Thursday, February 21, 2008

The Puck Stops Here: Pack the Bags

Welcome back to another exciting edition of The Puck Stops Here. It’s almost that time of year again, the NHL trade deadline. Over the next couple days, fantasy owners will be bombarded with rumors concerning some big names and some not so big names. However, regardless of who the player is, each trade should be analyzed for its fantasy impact. Next week I will have a rundown of the trades with fantasy implications. Until then, keep an eye on the rumors and speculate to the fantasy ramifications, you will be that much more prepared to make a move before an opponent does. Remember, every trade can have fantasy implications.

I won’t go through all the possible players on the move, there are just way too many, but I will address some situations I find most intriguing and/or likely to actually happen.

Toronto Maple Leafs: The Maple Leafs are likely to be major sellers come February 26th. They have not announced concrete plans to clean house and begin a rebuilding process, however they are out of the race, getting old and have players that can fetch a pretty penny at the deadline. There are many players on the block in Toronto, the smallest name being Jason Blake, he just doesn’t fit the mold for a rebuilding team. He will command some attention from teams looking to add a winger who can score and play defense. However, he is very expensive and it could make a move difficult.

The biggest name involved in the rumors is future Hall of Famer Mats Sundin. He has a no trade clause and is expensive, but he can be a difference maker and take a solid team and turn them into a Stanley Cup contender. He has playoff experience, is a solid character guy and great leader. There are a lot of teams interested in Sundin, but he would turn Ottawa into the Stanley Cup favorite. They will have to give up Antoine Vermette, but he is a restricted free agent at the end of the season and would be difficult for Ottawa to keep.

The Leafs also have 2 very good defensemen that could be involved in trade talks. The most likely person to be traded is Bryan McCabe. McCabe is also a huge impact type player and is an excellent offensive defenseman. He is also fresh, as he has been out for much of the season with a non-lingering injury. Tomas Kaberle is also a name being thrown around, however, he reportedly has used his no trade clause to block a trade to Philadelphia. Kaberle re-signed in Toronto, he enjoys Toronto and I do not expect him to move.

Tampa Bay Lightning: The Lightning have a lot of money invested in a just a few players and they need to fix their financial problems before it blows up in their face. While I do not expect St. Louis or Lecavalier to be a part of any trade talks, Dan Boyle, Vaclav Prospal and Brad Richards have been rumored to be on the block. Boyle is another high impact offensive defenseman that could do wonders for a struggling power play unit. He isn’t cheap but he also isn’t very expensive allowing for a manageable trade. I think Philly is the favorite to trade for Boyle, because of their near miss with Kaberle, and he would have a huge impact on the Flyers who have been slipping lately.

Richards and Prospal are two forwards who could step onto a team’s scoring unit and make an impact. I believe if Boyle goes Richards will stay and vice-versa. Prospal is very intriguing because he is relatively cheap, is an unrestricted free agent, is not happy with Tampa management, can score and has young enough legs for a strong Stanley Cup push. As a Penguins fan, I would love to see Prospal paired with Crosby and Malone on the Pens top unit. Tampa needs to make a move to help free up some money to get talent and rebuild around Lecavalier.

Marian Hossa, W, Atlanta: Hossa is a superstar who is slated to get an even bigger contract come free agency. Atlanta is playing well enough to contend for a play off spot and have expressed a desire to resign Hossa. Therefore, Hossa’s departure is not set in stone. However, if Atlanta gets a good enough offer they will not be afraid to part with Hossa. Hossa would have a huge impact on any contender and an early trade for Hossa could set a tone for the trade deadline instigating other moves.

Brian Campbell, D, Buffalo: Buffalo has been victimized by free agency losing a lot of talent because they could not strike a deal. Briere and Drury left this past summer and in return Buffalo did not receive anything. When the dust settles I think Buffalo will end up giving Campbell a big contract. However, Buffalo has lost two stars with nothing to show for it. Because they have been burned by free agency in the past, the Sabres may move Campbell simply out of fear for losing him in off-season. The largest sticking point may be that Buffalo has played their way into playoff contention and without Campbell the Sabres are not serious playoff contenders.

With so many big names on the market and tight playoff races, the trade deadline could be much more exciting than previous years. Be sure to check back here next Thursday for an analysis of the trade deadline moves. Until then, enjoy the rumors, there are a lot more to come.

Related Posts by Subject