There are some players in the NHL that can turn a good team into a great team. Their skill or leadership can put a team over the edge. These players are far and few between.
Every team's general manager tries to put his team in a position where they are a piece or two away from winning the Stanley Cup. They have the core in place and need that one element to make the team a bona fide contender.
Certain teams need that, and the players who can make this happen are available. Some players can turn the power of a division or conference from one team to another. These special players are coveted by teams with high hopes.
Here are a few trades that could lead to a power shift in each conference.
Trade: Shea Weber to the Lightning for Ryan Malone, Brett Connolly, and a 1st-round pick
The impact of this trade could be felt in the Eastern Conference immediately. Shea Weber won his arbitration case this summer and was awarded a one-year deal worth $7.5 million. In the future, the Predators may not be able to sign Weber because of his worth.
Nashville has had a history of producing top defenseman, whether it's Weber, Ryan Suter or Dan Hamhuis. They seem to have a mantra of "next man up," meaning that when a player is lost, someone else has to step up to take his place.
So far, it's worked.
The Predators score by committee, not having a go-to scorer (Sergei Kostitsyn was their leading scorer). Ryan Malone is a hard-working forward who can put the puck in the net. His cap hit is $4.5 million, which the Predators would have to pick up (and more) to be over the minimum salary cap.
The Predators would also receive a 1st-round pick and Brett Connolly, who is rated the No. 8 prospect in all of hockey according to Hockey's Future. Connolly can finally be that go to scorer of the future for Nashville.
And the Lightning would be getting one of the best defensemen in the game to solidify their back line. The offense is there for Tampa Bay, and they need to improve, because last year's Eastern Conference Finals trip might have been a fluke.
Trade: Jarome Iginla to the Detroit Red Wings for Valtteri Filppula, top prospect, 1st-round pick
The Calgary Flames are not in a good situation. They aren't good enough to make a deep Stanley Cup run, if they make the playoffs at all, and they have the worst prospect system in the NHL, according to Hockey's Future.
This leaves them in the unenviable position of having to entertain the thought of trading a local legend and fan favorite in Jarome Iginla, for the sake of the franchise. Iginla has a cap hit of $7 million and is signed for one more year after this coming season.
Iginla is a big time scorer and can help a more youthful Red Wings team. The defense looks a little weak, but Jimmy Howard will likely step up and play like he is capable.
The Red Wings system is rated #12 by Hockey's Future and has "15 centers in the system with eight prospects with first or second line potential." So the Red Wings have some parts to spare.
Filppula's cap hit is $3 million, which would clear the room for Iginla's contract. I think this would be a good pick-up for the Red Wings. Filppula is signed through next season, and at 27 years old, could make the Flames watchable for the coming future.
I can also see them trading these pieces to the Predators for Shea Weber.
Trade: Alex Semin to the St. Louis Blues for Vladimir Tarasenko and a 3rd round pick
Vladimir Tarasenko is the second best rated prospect by Hockey's Future. The Blues are a young group with an above average goaltender in Jaroslav Halak (expect a rebound season from him), and a solid defensive group. The Blues signed Jamie Langenbrunner and Jason Arnott to one-year deals. Picking up a player like Semin could make them a bona fide contender. While they may not win their division, Halak has playoff experience and could lead the Blues deep into the spring.
Alex Semin is one of the most inconsistent players in the NHL and annually disappears in the playoffs. When he is on, he is one of the most exciting players to watch. But when he's off, he's a disgrace to his team and his teammates by not hustling and losing focus. Watching him at points in these past playoffs was embarrassing.
Maybe a change of scenery will boost his confidence. Washington is eager to unload his $6.7 million cap hit. He becomes a free agent at the end of the season which could worry St. Louis.
Semin's scoring and game changing ability might make him attractive to St. Louis, who could try to make a splash this season.
Well wouldn't this be ironic? Shane Doan going back to Winnipeg, where his career started before the Jets moved to Phoenix. Doan has playoff experience and can still score 20 goals as he did last season. His experience can help the Jets adjust to their new homes and in finding their way to the playoffs (the Jets are a surprise team this year).
Bryan Little is an inconsistent player. He can be very exciting or be non-existent. He's young for the Coyotes and has a manageable cap hit of $2.83 million (Doan's is $4.55 million so Phoenix would need more cap to stay above the minimum). Little can provide offense to the Coyotes, who should struggle this season.
Trade: Zach Parise to the Toronto Maple Leafs for a 1st round pick, Clarke MacArthur, Keith Aulie, and Joe Colborne
Alright Leafs fans, here you go. The Leafs have Phil Kessel, who, in my opinion, has had a lot of the goal-scoring load placed on his shoulders. The Leafs have good secondary scoring especially from Nikolai Kulemin, but adding another top-line scorer could make this team a true contender (if Reimer continues his play).
The Devils have some cap room, but may choose to get more pieces for Parise than re-sign him for a big cap hit after this season. The Devils and Parise anticipate signing a long-term deal this season, but anything can happen.
The deal going to the Devils may seem a little much, but Parise is a game-changing player and the Devils are going to want some pieces. Everybody has made a big deal about this picture of Parise as a child in a Maple Leafs hat. I would think that if Parise is available, Leafs fans would be clamoring for Brian Burke to make the deal for the 27-year-old.
Trade: Tim Thomas to the Columbus Blue Jackets for a 1st round pick, John Moore and Derek Brassard
This is why I don't like trade speculation. If you think about this rationally, trading Tim Thomas would be a good hockey move for the Bruins. They have Tuukka Rask ready to succeed Thomas, Thomas' value is through the roof, and he's going to be 38 years old. It seems like a no-brainer. Unfortunately, the Bruins' PR staff won't allow this.
Tim Thomas may have five more years left in the tank, or he may have one year left. I don't know the answer and you don't know the answer. He had a terrific season—one of the best seasons for a goaltender in NHL history.
The Blue Jackets are trying to win now. Acquiring Jeff Carter cost them the future. Steve Mason struggled last season and it cost the Blue Jackets a chance at a playoff spot. They signed James Wisniewski to an over-priced deal, and also signed Radek Martinek and Vinny Prospal to deals. Acquiring Thomas can make them a very good team.
Let me just say that this trade will NEVER happen and Bruins fans will not be happy with me for even mentioning "Tim Thomas" and "trade" in the same sentence. But thinking about this could benefit the Bruins in our little fantasy world.
Again, this was just trade speculation, or in other words, deals that probably (like 99%) won't happen because we are not general managers. We don't know the details behind these deals. We don't know which general managers don't get along or which players wouldn't fit into what locker room.
With training camp slated to open in less than a month, we all know where our team fits in in the respective team's conference. These trades can change where teams fall in the standings and can affect more than one team. These trades can change a season and can change a team's view of the season.
Thanks for the read and feel free to comment.
I would also like to offer my condolences to the family and friends of Rick Rypien, another hockey player who is gone too soon. The deaths of Rypien and Derek Boogard have truly been tragic, and I think I can say this for all hockey fans when I say that these players will be missed. Without the players, we don't have a sport.
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