It's the best time of year!
We are a little over 72 hours away from Monday’s 3 p.m. Trade Deadline. An astonishing 22 deals have been made since the All-Star break, but there are still some mysteries to be solved. Here are five things to watch as we head into Deadline Weekend.
1. Brad Richards: Is he staying or is he going?
The trade talk surrounding Richards has seemingly intensified over the last few days, making him the top player to be had before Monday’s deadline. The question is, since Richards has a concussion and a return date is uncertain, what could the Stars realistically get in return? There was a report in yesterday’s New York Post stating that GM Joe Nieuwendyk is asking for the moon. I wouldn’t expect any team to give up that much.
The Kings and Rangers are two of a reported six teams that are interested in Richards’ services. Richards is not expected to play this weekend, which would make a possible deal even more of a risk for the team acquiring him.
There’s also a good possibility that Nieuwendyk holds on to the 30-year-old, goes for the playoffs and tries to re-sign him this summer. There are a lot of elements to this situation.
2. What will Oilers GM Steve Tambellini do with his trade chips?
Edmonton is in the best position of any sellers heading into the weekend. Their biggest trade chips, Ales Hemsky and Dustin Penner, are not in the final year of their respective contracts. So GM Steve Tambellini isn’t in a position where he necessarily needs to trade the two just to ‘get something in return.’ Hemsky and Penner will be highly sought after prior to the deadline, especially considering they are two of the top offensive players available.
Other names to watch who could get dealt are Jim Vandermeer, Ryan Jones and Jason Strudwick – all unrestricted free agents after the season. Ladislav Smid and Andrew Cogliano have also been thrown around in trade speculation recently.
3. Florida Panthers are big sellers
GM Dale Tallon traded away Stillman yesterday, but still has plenty of players he could unload in the next few days. After Wednesday’s 5-1 loss in Ottawa, the team is looking to be big sellers. Defenseman Bryan McCabe is likely getting the most interest, given that there are a bevy of teams looking to add a blueliner.
McCabe isn’t the only player on other teams’ radars, though. Marty Reasoner, Dennis Wideman and Radek Dvorak are all candidates to be dealt to playoff contenders. You also can’t forget about Tomas Vokoun, but there doesn’t seem to be much of a market for goaltenders right now. Tallon has hinted that he does not expect to trade Stephen Weiss and David Booth.
Nevertheless, Tallon’s phone will be ringing off the hook in the next 72 hours.
4. Will the silent teams strike a deal?
Two teams that could some more punch before the postseason – Los Angeles and Washington – have been fairly quiet this trading season. The Kings just wrapped up a long, successful road trip, which has put them in prime position for the stretch run. They have also been included in rumors surrounding the likes of Richards and Hemsky.
Bruce Boudreau and company have changed their style of play for the postseason. In doing that, GM George McPhee could be looking to find more two-way forwards to strengthen their team in a relatively shallow Eastern Conference when it comes to Cup contenders.
Even though they’ve stayed silent thus far, the Kings and Capitals are two teams to watch before Monday’s deadline.
5. Possible watered down Deadline Day
As I mentioned at the top, there have already been 22 trades made in the last two-plus weeks. That is an outrageous number. Yesterday’s deals included the likes of Cory Stillman and Alex Kovalev, players we expected to be dealt by Monday. But usually a lot of rentals are traded in the hours leading up to the deadline – not days and weeks.
It will be interesting to see how all of this early trading will affect Monday’s activity. Will all of these deals take away from a usually-exciting day? Or will they give general managers more time to talk to each other and involve names that we don’t expect? I know the guys at TSN are hoping for the latter!
There were 31 trades made last year on the day of the deadline. I’d put money on that not happening this time around.
Photo credit: AP
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