by George Kurtz
The NHL trading deadline is just about upon us (Wednesday 4pm EST). We have finally seen our first big deal. Ryan Miller was dealt last Friday to the St. Louis Blues for Chris Stewart, Jaroslav Halak, William Carrier, the 2015 first round pick and a 2016 conditional third round pick (if St. Louis reaches the conference finals this season or if they re-sign Ryan Miller it becomes a 2014 first round pick). That is a huge haul for Buffalo, dealing a player that they weren’t going to be able to re-sign anyway. The Sabres now have a slew of draft picks coming to them in the next three drafts. This season they have three second round picks and could have three first round picks depending upon what happens with the Blues and whether or not the Islanders choose to send the Sabres this year’s first round pick or next year’s in the Thomas Vanek deal. In 2015, the Blues once again could have three first round picks (most likely) and three second round picks. In 2016, they could have either two first round picks or two third round picks. This is better than what the Dallas Cowboys had in the early 1990s after the Herschel Walker trade, and more picks should be on the way for Buffalo once they deal Matt Moulson, Jaroslav Halak, and possibly Chris Stewart.
Dynasty league Fantasy owners should be aware that while Buffalo could have the first overall pick this season, the draft to watch is in 2015. That is when there will be two game changing forwards eligible to be selected in Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel. Neither one is going to be a Sidney Crosby but both could end up being 40-plus goal scorers in the NHL.
As mentioned above it seems likely that Chris Stewart should rent and not buy a house in Buffalo, as his stay there could be extremely short. While he is a valuable physical power forward and could help the Sabres, he is also 26 years of age, and by the time Buffalo is ready to compete again for a playoff spot, he could be approaching 30. It seems Buffalo would be better off sending Stewart on his way, and the most likely destination at this point seems to be the Ottawa Senators. The Senators, Blues, and Sabres were involved in a three-way trade discussion before the Miller trade went down that would’ve sent Stewart and possibly Moulson to the Senators, perhaps those talks pick up again now.
Pittsburgh could also be a destination for Moulson or Stewart, as the Penguins will look to replace Pascal Dupuis in the lineup after he was lost for the season after tearing his ACL a few weeks ago. Either player would receive a huge Fantasy boost if they were to play on a line with Crosby or Evgeni Malkin. The Penguins have multiple directions they can go however and may not have enough chips to take care of all their needs. In addition to a forward, they could also use at least one defenseman to replace the injured Kris Letang and Paul Martin. Could the Sabres’ Christian Ehrhoff, the Islanders’ Andrew MacDonald or the Senators’ Chris Phillips be headed to the steel town? One would think a blue liner could be a priority, as the club has given up 11 goals in two games since coming back from the Olympics. This also has to worry Marc-Andre Fleury owners as he is starting to look a bit skittish again. With Tomas Vokoun still iffy to return this season, the Pens could also be looking to acquire a veteran goaltender. Possibilities include Cam Ward, Martin Brodeur, Tim Thomas, and Halak.
The Vancouver Canucks are a bit of a mess right now. The top line of Henrik Sedin (no goals since Dec. 14), Daniel Sedin (no goals since Dec. 30) and Alexandre Burrows (no goals this season) is killing this team. When your top line hasn’t scored this calendar year you’re going to have some problems. To make matters worse Daniel suffered a leg injury during the game Sunday and he may be forced to miss some time, or perhaps this isn’t a bad thing. Coach John Tortorella also made waves this week by starting goaltender Eddie Lack in each game after the break and benching Roberto Luongo. Stop me if you heard this before, as the same thing happened last season between Luongo and Cory Schneider. Vancouver probably thought they solved that problem when they dealt Schneider to New Jersey but it hasn’t worked out that way. Oh, and just to add more fuel to the fire, perhaps their best player this season, Ryan Kesler, has asked to be traded. What a mess. Will the Canucks trade Kesler? Probably not, as it’s tough to deal a player of his magnitude so close to the trade deadline. Speculation will run rampant however, that Kesler could be dealt to the Rangers for Ryan Callahan.
Callahan and the Rangers seem to be closer to a contract extension as the player has come down from wanting a seven-year deal but apparently, it still looks like he could be dealt by Wednesday. Callahan would not be enough to get Kesler from the Canucks, especially if he won’t agree to a contract extension. There just may not be enough time to complete this deal in season. Where else could Callahan go? Tampa Bay or St. Louis? As with Vancouver, the Lightning would require more than just Callahan and may also want to negotiate a long term contract. Still not sure why the Rangers don’t want to sign Callahan, he is the heart and soul of that team.
What about Thomas Vanek? Well we know he isn’t going to St. Louis, as they went all-in for Miller. The Kings would still seem to be the most logical destination. They need scoring and have the defensive depth that could intrigue the Islanders. The Penguins would seem unlikely to go after a top offensive talent. The Canadiens have been mentioned and they are another team that not only could use Vanek but also could deal P.K. Subban, a player they have had problems with, back in any deal. Islander GM Garth Snow needs to make a killer deal here as he traded away Matt Moulson, first and second round picks to acquire him just a couple of months ago.
Will the Wild look to acquire a veteran net minder? Darcy Kuemper has been great since taking over the starting job with the injuries to Josh Harding and Niklas Backstrom. As we talked about with the Penguins, there are plenty to be had and the price may not be all that prohibitive.
The Boston Bruins are said to be looking for a defenseman and have talked to the Senators about Phillips.
The Edmonton Oilers have all sort of issues but seem not to want to deal any of their big four offensive players in Jordan Eberle, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Taylor Hall, and Nail Yakupov. Sam Gagner seems the most likely to be sent on his way.
Toronto needs player on the backend badly.
I still think Marian Gaborik would be an interesting fit for the Red Wings should the Blue Jackets decide to trade him. With his contract however and having been injured multiple times this season I’m just not sure a match in talent and finances can be found. The Wings however do need an addition on offense with Henrik Zetterberg out for at least another six weeks.
The Capitals need a goaltender and they know it. They may not have wanted to pay the price to acquire Miller but Halak may be more to their liking. He is also a free agent at the end of the season however.
The Devils are said to be buyers rather than sellers this week; this is yet another team that could use Gaborik or a Vanek. Could they be the sleeper team that always pops up? Would the Islanders trade Vanek to one of their chief rivals?
The Ducks have aren’t going to trade Jonas Hiller even though he’s a free agent after the season, not with a Stanley Cup run in their future. They aren’t going to deal Hiller and take their chances with rookie Frederick Andersen in net no matter how good he has looked.
Colorado has talked about dealing Pierre Parenteau to the Canadiens multiple times this season but that may be on hold now that Alex Tanguay is out for the season with a hip injury. Still you have to think the AVs are yet another team that will look for defensive help.
Calgary should be looking to deal anyone and anything that isn’t nailed down.