TRADE DEADLINE REPORT
The trade market is stagnant, mostly due to how tight things are out west. Just six points separate the Colorado Avalanche who are 15th in the conference and the San Jose Sharks who are 8th in the conference. General Managers are not yet ready to sell off rental players and the prices are outrageous even for depth players. The market could stay like this all the way up until 48 hours before the April 3rd trade deadline.
Here are five Western Conference Teams General Managers are keeping a close eye on:
Calgary Flames (11-11-4, 26 pts), 14th in conference
Trade Deadline Buzz: It’s no secret what the Calgary Flames should do; “Rebuild”. Everyone knows it except Flames GM Jay Feaster.
Many believe the last thing Feaster wants to do is rebuild, even though it’s the logical thing to do. However, if Feaster decides to move Jarome Iginla, it’s believed he will also strongly consider moving other assets in defenseman Jay Bouwmeester and maybe even possibly winger Curtis Glencross if there’s a push from ownership to go into full rebuild mode.
The Flames are just four points out of the No. 8 seed in the West and are on a two game winning streak. Here’s what to watch with them: Six of their next eight games are against teams currently slotted in the No. 9 – No. 15 spots in the West, so they have opportunities to gain. Calgary will face Columbus (11-12-16, 28 pts, 12th) twice, and Nashville (11-11-6, 28 pts, 11th), Dallas (12-12-3, 27 pts, 13th), Edmonton (10-11-6, 10th), and Colorado (10-13-4, 15th) all once between now and April 1.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
RW Jarome Iginla (7G-12A-19Pts) – A decision on whether Jarome Iginla leaves Calgary will be up to him as he gets to dictate his next move. The mystery right now is what the exact asking price will be as GM Jay Feaster is not having any discussions with teams. That is going to play the major factor whether the Penguins decide to become a serious suitor as some now believe they have no intention of paying the premium of a 3-to-1 return the Flames are expected to seek. There’s certainly intrigue from the Penguins, but the price would have to be right, one source said.
D Jay Bouwmeester (5G-8A-13Pts) – Despite the $6.680 million cap hit and having one year left on his contract, Bouwmeester is drawing interest from the Philadelphia Flyers and New York Islanders, among others.
LW Curtis Glencross (12G-6A-18Pts) – Leads the Flames with 12 goals and is the player a lot of GM’s would love to nab from Calgary. Glencross is the type of player you can plug on your second or third line and he has a great contract signed through 2014-2015 season with a cap hit of just $2.550 million. The Penguins have liked him for a while but the price would be high.
LW Blake Comeau (3G-5A-8Pts) – UFA at end of season, a depth player who is second on the Flames with 56 hits. Comeau scored a career high 24 goals in 2010-2011 with the Islanders, had 17 goals in 09-10, but has just 8 goals in his last 99 games.
DALLAS STARS (12-12-3, 27 pts), 13th in conference
Trade Deadline Buzz: Like the Flames, the Dallas Stars are also a team GM’s have their eye on with several UFA’s of interest in Derek Roy, Brenden Morrow, Jaromir Jagr, and depth player Eric Nystrom. Dallas has lost four straight and were embarrassed by the Chicago Blackhawks Saturday night, and have the look of a definite seller despite being just three points out.
GM Joe Nieuwendyk is always looking towards the future but he’s in a tough place as pressure is starting to mount regarding his job security and head coach Glen Gulutzan. Nieuwendyk’s decision will be made for him if the Stars don’t start playing better.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
C Derek Roy (3G-12A-15Pts) – The Stars are making an attempt to resign Roy but talks have gone nowhere as Roy seeks a contract in excess of $5.5 million per season. Vancouver, New York Rangers, and Chicago Blackhawks are believed to be among the teams interested in Roy.
LW Brenden Morrow (6G-5A-11Pts) – Isn’t the 30 goal scorer he was two seasons ago, but is a great leader who would be a good fit on the third line with a Cup contender. He can still help a team. The Bruins continue to actively get linked to Morrow and the Penguins have been scouting Morrow in the past couple weeks. Morrow and Sidney Crosby were teammates in the Olympics and Morrow also played with Bill Guerin for three seasons. Guerin serves as the Penguins player development coach and has Ray Shero’s ear. Morrow has a NTC.
RW Jaromir Jagr (10G-8A-17Pts) – Leads the Stars with 18 points and it remains to be seen what type of market develops for him. Philadelphia might have interest if they’re buyers and the Montreal Canadiens have been linked to Jagr due to his close connection to Tomas Plekanec and GM Marc Bergevin being a former teammate of Jagr.
LW Eric Nystrom (2G-1A-3Pts) – UFA at end of season who could be a depth target for teams. Third on Stars with 51 hits and is a reliable penalty killer averaging 2:27 of ice time shorthanded per game. Scored 16 goals last season. Are the Penguins interested?
