As I write this, it’s T-minus 72 hours or so until the NHL trade deadline passes. As such, I’m dealing with far more trade proposals from all you aspiring GMs out there. As such, I’ve got a splitting headache trying to wrap my mind around the “reality” many of you have created for yourselves. Let me just say there are some seriously great potential science fiction writers who watch hockey.
Nevertheless, I made it through and found a selection of relatively reasonable trade-related questions, as well as a couple non-trade inquiries. As always, thanks for taking the time to write.
Adam: Weekly reader, first time writer. You have probably received many trade questions, but what do you think of Toronto trading Phil Kessel to the Kings for Brayden Schenn and a first or second round draft pick? I think it's a decent trade as L.A. is under the gun to perform this year and will be receiving that elusive winger they need. Likewise Toronto would receive the player they wanted to draft in '09 and could build around. If Brian Burke could squeeze out a pick too it would also get them back to even on the original Kessel trade with Boston. What are your thoughts?
Jamie Mason, Cobden, Ont.
Jamie: I think this is one of the less irrational proposals I’ve received from Leafs fans - and with all due respect, it still would never happen unless Kings GM Dean Lombardi decided he no longer wished to work in the hockey business.
Trading Kessel for anyone would be tough enough, given his $5.4 million cap hit that runs through the spring of 2014. Even with his strong play since the All-Star Game, no GM would deal for him until they see much more consistency than he’s displayed thus far. Imagining Lombardi would surrender not only Schenn (a prospect the organization likes very much), but also a high draft pick tells me you’re not taking my advice on all trade proposals: namely, putting yourself in the shoes of both GMs to make sure it made good sense for both sides. This deal only makes sense for Burke and the Leafs, which is why it won’t become a reality.
Hello Adam. Is there a way for a team to get rid of an aging captain, who is making $7,050,000 a year, injured often and who has scored zero goals and four assists in the 23 games he wasn't injured this year? Since he was brought to his new team, I can't remember him ever scoring the "big goals" he was reported to be able to score. That $7.05 million could sure go a long way towards getting younger, cheaper players and possibly getting into the (gasp!) playoffs!
Ed Swort, Trumbull, Conn.
I guess you didn’t want to mention Chris Drury by name, but we all know to whom you’re referring. There is no chance Drury is moved this season; his health woes, lack of production and $7.05 million cap hit next season all but guarantee he’ll remain a Ranger. Of course, GM Glen Sather could buy him out after this season, but I think there’s more possibility Sather dangles Drury at next season’s trade deadline and tries to find a team interested solely in Drury’s expiring contract.
Adam: As you know, Keith Yandle is having an outstanding season in Phoenix and is a restricted free agent at season’s end. What kind of contract do you think Yandle will get - and will Phoenix be able to hold on to him?
Steve deWeerd, Egmondville, Ont.
Steve: The keyword in your question is “restricted” - meaning Yotes GM Don Maloney and the organization still control the 24-year-old Yandle’s future. If we take the recent contract extension signed by Thrashers cornerstone D-man Dustin Byfuglien (averaging $5.2 million for the next five seasons) as a comparable, you’d have to presume Yandle is a $5-million-a-year player.
With the Coyotes’ uncertain ownership situation, only three players on the current roster (Derek Morris, Oliver-Ekman Larsson and David Schlemko) are signed beyond next season. That said, I’d expect Yandle would be the one guy they make an exception for and sign him to at least a four-year deal. If they don’t on their own, there will be many GMs lining up with offer sheets to force Maloney’s hand.
Dear Adam: Why trade Brad Richards, too? I just finished reading the Brad Richards article in the March 7th issue of THN and I can't help but wonder why there's so much trade speculation around him. It is clear that he is an incredible asset to the Stars' organization and he seems happy to be in Dallas. Will Joe Nieuwendyk really move him? Looking at the trade market right now, I don't see any player who could come close to fitting in Richards' shoes.
Another issue with the Stars that burns my biscuits was the James Neal/Matt Niskanen trade that brought in Alex Goligoski. Don't get me wrong, Goligoski is a great defender, but I really think Dallas could have gotten more from Pittsburgh considering the humongous loss of team chemistry between Richards and Neal. It almost seems like a house-cleaning trade to me, which is insane when many view the Stars as a Cup contender. I really hope you can shed some light on this for me Adam.
Tanner Ziprick, Anola, Man.
No GM in his right mind would willingly trade a talent like Richards. Jay Feaster wouldn’t have moved him from Tampa Bay to Dallas unless cap constraints and ownership uncertainty forced his hand; that’s the same reason why Nieuwendyk now must seriously look at trading the soon-to-be unrestricted free agent by Monday.
Money was one of the contributing factors to the Neal/Goligoski deal, although it was common knowledge the Stars needed help on the blueline and it always would have taken a bite out of Dallas’ roster to fill that hole.
In sum, Nieuwendyk can’t be blamed for what is less of a housecleaning and what is more of a bankruptcy sale. Until a new owner rides to the rescue in Dallas, he has little-to-no say in the matter.
Hi Adam. What do you think is the cause of the horrible hockey the Avs are playing recently? And why would they give up two players capable of mass production in Chris Stewart and Kevin Shattenkirk?
David Woodard, Denver
Hi David. I don’t think there’s any one issue that has sent the Avs into a tailspin of late. Some people I’ve spoken with in the hockey world believe Colorado overachieved last year and this season they’re getting a taste of reality.
Without the since-departed Craig Anderson standing on his head as he did last season, the lack of depth in the Avalanche defense was exposed. That’s what I think the chief reason was for Avs GM Greg Sherman to make a bold move in dealing for Johnson, a player who underachieved in St. Louis, but a guy who Colorado believes still can realize the upside that made him the top draft pick in 2006.
The Blues obviously believed Johnson’s value remained high, but St. Louis desperately needed an offensive infusion more than a defensive stalwart and the Avs were the only team prepared to pay a heavy price for Johnson’s services.
Adam Proteau, co-author of the book The Top 60 Since 1967, is writer and columnist for The Hockey News and a regular contributor to THN.com. His blog appears Thursdays and his Ask Adam feature appears Fridays.
For more great profiles, news and views from the world of hockey, Subscribe to The Hockey News magazine.