When a pending free agent with zero goals ignites a bidding war on the trade market, you know it’s the silly season. Apparently there was a bidding war for Ryane Clowe and the Rangers got him at a potential cost of two first round picks with hope he can help ignite their offense. Clowe has zero goals so far this season.
With the trade deadline closing in, there are plenty of rumors to go around, but it’s unclear how many teams are full-on sellers. With the playoffs still within reach for teams in the 11, 12 and even 13 spots, it’s a difficult year to throw in the towel. But the best GMs will have the foresight to know when the best option is to move out assets.
A number of teams have been featured in trade talk. Here’s what they should do on deadline day.
Toronto Maple Leafs
At the beginning of the season, I thought Toronto should have gone after Roberto Luongo for the right price, but now things have changed. James Reimer and Ben Scrivens are capable and deserve a shot to bring this team into the playoffs and show what they can do. If the team chokes and misses the post-season completely, or makes it and is easily disposed of because of subpar netminders, chances are Luongo will still be available in the summer. And if he isn’t someone else in this saturated market will be.
Whenever a rumor pops up, the Flyers aren’t far behind. They’re even in on the Ryane Clowe talk. The best move the freewheeling Flyers can make is away from the trade market and into a quiet room. The playoffs are slipping away, but that means another good prospect will be added to a team with a strong base of youth. So much change has overtaken this roster the past two seasons it’s time to slow it down and be patient, rather than juggling more assets around.
The Panthers are well out of the playoff picture and have a ton of veteran experience. The thing is, only one of value is on an expiring contract and he – Stephen Weiss – is hurt for the rest of the season. The Panthers don’t need to try shopping any of their vets because they’ll need them for next season. Injuries have conspired against their efforts to reach back-to-back playoffs and with so much promising youth, it’s wise to keep them sheltered by more experienced players.
Columbus Blue Jackets
When I first read a rumor the Blue Jackets were willing to trade one of their three first round picks to add a player with an eye towards the playoffs, I wanted to pull my hair out. The Jackets should be looking at this run as gravy and keep in mind they most of their remaining games are on the road and they have a less than impressive record away from home. Hold on to those first-rounders unless you’re able to get an absolutely can’t-miss difference maker. If they make the playoffs, bonus. Of not, that’s OK, too, because they have three first round picks and are rebuilding towards the future.
The Canes acquired Marc-Andre Bergeron Tuesday to help their league-worst power play, so why in the heck are they exploring a Jamie McBain trade? McBain, an offense-minded defender is having a down year statistically, but still averages 18:57 of ice time. Carolina’s defense is razor thin and with the playoffs slipping away, why trade away a relatively young D-man.
San Jose Sharks
The one player everyone needs but few are willing to give up is a point-producing center. This would take some cojones, but with Patrick Marleau and Joe Thornton on contracts that expire after next year, what about exploring a trade for one or both? San Jose’s window as a Cup challenger has all but closed and their recent winning streak was maybe the worst thing that could have happened to them, since it will inspire new hope. The return would be higher on these two if the receiving teams get two runs with them. At least explore it to see what’s out there. If the offers really aren’t inspiring, pull back and do it in the off-season.
OK Edmonton. The Blues made their moves on defense for Jay Bouwmeester and Jordan Leopold, the Blue Jackets are rumored to be actively searching for help, the Stars are trading down and the Sharks may be, too. Time to aggressively pursue a defensive defenseman and give up whatever middling prospect or pick it will take to land him. With the playoffs so close, it’s time to take that mini leap. If they don’t acquire this need, it should be considered a large failure and you’d have to wonder just what the heck GM Steve Tambellini is waiting for.
If I’m the Coyotes, there is no chance I move Keith Yandle, who has popped up in rumors. What team wouldn’t be content to move forward with two defensemen (Oliver Ekman-Larsson being the other) who have Norris potential? The best course of action is to build from the net out and if your blueline is in order, the other pieces will fall into place. But to trade down from that position of strength would be going backwards. That said, Mike Smith is a pending UFA and is injured at the moment. What about exploring acquiring Roberto Luongo for Smith? Smith should be ready by the playoffs, which would provide the Canucks with a safety net behind Cory Schneider and could free up cap space by letting Smith go to market this summer. The Coyotes would have their goaltending locked down for the foreseeable future and would marry themselves to one of the elite in the position. Payroll always has to be considered when discussing Phoenix, but if you can get the go-ahead from the league to pull off something like that, I say chase after it and hope Luongo agrees to waive his no-trade clause.
Rory Boylen is TheHockeyNews.com's web editor. His column appears regularly only on THN.com.
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