Well hopefully yesterday didn’t kill everything for Monday. Trade deadline used to be the best day of year. I started staying home from work for the deadline coverage in 2003, which was one of the best ones ever. In 04 I worked on trade deadline day and was ecstatic to do so…because I was doing my practicum at TEAM 1260 at the time. That was one of the busiest and most intriguing deadline days of all time. Not just because of my gig, not just because of all the deals, not just because all 6 Canadian teams were buyers. That was the day after the Todd Bertuzzi incident.
Anyway, enough of the trip down memory lane.
Even though Andrew Ladd is dealt, we still enter the last 2 days with most of the big names still on the board. Eric Staal, Jonathan Drouin, Loui Eriksson, Mikkel Boedker, Dan Hamhuis, Cam Ward, Kris Russell, lots of good names still out there and likely to move. So I’ll hit on them today, make some predictions on where they’ll land because I’m a loser who likes to do that shit, but I’ll also come up with some deals that would make sense for all involved that aren’t likely to happen today or tomorrow. So…
I know Eric Staal isn’t what he was, but I still see this guy as the best player available right now. He’s a 6’3, 200 pound centre who can still wheel. He has a Cup, he has Olympic gold. I don’t care what his numbers say, he’s had to play in a stifling system with no finishers in Carolina for a few years now, and it’s also been a revolving door behind their bench. I love the Rangers for him, and not because his other brother is there. The Rangers are ok down the middle, but Staal would make them great down the middle.
I was thinking the Islanders might make some sense too, but I remembered Staal has an NTC, so it’s unlikely that with an Islanders/Rangers 1st round matchup on the horizon (how SICK is that going to be?!?!) that he’ll want to matchup against his brother.
As for a darkhorse here, I’m still keeping my eye on the Preds. They’ve got it going after a rough stretch to start the Ryan Johansen era, and this could be their chance to go for it. Add a guy like Staal, and the Preds might have enough to compete with the Hawks come April. Would Staal waive his NTC to go to Nashville? I don’t know, but Peter Laviolette is the head coach, who was Staal’s coach for a lot of years in Carolina, including 2006.
I still don’t know why his teammate Cam Ward doesn’t get more love…ever. He’s 4-0 lifetime in game 7’s. 2 at home, 2 on the road. Like Staal, I have a tough time believing some of his down’s in his career aren’t because of the mess that has gone on in past years in Carolina. Not this year though. The Canes are back to respectability, and Ward has been a big reason why. So why are the St. Louis Blues wasting their time giving Edmonton a 5th round pick AND a prospect for a backup who outside of a hot stretch in November and December this season, has never been an NHL goaltender. The Blues DESPERATELY need a goaltender, and Ward is far and away the best one out there.
What the hell does Doug Armstrong have to lose? Even if they want Jake Allen as the starter come playoff time, what’s the problem with getting a proven goaltender as your backup? Hitch hasn’t had a money goalie since Ed Belfour. If they don’t go get Cam Ward, they better have a DAMN good explanation as to why.
In Boston, the Bruins are likely to move Loui Eriksson, yet are pretty comfortably in a playoff spot. I heard this suggestion and love it: Eriksson out, Mikkel Boedker in. Similar players (I think Boedker could thrive away from Dave Tippett’s system), similar size, and they likely have a much better shot at extending Boedker. They’re without a doubt more comfortable giving Boedker (26) a 6 or 7 year contract than they are Loui Eriksson, who at 31 this could be the last big season of his career. As for where Eriksson could land, I really love the idea of Anaheim, especially if the Bruins could get Sami Vatanen back, but more might have to go with Eriksson to get that done.
As for the 2 defencemen, it’s sounding like Hamhuis is going to Dallas, which is a good fit. Washington I would guess now with Carlson on LTIR would be in the hunt, and a scary good team would get even scarier. I would pick the Caps over the Stars if I were Hamhuis. But I’m shocked if he had the chance to go to the Blackhawks he shot it down. I can’t see Dallas having a prayer against the Hawks come playoff time.
But perhaps they’ll now target Kris Russell as long as they can fit him in. For all Stan Bowman has done, and as fun as it’s been to watch him maneuver, he still has to do something about the depth of his blueline which really should have cost them last year against the Ducks. It was amusing though to see that Eric Francis believes Kris Russell is the best D-man available. No Eric, just no. Hamhuis has been to the final, he’s won Olympic gold, and the analytics show there is no comparison between the 2. Yes, Russell is a better goaltender, and it is a skill to block shots. I don’t dislike Russell, but to suggest he’s the better pickup is incredibly embarrassing to even suggest.