EDMONTON OILERS (11-11-6, 28 PTS), 10th in conference
Trade Deadline Buzz: The Oilers have not made the jump like many thought they would but moved to just two points out of the No. 8 seed with a win tonight. The Oilers will be looking to continue to build towards the future and when it comes to the trade deadline they have some attractive pieces on the blueline in Ladislav Smid, Marc Fistric and Ryan Whitney were they decide to move some pieces for future assets despite being right in the mix of a playoff race.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
C Sam Gagner (11G-16A-27Pts) – There’s been some chatter surrounding Gagner as the Oilers feel the need to move some skill upfront in exchange for players who make them tougher to play against. Gagner is an RFA at seasons end and it’s hard to envision him getting moved at the trade deadline. If he does, look for it to be the summer.
D Ladislav Smid (0G-2A-2Pts) – Several teams have approached the Oilers to make it known that they would have interest in Smid if the Oilers make him available. At age 27 he’s the best defensive minded rental defenseman who could hit the trade block but whether he does remains to be seen. Smid has great size at 6-foot-3, 210-pounds and is an excellent penalty killer. Smid leads the Oilers with 83 hits and 76 blocked shots. Many around the league feel it would be a mistake for the Oilers not to sign him long-term.
D Ryan Whitney (3G-5A-8Pts) – Whitney has picked up his play just at the right time. Scouts feel he can still help a contender in the right system and with Mark Streit and Sergei Gonchar unlikely to get moved, Whitney will be coveted. Two teams in the East that make sense are the New York Rangers and Philadelphia Flyers, both teams in need of a puck mover and fighting for their playoff lives.
D Marc Fistric (0G-2A-2Pts) – A big bruising third pairing defenseman who can give you 15 to 16 minutes per game but he has his limitations.
SAN JOSE SHARKS (12-9-6, 30 PTS), 8th in conference
The Sharks are a team where the feeling around the league is they won’t do anything big with Dan Boyle or Joe Thornton until the summer at the earliest, but they’re among the teams GM’s are monitoring. The coveted player is winger Ryane Clowe despite having no goals.
San Jose would like to keep him and if they stay in the top-8, they likely will, but the Sharks are said to be listening to inquiries from the East for Clowe and right now have a high asking price for the pending UFA. Boston, Montreal and New York Rangers are said to be very high on Clowe. There’s not a good read on Clowe yet from the Penguins end but they’ve done their share of scouting on him of late.
Another impending UFA in play is defenseman Douglas Murray, a big defender that scouts feel is no longer the defenseman he was a few years ago and is nothing more than a third pairing d-man anymore. Defensemen, though, are coveted at this time of the year.
ST. LOUIS BLUES (16-10-2, 34 PTS), 4th in conference
Trade Deadline Buzz: The Blues won’t be sellers at the deadline but they’re among the most intriguing teams in the West leading into the April 3rd trade deadline. GM Doug Armstrong is actively seeking a top-4 defenseman and the player to watch in St. Louis is winger Chris Stewart.
For a cost conscious franchise, the Blues have put a bigger priority on giving big money to defenseman Alex Pietrangelo this off-season, than pending RFA Chris Stewart, and St. Louis is also prepared to lock up Kevin Shattenkirk. That has some executives believing the Blues are willing to trade Stewart while his value has never been higher. Stewart, though, has been the Blues best forward by a wide margin with 14 goals and a team-leading 28 points. They are in a tough spot and might wait until the draft.
If the Blues move him at the deadline, many believe they will look to the East where several teams will be interested. A league source said there’s talk of the Rangers and Flyers being two teams the Blues have targeted in a potential deal and I’ve also heard Columbus mentioned as a destination.
The source cities the Rangers having the young forwards to appease the Blues and Philadelphia was interesting as the source said the Blues have interest in Danny Briere and he wouldn’t be surprised to see a package of Briere, draft pick, and a young NHL player discussed for Stewart.
While Briere carries a $6.5 million cap hit for the next two seasons, he’s due only $3 million in 2013-2014 and $2 million in 2014-2015, which is what the Blues are looking for, in addition to Briere’s high cap hit keeping them above the cap were they to move Stewart.
As for the Penguins, it’s hard to find a scout who doesn’t believe Stewart wouldn’t be the perfect fit for the Penguins right now and long-term. Stewart would fit anywhere in the lineup but he would be a great short-term fit this season with Brandon Sutter and Matt Cooke.
Simon Despres is an attractive trade chip and the Blues are said to like him but those I’ve spoken with ask where’s the offensive player going to come from in a potential Penguins – Blues trade as the Blues are said to want a top-9 player also in return for Stewart.
What concerns teams about Stewart is his character as there’s some red flags with him. With Colorado and St. Louis he’s been regarded as being lazy from both organizations, has had some conditioning issues and doesn’t always put in the work he needs to off the ice. As one individual told me with previous ties to the Avalanche organization, he’s a player you always wanted more from.
Has he finally grown up?
He’s playing like it this season.