We are six weeks away from the trade deadline on Feb. 28, but we’ve already had some action in the league when it comes to trades; Dwayne Roloson, James Wisniewski and Jamie Langenbrunner all have new homes.
Who is the next to be dealt? Here are five names that will surely be floated in trade rumors before next month’s deadline. 1. Tomas Vokoun, FLA
Remaining cap hit: $5.7 million, through 10/11 (plus NMC)
2010/11 Stats: 16-15-1, 2.56 GAA, .922 SV%, 5 SO
Vokoun is undoubtedly the top goalie available at this season’s deadline. Though there are reports that he is trying to reach an extension with the Panthers, with the solid organizational depth at the position (Jacob Markstrom leads a strong group), I can’t see him signing a long-term deal there.
However, there won’t be many suitors for Vokoun as the goaltending market is not too active at this point. The usual suspect – Philly – likes what they have. San Jose needs an upgrade, but they don’t have the cap room. You also have to think about Evgeni Nabokov; if he signs before Feb. 28, that’s seemingly one less suitor for Vokoun.
In the end, he could stay in Florida as they are lying in the weeds of the playoff picture. But he’s by far the best goalie out available and things could happen in the next month-plus.
2. Tomas Kaberle, TOR
Remaining cap hit: $4.25 million, through 10/11 (plus NTC)
2010/11 Stats: 44 GP, 1 G, 28 A, 29 Pts, -3
For the last two or three years, Kaberle’s name has surfaced in trade rumors quite often. With his contract expiring this summer, could this be the last round of endless rumors we hear mentioning Kaberle? There’s always negotiating rights in June.
Kaberle has been reluctant to waive his no-trade, and Leafs GM Brian Burke has honored that contract. You have to wonder, though, if Kaberle feels a chance to play in the playoffs (and to get out of Dion Phaneuf’s ‘shadow’) would be able to help his stock come July 1.
Since there’s always a premium set on puck-moving defensemen, GM’s around the league will certainly be looking to Kaberle before anyone else. Will Burke and/or Kaberle budge?
3. Ales Hemsky, EDM
Remaining cap hit: $4.1 million, through 11/12
2010/11 Stats: 31 GP, 9 G, 20 A, 29 Pts, +4
Edmonton’s future involves the names of Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle and Magnus Paajarvi… so on and so forth. Ales Hemsky, 27, is teetering on that edge. If GM Steve Tambellini and the Oilers believe he won’t be sticking around past his current contract, will he pull the trigger on a deal? He will be asking for a lot in return, for sure.
When you look around the trade market for this year’s deadline, there aren’t many talents like Hemsky. He is one player that, in my opinion, has more talent than his point totals show. Injuries have unfortunately kept him from taking that next leap that he’s capable of.
Will a team offer a few prospects and/or draft picks for the oft-injured Czech? If he continues to produce and stay healthy going up to Feb. 28, teams may be desperate enough and table a suitable offer to Tambellini to add a top-line winger like Hemsky.
4. Robyn Regehr, CGY
Remaining cap hit: $4.02 million, through 12/13 (plus NMC)
2010/11 Stats: 42 GP, 0 G, 5 A, 5 Pts, +8
Regehr isn’t going to impress anybody with his offensive capabilities, but he’s considered as a top stay-at-home defenseman in the NHL. A lifetime Calgary Flame, Regehr has had a plus rating in every year since 2003/04 – which is fairly impressive, given his style and the ‘new NHL’.
Though the 30-year-old is signed through 2013, this could be a good time for GM Jay Feaster to make a deal as Regehr would bring back a solid return. There should be plenty of suitors for his services; San Jose (lack of depth) and Montreal (Markov and Gorges out for year) come to mind immediately.
Regehr comes with an affordable price-tag and could possibly be a difference-maker for a team that lacks a big, defensive defenseman.
5. Tim Connolly, BUF
Remaining cap hit: $4.5 million, through 10/11
2010/11 Stats: 32 GP, 6 G, 12 A, 18 Pts, -12
Buffalo’s first half struggles have put them in a position where they could sellers at the trade deadline if they can’t turn things around. Connolly, an impending free agent, is certainly one of the few that could be dealt by the Sabres.
Connolly seems to always be battling an injury, but he stayed healthy (for the most part) over the last two years. If he continues to stay in the lineup, his value next month is going to be high; there aren’t too many top-six centers available.
Connolly, who will likely only be a rental, can be valuable to any team seeking help at center. Would he be a fit in St. Louis? What about with the Rangers or Kings? There are always teams looking for more depth down the middle for playoff time.
Others who are expected to be available: Niclas Bergfors, ATL; Jason Arnott, NJ; Alex Kovalev and Chris Phillips, OTT; Devin Setoguchi, SJ; Francois Beauchemin, TOR
Note: I do not expect Brad Richards or Jarome Iginla to be traded before Feb. 28.
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