Wednesday, March 6, 2013

GTOG Trade Targets: No Rumors, Just Facts

By Artistry (follow me on Twitter)

It's trade rumor season in the NHL, and along with the free agent frenzy in July, it's probably the most underrated part of the best sport in the world. If your team is in contention for a playoff spot, there is every opportunity to speculate about what move it might make to put it over the top. And if you have the right general manager, there's every possibility your team will make a move you never see coming.

Thanks to Rob Rossi at the Pittsburgh Tribune Review of Twitter Speculation, the focus over the past 24 hours has been on the possibility that the Penguins are targeting Columbus defenseman Jack Johnson. According to Rossi, the Pens want an elite defenseman to pair with Kris Letang. First of all, it's bizarre to allege that Jack Johnson is "elite" unless you expand the definition to include about 40 players. Second, that theory only holds together if your "elite" defense partner has a contract that expires before the summer of '14 (Johnson is at $4.35 million through 2018). By next summer, Letang will command at least $7 million per, Evgeni Malkin will get $9 or $10 million per, and Sid makes $8.7 million. You think there's room long term under a shrinking cap for another elite defenseman, especially with Morrow, Despres, Pouliot et al. in the fold?  It gets sticky.

If you believe the guy in my office whose brother knows someone in the Penguins front office, Letang is on the block. Don't believe the guy in my office. That makes absolutely no sense right now (although I believe it's on the table this summer if Letang decides to price himself out of Pittsburgh.)
Considers guy in my office to be a trusted source
The most likely scenario: the Pens look for a top 4 defenseman with a contract that expires by 2014 (think Stephane Robidas) and some forward depth that gives them some size and makes them tougher to play against (think Jason Chimera). A top 6 forward is a possibility if the price is right, but no way you overpay for a Jarome Iginla. We're not talking about Marian Hossa in his prime here. Our top 6 forwards are not the problem - the focus should be on the bottom 6 guys who are basically killing time until Sid and Geno catch their breath.

With all that in mind, let's stick to the facts: which teams are out of the playoff picture and might go into "sell" mode this month? And which players on those teams have expiring contracts in 2013 or 2014? Take a look, after the jump...

Calgary 

F Jarome Iginla $7M UFA '13 (You can guarantee a wildly inflated asking price)
D Jay Bouwmeester $6.68M UFA '14 (Averages 25 minutes a night - lefty complement to Letang?)
F Mike Cammalleri $6M UFA '14 (Would certainly make Pens more annoying)
D Anton Babchuk $2.5M UFA '13 (No idea if he's any good, but he's large and has a big shot)

Yuck.
Columbus 

D Adrian Aucoin $2.25M UFA '13 (Was good in 1998. Who knows)

Edmonton

F Ales Hemsky $5M UFA '14 (Ooooh. So tempting. Must resist....)
F Ryan Smyth $2.25M UFA '14 (Captain Canada would make Bylsma swoon)

Winnipeg 

F Kyle Wellwood $1.6M UFA '13 (Really underrated fast little guy)
D Ron Hainsey $4.5M UFA '13 (23 minutes a night)

Florida

D Filip Kuba $4M UFA '14 (Big body, 20 minutes a night)

Look at that body.

Buffalo

F Thomas Vanek $7.142M UFA '14 (Yeah, this won't happen. But let's pretend.)
F Jason Pominville $5.3M UFA '14 (They can't trade their captain, but I'd dangle a top prospect)
F Steve Ott $2.95M UFA '14 (Now we're getting into realistic territory. Perfect 3rd line addition)
F Tyler Ennis $2.8M UFA '14 (Makes us tougher to play against? No. More fun to watch? Yes.)
D Robyn Regehr $4.02M UFA '13 (If he's close to what he was in Calgary, Shero should be all over this)

Tampa Bay

D Sami Salo $3.75M UFA '14 (Really doubt they even sell at the deadline, but he's an obvious target)

Islanders

F Matt Moulson $3.13M UFA '14 (No way they move him. Forget I said anything)
D Mark Streit $4.1M UFA '13 (If they trade this guy, does Brian Strait become a No. 1 defenseman?)

Capitals

F Jason Chimera $1.75M UFA '14 (He's sort of a beast, right?)

No idea what will happen, but let the speculation begin. Also, don't do an image search for Rob Rossi. You've been warned.

4 comments:

  1. Really interesting to see the whole list. It's too bad that Calgary wildly overpays its players.

    I would be completely on board with Regehr, Salo, or Streit (though I find it hard to believe that will happen).

    But the truth it, esp looking at the list, I feel like some size, grit, and a little more skill on the bottom 2 is more important than a defenseman. The d would have an easier time if the 3rd, 4th lines could play in the offensive zone occasionally - and maybe actually score a goal or two.

    So if you gave me one choice from that list - I would love, love, love to see Steve Ott in a Pens uniform. He's such a pain in the ass - but never seems out of control (maybe some of that can rub off on Tanger and Geno). He has some skill, would be a great veteran presence, doesn't seem to be wearing out, and I suspect he would be really motivated for a chance at a championship.

    And with that said - I shall henceforward be hoping for the demise of the Buffalo Sabres.

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    Replies
    1. Good points.

      I still tend to lean toward wanting a defenseman over another forward, but you're right that a better 3rd and 4th line would ease the burden on the defense.

      As nice as it would be to add a top-6 forward, it would be like taking a Lexus that needs new treads on the tires and installing another cup holder instead.

      Give me a third-liner like Ott/Chimera plus a space eating defenseman any day over Iginla or Cammelleri.

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    2. Agree 100%. I'd love Ott and another depth winger.

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  2. Finesse,

    It appears that I could not have been more wrong about Crosby no longer being elite. Please accept this as my formal apology.

    Artistry,

    I agree completely with the Jack Johnson analysis. He is all reputation. We have enough soff (to quote Michel Therrien aka Gus,the 2nd most famous groundhog in Pennsylvania) defensemen. We need a physical defenseman that can move bodies in front of MAF. Furthermore, I would not deal Despres in a million years for Bubble Toes. He was a -10 with the Kings before they traded him last year and went on to win the cup.

    Regarding the possible acquisition of a winger at the deadline, I think Iginla is probably the best possible solution to the Pens current needs. I believe the salary cap is supposed to go down next year and therefore, a rental player makes a lot of sense assuming the price is right. However, I do agree that the asking price will be too high.

    Bennett is not exactly the type of winger that I think the Neal-Malkin line needs to be successful. I think they need a guy that wins puck battles and grinds it out in the corners just like Chris Kunitz.

    Trading Letang right now makes about as much sense as trading Neal and Niskanen for Gologoski... oh wait that happened. Sorry Joe Nieuwendyk.

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