Florida has a strong defensive corps consisting of Edmonton native Jay Bouwmeester, three Ontario natives; Nick Boynton, Bryan Allen, and Byan McCabe and Minnesota native Keith Ballard. Florida is lacking offense, even on their first line. Stephen Weiss, who is their best center, isn't a strong enough center, and is probably a second-line center at best.
This calls for a need for a good center, and it's probably all Florida needs to make it into the playoffs this year. With Bouwmeester's contract coming to an end this season, it seems he would be the best choice for trade bait, whom better to reel in than Jason Spezza.
Ottawa is looking for change in their lineup and bringing a potential franchise defense to boost their average defensive corps would hit the spot.
But if that doesn't happen, there are other teams looking for a defenseman such as Bouwmeester, but when it comes to trading this guy, it would have to be money for money. Bouwmeester's worth $4.87 million this year and probably more next year.
Philadelphia has three first-line centers, Jeff Carter, Mike Richards and Daniel Briere, all whom would be good candidates to trade for Bouwmeester, but who to trade is the question. Carter is on pace for a 50-60 goal season, Richard's contract is $5 million a year for the next decade and Briere is $7-8 million until 2013.
Ilya Kovalchuck has spent the last seven years in Atlanta with the opportunity of playing only four playoff games. He is looking for a team that will make it. But let's just assume all he needs its a little change. Let's put him on a team that could use some change, in a city that loves hockey and with an old friend. How about the Ottawa Senators.
Spezza for Kovalchuck, doesn't seem like a bad trade at all. It would give the Sens surefire scoring on two lines because Alfie, Heatley and Kovie are all wingers. Of course there would be the reuniting of Heatley with Kovalchuck like back in the Atlanta days. Spezza and Kovalchuck's salaries are almost identical.
Atlanta could use a good center to build the team around. Heatley, Alfredsson and Kovalchuck are players that could motivate or have guys like Vermette, Fisher, Foligno scoring way more. Ottawa's only real problem is scoring anyways, because they have low GA.A.
Marian Gaborik wants to get the hell out of Minnesota, we hear it all the time. Where is he going to end up, and what does Minnesota want for him? Another franchise center? A good forward and a strong defenseman? A top five draft pick in the '09 draft?
A Gaborik for Bouwmeester trade seems possible, but Minnesota could probably use a fine center so he may even go for Spezza. with Gaborik out of the way, it gives more space for Antii Miettinen and P-M Bouchard, but once again they could use a center who is more than just Mikko Koivu, who IS having a career year.
But considering the fact he is a free agent at the end of this year, we could see Gaborik joining a team for a playoff run, so maybe he'd go to Phoenix, Anaheim, Carolina, New Jersey, for a few draft picks and a few prospects. Or we might see a block buster trade for like Hossa, or Doan, but that is unlikely.
So... I predict:
Jay Bouwmeester D FLA - Marian Gaborik RW MIN
Jay Bouwmeester D FLA - Jason Spezza C OTT
Jay Bouwmeester D FLA - Jeff Carter C PHI or Mike Richards C PHI or Daniel Briere C PHI
Ilya Kovalchuck LW ATL - Jason Spezza C OTT
Marian Gaborik RW MIN - ANYWHERE FOR DRAFT PICKS AND PROSPECTS