NHL Trade Rumors: Mikael Samuelsson and 10 Available Power Forwards
The trade deadline is less than three weeks away, and things will most certainly start heating up very fast.
In the past few days we have seen Peter Forsberg make a return to the Colorado Avalanche, and Ray Emery make an amazing comeback, signing a one-year deal with the Anaheim Ducks.
Those stories are only the tip of the iceberg compared to some trades and rumors you are going to see and hear over the next three weeks.
Some teams will become sellers at the trade deadline, trading away some of their top players for draft picks and future considerations in order to rebuild and try again next year.
Other teams will be the beneficiary, and receive a great forward or defensemen in order to make a run at the ultimate prize: Lord Stanley's Cup.
In this slideshow, I will highlight ten power forwards who are either slated to become free agents at the end of the season, or forwards who are very likely to be dealt at the trade deadline.
1. Mikael Samuelsson, RW
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Mikael Samuelsson has played very well this season. He's most certainly a big part of the reason that the Vancouver Canucks have had success this season, whether people believe it or not.
Samuelsson has 13 goals and 23 assists for 36 points on the season. He also hasn't really broke the bank for Vancouver, coming fairly cheap.
Mikael gets paid $2.5 Million this year, and isn't a free agent until the end of the 2011-12 season, but he could be available at the deadline if Vancouver gets the right offer for him.
That being said, Vancouver is already playing very solid hockey and they may decide to hang onto him instead of running the risk of screwing up team chemistry. Vancouver is the best team in the league right now, so its not a trade that NEEDS to happen.
Although Mikael's numbers aren't as good this year as they were last year, he is still doing fairly well and there is no doubt that there are other clubs that would love to bring him along for the ride.
Look to teams like Los Angeles, Toronto, Pittsburgh, and Philadelphia to make a pitch.
2. Erik Cole, LW
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Rumors have been swirling around Erik Cole's name for weeks now, especially in Philadelphia.
Erik has 14 goals and 17 assists for 31 points with the Carolina Hurricanes this season, and has already helped Carolina win the Stanley Cup back in 2006. He's been there and done that, and many teams are in dire need for a guy like him right now.
Carolina may not want to trade Cole at the deadline, but if their season starts to falter in the next few weeks, they may push the panic button and trade him.
Cole makes $2.9 Million this season and becomes an Unrestricted Free Agent on July 1. Carolina may decide to go younger, and if they do, Cole will most likely not be in their plans.
As crazy as it sounds, Carolina may be better off trading Erik at the deadline, instead of letting him walk away for nothing in July. As long as Carolina can grab a player to replace Cole, I think a deal gets done at the deadline.
Look to teams like Philadelphia and maybe even Pittsburgh, now that they have more cap space then they know what to do with, since Malkin and Crosby are out.
Brad Richards, C
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Brad Richards might be the most sought after power forward on the market right now. Rumors have been swirling around him for months, and there has been many more questions then answers.
Brad has 21 goals and 38 assists for 59 points with the Dallas Stars this season. He is 6th overall with most points in the NHL, and he isn't showing any signs of stopping.
Richards is on the final year of his contract that sees him making $7.8 Million this year. He is slated to become an Unrestricted Free Agent on July 1, but I don't know that he will make it into July without already being under contract.
The Dallas Stars are in a very good position right now to make a lengthy playoff run, but they have a tough decision to make. Do they ride out the playoffs and hope they can achieve the ultimate goal this year? Or do they trade Brad Richards - their best player - at the deadline and get a good return for him?
Chances are, Brad Richards will not be with Dallas next year, unless he wants to remain in Dallas. Richards will see big money thrown at him if he makes it to the free agency.
Look for teams like Los Angeles, Atlanta, Tampa Bay, and Pittsburgh to make a pitch at the deadline, as they are all able to afford him right now.
4. Nikolay Zherdev, RW
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Nikolay Zherdev has plenty of talent, but he doesn't seem to be working out well in Philadelphia. The Flyers seemed to have turned the other cheek on him, and they're ready to let him walk unless they get an offer for him.
Zherdev makes $2 Million this season, and becomes an Unrestricted Free Agent on July 1. More than likely, Zherdev will be traded at the deadline if the Flyers decide to go after a big name winger like the rumors suggest.
Nik has 15 goals and 4 assists for 19 points this season. He has struggled in Philadelphia due to the offensive depth on the team, and he hasn't been receiving as many minutes as he usually does.
Even though his numbers are low, they don't do him enough justice. Zherdev would be a great addition for any team looking for some extra scoring, and he would thrive on a top line if he was given the chance more often.
It's hard to imagine Philadelphia would let him walk for nothing, so as long as there is a market for him at the deadline, look for Zherdev to be moved.
Look to teams like Los Angeles, who are still looking for that winger for Kopitar, and maybe even Toronto as they will be trying to acquire more young talent to replace some veterans.
5. Stephen Weiss, C
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Florida's Stephen Weiss is yet another name that has been popping up left and right in recent trade rumors.
As it looks more and more like the Florida Panthers are going to hold onto Vokoun, it just makes Stephen Weiss' departure look more and more evident. The Panthers are going to have to part with some of their better players if they are ever to rebuild.