Finally as far as the big names out there, Jonathan Drouin is just too damn tough to predict. But with Montreal now out of it, I wonder if they aren’t in a much better spot to make a deal with Tampa then they were when this mess first began. They are no longer a playoff threat to the Lightning. As for what could head to Tampa from Montreal, would the Habs roll the dice with sending their 1st round pick? It would be a gamble for both, but it wouldn’t shock me.
Ok, now after nearly 1000 words I’m onto the reason I wanted to write this.
To Buffalo: Jacob Trouba
To Winnipeg: Sam Reinhart
It sure looks like the writing is on the wall in Winnipeg for Trouba. With the Byfuglien extension, Trouba is 3rd on the depth chart on the right side. They have been trying him on the left side, but they have Tobias Enstrom locked down for 2 more seasons, and Josh Morrissey should be with the big club next season. I’ve heard from some that Enstrom makes more sense to move out, but Enstrom doesn’t get the return Trouba would get.
As for Buffalo, they’ve gone from looking like they would have one of the best young blueline’s in the league, to having Rasmus Ristolainen and a whole lot of nothing. And while the blueline is brutal in Buffalo, they are loaded at centre with Eichel, O’Reilly, and Girgensons. They need wingers, but as I’ve always said you can find wingers. You can’t find centre’s, you can’t find D-men.
Add to all of this, Kevin Cheveldayoff and Tim Murray did the Kane/Myers blockbuster last season, so the relationship is there. I’ve said before too that the Oilers sending Nugent-Hopkins to the Jets for Trouba makes a lot of sense too.
To Calgary: Travis Hamonic
To NY Islanders: Dougie Hamilton
Now I’ll say this off the top, I don’t know what the NTC case is with Hamilton. I don’t believe he has one but I could be wrong. Anyway, if he doesn’t, I could see this happening. It hasn’t been the best start for Hamilton in Calgary. He’s settled in a bit after a rough start, but I think people in Calgary expected more. But for me this is much more about what they would be getting.
We all know Brian Burke loves his “truculence”, and Hamonic is a lot more that type of player than Hamilton. Both are RH shots, both are locked down long term (Hamilton has 5 more years left, Hamonic 4). For the Islanders, it brings back a younger and potentially better D-man for Hamonic who as we all know requested a trade last summer to a Western Canadian team.
2 more bonuses for Calgary are that this would save them nearly 2 million a year on the cap, and it would prevent the Canucks and Oilers from acquiring Hamonic. The Flames are in the best position to do this deal out of all the Western Canadian teams. The Oilers and Canucks don’t have what the Islanders want, and the Jets have no reason to do it. I don’t expect Hamonic to be moved by Monday afternoon. But if he were to go, this deal makes the most sense to me.
To Montreal: Taylor Hall
To Edmonton: Max Pacioretty
I floated this one the other day in my piece on the Oilers. And the more I think about it, the more it makes sense to me…IF the Habs really are having the issues in the dressing room that some claim they’re having. The Habs win the talent end of this deal, Hall is the more talented guy. He has higher point totals in 3 of the last 4 seasons playing on a weaker team in a tougher conference. He has more speed, and he is 3 years younger. But the Oilers need to shake things up badly, and Pacioretty is the type of player they have lacked for a LONG time in Edmonton.
He’s a hockey players hockey player. Mr. intangible. Does all the little things right. And he’s put up some big goal totals while playing on an offensively challenged team and never playing with a great offensive centre. This is because Pacioretty will find a way to score a goal, he doesn’t look to do it on skill. He’s 1.5 mil a year cheaper than Hall, and he still has 3 years left on that deal.
Finally, to me, each guy would be a better fit in the others rooms. Hall would fit better in a room run through P.K. Subban and would help eliminate that rift in Montreal, and Pacioretty would fit better in a room run by Connor McDavid. While I’m pretty positive there is no rift between Hall and McDavid (they live together), I do think there is an issue of who is the driver of the bus so to speak in Edmonton right now.
Of these last 3 deals I propose, none of them would have to get done by tomorrow at 1PM. But I do think they are deals worth exploring for all the teams mentioned. Hockey deals. When GM’s want to, hockey deals are still out there to be made, you just have to look a little harder.
Hopefully between now and the deadline we see a lot of action. Get back to trade deadline being one of the best days on the NHL calendar.
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