fayne and Andy Greene to that mix. Fayne has filled in very well during injuries, as have Matt Corrente, Anssi Salemla and Matt Taormina.
Up front there is Patrik Elias, Travis Zajac, Dainius Zubrus, David Clarkson, Mattias Tedenby, Rod Pelley and Nick Palmieri to go with Arnott, Rolston and Kovalchuk.
We can't forget Zach Parise either—the only player other than Kovalchuk staying in Newark.
Or is he?
In light of the turnaround by this club over the last several weeks, the Devils need to decide if they're going to be buyers or sellers as the trade deadline fast approaches them.
Right now more than anything, GM Lamoriello must decide, yet again, a new direction for his hockey club.
Should the Devils turn out to be sellers, then expect some of these younger assets being potentially moved as determined by the market value of their veteran players.
In the end, the return might not be what the Devils need moving forward.
With a new contract needed, Zach Parise might the lone player to help Kovalchuk right now, but just what kind of contract would Parise get in light of Kovalchuk's $100 million deal?
Who could they be dealing with...
Look for Montreal, Toronto, Los Angeles, Florida, the New York Rangers, Chicago and even Detroit to possibly be drawing interest.
With articles appearing on NHL.com and CBSsports.com, Mike MacDonald is a featured columnist for Bleacher Report and covers the Nashville Predators and the NHL.