Weiss has 15 goals and 21 assists on the season with the Florida Panthers. He's slated to make $3.1 Million a season until the end of the 2012-13 season, when he becomes an Unrestricted Free Agent.
If he can continue to put up numbers like he has this year, that could be a steal. You have to figure Stephen's production would go up slightly depending on which team grabbed him, and he could be a real difference maker.
Weiss' name has come up in recent rumors linking him to Pittsburgh, but don't be surprise if one of those "dark horse" teams like Tampa Bay or Atlanta make a pitch for him either.
6. John Madden, C
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John Madden just won a Stanley Cup with the Chicago Blackhawks last season, and I'm sure if it were up to him, he would love to return to the Stanley Cup Final. That may be possible for John this year.
John has 7 goals and 8 assists for 15 points with the Minnesota Wild this season. While his numbers themselves don't look staggering, he is a much more attractive option then most people think.
Madden is a PK specialist, and would almost certainly improve and club's penalty killing unit. His salary is also very attractive, which makes the interest for him only grow more.
John only makes $1,250,000 this season, and is slated to become an Unrestricted Free Agent on July 1. Any team that is looking to make a deep playoff run would be stupid not to make an offer to Minnesota for this guy. Not only does he come cheap, but he is effective, and he knows what it takes to win a Stanley Cup.
John has already come up in rumors within the past few months so it makes sense that he will most likely attract even more teams as the deadline gets closer. He's been linked to Philadelphia, (can you imagine a Betts/Powe/Madden line Philly fans?) but don't be surprised if another club snatches him up.
7. Jason Arnott, C
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In the beginning of the season, there was a lot of hype surrounding Jason Arnott's return to the New Jersey Devils, however, that has seemed to change.
Let's face it, New Jersey hasn't been playing a very good season. It's hard to point the finger at just one person, but Jason Arnott hasn't helped them like they had expected him to.
Jason makes $4.5 Million this season and is slated to become an Unrestricted Free Agent on July 1. For a player who only has 13 goals and 10 assists on the season, that is pretty bad.
The Devils are already in enough cap trouble as it is, and they are going to have to unload some big contracts if they want to get back to where they were last year.
It's almost a given at this point that Jason Arnott won't be back in New Jersey next year unless he signs for way cheaper then what he is already making, which I don't see happening.
Look for New Jersey to unload him at the deadline to a team looking for some scoring help. Pittsburgh, Los Angeles, Nashville, and Tampa Bay could all be possible destinations.
8. Alexander Semin, RW
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Even though Alexander Semin was recently offered a one-year contract extension, it does not put him off the trade block one bit. Some analysts have already speculated that there could possibly already be a deal in place for Semin, and the one-year extension was just a little "insurance policy".
Semin will make $6 Million this season, and is slated to make $6.7 Million next year, when he becomes an Unrestricted Free Agent at the end of the 2011-2012 season.
Alex has 18 goals and 17 assists for 35 points this season with the Washington Capitals, and even though he hasn't been having his best year, will certainly attract a ton of attention if he becomes available.
Some people in Washington feel as though it may be time to make some big changes, which could include the end of Bruce Boudreau's days in D.C., and I wouldn't be the least bit surpirsed if they traded Semin away.
Look to teams like Los Angeles or Tampa Bay to make an offer for him if he becomes available in the open market.
9. Alexei Kovalev, RW
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Alexei Kovalev hasn't exactly panned out in Ottawa since he was traded from the Montreal Canadiens a few years ago.
The Senators are having a bad season, and they will most likely be looking to rebuild in the off-season. Kovalev is one of a few names that have been mentioned in potential trade deals coming out of Ottawa.
Kovalev has 11 goals and 12 assists for 23 points with the Senators this season. Ottawa was hoping he would produce a bit more then that, so his future in Ottawa doesn't look too good.
Alexei becomes an Unrestricted Free Agent on July 1, so if Ottawa is thinking about trading him, they would be wise to do it sooner rather than later. Most likely Ottawa won't be making the playoffs, and if Kovalev isn't in their plans for the future, they'd be wise to trade him at the deadline and load up on picks instead of letting him go for nothing in July.
Look to teams like Pittsburgh and Toronto to make a pitch for him.
10. Michael Ryder, RW
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Michael Ryder has been subject to rumors all season. Before Marco Sturm was traded to the Kings, many people in Boston believed that Michael Ryder would go first.
Ryder has 14 goals and 15 assists for 29 points with the Boston Bruins this season. He currently makes $4 Million this season and is slated to become an Unrestricted Free Agent as of July 1.
The Bruins may think twice about trading him away at the deadline with the recent loss of Marc Savard, but then again, that could also be all the more reason to trade him away.
Boston will look to make it farther then they did last year and are a very dangerous team this year. Tim Thomas is playing out of his mind, and the team as a whole seems to be clicking. It may not be a bad idea for the Bruins to trade him away while he still has value.
As long as the Bruins can get somebody in a trade to replace Ryder, I think the Bruins will pull the trigger on a deal. It would most likely give them some extra cap space and maybe even enough room to add another big name forward to their already formidable arsenal.
Look to teams like Tampa Bay and possibly even Pittsburgh to make a pitch for him if Boston lets it be known he is available at the deadline.