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|
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...
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)
D Adrian Aucoin $2.25M UFA '13 (Was good in 1998. Who knows)
F Ales Hemsky $5M UFA '14 (Ooooh. So tempting. Must resist....)
F Ryan Smyth $2.25M UFA '14 (Captain Canada would make Bylsma swoon)
F Kyle Wellwood $1.6M UFA '13 (Really underrated fast little guy)
D Ron Hainsey $4.5M UFA '13 (23 minutes a night)
D Filip Kuba $4M UFA '14 (Big body, 20 minutes a night)
|Look at that body.|
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)
D Sami Salo $3.75M UFA '14 (Really doubt they even sell at the deadline, but he's an obvious target)
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?)
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.