Currently sitting in eighth spot in the Western Conference with 72 points on the season, the Nashville Predators are holding on to the final playoff spot by the skin of their teeth.
Below the Preds sit the Surging Calgary Flames who have been all but unbeatable since the All-Star break with 71 points and the defending Stanley Cup Champion Chicago Blackhawks with 70 points and two games in hand on the Preds.
With so many Western Conference teams this close to a playoff berth, it is expected that many of the aforementioned teams will be busy on Monday’s trade deadline.
The Dallas Stars (who are also in the Western Conference playoff race) are expected to entertain offers on injured centre Brad Richards. If Stars' general manager Joe Nieuwendyk does decide to move Richards, one could easily eliminate them from the playoff picture.
Truth be told, a lot of the trades tomorrow will be reactionary. NHL GM’s historically have a tough time remaining idle on deadline day—especially while their counterparts/competitors are improving their teams.
One of the premium players that may be available at the deadline is Toronto Maple Leafs forward Clarke MacArthur. Maple Leafs' general manager Brian Burke has stated publicly that he would like to keep MacArthur in the fold, but if the two sides cannot hammer out a deal, it appears as if Burke would be willing to listen to offers on the Maple Leafs’ leading scorer this season.
Spurned by the Atlanta Thrashers after receiving a $2.4 million arbitration award last summer, MacArthur was scooped up by Brian Burke for the bargain basement price of $1.1 million.
MacArthur not only leads the Maple Leafs in points with 47 (through Saturday nights game), he has also solidified the Maple Leafs' second unit alongside Mikhail Grabovski and Nikolai Kulemin.
For Burke, he must weigh the loss of MacArthur and the potential loss of chemistry on the second line.
It is believed that MacArthur is looking for a three-year deal in the neighborhood of $9 million.
If those reports are true, MacArthur may be outside of the Maple Leafs’ range cap wise, which may make MacArthur expendable.
Reports from Doug MacLean of Sportsnet indicate the Nashville Predators may be interested in acquiring MacArthur with defensive prospect Ryan Ellis and J-P Dumont rumored to be headed to Toronto.
Originally drafted 11th overall in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft by the Predators, Ellis is enjoying another tremendous season with the Windsor Spitfires of the Ontario Hockey League with 21 goals, 66 assists for a total of 87 points through 50 games (fourth overall in OHL scoring). Ellis recently earned his 300th OHL point, which ranks him third overall in scoring in the OHL history books.
Known for his puck-moving abilities, scoring prowess and ability to excel on the power play, Ellis captained Team Canada at the 2011 World Juniors, scoring three goals and adding seven assists for ten points.
The only knock against Ellis has been his size, which at 5’10” and 180 pounds, may not be suited to the NHL game. That said, Ellis has been beating the odds in that respect his entire career.
Besides, many players have made the transition from defense in junior to forward at the NHL level (including Toronto Maple Leafs legend Wendel Clark). Ellis may be a prime candidate for such a move.
Dumont was originally drafted third overall in the 1996 NHL entry draft. At 32 years old and carrying a cap hit of $4 million through 2011-12, Dumont looks to be a player that does not fit into Brian Burke’s most recent moves (getting younger and picking up draft picks and prospects).
It is believed Dumont and his $4 million salary would have to be part of the deal so Nashville would free up enough cap space to sign MacArthur to a new long-term deal.
Simply put, given his struggles of late (nine goals and 17 points in 60 games this season), Dumont is overpriced, which, as good as Ellis is, may be cause for concern for Burke and enough of a red light to have Burke pass on the deal.
So, now that you see what may be on the table, would you make the deal?
Until next time,