NHL Trade Deadline 2011: Top 25 Most Tradable Players
The NHL's trade deadline is just two weeks away (February 28, 3 P.M. EST).
There have already been four intriguing trades to date: Mike Fisher to the Nashville Predators for Nashville's first-round pick in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft and future considerations in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft; Michael Frolik to the Chicago Blackhawks in a five-player deal which includes Jack Skille; Francois Beauchemin returning to Anaheim in exchange for Joffrey Lupul, a prospect and a conditional pick; and Kris Versteeg to the Philadelphia Flyers for a pair of draft picks, one of which is a future first-round pick.
Add to that the ultra-tight races for the Stanley Cup playoffs and you have the makings of a very interesting trade deadline.
Here are the 25 most intriguing players who might be "in play" between now and the trade deadline:
Mathieu Garon, Columbus Blue Jackets
Garon, long believed to be a solid backup but never a classic, No. 1 goalie—although he did nearly lead the Edmonton Oilers to the playoffs in 2007-2008 in place of an injured Dwayne Roloson—could certainly draw interest from teams that appear to be primed for postseason play.
If the Blue Jackets begin to struggle in their next few games and appear to be sellers, expect Garon to be dealt.
Craig Anderson, Colorado Avalanche
With the Avs in the midst of an epic freefall, having lost eight games in a row, and with Anderson experiencing a dreadful second year in the Rockies, the Avs may 'cut their losses' and finish the season with Peter Budaj.
As the "Foppa" Forsberg experiment failed—again—what's the harm in giving Budaj the lion's share of work for the remainder of the skein?
Rostislav Klesla, Columbus Blue Jackets
This player carries a warning label, one which will definitely limit the chances he'll be dealt by the trade deadline.
While a sturdy, stay-at-home defenseman and a serviceable contributor, Klesla's penchant for injuries over the past few seasons—he is currently on injured reserve (IR)—might limit his value, even if Columbus does indeed go into seller mode.
Bryan McCabe, Florida Panthers
McCabe is regarded as a veteran, big-minute, power-play defenseman and leader.
McCabe can certainly help a team in need of a power-play specialist, particularly for a team making a playoff push.
Caveats for McCabe are: his age, 35; him being in his last year of a contract and, thus, a rental; and a propensity to make mistakes in his own defensive zone. However, for both leadership and a heavy power-play shot, you'll be hard-pressed to find another player to fill the bill.
Cory Stillman, Florida Panthers
While not the offensively-prolific player he once was, the 38-year-old Stillman relies on savvy and solid offensive instincts. Stillman is slated to be an unrestricted free agent (UFA) at season's end, so this season might be his last chance at playoff glory.
PA Parenteau, New York Islanders
Parenteau is a 27-year-old winger who, now given the chance to play at the NHL level, has shown excellent offensive instincts on a struggling team. And, with only a $600,000 price tag, Parentau can help a team by providing depth in scoring and versatility in playing all three forward positions.
Chris Higgins, Florida Panthers
Notice a pattern here?
It's no secret that new Panthers' GM Dale Tallon is looking to rebuild this moribund organization, and trading solid assets for prospects and draft choices will probably be his course of action.
Higgins is a quick, solid, two-way winger with a north-south game tailor-made for that type of system. And his $1.6 million price tag is quite cap-friendly.
Ty Conklin, St. Louis Blues
Conklin is similar to Garon as a solid, quality backup. Conklin is also in the last year of his contract with the Blues, and he will be eligible to become a UFA at season's end. With a cap-friendly $1.4 million price tag, a team making a serious Stanley Cup run could certainly use Conklin's services.
Joni Pitkanen, Carolina Hurricanes
While Pitkanen has bounced around quite a bit during his career, and is at times prone to injuries, his offensive potential, grit and penchant for accumulating big minutes make him an ideal trade acquisition for a team's playoff run.
As Pitkanen is also in his last year of his contract with the 'Canes, he would fall into the category of a possible player rental.
Joe Corvo, Carolina Hurricanes
Corvo is a bona fide offensive defenseman with excellent power-play proclivity.
The risk with Corvo does come on the defensive end, where he is prone to turning the puck over and isn't the most physical presence.
But for a team in need of a scoring threat from the blue line, at a reasonable price tag of $2.3 million, Corvo can fill their needs.
Eric Brewer, St. Louis Blues
Brewer is a stabilizing defensive presence and leader, with a sturdy shot from the point. The UFA-to-be carries a price tag of $4.5 million, but, should the Blues struggle to get into playoff contention, Brewer can be a reliable player to help a Cup-contending team.
Radek Martinek, New York Islanders
Martinek can log a lot of minutes on the defensive end, while displaying an ability to move the puck through all zones and he possesses a hard shot from the point. Martinek is also an UFA and carries a reasonable $1.5 million price tag.
Zach Bogosian, Atlanta Thrashers
Hard to believe the former No. 3 overall pick in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft could already be considered "in play", but rumors have surfaced as to his availability.
While Bogosian has struggled this season and has been prone to defensive-zone coverage issues, he has great mobility and has the chance, in the right system, to be an all-around All-Star for years to come. It should be noted that Bogosian will be a restricted free agent (RFA) at season's end.
Chris Phillips, Ottawa Senators
Phillips' availabilty (for trade) has been about the worst kept secret in the NHL, as the Senators are going nowhere and are looking to rebuild through the draft, as well as preserve GM Bryan Murray's job.
Phillips provides classic shutdown defensive prowess with some offensive ability. Phillips is also an UFA at season's end, and could help both a contending team as well as audition for a long-term signing during this summer's UFA signing period.
Tomas Kaberle, Toronto Maple Leafs
Kaberle's availability has been one of the NHL's longest-running broken records for some time now, complicated by Kaberle not waiving his no trade clause (NTC) on prior occasions.
Kaberle is one of the premier puck-moving and passing defensemen in the NHL, with a solid shot from the point, although a bit prone to not shoot enough.
Kaberle is also an UFA at season's end, although his reluctance to waive his no-trade clause seems to be an indication that he might chose to remain with the Maple Leafs.
Milan Hejduk, Colorado Avalanche
Hejduk is a solid, point-a-game winger with fabulous hands and an ultra-quick shot. Hejduk is also an UFA at the end of the season and can definitely help a playoff-contending team with offensive needs.
As the Avs appear to be nearly out of the playoff picture, Hejduk could draw great interest.
Tomas Vokoun, Florida Panthers
While possessing a $5.7 million price tag, this world-class netminder and UFA-to-be could certainly help a team with goaltending needs and could be the missing link towards Stanley Cup championship glory.
Vokoun is a workhorse and can carry a team, particularly while riding a hot streak. As the Panthers appear to be in full-bore selling mode, Vokoun can command premium draft picks or top-notch prospects.
Ales Hemsky, Edmonton Oilers
Hemsky has recently been rumored to be available, along with Dustin Penner, as it appears Oilers' GM Steve Tambellini will attempt to rebuild the Oilers with speed and youth, as evidenced by their stellar "kiddie line" of Linus Omark, Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle and Magnus Paajarvi.
Hemsky is a stellar playmaker and has incredible puck skills. His recent penchant for injuries could be a cause for shying away from him.
Dustin Penner, Edmonton Oilers
The other Oiler who's been considered "in play" during this trade deadline season, Penner is a proven goal-scoring machine, albeit in streaks.
Penner does suffer from inconsistent play and some issues with conditioning and motivation, but he was a valuable piece of the Anaheim Ducks 2006-2007 Stanley Cup championship team.
With the Oilers youth movement in full swing, Penner could draw some serious return and consideration from several NHL teams.
Alex Kovalev, Ottawa Senators
Kovalev appeared to be wallowing in Ottawa, having been both disgruntled and buried on the Sens fourth line, but Kovalev's recent goal-scoring surge has made him an extremely intriguing possibility for a variety of NHL teams.
Kovalev is an UFA-to-be, but still possesses a slew of offensive skills with the puck and may still be one of the best stickhandlers in the NHL.
A contending Stanley Cup contender may consider Kovalev for a playoff run, albeit as a rental.
Jakub Voracek, Columbus Blue Jackets
Voracek may be the Blue Jackets hottest tradable asset, as the Blue Jackets have recently climbed into playoff consideration.
Voracek has excellent offensive upside and is a clutch performer, although he is prone to inconsistent stretches of play.
However, on a contending team, this skilled winger can help during the playoff push and for years to come. Voracek is one Blue Jacket commodity who can garner some serious return.
Jarkko Ruutu, Ottawa Senators
Ruutu is one of the NHL's great agitators and a stellar penalty-killer and he is a versatile, all-around forward.
The UFA-to-be also carries a very cap-friendly salary and can help a Stanley Cup-contending team with a level of moxie and defensive skills necessary for playoff success.
Kevin Bieksa, Vancouver Canucks
This gritty, physical defenseman owns a massive shot from the point, and is one of the more adept fighters in the NHL.
Bieksa may be tradable simply due to the Canucks depth on their blue line.
Bieksa can garner some solid prospects or draft picks, thus providing the Canucks with a wealth of riches of prospective scoring wingers.
Brad Richards, Dallas Stars
While this may border on insanity, as Richards is the Stars' primary offensive weapon, the Stars inability to offer a contract extension to the premier center may result in trading him away come the trading deadline.
Richards will command serious return from just about every team in the NHL, and he could be that missing piece to raising the Stanley Cup.
Jason Spezza, Ottawa Senators
While this may also border on insanity, Ottawa's repeated dangling of Spezza over the past few seasons makes for an unhappy player and one who could definitely use a change of scenery.
Spezza is one of the NHL's most creative playmaking centers and could elevate a team's fortunes, immediately and for years to come. Spezza would command a serious return of solid, young NHL stars-to-be and/or a slew of high draft picks.